Suffering From the Bends

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Just a vintage post for today.

DOP1 (2010-11) VINTAGE POST.

August 29, 2011. I’m pondering whether to keep doing these journal entries. Day of Pigs is not so much a book now as indeed a journal and I’m not sure it’s jazzing me. However, this might prove useful later in life – when I have time or the inclination to edit it, there may be something worth putting out there again for some form of publication. A life doesn’t do much for anyone unless you write it down so they can read about it. But it’s never been my inclination to write my autobiography – who cares really? The compelling part of the book, if there is one, would probably be just the personal transformation and hh story. Another “here’s how I changed my life and started a business” self-help-type thing. Does the world need another one? Who cares, it’s my story and I’ll tell it if I want to – read it or don’t.

Another example of how authentically cool Ari is: when we expressed our unhappiness with camp bacon II in the survey that Gauri sent out (we wouldn’t have said anything otherwise, which is part of the struggle of being in biz – folks who don’t like stuff usually don’t tell you) Ari was copied on it and he really seemed to take it personally. Many reasons why the event on Saturday never “took off” or “never got started” as I wrote in the survey, and I suspected things didn’t go right behind the scenes – Ari echoed that. Anyway, he wanted to “make things right” and of course we didn’t need a refund or any reimbursement at all – just the knowledge that zcob understood and might be inclined to dump the concept for next year or make sure to jazz it up again if they choose to do it. But Ari’s like me – a “screw up” or unhappy customer sticks with him and he wants to do something to resolve that angst. So when he saw us at the roadhouse last night, he paid for our dinner, which was very cool and nice and a big surprise and he didn’t have to do that at all, but part of being generous is accepting generosity and sometimes the best part is how it makes the giver feel. So we graciously accepted the gesture and it means a lot and that’s why Ari and ZCoB are fucking great. Anytime anyone slams ZCoB I just point to stuff like that – the man is true blue committed to his biz and his customers and just needs the world to be the best it can be and I agree. Thanks Ari!

Busy with stuff on my days “off” – Kev is curating a show at The Gallery Project, working with Rocco and Gloria, the owners, and the theme is food. Viz, the connection between people and their food. A pop-up art show at the food court and then visual art at the gallery.

Kev wanted to offer Ari and opportunity to participate, personally or through ZCoB – I don’t know if Ari is interested in visual art beyond graphic design, but I sent him an email with Kev’s curatorial statement and some of the art images to see if he’d be interested in any way, no expectations, no demands. But like Canfield advises, before you assume somebody won’t be interested, won’t help you or will think you’re an asshole for asking, you should get the facts and just “ask, ask, ask.” Getting a “no” won’t kill you and you just might get a “yes.” In either case, I’ll learn something about Ari as a friend and he might just be jazzed by it. This is the stuff I enjoy doing and I’m learning that this stuff is how to live your life – you pursue what you want with a generous heart and the desire to include folks and better the world and have fun and see if they can’t offer something to make it even better for everyone involved.

Likewise, I contacted Ari and Molly S. regarding doing a Roadhouse book dinner for the release of Molly’s new book in November and having her maybe also do a book lunch at the HH cart – wouldn’t that be fucking completely mind-blowingly awesome to have Molly set up at our hh table in the court and sign books for a half hour or whatever while we serve her food from the cart? They both emailed right back and the RH thing they had already discussed while her book tour is already scheduled for this year and she won’t be around the Midwest until after cart season ends. But that is no problem, I’m glad I asked, too much damn fun, you never know, things could change and something may open up – you can’t assume you’re a nobody with nothing to offer – all of us entrepreneurs, artists, writers, etc. need each other for support in any quantity as long as it’s quality. That’s my take on it. HH is certainly nothing compared to the French Culinary Institute in NYC and Molly is going to San Fran and Chapel Hill and even Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin – we miss our chance to see her in TX yet again, who would’ve thought that as soon as we leave, she gets down there twice in one year? All good to know she’s got such great plans for the release and we wish her all the greatest luck and fun – hh will promote “roasting” as much as we can in the two or three weeks we get with the book before the season ends.

