DRIVE-BY TASTING: Carl’s Jr.

diningI’m not ashamed to admit to being a virgin. Truth is, I was saving myself.
Oh, not for marriage. Sex? God, no — that boat left the dock, like, 30-plus years ago.

No, I mean that I hadn’t eaten at a Carl’s Jr. Not until this week.
Strange, maybe — the one on Lemmon Avenue has been there since early last year, and the chain first made entrée into the Metroplex market in late 2010.

And I didn’t let the paint on In-N-Out Burger dry before standing in line for their “animal” burger. I’m not sure why I waited. I just knew I wanted it to be at the right time.

And the right time was after running on a treadmill do get a stress test. Hungrifiying, that.

I stuck to one item on the menu: the steakhouse burger with a single patty (though the doubles and triples weren’t that much more expensive). I was curious how a fast-food joint would tackle something of a specialty burger.

As is usually the case, the one handed to me through the drive-up window did not look as mouthwatering as the picture menu, where the meat glistened with moistness and fat, the onion strings sat atop the burger like a coronet encircling the head of a new monarch, the blue cheese sprinkled like rose petals before a marriage bed.

No, my version was flat, the onions mashed down, the cheese lopsided favoring one side of the bun.

But that didn’t really matter: It still tasted good.

I’m a peculiar onion eater: I hate raw onions on burgers, and cooked ones in spaghetti sauce or pizzas. But caramelize them in soup, or deep-fry them in string form, and I love ’em. That’s what Carl’s Jr. does, and it’s an improvement worth respecting.

Even pressed like a corsage in a yearbook, the onions still retained some crunch, and the blue cheese — while hardly the veiny, aromatic treat of an aged Maytag — melded well with the meat (overcooked, as all fast-food burgers are, but still satisfying) and the surprisingly crisp, fresh lettuce. The tomato, as we have come to expect, was mealy and pale, but it hardly mattered. At under four bucks, it sated my grumbling belly as only bad-for-you burgers can.

Yes, I’m no longer a virgin at Carl’s Jr. But I was glad I waited. When you need a meal to hit the spot, you don’t wanna miss.
Recommended: Yes

Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 08.26.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Phil McGraw turns 61 on Thursday. The former Wichita Falls resident has used his talk show Dr. Phil to address LGBT issues regarding youth and same-sex marriage. He recently spoke to CNN about the damages of ex-gay practices in the wake of Michelle Bachmann’s presidential campaign.

…………………..

THIS WEEK

Mercury in Leo stimulates creative thinking, but also a lot of self-promotional BS. While in Leo he’s agitating the Pluto-Uranus square, leading people to take their notions way too seriously, but those aspects can trigger bits of revolutionary genius. The trick there is to not challenge everyone around you, but to challenge yourself.

………………….

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
As naughty fantasies come inside your head, explore them safely there. Putting them into reality could be delicious, but be careful! However you explore them, you learn a lot about yourself.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Everyone wants an argument. Can’t they just be nice and agree with you? There’s nothing wrong with sticking to your guns. Shooting them off freely drives away people you care about.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
You may feel hassled by an overbearing boss. Bite your tongue and take it all in as feedback to help you do your job better, no matter what the tone. There’s always room for improvement.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Your idea of playful banter can really upset some people. That could be a good thing when done in the right time and place. In any event, there will be a price to pay, so make sure it’s worth it.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Capricornian brilliance at sex is one of the zodiac’s best-kept secrets. The more it stays that way, the better off you are. Keep that info on a need-to-know basis.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
If you can’t avoid debate, keep one eye inward to see how your arguments reflect your deepest fears and insecurities. Keep a friend nearby with whom you can have an honest talk about that.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Taking a cut in pay might be a necessary strategy for long-range benefits. Don’t get taken advantage of. If money gets tight, you have the creative resourcefulness to make it through.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Your idea of fun and good humor upsets some people. In the right time and place that could be a good thing, but think ahead about consequences and whom you can afford to piss off.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Arguments at home reflect and exacerbate your insecurities and doubts. Reflect on childhood patterns and how they affect you now. Probably best to do that on your own.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Your mouth is getting even further ahead of your brain than usual, and your libido is somewhere inbetween. The brilliance of your ideas depends on how much you challenge yourself.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Hiding financial problems from your partner will make the situation worse. It may be time to renegotiate how you deal with bills and expenses. Explore ideas now, but don’t make decisions.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Others admire your brilliance nearly half as much as you do, but a good showman always leaves the audience wanting more. The ability to listen makes you more popular than the ability to talk.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

