The Best Restaurant In Jacksonville

by Jeff Johnson and David Roth

Jeff: Do you think if Carl Paladino had been elected governor one of his first executive acts would have been to force the Buffalo Bills to invade Scotland? “To save New York, we must squash Scotland like a cheap vase underneath the wheels of a 1983 Ford Econoline van. Get on this pontoon boat, boys. We’re going to steal their rum. As long as men in skirts are still putting their lips to pipes, we’re going for it. I’ve drawn it all up on parchment papers and burned the edges. It’s go time, ladies.” It’s a real shame that being an extreme asshole didn’t pay off for him, since it seemed to work in the rest of the country, yesterday and throughout history.

David: I boycotted the TV coverage because I don’t have the time to actually go catatonic with dread for a few days. I saw a few minutes of CNN, and it was just Wolf Blitzer toggling between holograms of Fergie and the werewolf kid from Twilight. They were talking about the death tax.

Jeff: Now Paladino can go focus on further alienating his own family. “I bought you some hamsters, Little Judy. Then I killed them on the way home. You may play with their corpses for an hour.”

Jeff: Speaking of the Bills, I heard James Lofton doing the Westwood One radio broadcast of the Steelers vs. the Saints the other night.

David:I don’t get much exposure to NFL radio. I have no idea who’s doing football games on the radio. I’m imagining Mancow and a woozy Mike Tomczak doing Bears games.

Jeff: It was a mess. It was like Lofton had consumed a nail polish remover and Rumple Minze smoothie minutes before entering the booth. He referred to Reggie Bush as Michael Bush and said that Rashard Mendenhall gets 90 yards per carry.

Jeff: So, is Donovan McNabb so bad that you have to bring in JaMarcus Russell? I’ve never known Shanahan to be the kind of coach where he starts mentally torturing his players.

David: But I think he’s that kind of person. They also brought in JP Losman to audition! Everyone in the DC area gets a shot. Jack Abramoff and Ian Svenonius and Jeff George are all coming in for workouts today. I don’t get lifting McNabb for Rex Grossman at all though. Or lifting anyone for Rex Grossman. McNabb is better at everything than Grossman, including talking to Grossman’s parents on the phone and entering Grossman’s email passwords. He’s also better than any quarterback they’ve had since… I don’t know, either Mark Rypien or Sonny Jurgensen, depending on your point of view.

Jeff: Was Mark Rypien part Native American? Was that his deal? I guess I shouldn’t refer to him like he is dead, even though his face is on many of our common coins nowadays. But he was crazy. He could throw the ball 400 yards and also kill an owl just by staring at it. They have no receivers, do they? ZERO running backs?

David: They have a bunch of those unlicensed videogame names. Receiver 85 is playing well. Joey Galloway saw a commercial on TV for The Scooter Store and now plays in a maroon-and-gold Rascal with a little orange flag on the back. He also shops for groceries with it. It’s really given him back his independence.

Jeff: They should be psyched that they are 4–4. Did they even win 4 games last year? Speaking of great receivers, Tate in New England is a monster.

David: Yeah, he’s really good. Really fast and really good. They should resign Moss just to make sure that Tate doesn’t get TOO good. Other than security staff trying to ruin your son’s Halloween, do you have any observations from your time in Foxboro?

Jeff: I did get to see Brady take his helmet off on the sideline and fix his hair, they put it on the Jumbotron at the stadium.

David: To peals of piercing shrieks and waves of fainting people in oversized Bruschi jerseys?

Jeff: Some. The Pats fans I saw were the kind of people who chain smoke and eat a fistful of buttered hashbrowns while talking about how Bruschi bravely came back from a stroke. “I should know, ’cause I’m having one right now. A little mini one.” We sat behind a guy with little hair but a lot of hair gel.

David: Gel-scalp. Always a good look.