September 1, 2011. This date always reminds me of the NYC adventure – I left on the Amtrak train for Grand Central Station late in the evening on this date in 1990. I’ve written about it already in this book so I’ll leave it at that. Adventures. Fiascos. One after another, per Campbell. Speaking of Campbell and adventures, there’s another Campbell, Glen who’s apparently got alzheimers and released one more record at seventy-five – his voice sounds like he’s thirty-five. Easy on My Mind, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Rhinestone Cowboy, Galveston. My parents had one or two glen records and those songs are some of my earliest musical memories. Glen’s about the same age as my Dad and I thought always sort of looked like him. That it comes to an end of some sort for us all, in some way we’ll not expect and that probably won’t make much sense, is sad and I’ll never make sense of the “return” that we must make. As much as one tries to get their heart and mind in line with how things are and who you are and what you ought to be doing, it doesn’t answer why our lives end.

What will I do after cart season? Produce headcheese? Yes, I must do that – it’s something I must accomplish no doubt and I don’t question it. But what ELSE should I be doing? Job. What job? Food service doesn’t pay a respectable wage. Zingerman’s? Likewise, and I don’t want to work for Ari and change the dynamic of our friendship, though he’d do me the favor probably – that option doesn’t seem to fit right now, there’s some other answer. Venture capital, bank loan, etc. to open the HH public house and pig farm? Maybe, but I’m struggling now with that idea – I need to look at the vog and really contemplate my vision of greatness beyond this hh cart – I’ve been changed by the experience and so I need to spend time pondering where my heart is leading me. I get so busy with the cart that the days just fly, but we’ll get the plan adjusted.

September 3, 2011. Wiped the fuck out. Physically. Toast. Two hot days – Friday lunch and dinner at the cart, so-so sales, but the return of high-summer heat and the resultant sweating through my shirt ten times a day turned what started out as a nice week of increased business and nicer weather into a stomp in the guts of sweat and fatigue. We closed the cart early today – as Jay S. would say, it was “a suck-fest.” The first wolverine home football game of the season today – ugh – I won’t say anything in this book about my loathing of college football except this: there should be minor league football, just like minor league baseball and hockey, where the players get legally paid to try to work their way from high school to pro sports, or just remain in the minors making some money instead of getting paid illegally and inappropriately from alumnus, fans and dumb fucks who think eighteen-year-old physical freaks of nature need to attend a college tuition-free so they fake their classes and win games for a bunch of middle-class white sports freaks. Whew.

Tired. Like no tired I’ve ever been. Labor Day weekend has never seemed so appropriate. I forgot it was a holiday weekend and that ang had this Monday off. Yesterday I just about lost it – hotter than the gates of hell, lousy biz, two services the Friday before and my ribs came out chewy, they sucked. I closed up early and couldn’t get out of there fast enough – I hardly remember driving home – I just remember the crush of dumb fucks on roof tops and crowding the streets as if it’s the end of WWII or something. Had to just get the fuck home and crash. I was so zonked it was like I was drunk – probably at least a little bit of heat stress: irritable, totally overheated, salt-encrusted and just goddamed burned out. Hit the floor and passed out. I didn’t feel anything like myself until noon the next day.

Where am I going, what am I doing? It’s like I don’t have a vog. Fried. Fucked. Then there’s always the pigs. Somehow they always appear in some way. Images. We walked to the arboretum this afternoon, both of us out of it, zonked, bitching at each other over nothing before we left and we were restored by engaging one of our vocations – trekking. I had finished reading Rosanne Cash’s memoir that day and she’s become another guide apart from her great music. From a dream she had when she was only thirteen years old, she remembered, “I made a vow to myself, as serious as any vow I would make as an adult, that I would not permit myself to lead an unconscious existence, that I would not become complacent, that I would not allow my life to be defined by the petty and mundane.”[1] This coming from Johnny Cash’s daughter, which goes to show you again that we must create our own hero’s journey – live out our own personal myth – separate from the conditions we are born into. Campbell’s “left hand path” is difficult no matter how financially privileged your beginnings….

