Pub date July 1, 2008
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink


CHEAP EATS Every year the feral cat no one can catch has a litter of kittens and one of them winds up knocking on my door, so to speak, saying, "Well? Am I cute, or what?" And before I can answer — answering rhetorical questions being one of my favorite pastimes — the little outcast (who is of course the very definition of cuteness), falls into a feigned faint on account of starvation, obliging me to go get milk.

Now, I’ve listened to plenty of bluegrass music in my day. Between mandolin and fiddle solos I have absorbed the important lessons of the frozen girl, the paperboy, and others like them. Orphaned outcasts require bowls of milk, a crust of bread, and/or blankets, or else they will be dead on your doorstep come morning.

And nobody wants that, except maybe music publishers. I myself am not a moral, nor even an ethical, person. If I live by a code, it’s my own, and it’s odd, idiosyncratic, and inconsistent. Nevertheless, mercy for those less fortunate than myself, provided they show up on my doorstep no later than the second verse, starving or freezing, and preferably with a slight wobble, the back of their hand to the forehead … this is programmed into my cells as surely as one, four, five.

Plus: kittens are cute. They just are. Case closed. And I say this at the risk of offending a large portion of my readership, Rube Roy Perrotta, a.k.a. Shortribs Mosel, my old-time barbecue and buffet podner back in Ohio. He hates when I write about children and bunnies and shit. Speaking of which, there will also be fallout from the four or five people who have written, over the years, in support of Poo Poo Pride Month.

Which this is.

I’m sorry. I still listen to punk rock. I still like to look at, talk about, and journalistically record my scatological masterpieces. It’s just that I have also come to be an unabashed appreciator of cuteness. Sensing that, kittens come to my door.

I can tell that this will be the defining challenge of the second half of my life: how to die without first becoming a cat lady. All the elements are in place: aloneness, eccentricity, poverty, slanty one-room shack in the woods, disorderliness of mind, unrefined tastes, shortness of grace, pretty big bluegrass collection, and a weird, open heart.

Against that mountain of impending insurmountability, there stands one ally in my corner, and it is, ironically, a cat. My cat. Weirdo the Cat, whose legendary disdain for all carbon-based life forms, even orphans, is most vehemently expressed when the life form looks a little like her. As long as I have Weirdo the Cat, I reckon, I am absolutely protected from catladyhood.

Weirdo is 14 or 15. That means she likely will only live, I realize, for another 15, 20 years tops. Yes, I know that’s twice as long as cats generally live, but I’m factoring in her supernatural capacity for cantankerousness and tenacity. Some people are just too frickin’ pissed off all the time to die, and Weirdo the Cat, believe me, is one of those people.

How lucky is that? Without any question of me taking in one or 10 of these adorable outcasts my big-hearted self, I can get on the phone and start making calls. I know a lot of people with kids. I know a lot of musicians who know a lot of bluegrass songs. I know a lot of bighearted people without Weirdo the Cat in their corner.

Ate a lot of salad last night, as always, with my chicken soup, which had even more vegetables in it. Peas, celery, carrots. I ate a mango. Popcorn goes good with books, too, then a midnight bowl of Flakes & Flax cereal. For breakfast: oatmeal with sunflower seeds, strawberries, and blueberries.


Do you, like me, like balance? Don’t you wish this cute column came with a picture? Do you? Close your eyes.


My new favorite restaurant is Pho Hoa Lao #2. You know how I know? Because I ate there! Big, bright, empty place. The service is terrible, especially considering that there was no one else to serve. But the imperial rolls were pretty good, and both bowls of soup — the rare beef and beefball pho and the chicken soup — were very good. And it’s cheap, so …


333 10th St., Oakl.

(510) 763-8296

Daily, 8 a.m.–8 p.m.

No alcohol

Credit cards not accepted