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the Goliard

August, 2002

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Jeff Chazire             Chazire giving culinary lecture to group

Chazire (pictured at right holding a round table on the finer points of cajun cooking as staffers puzzle over how to attack his skin-on shrimp dish) hails from humble culinary origins in that he was born a poor black child in rural Louisiana. Father Ardner remembers however that he showed chef like tendencies at a young age as he liked to mix things together, light things on fire, and would forever be making huge messes that he’d expect others to clean up. "That boy was always a poorin one jar a sumpin inta another and tryin to light it afire. Problem is he'd git out all the ingredients and then go off distracted by some other project and leave all these bubblin bowls o concoction sittin all over the gall dang porch." Ardner, now a travel lawyer, shuddered a bit before continuing. "Then the coon hounds'd track through it and git there snouts involved and we'd end up with a big ol' mess a spices, baby food, paint thinner, sour mash from ol' Uncle Cooter's still and gawd knows what all. Thin the neighbor young’uns would cum over and inevitably drink down the mystery elixir thinking it was a punch of some kind that we’d set out for their imbibement and thin they'd get ta dancin and shittin themselves. Before ya knew it someone'd break out a fiddle and off she'd go, another impromptu jug stomp down on the bayou. Cept we didn't actually live on the bayou, we lived in military housing on a missile range in New Mexico at the time. I spent more than one night in the stockade cuz of the antics of that messy little, mix happy, coontankerous, bratty cuss."

Always one to drink in the experiences of life, Chazire traveled widely as a young man and the places he hasn't been able to visit personally he's read about on the Internet. Both habits have served him well in the kitchen. Not as a cook of course but as a fellow who stands by pontificating while his lovely and tolerant wife fixes a scrumptious meal. "I was in Morocco one time,” he orated at a recent gathering as others hustled around him trying to prepare a dinner. “And during my sojourn abroad I got a chance to sample the fare. Not the food exactly but apparently they charge a fare just for showing up. A couple local fellas filled me in on the details as they were waylaying me, drugging me, and stealing all my coin. They then forced me to purchase a collection of rugs with my credit card but wouldn't let me keep them unless I came up with another "finders fee." When I couldn't produce any more cash they threw me to the ground, kicked me a dozen or so times in the ribs, and defecated on my back. While I was lying there in the alley, the aromas of the cafes were wafting past. It smelled wonderful so when I finally was able to limp back to England where I was staying at the time, I was able to call up a website that described Moroccan cuisine. From what I can make out on morocco.com, their food can be quite tasty."

Chazire's time in London didn't go all that well culinarily as he was depressed during the majority of his stay due to the rain and a clinging lack of self worth that shrouded him like a soggy anorak. "I tried to eat fish and chips a few times but no sooner would I pick up my order from the to-go window across from my boarding house then the local toughs would spot me and kick my ass until I couldn't breathe properly. I think they may have been upset because I was paler and more sickly than they were or something. (Chazire was no longer black by this point having Michael Jacksoned some time during high school into one of the whitest humans on the globe) It wasn't because they were hungry, I know that, because they would just throw my food in a dumpster or mash it down on my chest while I was pinned in the gutter. I continue to order fish and chips these days but I must be cursed or something because it never goes well. The other night at The Depot I asked the 19 year old waitress for a menu recommendation and after rolling her eyes and popping her gum she finally brought me a plate of ice cold, fried cod, fish sticks. Well, needless to say this was not acceptable to my refined palate so I told her to return the plate to the chef's attention and have him fix for me a special order of some proper food. The dishwasher they had running the fryer reportedly took offense to this, seeing as how it was a busy night, and promptly took my plate, spat a loogy in the slaw, opened his fly and dribbled some urine over my fish and fries. Then he shoved the whole thing in the microwave. The lemon and cabbage got so hot that I burned my tongue. And the sticks were still cold somehow. I'm giving up on seafood. I don't really like the water anyway."