So after our arboretum walk, not a classic keith and angie walk, but not shabby – we made our way into town having forgot that Casey’s is closed on Sunday (we didn’t remember until we practically came upon it). Angie hadn’t been to Raven’s Club, which has completely transformed the old Full Moon space, so we walked there instead, eventually ordering the specials: charcuterie (mixed game terrine of note), cheese plate (honeycomb!), lousy day-old bread, corn chowder along with the good beer and booze. They have a chalk-board specials board and near the top is a charming illustration of two spotted pigs outside a red barn – kitchy, but there are the pigs and they draw me back into life, out of the grip of fantastic fatigue into being more properly alive. The pigs must be a part of it, alive and in the fields, I don’t know why but they contain the energy that I need to continue – they represent things, they ARE things, they remain powerful guides and I don’t question their importance, however hard the road, path or new trail is to negotiate.

Monday, September 05, 2011. Labor Day. 11:05PM and I’m going into the kitchen at midnight to “huck” (Jay’s term) pork butt into the oven for 6-plus hours. Then I’m back in early after only a bit of sleep to make slaw, sauce, mac & cheese, get totally wiped out again and walk home. I’ll need to get some brisket or pork for the Saturday “Home Grown Festival” at Kerrytown. Gotta use local product, pain in the ass. Scheduled during a UofM vs. Notre Dame game; we’ll see what the crowd is like, maybe enough folks are oblivious to the game that they’ll show up for chow. I tend to doubt it – my gut says this one might be a mistake, we’ll see, I’m trying like hell to get back to the positive mental outlook I had just last week – what the hell has happened to me?

First, two lousy fucking hot-ass fucking days at the cart – Friday and Saturday and after that I was just heat-stressed and completely toast. I just collapsed basically when I got home and I’m still kinda feeling it. And I sort of dread going into the kitchen for the first time in a least awhile. Why? Things aren’t going badly – actually August was our second best month so things are looking up. So why do they feel like they’re going down? Eat leaving sort of just pulled the door down on the Mark’s Carts vibe for me – I had learned a lot from them, they had the most small biz experience of any of us, and now they’ve chosen to bail out. It just seems portentous to me; like we’re next or somebody’s next or just that the bloom is off the rose at MC and it’s just a matter of time before it all ends….

But I’m pissed at myself for getting so gloomy. HH is getting on down the road and we’re still kicking. I’ve made good progress on the USDA-FSIS Grant of Inspection Stuff, especially today, and I may just be ready to call for a “walk through” by the end of the week. If Angie and I can get the Listeria sampling info we need from NSF I’ll make it part of the written program and get jamming on having Tom G. out here to look at what I’ve got – he’s a good guy and wants it to happen so I don’t know why I’m doubting myself lately. I’m going to accomplish this! USDA Est. 989 is going live soon dammit!

So, this week: letters from the County for water and sewer department; a letter from GFS shrink-wrap; Lm sampling set up through NSF and then we’ll review our document package together, make whatever minor changes are required and request a visit from Tom G. I’m just going to keep the pressure and time attitude going and keep my feet moving while I work through this USDA thing – my heart tells me to keep chugging though my mind is questioning every damn thing again: money, age, vocations, failure in the middle; being out to sea. Yes, I’m out to sea and I’m losing some heart – I’m looking back towards where the shoreline used to be – it’s fucking long gone – and me and Angie are both (I think) looking back on the “normal” days we had. With more money, a better house, our dog and less pain (mental, spiritual and physical). This is difficult. But I’ve got my “boon” from my hero’s journey and I’m bringing it back – it’s my vision of marketing my head cheese that will keep me going, keep me moving and in touch with my guides. Sometimes, like Canfield wrote about, you do just have to sort of fake it – “act as if” sometimes involves just doing it even though you may not feel it yet.

Campbell advises that when the bliss cuts off, try to find it again. I do feel like it’s cut off right now. So I’ll heed his advice and try to find it again. I’ll rely on my guides and my heart will let me know what to do. Anything is possible and nothing should be a biophycomythological chore or deal breaker. I quit writing and go cook….