Jeff: He thought the Patriots should kick a field goal to go up 24–18 with 2:00 left. Because nothing is safer than a 6 point lead in football.

David: Was he really adamant? I have never heard anyone screaming for a field goal. “Get Gostkowski in there OH MY GOD, COME ON! Make them have to convert an extra point after a tying touchdown! Do any of you even FOLLOW FOOTBALL?”

Jeff: I had a skinny little teen drunk in a woodsy patterned North Face coat come up the stairs of my section at least 47 times. Once in the third quarter he stopped at my row and looked at me and my kid and was like, “We have these four seats. You’re going to have to leave.” I said, “Just let me see your ticket.” It was for one section over. He’d walked up the wrong stairs every time he went for another beer. Just no clue. If my kid wasn’t with me, I would have gotten up and let him sit there. Just to see how long it would take him to realize his friends were never coming to those seats. It may never have happened. It reminded me of the fan at a Jets game who threatened to get another guy pregnant.

David: What you missed by not watching the Jets/Packers game, by the way, was 1) the most compelling argument for suicide ever televised, and 2) a couple of dudes dressed as Rex Ryan for Halloween. Two buddies, matching white mock turtlenecks under black sweater vests. I had to write about it for work, and I am seriously mulling a comp claim.

Jeff: That Jets/Packers game just seems like a 1978 game somehow. There were a lot of guys dressed up like Robert Kraft at the Patriots game It was weird because when I go out to watch football in New York, all the Pats fans are like little needy learned lawyer types who have PASSION for Grogan and Bledsoe and Tony Eason, even.

David: That’s my image of Pats fans, too. Brunch aficionados with a Dedication To Excellence. Are those dudes actually there?

Jeff: The needy smart lawyers were not at the game. They were busy using their cellphones to over-emo their girlfriends into Xanax prescriptions.

David: Because I imagine the game just being a bunch of aggro Mass guys with goatees and Tully Banta-Cain jerseys. Maybe in the expensive seats there’s some dude with a Tufts degree and a stadium blanket.

Jeff: It’s all Staind fans. One guy who laid marble at Vince Wilfork’s mansion, for whom Vince Wilfork’s wife ordered a pizza. I overheard that.

David: What kind of music gets played at a Pats game?

Jeff: Bon Jovi. And Nu Metal.

David: Right. The shit that gets your heavy drinkers mo’ hype.

Jeff: Then it morphs into hip hop that has even the players dancing during warm-ups. They kind of looked like panda bears executing all these moves with wonky pads on. 1998 Nu Metal, by the way. The whiny, quasi-romantic stuff that’s really just aggro against women, and then this gem. My kid doesn’t need to hear that.

David: I’m thinking Sevendust has an exclusive deal with the Chargers or something.

Jeff: Sevendust may have a deal with the Falcons. Google it.

David: Oh man. I don’t want to Google this, but hold on. Confirmed. By this poor jelly donut of a guy. And I quote: “No word yet on how the song will be used, but I’m going to get on the phone with some of the guys from the band next week to find out.” The song is used by the training staff as a powerful emetic.

Jeff: Despite the complaining, it was a lot of fun. We saw real drama unfold on the field, from our seats, which were only a little more than a quarter of a mile from the action. If Brady got sacked on that play where he scrambled, the Vikings would have won, I think.

David: I assume you saw it afterwards, but Favre getting carted off the field was actually kind of jarring. He looked really old and out of it.

Jeff: He got shelled on that play. He was on the Jumbotron, getting jeered and looking a lot like the grandma from the Beverly Hillbillies in the process, after she’d gotten into some adult cider. He actually had a decent game. They made a couple of bad decisions along the way. Trying to give Peterson a goal line run on 4th down without Moss or Harvin on the field.

David: I don’t sense that Childress is a very good coach. He looks like a less-respected high school principal.

Jeff: No one is happy with him right now.

David: Always really exasperated trying to get people to stop talking at assemblies. “Okay, gang, they’ll be plenty of time to shoot the breeze later.”