Chazire, who says he has to watch what he eats these days since he is in training as an adventure racer, has a hearty appetite and expends a good deal of energy patrolling the town in his car and reporting any wrong doers to 911. "I spotted a made up hussy driving some beat up bucket of bolts and swerving across the center line the other day," Chazire recounted recently while dangling his feet into the empty Jacuzzi behind his mid town condominium. "Since she was not driving in the proper manner and seemed to be wearing indecent clothing I decided to tail her around town for awhile." (Chazire currently works for the government and evidently has unlimited time for such pursuits). "Finally, she pulls into a bar and when I hop out and begin to approach her window on the driver's side she suddenly throws the car in reverse and careens back nearly causing an accident in the parking lot. I had called the police about the matter figuring that she should be reprimanded but all of a sudden they show up at my house and slam me against the wall wanting to know if I'm some sort of wise guy. Apparently they dispatched several units to the bar but couldn't find anything unusual or amiss until a panicked waitress described some jackass in a rumpled blue suit that fit my description who had been following her around town trying to ogle her breasts. I thought I was helping them out but they didn't seem too happy and kept muttering about 'preppie faggots with cell phones' while they had me spread eagled on the hood of the cruiser plunging me from the rear with a baton. Anyway, the incident left me a little unsettled so after I managed to unwedge the phone from between my ass cheeks, I clipped it to my new riding jersey and went out to be seen working off a little aggression on my bicycle. There's a trail right by my house where most of the best people exercise. Unfortunately I never made it over there because I was barely out of my driveway when a guy with some pretty girls in his car who, I noticed weren't properly buckled in, swerves over the center line, skids up beside me and asks if I want to take a picture of his sisters so it will last longer. I try to ignore the commoner and ride off but he whips his sports car around and starts charging at me right along the shoulder until I have to abandon my bicycle in the roadway and flee like some frightened weasel into the desert. I haven't been that scared since I thought I was being chased by a Negro artist down town. Anyway, I hid behind a cactus and called 911 from my cell to give the dispatcher the plate number but I must have misread some digits because the same cops from before showed up and said the car I'd reported was a AMC Gremlin that came back as registered to an elderly woman from Sun City. Then they took me down into the wash, pulled down my new riding shorts, threw me head first into this dirty culvert and pinned me in the garbage and broken glass with a jack boot in the balls while they made me chew up and swallow my entire phone! Piece by piece. Antenna and all. I had to get my stomach pumped so I wouldn't get sick from the metal. Metals can make you sick if you're forced to eat them. That's another reason why I'm against mining."

Chazire, an attorney who drives a new Audi with a quadraphonic Blaupunkt and owns a townhouse with shiny wood floors, says that mining isn’t the only thing that should be stopped immediately but that he’s also completely opposed to logging, fishing, oil drilling, manufacturing, plastics, textiles, warehousing, animal farming, fabricating, oyster shooting, urban sprawl, shrimping, home building, gerrymandering, packaging, and all types of shipping. When asked about the seeming conflict between his words and actions and what steps he is taking personally to reduce the need for such items be it by carpooling, making use of public transportation, recycling, composting, gardening, buying in bulk, living as a vegetarian, volunteering anywhere, or just leading a sensible life, he admits that he hasn’t been able to get started on any of those projects quite yet. He is quick to point out however that he listens to NPR religiously, did have the good sense to marry an eco-friendly wife, and drives a car that gets better gas mileage then some of the vehicles he’s been forced to call the police about lately.

Being a young suburban professional with a busy, active lifestyle, Chazire finds that there is not enough time in the day to become adept at all the hobbies and activities that he would like to pursue. Rather than take the time to do a few things well however, Chazire is of the mind that fractals of time spasmodically devoted to multiple and sundry pursuits is the recipe for a fulfilling existence on a globe that he feels is rapidly being depleted of its natural resources by people other than himself. Chazire sees his time on earth as of the essence. “Why read a whole book or short story when you can get the idea from the first couple pages. I don’t read much of anything that is longer than a paragraph anymore. I’ve got so many less important things to do. Like watch part of a ball game, sing a few bars of a song, see a few minutes of a cooking show, watch the middle of a film, have part of a discussion, get dressed for a run, go off on a tangent, strum a few notes on my stratocastor, download part of a file, begin several projects around the house, or report the egregious offenses I see others make on a daily basis around this town. Not to mention the time it takes to share the choice pieces of acquired wisdom I have garnered on all these matters with anybody who will listen.” 