The right time

Coming out is a personal decision, and each person has to find the right time and the right way for themselves. And while it can still be tough, it doesn’t have to be as tough as it used to be

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reporter

Coming out is still so very hard to do, especially if someone delays doing it for a very long time.

That’s what I learned recently when the 40-something-year-old son of a friend of mine confided to me that he had finally accepted his sexual orientation and now had a boyfriend. He broke the news to me by saying, “I’m involved in a new relationship with someone, and his name is … .”

The ironic part of all this is that my friend, his mother, told me when her son was about 13 years old that she was pretty sure he would be gay. She was an interior decorator, had lived in liberal cities prior to moving to Texas and had quite a few gay and lesbian friends.

I thought that she might be correct in her assessment.

Despite my friend’s worldliness and acceptance of her friends’ homosexuality, she expressed a concern that her son’s life would be much tougher if he indeed turned out to be gay.

We had this conversation about 20 years ago, so her assessment seemed reasonable enough at the time. I had to agree that being gay certainly hadn’t made my life any easier up to that point, especially in light of the raging AIDS epidemic that was killing many of my friends and scaring me to death.

As it turned out, her fears about him being gay seemed to be unfounded. He went off to college, met a girl, lived with her, left her and wound up marrying another girl.

Two of his best friends from high school with whom he grew up went on to come out and live as openly gay. One died of AIDS in the early 1990s.

My friend and I remarked on our surprise about how things had turned out, but we both generally acknowledged that we apparently had been incorrect in our assumptions that he would be gay.

Still, I had this nagging feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I wondered if he was bisexual.

My friend’s son and his wife had a child, and they moved away from Texas to the West Coast and a much more liberal environment. They seemed happy for a long time, but then my friend began to confide that her son was having emotional problems. In fact, he had become estranged from other members of his family after a conflict with them before he left Texas.

Finally, I heard that he and his wife had separated, then gotten divorced.

At the same time, my friend and I began drifting apart, even though we had been friends for a quarter-century. I noticed her politics were becoming more conservative. She told me that she didn’t think the country was ready for same-sex couples enjoying the right to become married.

I began to realize that her liberal attitudes were only skin deep, and I was disappointed by that.

When my friend’s son told me that he was gay, I promised not to say anything about it to anyone until he had charted his course of action. I did advise him that if he planned to tell his teenage son that I thought he should first tell his ex-wife, who had become his best friend after their divorce.

He also confided to me that when he was a teenager he had fooled around with one of his male friends, and that he had felt guilt and shame afterwards. He told me that after he accepted his homosexuality and began dating other men, it felt natural for him.

After a couple of months, he told his ex-wife. She took the news excellently, telling him that she wanted him to be happy. His son seemed to take it in stride while posing a lot of questions.

The funniest question he got from his son was, “Are you going to start wearing dresses now?”

Then he called his mother and told her, and she admitted that she had known it all of his life. She also began weeping and told him she was concerned that it would make his life much harder.

In an email to me, she said that she was not shocked by his revelation, but it did make her sad. She also expressed surprise that he had told his son.

I’ve always been of the opinion that people come out when it is the best time for them to do so. His personal time table required him to wait about 20 years longer than I did, but that was right for him. He adores his son, enjoys his close friendship with his ex-wife and hopefully will have a good relationship with another man to round out his life.

In short, I’m hoping he proves his mother wrong. It doesn’t have to make life tougher in this day and age.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. Email him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright