Archie Comics obtained the publishing rights to The Shadow during the 1960s, turning the character into a typical Silver Age-style superhero, even allowing him the sesquipedalian tendency, common to crime fighters of the period, of using such words “delectation.” At least they didn’t send him to Pop Tate’s Chock’lit Shoppe to hang out with Reggie and Jughead.
The Cobalt Club recently had occasion to participate in the quest for Birmingham’s best fried pickles. The search was initiated by Magic City artist Sarah Miller, a frequent patron and former employee of the club who publishes a bouncy little blog called Sarah in the City.
Complete details about the pickle quest can be found there, along with reviews of the fried pickles served by local eateries Rogue Tavern and Todd English Public Urban Bar. Besides reading Sarah’s blog, you can also keep up the with pickle quest on Twitter by following the hashtag #NoRulesJustPickles.
After stopping in to see how the club’s offering stacks up to the competition, Sarah was kind enough to provide the following guest post. I can’t agree with all of the evaluations (particularly in regard to Redneckness of Waitress), but there should be enough information for you to decide for yourself.
We recently got word that one of our favorite late-night hangouts, The Cobalt Club, added fried pickles to their hors d’oeuvre selection. Given the atmosphere of the club, we were surprised at the decision to include the Southern-fried delicacy on the menu. Naturally, we were eager to try them.
When we got to the club,we found yet another surprise: a new waitress. I was told that this new chick had “waitressing experience” and that she prided herself on the fact that she was three years into her career and had never spilled a drink.
Anyway, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t care for the new girl. Carrie caught her winking at Wade after taking his drink order. Wade then spent the rest of the evening making small yet obvious gestures to make sure that everyone in the club knew he was taken.
Now that you’re caught up on the drama, on to the pickles!
Sarah Miller (@SarahMillerArt)
Allan Woodall (@AllanDoodles)
Carrie Hill (@carrieatune)
Wade Smith (@papagraf)
Billie Dupree (@MediaOkra)
Mandy Shunnarah (@fixedbaroque)
Name of Dish: The Cobalt Club’s Fancy Fried Pickle
Fried PICKLE. Singular. One.
Our group of pickle connoisseurs normally obtains one order of fried pickles and splits them. We were definitely confused when New Girl placed a beautiful china plate containing one lonely little pickle on our table.
She explained that the pickle is intended to be more of a transitional snack between courses. Wade was a little irritated when we had to place five additional orders of the dish, so they may have lost some points for the inconvenience factor.
The dish did live up to its title of “fancy.” Not only was it served on fine china, but it came with a creamy chive dip which was very carefully piped onto each pickle. Mandy thought that the pile of dip was too much for just one pickle, but it didn’t seem to affect her score.
Allan and Billie seemed to love the single pickle dish and had no complaints at all.
- “I’m still hungry.”
- “Yum! Great starter!”
- “Great addition to the menu!”
- “Portion seemed small. Overall tasty.”
- “1 pickle. Really???”
- “Pickle was fine, but who hired the new girl?”
Final Rating: 2.5 Stars.
I turned from the window to find one of the club’s familiar faces regarding me from across the library.
“Pardon me, sir,” Emsworth said almost sheepishly, “but I wanted to ask if you are all right.”
“Of course I’m all right,” I replied with a forced smile. “Why would you think I’m not?”
He shifted uncomfortably. “The stain on your shirt, sir.”
I glanced down, seeing the still-wet splotch on my garment for the first time. I sighed. “Sarah Miller?”
Emsworth nodded. “She spilled a Screaming Viking on you, and you obviously didn’t even notice.”
“And from that you deduce something’s wrong?”
“Not just that, sir. You walked past the table at which Mandy Shunnarah could be heard berating the tropical sounds of Jimmy Buffett for being, as she put it, ‘old geezer music,’ and you failed to rise to Mr. Buffett’s defense. And then there’s Wade Smith, sir.”
“What about him?”
“I believe you are familiar with my rather strong feelings about t-shirts, sir.”
I nodded. “That they should not be worn except as undergarments.”
“Exactly, sir. And Mr. Smith has paraded around all evening wearing the shirt he purchased at the…” Emsworth’s face contorted as if it pained him to say the following two words. “Poke Salat Festival. While your view of t-shirts is more liberal than mine, I am aware that you take a rather dim view of those promoting the virtues of certain edible vegetation. Yet you said nothing to admonish him.”
I sighed again.
“All right, Emsworth, you’re right. There is something bothering me tonight.”
“If you would like to talk about it, sir, I should be only too happy to listen.”
I was silent for a moment. I knew I needed to talk about it. I just wasn’t sure how. “Let’s have a sit down, Emsworth.”
Emsworth waited patiently before finally asking in a quiet voice I’d never heard him use before, “What’s bothering you, sir?”
My eyes stayed on the floor. “Richie Havens is dead.”
He nodded sadly. “I am aware. Almost three weeks ago. I also experienced some melancholy moments when I heard the news. I enjoyed his music very much.”
I knew he was prompting me, but I feel silent again.
“Were you personally acquainted with Mr. Havens?”
“Of course not. I always wanted to interview him but never had the opportunity.” I looked up at him. “Why did you ask if I knew him?”
“It just seems to me, sir, that you’re unduly upset about the death of a celebrity. You never met him, so I have to wonder why it bothers you so.”
“I don’t know,” I said with a turn of my head. “I just can’t shake it.”
“Hmmm,” Emsworth said, steepling his fingertips together. He said nothing more for a moment before asking, “When did you first hear Mr. Havens’ music?”
I smiled at the particularly vivid memory. “Late one Saturday night in February, 1992, on Channel 8, Georgia Public Television, during a broadcast of the Harry Chapin tribute concert at Carnegie Hall.”
By now, I had shifted to the back of the Eames. “Harry Belafonte was the emcee, and a lot of the singers whose heyday was the ‘60s and ‘70s were on the show: Graham Nash, Judy Collins, Pete Seeger, Oscar Brand, Peter Yarrow, Bruce Springsteen. Richie Havens sang ‘WOLD’ with Harry Chapin’s brothers, Steve and Tom.”
“One of Mr. Chapin’s finest songs. I’ve not doubt Mr. Havens did it justice.”
“Oh, you know it, Emsworth. I’d never seen anyone play guitar the way he did, and that voice…it was so unique. It commanded your attention. Whatever you were doing, when Richie Havens sang, you had to stop and listen.”
“How old were you at that time, sir?”
“February of ’92, I was about three months away from 21.”
“Interesting. So that means you’ve just turned the calendar on another year, correct?”
“I don’t see what that has to do…”
“Am I correct, sir?”
“Yes,” I said with a trace of irritation. “I just turned 42. What’s your point, Emsworth?”
“My point, sir, is that you’re not upset because Richie Havens is dead. You’re upset because you’re equating his death with the death of your own youth.”
My brow creased. “I’m not sure I follow.”
“You were 20 years old when you first became acquainted with Mr. Havens’ music. You were young, unlimited opportunities were available to you, and you had all the time in the world to contemplate the things you wanted to do and accomplish them.”
I smiled again at the memory. The faces of old friends appeared, frozen in time, as I recalled us doing what Emsworth had just said: planning the future with the uninhibited abandon peculiar to the post-adolescent still naïve enough to believe it might all come true.
“Mr. Havens’ music has not died,” Emsworth continued. “It’s still here. But the artist isn’t. And his passing has caused you to realize your own mortality. We don’t choose to recognize it, but that’s the real reason we are saddened when celebrities of whom we’ve always been aware die, whether we were their fans or not. We are reminded that we are not as young as we once were. That certain opportunities – spiritual, secular, or otherwise – are no longer available to us. That we only have a finite amount of time left in our own lives. And that often fosters the desire to use that time to do something meaningful, something that really matters. That, sir, is what is bothering you.”
He was exactly right. Had he not connected the dots for me, I don’t know that I’d have ever seen the picture on my own. There was so much I suddenly wanted to say that I could barely say the next three words.
“Thank you, Emsworth.”
“It was my privilege, sir,” he said with a smile as he shook the hand I’d extended.
He extricated himself from the tentacles and adjusted the lapel of his ebony jacket. “Now, sir,” he said after another discreet cough, “I believe you need to change.”
I looked down at my stained shirt, then back up at Escort with a sideways grin.
“Quite right. After all, I won’t be 42 forever. I’ve got work to do and stories to tell.”
“Seven deaths in seven days and nights of apocalyptic terror…There’s a murderer loose in the abbey.”
If all you know about Umberto Eco’s medieval mystery is related to the 1986 film starring Sean Connery, forget it, and get a copy of the novel. Be careful about reading it late at night, however. The monastery can get more than a little creepy.
A nocturnal street scene from the 1994 film version of The Shadow. At left is the entrance to The Cobalt Club, Manhattan’s swankiest night spot.
Old-school detective stories written by one of masters of the genre, not to mention one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. Chesterton’s protagonist Mr. Pond is a civil servant with a penchant for making seemingly contradictory statements and solving mysteries, such as that of the pencil that made black marks because it was red. Pond solved the paradox — and saved the British government — but not before being shot at five times in a railway station.