Chazire admits that many who may have been willing to listen to his bloviating at first, have grown suspicious after becoming familiar with his aforementioned habits and his vow to never take the time to digest an entire written document or sit through a complete production. A junior staffer summed it up. “Chazire seems like a smart guy and all, I mean I think he spends a lot of time on the Internet reading about stuff. But how can you take someone seriously when he’s never seen anything through to completion? He’ll talk about a movie or book or sporting event for forty five minutes before you realize that he has no idea how it turned out in the end, probably has never played the game he's discussing, or maybe didn’t even see any of the event himself but just read a review online or something. Another weird thing is I don't think he’s ever held a menial labor job of any kind, yet he still feels comfortable advising about the value of honest work for everyone but himself and detailing regimens for others to follow when he clearly is as lazy as the day. I don’t think he realizes that reading little blurbs here and there about this and that can’t make up for hard earned life experiences seasoned with sweat and blood. I mean there’s a time for action and a time for research. You’ve got to augment one with the other. The funny thing is I think he means well but you’ve just got to consider the source when he’s telling you the way he would do things if he were somebody other than himself."

Another assistant agreed and added also an apocryphal anecdote. “This one time, we were playing tennis at a public park when, out of nowhere, we hear what sounds like a young woman’s cry for help emanating from a copse of trees near the courts. We all freeze and look at each other for a split second before making what I thought was an unanimous and unspoken decision to intervene. As we go charging out to the young woman’s aide I'm figuring we’ve got four pretty big fellows and should be able to deal with just about anything. When we get out there, however, it turns out to be nothing but two youngsters horsing around in the thicket but I notice as we are leaving that only three of us have emerged from the briar. I am immediately worried that we've left a man behind somewhere. Chazire is nowhere to be found and we're about to go back into the shrubbery to look for him when a homeless gentleman resting nearby says he saw some joker in a tennis outfit pass by at high speed headed towards the parking lot. We come to find out later that, as the three of us had charged the trees side by side, Chazire had chosen another route and decided to run to his car and drive home to research the situation on the computer.” The purveyor of this tale adds that he isn't worried about incurring Chazire's wrath at playing loose with the facts since he knows Chazire would never make it this far into any written work. 

Always eager to participate and be heard on the gustatorial front, Chazire graciously offered to improve on a recent staff dinner that was to have a Cajun theme by calling on his heritage and Internet skills to prepare a traditional Jambalaya for the group. Or perhaps it was a Gumbo. Or an Etouffee. Maybe a Creole. The distinction as always escaped us. Whatever the case, Chazire's contribution was a rice and tomato dish politely received by all, who appreciated the piquancy and delicious flavor not to mention the human touch the cook brought to the experience by leaving the shrimp unpeeled. Goliard staffers and their guests were forced to sit around awkwardly picking at shrimp shells and balancing plates on their laps while attempting to skin and devein the normally succulent and soft crustaceans in a way that didn't make them look like a gathering of Neanderthals tearing into a carcass. The taste of the dish was superb and after it was explained by a apologetic host while Chazire was in the bathroom that the skins had probably been left on so that the extra flavor would simmer into the sauce in order that a little “Je no se qua” might be added to the experience, calm was restored. “Jeff probably just wanted to authenticate the evening for those who aren’t lucky enough to have been to New Orleans or spend hours watching the Bourbon Street Cam like he has”, explained another editor. 

Whether he is succeeding or failing, Chazire forges ahead, struggling to retain a positive attitude and exude an air of confidence that his methods, which seem unorthodox to some, are the result of a life examined, refined and analyzed. Chazire believes that his appreciation of the finer things is testimony to fine breeding and good fortune but most importantly considers himself to be a work in progress based on authoritative sources. In keeping with that position, Chazire offered the accompanying recipe and suggests that it be served with a “merlot from Trader Joes and rounded out by a post prandial with a canine companion, and a Tinder Box Choice cigar.”

 

 

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