The great and powerful Russell assures us that we’re allowed to be two things, even if one contradicts the other. We’re allowed to be vain and totally insecure about what’s looking back at us in the mirror. We’re allowed to be the life of the party and terrified to speak in public. We can be brilliant and make the most moronic mistakes. We can also be complete sellouts and retain our artistic integrity. While these conflicting ideas (and many others) certainly make up my personal dichotomy, Russell assures me that none of them make me a hypocrite. A two-faced asshole, maybe. But, hey, welcome to the internets.
I touched on selling out in the postscript of my letter to Sir Kensington (No Brow Too High) but let me make an addendum: I am not above selling out… and neither are you. There’s a reason why artists are starving, why they die penniless and alone while hacks do lines off toilets made of solid gold. Everyone has a price; anyone who says different wants you in their church. I don’t say that as an artist or a hack, but as a mom of three very hungry and equally messy raccoons. I hate the mom card as much as you do, by the way. I don’t think I’m owed anything special for becoming something that not only any idiot can become, but something that idiots become the most often.
However, if I have a knack for something that is creative and profitable, why should I disregard the latter in the name of art? (Especially when all the opposite can do is make my family’s life easier and is an excellent idea.) What is this monopoly artists think they have on expression? Why are their sensibilities so fragile that they go fetal at the very mention of money? I know I’m making generalizations. They’re not being made out of anger, this is more my mind wandering. I just think it’s possible to be an artist and a hack. Russell assures us so. Does that mean I’ll be doing lines off toilets made of solid gold? I don’t want my nose where your butt’s been.
Now for our feature presentation. In the spirit of the post, I’ll be reviewing a chain restaurant (hiss!) that serves artisan food. They’ve been popping up all over the place, but are still pretty new. If you haven’t been to Smashburger yet, maybe this ReKimmendation will push you through the front door.
Going in, you’ll immediately notice two things: the modern feel and the spate of friendly young girls each location likes to hire. Maybe the franchise’s freshness has yet to break their spirit (the industry gears will grind you soon enough, ladies), but they were all incredibly helpful and ready with their suggestions. They talked Russell into trying the San Diego Burger (each menu is customized for locals), me into the Mushroom Swiss Burger with bacon added (there’s that scwewy B-word again, wegans), and we shared Sweet Potato Smashfries, Fried Pickles and a Butterfinger Shake. The kittens behind the counter told us the food would be out in 5–8 minutes and they didn’t lie.
Russell’s San Diego was equal parts spicy and juicy, with chipotle mayo and pepper jack cheese. My Mushroom Swiss dripped with mushroomy goodness on a soft, sweet egg bun. The sweet potato fries stand on their own, so perfectly tossed (with garlic, olive oil and rosemary) that no dipping sauce was required. Despite years of fair food, this was my first experience with fried pickles and they will be a salty snack of choice for years to come. Then there was the Buttefinger shake. Holy. Jumping. Jesus. Served classically, with a tall shake glass and an aluminum mixer, it was flawless. The worst thing you can (legally, as a minor) put in your body, but still flawless. All of this came in at just under $25. A little hard on the wallet, but drive-thru joints aren’t much cheaper these days and have the added cost of way inferior food.
Tonight’s topic was spurred by my eldest son. He’s a musician and a pretty damn good one (no mom card being played here). Writes his own stuff, plays both guitar and bass, tinkers with the drums and tries his best to lead a trio of teens towards fame and glory. He’s an artist to the core and, being his mother’s son, is also too stubborn to change. But that’s only because no one has ever thrown real money his way. It’s very easy to get self-important about things you’ve never tried, isn’t it? Truth is, if a real opportunity to dabble in hackery came knocking at his door, a humming bird wouldn’t be able to sign that dotted line any faster. Then he’d learn how artistic integrity only takes you as far as “do it our way or don’t get paid.”
And, hell people, there ain’t nothing wrong with getting paid. As popular and safe as it is to talk trash about the One Percenters, how many of us would actually despise being one? I sure wouldn’t, and the second someone starts paying me for my meandering bullshit, I’m ordering that solid gold toilet. Then doing lines off my solid gold vanity.