Friday, May 6, 2011

The Art of Manliness

There are things I do when you're not looking. There were lots of concerts, Nigerian afrobeats and hipster bands from Athens, and little coffeeshop shows and so much bourbon drinking, a 5am trip to Denny's. There were lots of snuck cigarettes, but no pack buying, and a return to the gym after finally maybe ridding my lungs of an infestation of green gooey cockroaches. A giant Buddy birthday cake with sparklers, and my sister's birthday too, and Nate's too, and taco trucks and a new favorite album. I know that last post was sort of a bummer one to leave up so long, but sometimes when serious things happen, you then need to spend the week reveling in non-serious things, and not overthinking them, or documenting them, or analyzing them. I just, well, you know. I don't want this to just become a place where you go to see what my social calendar's been looking like. Who cares? You've been doing things too. We've all been doing things. Cause it's May. Things get done in May.

One thing I did last night was go with some boys to Hot Sauce Williams for what Andrew called a "Polish Boy Standardization". We're on the hunt for the best Polish Boy in Cleveland, for the Cleveland Sandwich Board. I am going to be factual for a minute here, since so many of you are out of towners and have no idea what a Polish Boy is. Basically, you take a kielbasa, which is like the intestinal tract of Cleveland, stick it in a white bread bun (the soft underbelly), layer it with fries, pour on barbecue sauce, and crown it with coleslaw (the coleslaw representing the shiny blue eyeshadow a waitress puts on after work on the way to Happy Hour). Serve with wetnaps.

I think I've only had one before. I don't like to order messy food usually, because even unmessy food has a habit of going down my shirt. And this is the messiest.

My friend claimed to be a master of eating one in the car even, and showed me how to wrap the wax paper around it like a diaper. We started at Hot Sauce Williams cause it's the one everyone knows best, thanks to the weird Food Network, which I hold responsible for convincing Cleveland it's a foodie town. Someday they will be put on trial for that. Because now apparently we are? And it's their fault. Even as we sat down, it was made very clear to me this was not the *best* one, and thus should serve as a baseline for my homework assignment, which is Seti's.

This isn't about eating this thing though, which I *tried* to do. It ended up pretty much the way it ends up every time I try to eat a hot dog with too much stuff on it, me just eating the actual dog with a fork and halfheartedly poking at the gooey remains.

There was a discussion about a blog Andrew had seen, called the Art of Manliness. He was disgusted with it, subject matter being how to buy things and wear things and cut your hair. Kitchenware. The boys were put out, not manly! they claimed. Though I argue good kitchenware is incredibly manly. If by man we are referring to mankind. Which we should be. I think, see, that modern manliness has pretty much always been in reference to how much money you make, and what you spend it on. So a list of foppish accessories boys should buy if they feel like spending 50 bucks on hair care products seems very manly.

Anyway, here is a breakdown of the Perfect Polish Boy, in which I loosely connect the two topics.

1) Balance is Manly: I hate oversized sandwiches. I appreciate the idea that when you are broke, its awesome to get a huge roast beef monster which will provide you with at least 5 clone sandwiches, but unless you are using it as a supplement to grocery shopping, I like being able to fit the damn thing in my mouth. You should be able to get a bite with everything included in it. A little bit of outdoors, a little bit of nerd, a little bit of flirt, a little bit of serious. But I shouldn't have to deal with a whole mouthful of one ingredient at a time.

2) Good Barbecue Sauce is Manly: I mean, it's all over it. It's the public image of the sandwich. If it's too sweet or not spicy enough, you're gonna know immediately. But of course, whether or not a sauce is good is a matter of opinion. I prefer more vinegary sauces. No tomato bases.

3) Sturdy Reliable Bread is Manly: I hate when you pick up a hot dog or sausage sandwich and the bread immediately falls apart. That's basically like having the guy get drunk on the second date and start crying.

4) Good Kielbasa is Manly: If the core of the Polish Boy is lacking, then no matter how much sauce and coleslaw you put on top, it's not going to be good. How the kielbasa is cooked is extremely important. Do you want a mouthful of fatty sausage overflowing with meat juice? Or do you want it deep fried and crispy? I personally like to microwave my kielbasa until the outside starts to radioactively char. This either means I prefer men that have survived figurative fires, or that I deep down don't really like stuffed meat in casings. Maybe it means I like space robots.

5) Coleslaw Being Runny is Not Manly: it's an accessory, and not the most important part, but without that layer of crisp and cool, the Polish Boy ceases to be. If the star of your coleslaw is the dressing, then basically I'm going to get a hot dog covered in mayo. Not cool. Don't try so hard coleslaw. Just be basic and timeless, some chopped up cabbage with a little bit of flair. True story: some of us really only started eating coleslaw at all just a few years ago. The more it reminds us of the cloying mess you can get from a deli counter, the more we start to think our previous anti-coleslaw policy was warranted. In this case, deli coleslaw equals Ed Hardy shirts, and the further you are from that the better.

Just so you know, the Hot Sauce Williams Polish Boy is NOT MANLY.


Quick, help me me fake slightly-deeper-than-superficial knowledge of Chicago.


"The gentrification of Logan Square has led to several stand up comics being priced out of the neighborhood,"

"Cleveland was founded in 1796. Chicago was founded in 1797, when all the cool people left to start bars."

"In Chicago, there is currently a petition to move the lake North, to stop fucking with the out of towners."

"Did you know once there were stockyards there? TRUE STORY."


  1. Aww, are the poor widdle guys notions of masculinity being challenged by...consumerism? Wait, what?

  2. It's like, if someone put out a list of How to be Feminine, and it mostly told you how to put on makeup and paint your nails and decorate your hallway. Of course, no one would do that ever, cause that would be terribly insulting. Which is why all modern guides to being a woman include how to deliver your own baby in the woods.

  3. I've done takeout from Hot Sauce Williams a few times but never tried the Polish Boy. It doesn't sound that appealing here, though, but I still might give it a shot.

    The coleslaw at Melt is way better, all vinegar and pepper, maybe my favorite thing there (which says something considering how many items they serve).

    My favorite commentary is #3.

  4. Thankfully that's only happened once.

  5. Nice article, thanks for the information.


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