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Gene’s and Jude’s

I need to change my format.

I have a lot of fun writing blog posts. I get to rag on the things I don’t like about places (like ATMs in restaurants that don’t accept cash), I get to spread the word about awesome food, I help check the overrated places, and I think people enjoy the humor. I continue to get featured on Eater and GrubStreet (you’d think that would drive more than a few hundred hits to my site). My traffic is convincing enough to warrant press passes to a lot of cool NYC events. I went from nothing to a popular site and a lot of friends and acquaintances in the NYC food scene in a year. The problem is that it’s not getting me any closer to the career I want: talking about food and the people behind it in front of a camera.

Writing these posts for the last couple weeks has been tougher as I’ve come to this realization. Thoughts of futility, frustration, malaise, boredom … I stared at this post page for four days, trying to figure out what I was going to say about another Hot Dog.

You’ll notice that I bold all of the names of the dishes I eat. That right there is called the “Hot Dog.” No muss, no fuss.

My review: This was my favorite hot dog in Chicago, and it was practically in another state. We were on the north side, had just been picked up at the airport parking lot from Josh of Live Off Groupon for our third straight day of whirlwind Chicago food tours and I was getting tired of hot dogs and pizza, but we were going to have more pizza later as well. The fries on this hot dog made it for me – these were also the best fries we’d had in Chicago. One of Josh’s relatives said that the steaming was what made them so good. I disagree wholeheartedly with this statement. Steaming never makes any meat better. Grilling, frying, or searing makes hot dogs better, but this one was pretty decent on its own.

Then we had the Tamale:

Most of the reviewers on Yelp either hitch the Tamale onto the the-hot-dog-and-fries-are-awesome bandwagon without actually saying they’ve tried it. Some just ignore it. NO ONE calls it out for being the dog shit awful mess that it is. It’s goddamn fucking expletive terrible.

It’s only $1.50 or something and it’s the only other thing to order but why would you have something steamed in a bag sold at the same place you sell some of the best dogs in Chicago? It makes no sense. They need to trim their menu or hire some Mexicans to make these things better. Lawrence and I split one after Josh’s brother told us how bad they were (we’d assumed they couldn’t be that bad) and neither of us had a second bite. Who decided this was acceptable to serve? Purchased from a company. Steamed. In a bag. WTF.

There. I can do that. For the time being, the new format is going to look more like Immaculate Infatuation’s: a paragraph or two, then descriptions (then pictures). I’ll to continue to do the posts, and I’ll get 2-4 a week up in the time being while I’m perfecting my new video series. By perfecting, I mean picking the concept, developing the format, and producing a few videos before I go live with them. I’m not going anywhere for a while.

I’ve found a bit of a voice by writing, and I’m sure the voice will translate into a better on-camera persona, but it isn’t practice. I don’t get a lot of practice, but I start my second Improv class today. I just bought a DSLR with which I’ll be filming. I’ve met some producers (professional 26 minute show producers) and other people close to the industry that I can tap to actually get paid to be on camera (might not be able to survive on that income alone). I’m cooking more. I’m taking cooking classes.

Someone I talked to on Facebook asked me if I was “Still in NYC” and “What happened to Hagan” after we’d talked two weeks prior. I think she liked the more freewheelin’, sell all your stuff, fly to Costa Rica, Buddhist retreat-y Hagan.

He’s just trying to figure it out. Baby steps to a better situation.

Gene’s and Jude’s
2720 River Rd
River Grove, Illinois 60171
(708) 452-7634

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Ashlee October 4, 2010, 4:54 pm

    The girl towards the end there sounds like such a bitch. Personally, I admire you for dedicating all of your efforts and funds and waistline to something that you truly care about. Who cares what other people think. It’s all about making small steps. Small, Costa Rican steps.

    Anyway, she probably liked you better Buddhist-y because they get all tantric in the bedroom. So I’ve heard.

    • Hagan October 4, 2010, 11:58 pm

      I think the two of you would get along famously.

  • KingT October 11, 2010, 1:53 pm

    “It’s only $1.50 or something and it’s the only other thing to order but why would you have something steamed in a bag sold at the same place you sell some of the best dogs in Chicago? It makes no sense. They need to trim their menu or hire some Mexicans to make these things better.”

    You should try not to fit the stereotype of a typical New Yorker. While I might agree that Chicago hot dog stand tamales are not for everyone (some grew up on them) you could of done a little research since thats what your going to need to do if you ever want that food job on camera. First off they are a Chicago tradition started by Iltaco which is short for Illinois Tamale Company. They became big in Chicago in the 1920’s when African Americans looking to escape the strife of the south migrated North to Chicago and brought with them blues and Delta style tamales, which is what these tamales are. No the factory made ones arent as good as the homemade versions you’ll find alng the trails if the Mississippi delta but they are a tradition and usually eaten when thrown into a cup of chili. If you saw the No Reservations Chicago episode it featured Mother In Laws which are these tamales in a bun topped with chili and other choices.

    Although Iltaco no longer makes corn meal tamales (which arent even Mexican, so that comment was just dumb about having them make them) there are a few companies that have continued to do so and besides, your hot dogs in NY out of those carts are downright disgusting so be happy you were able to sample a real Chicago style dog (minimalist) which is the best example of a regional hot dog in the country.

    Here’s a little history lesson for you on delta tamales…


    You’ll see on the left side they have other options to click including “Chicago connection”

    Heres a place downstate IL that sells them. Once again proof NY doesnt have everything…


    • Hagan October 11, 2010, 5:13 pm

      Hold on, King T, those Tamales on your link look tasty and well-made? And the other link says “… tamales made their way to the Mississippi Delta in the early twentieth century when migrant laborers were brought in from Mexico to work the cotton harvest.” Where am I wrong again?