September 7, 2011. I just added an awesome jazziness to our 2015 vog – the HH Headcheese section! This is what really gets my nut spinning – producing headcheese and getting it marketed globally but most importantly beginning with Zingerman’s, which I think would do a great job selling the cold terrine by the pound but also, it just occurred to me, like a dumbass – they could make the headcheese hoagie as a standard sandwich option at the deli! They’d use more headcheese than I can produce on my own, or out of Union Hall period, so I’d have to ramp up production into my own building, all the while remaining totally artisanal. This way, I can find a way, as Canfield suggests, to make money doing what you love to do; the money part being the means to sustainability; the means for me to live where and how I want while being able to pursue my vocations, one of which is making and marketing the finest-tasting, most animal-welfare-friendly heritage food products in the world, something that is known world-wide by foodies, chefs, and gastronomes the world over as a version of headcheese that stands alone in refined but friendly flavor, produced with love, passion and the best ingredients, artisinally – it’s something to aspire to when eating, something that gets in your own head and you crave, maybe only every once in awhile, but enough that HH can help provide what me and Angie need for our phycomythologies. The money helps, it flows freely, and it’s just part of the vocation of headcheese production – check out the new SECTION 3:

Humble Hogs (HH) Vision of Greatness 2012

Prouds:

HH Headcheese is loved and respected amongst food-lovers world-wide as the best and finest handcrafted, artisanal example of this wonderful heritage product.

For Keith and Angie, our product represents all the things about animal welfare, pig welfare, sustainable business, biophycomythology and memorably good eating that we care so much about.

VOG:

The H2 community of businesses (H2CoB) is enriching our lives, Mark’s Carts, the city of Ann Arbor and the lives of our friends, family and customers – it’s a heart-felt expression of our phycomythologies and our vocations. Our guides continue to help us and support our phycomythologies. We have four part-time employees, very jazzy folks, who are in-it-to-win-it and have added the rocket sauce to the H2CoB that we need to keep sustainably growing according to our vog. It’s a privilege to work with such creative, talented, dedicated and devoted people – the value they add to the H2CoB is immeasurable and so we take great care to support, nurture and develop their careers with us and we support their own vogs as their dreams and master passions play out within their own lives.

H2CoB is embraced by the media – our master passions have attracted the attention of local, national and even global media outlets that we respect and admire. Angie especially enjoys the interaction with interesting, knowledgeable and creative people from the television, radio and publishing fields – we’ve appeared on t.v., on the radio, in magazines and newspapers – it adds legitimacy to our efforts, increases our business opportunities and we are meeting great people.

Through all of this great action, we have made the time to “stay humble” and to maintain our mindful healthfulness – we get at least one long (5-20 mile) trek in per week, we work-out three times/week, we do kundalini three times/week, interact with friends at least once a month and we have at least one great coffee-fueled conversation weekly about anything that jazzes us! We can’t wait to jump out of bed each morning and get going on our two H2CoB businesses!

