Picture this: A local legend extracts poetic verse from chicken entrails. Meanwhile, another local legend eats poetry.
The man dissecting the bird—and delivering the accompanying oracular divination—was Jozseph Schultz of the late and great Front Street institution India Joze, which lives on through special events.
The individual digesting refrains written on rice paper is cover-story protagonist Rob Brezsny (see story, and his Free Will Astrology column).
The endeavor was called “Poetry Eating and Poultry Reading.” Even for Santa Cruz in the late ’70s, the “food event” was out there.
The pairing, meanwhile, was organic: Schultz, like Brezsny, is a creative force and a theatrical performer. And they knew each other well because—pre-astrology stardom—Brezsny worked as a janitor at Schultz’s restaurant.
Like he has at every stop on his intergalactic arc, Brezsny extracted tasty crumbs for his writings, in this case, his memoir-ish 2000 novel The Televisionary Oracle. This passage comes at 1:30am on his third night on the job.
“I’m living the dream of any egomaniac who has ever loved the Buddha: to be as empty as the moment between the ticks of the clock….”
“Tonight I wept with unironic joy as I scraped away years-old gunk with a putty knife from a corner behind the bread table….”
“[F]or once in my life I was wildly free of all lust for results. I had lived, if only for an instant, outside of karma.”
I can identify. The most Zen job I’ve enjoyed on this plane was washing dishes at the restaurant of a haunted hotel.
Maybe I was channeling Anthony Bourdain. He once told The Splendid Kitchen: “Had I not become a dishwasher and then a cook, to be perfectly honest, I’m sure I would have slipped into a life of petty criminality, imprisonment and death. Dishwashing saved my life. It was the first time that I went home respecting myself, respecting others, with anything to feel proud of.”
Brezsny observes how emotionally intuitive his fellow Cancerian (Bourdain) proved in connecting with sources and readers through food—often humble, thoughtful and international—much like the pan-Asian fare at India Joze.
“Bourdain was so present, providing a global perspective from local voices,” Brezsny says, “being right here, right now.”
Perhaps this type of talk doesn’t feed your soul as much as India Joze’s “dragon chicken” with its Vietnamese bamboo-shoot-shiitake-mint glaze.
For the more calorically inclined, my three favorite island/fusion/East-leaning local institutions in Santa Cruz, all of which deliver solid values, are below.
AKIRA SUSHI: Here, the creativity—and a robust happy hour—help transcend classic Japanese via items like the deep-fried and sushi-stuffed avocado named Gem of Akira. akirasantacruz.com, akiraaptos.com
CHARLIE HONG KONG: CHK seduces by way of smart salads, rice dishes and noodle bowls like Spicy Dan’s Peanut Delight, Gado Gado and Charlie’s Chow Mein for less than $10. charliehongkong.com
HULA’S ISLAND GRILL: A guaranteed path to order envy. Give me all the seared ahi wontons, abalone-style calamari, blackened wasabi barramundi and spicy tofu tacos. Oh My Goddess, it’s good. hulastiki.com
Odd that there is no mention of Rob’s brother as part owner of IndiaJoze.
Also worth noting, Akira (S.Cruz at least) has joined the bad taste crowd with those much talked about awful metal chairs that are purposely designed to move your butt out of them. NoVa