  1. H2 Gastro-Cart:
    1. Our flagship business, the cart has put us on the entrepreneurial and culinary map! The food court is full of people buying lunch at the various carts, talking, laughing, eating at the court and taking their food “to-go.”
    2. H2G-Cart is very popular, we have our core customers – folks that live and work in the area who arrive early to chat and get their favorites before we run out – and there’s always somebody new who’s just heard about us and wants to try our food.
    3. Our food, image and H2 experience connect us with folks that understand and appreciate what H2 brings to the food court and the city. It is so much fun to cook our food in a commercial kitchen and to learn how to become better at what we do from our fellow cart vendors, and from Mark and his team at DTH&G. It’s a blast to sell tasty, memorable chow from our “heritage bistro” menu and to get the jazziness back from our happy customers – we’ve connected with so many like-minded folks through our small cart.
    4. We’re proud to have reached sustainability – the cart brings in more than the $50K revenue we need to pay the bills – we have made a profit of over $30K this year and can put that back into the H2CoB! In addition to our hearty, tasty, food, our customers love our tees and hats – we sell five of each per week and we love to see folks on the street who enjoy sporting the H2 graphics – very cool!
  1. H2 Gastro-Farm:
    1. We are leasing land in the A2 greenbelt through the small farm initiative – we have twenty acres and we’re producing enough pork to supply our H2CoB needs and to sell to several local businesses and directly to our customers. Our pigs are large black and red wattle heritage breeds and they are happy pigs indeed – they are well-nourished and enjoy their outdoor pasture and woods – we rotate their pasture areas just like the best hog farms and they get totally jazzed when it’s time for fresh grass. In winter (and bad weather), they enjoy their hoop house, which uses hay, corn husks, etc. as bedding. We fatten them on organic corn feed, brewer’s, baker’s and produce wastes from local businesses and farms, and, in a special limited edition of five hogs/year – we introduced our acorn-fattened line of humbly happy porkers, wow, H2 Iberica!!
    2. Our animals are raised according to the most humane and sustainable methods that we can accomplish – we’ve learned so much from our hog-farming peers. Our hogs are transported and slaughtered as close to the H2 Gastro-Farm as we can sustainably manage using businesses that provide the most humane transportation, handling and slaughter methods in the area. The high-quality butchering and packing of our pork results in some of the best-tasting, most memorable, most value-added pork in town!
    3. The Gastro-Farm now includes the “gastro” part – we have begun building out our Public House on site where you can step up to the bar or the bonfire to enjoy our pork-focused dishes, a small but impeccable selection of beers, whiskeys and wines, great tunes and numerous events that express our master passions: food, pigs, music, the written word, walking, trekking, kundalini and biophycomythology (the study and application of being who you are) and gastro-farming.
    4. We have a basket of apples in the H2G-Pub for our customers to give to our pigs – guests can grab an apple and walk back to the pig pasture, right up to the fence, and scratch our pigs behind the ears and give them a treat!
    5. We host monthly seminars and events, which can be reserved on our website, that bring experts together with guests for memorable experiences in and outside of the H2G-Pub that are focused on all of our vocations – food, writing, trekking, audiophiling, phycomythologizing and gastro-farming and connect us with like-minded folks.
  2. HH Headcheese:
    1. We now market our headcheese to Zingerman’s Deli – they sell our terrine by the pound AND they make their own “headcheese hoagie” from it. It is grilled HH-style, with the same grilled onion, grilled bell pepper and Dijon as toppings (customizable by customers of course) and it’s served on a bakehouse white (the HH classic version) or a ZCoB hoagie bun – toasted – specially selected to take the sandwich into the realm of the sublime! AWESOME!
    2. We have our own production team of five jazzy employees operating out of our HH-owned USDA-FSIS Grant of Inspection production building – Est. 989 has been transferred from its “humble” beginnings at Union Hall Kitchen to this small but fabulous, very clean and enjoyable work space in Ann Arbor. We’ve got the technology in refrigeration, freezers, HVAC and sanitation to continue to make our headcheese artisinally, by hand, without the addition of any fillers, additives, preservatives or anything besides the original simple recipe of good things, most importantly, pasture-raised happy pigs.
    3. Niman and Sherwood are supporting us with great customer service and timely shipments of super high quality pig heads. We now require several hundred pig heads per month to produce what Zingerman’s and our other customers around the world require.
    4. Our packaging is cool and makes the purchase experience that much more enjoyable because the packaging reflects the love, time, care, and skill of crafting the headcheese.
    5. Our shipping methods are rock-solid safe and as environmentally sustainable as the current technology allows – we’re always working to make less of an impact on the environment. Our HH production building is a model of waste and environmental responsibility – other companies contact us for advice which we’re glad to provide.
    6. This division of HHCoB is thrilling to be a part of – it connects us to the kind of hard-working and fun food folks that we love to associate with. We get to check out pigs in their pastures whenever we want because we’re so hooked up to the pig world. We’re often interviewed by the media and we enjoy telling our story because it helps the biz and it may indeed help others find their way and improve the lives of more pigs. It helps solidify the traditions of pasture-raised pig farming and fantastic animal welfare. Our days are filled with challenging and fulfilling tasks related to our headcheese production – fun days at pig farms, talking to customers, working with our employees, solving problems that make our headcheese production more efficient, safe and consistent, and in general continually learning how to do this better. The headcheese, whether you cut into a terrine, eat it cold, griddle it, nosh a hot sandwich, smell it or just look at it, makes your day better – it expresses our connection to all the things that we love, all our vocations and our phycomythologies, which may sound corny, but is very true – we are so happy to be contributing this small but meaningful thing to the world.

This is great. I submitted, ready or not, my request to Tom G. for a facility walk-through for Est. 989 to go USDA-FSIS live! Whether my docs are ready I can’t really tell anymore – it’s all so tedious, I just need to get going using them and making the changes I need to make per Tom. There’s a point where just thinking about this and writing it all down in spreadsheets and Word documents doesn’t get me very far – I need to apply this stuff and get the kinks out. We get Est. 989 approved (granted), then I get a sample to ZCoB and make it happen.

September 8, 2011. The “Creation Equation” is borrowed from a book that Angie picked up by Rod Stryker, called The Four Desires:

Is + Iv > Ik ≈ P

When the intensity of desire, plus the intensity of the energy you direct toward achieving it, is greater than the intensity of resistance, it equals attainment of your desire.[2]

Increasing the intensity of desire and energy applied towards it has always been my modus operandi, but this points out the interesting additional aspect of decreasing the intensity of the “resistance” to your desire as a way to expedite achieving it. The resistance can be within you as well as outside of you. This is a similar idea to Canfield’s “limiting beliefs.” It’s tough to indentify the things inside you that limit you, but following the advice of both of these authors has helped me. I do think there’s some limiting belief that I hold about money. Whether I think having the $500K/year I’ve put on my vision board will “ruin” me – my integrity or ethics, or change me for the worse, or that I don’t deserve it, I don’t know – it’s still a mystery to me though I’ve pondered it a lot. There may be something else behind the money, I’ll keep working on it. In the meantime, external resistance can be diminished also by my vigilance as to what forces are most energetically opposing my desires; these seem to reveal themselves more when I stick to the practice of yoga and keep referencing my guides and reading new information that may help, like this new book by Stryker. I can’t ignore anything that may help me – I need to use all the tools available.

My USDA-FSIS walk-through is being scheduled for next Wednesday or Friday, depending on what Tom can work out with the powers that be. THIS IS GREAT! IT’S HAPPENING! Pressure and time, and the management of the creation equation, will allow me to accomplish the HH Headcheese “sankalpa.”

September 10, 2011. A day before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. What a shitty-ass horrible thing to have to remember about what horror and hate man unleashes upon himself and the world.

USDA-FSIS-EIAO walk-through scheduled for next Wednesday at 8AM. I had a lab come in to perform the first set of Lm samples on my cutting board, knife, bowl and spoon. I’ll probably have to include the sheet pan that I put the heads on after taking them out of the cooking pot – that’s a “post-lethality-food-contact-surface.” $35 per sample. I’m getting info from a food packaging consultant/design company to see if they can come up with jazzy packaging – authentic and no bullshit – that goes beyond my shrink-wrap and butcher paper. I know Ari pays a lot of attention to packaging, so if I’m to get into ZCoB with the headcheese, the packaging needs to have some attention paid to it. I hope it doesn’t cost too much to do this, but what is “too much?”

Today is the “Homegrown Festival” – we have to haul the cart from the food court to the Kerrytown Farmers Market (maybe a quarter mile as the crow flies), set up, and then cook a shitload of food between this morning and sometime late tonight when we get the fuck out of there. As far as the hassle involved in going mobile with the food cart, it’s not the distance, it’s simply having to move it at all. An added crap-shoot factor is the Michigan-Notre Dame game scheduled right smack in the middle of the food event, fucking 8pm what the fuck? It could kill biz. Also shitty weather expected again today. So negatives abound, but we’re doing it anyway and we’ll see what the fuck happens…gotta go…..


[1] Rosanne Cash, Composed: A Memoir, (New York: Viking, 2010), 137.

[2] Rod Stryker, The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom, (New York: Delacorte Press, 2011), 120.