Jeff: The Moss thing is kind of freaky. He was a jerk but he made it real easy to get Harvin the ball.

David: It is. I’m going to write about it in my column, but I don’t know what I’m going to write yet. He really does seem like a jerk, but my sympathies are with him because at least he has it in him to be weird. And not totally TO grandiose weird. He’s actually a very strange man with a lot going on in his head. Until he sits down at a press conference and burps it all up.

Jeff: Sounds like the Dallas Cowboys have themselves a new WR.

David: There’s a great oh-shit moment in his let’s-get-fired press conference when, after he announces that he’ll be conducting all interviews with himself going forward and expresses a sort of generalized displeasure with something, he says something like “let me break it on down right now” or something. And you just know that what’s going to come next is going to be some weird spoken-word tone poem of aggrievement and bad decisions and weirdly precise diction.

Jeff: How are the Jacksonville Jaguars 4–4?

David:The poor Jags. A living argument for contraction. And not just them. The whole city of Jacksonville should probably be put in time out for a few years while it figures out what’s next.

Jeff: Gambling is to Vegas what _______ is to Jacksonville?

David: Toothaches. Foreclosure. The best restaurant in Jacksonville is a Cheesecake Factory that closed in 2006. The worst is a Bob Evans that only serves room-temperature club sandwiches. They’re a team that I could very easily get through the season without seeing. I assume they’re using Maurice Jones-Drew a lot? Are they still coached by Jack Del Rio?

Jeff: Yes on both counts, and their back-up QB is or was an old Buffalo guy right now. There are a lot of teams just wobbling towards mediocrity right now.

David: The Seahawks are another team that are impossible to figure out. They were horrible against Oakland. You know it must kill Pete Carroll to lose to a ham hock like Tom Cable. Carroll has effectively mastered PowerPoint and runs smoke lodge retreats for tech industry execs and sails his own yacht to Cozumel every February. Cable has a “Beaver Hunter” bumper sticker on the Camaro he painted to look like a can of Busch is undoubtedly on whatever the strip club equivalent of the no-fly list is. But, still, 33–3.

Jeff: And the Raiders could easily be 6–2.

David: Can’t argue with that. They’re actually good. It’s just hard to acknowledge that. So, for my own amusement, what was the most out-of-date jersey you saw at the Pats game? I have a feeling Pats fans will rock a mustard-stained Ben Coates “throwback” without hesitation.

Jeff: I saw a guy in a spotless John Hannah throwback jersey. To me he seems like one of the original patriots. As in father-of-the-country patriot. Doing surgery on a sickly cow then writing the bylaws of New England. Then there were Bruschi-jersey wearing girls.

David: Same frosty haircut as Bruschi, I hope. Go into the hairdresser and are like, “Give me the Sean Hannity,” because they don’t want to admit to getting the Bruschi-do.

Jeff: Yes, and several career drinkers, shaped and colored like ostrich jerky. I saw zero Seau jerseys.

David: For awhile I was kind of into trying to get outdated jerseys on eBay. I wore them while cooking. I still have a bunch, but at some point — like when your girlfriend moves in and discovers your drawer full of, like, Rashaan Salaam and Tamarick Vanover jerseys — the investment starts to look questionable. So much more embarrassing than a drawer full of pornography. Her holding up a Charlie Batch Lions jersey and being like, “You wear this?”

David: There was some band I remember buying a Lake Dawson jersey from, some band from Champaign, IL that seemed like they were selling jerseys to fund a regional tour? I got outbid on a Lawrence Phillips jersey they were selling. I don’t look anymore, but I’d love an Amos Zeroue or Samkon Gado jersey.

Jeff: Samkon Gado. I love him.

David: He had my favorite body type in running backs: weird rectangle. Shaped like the cursor on an old Tandy computer, minus the blinking. An oblong, awkward imperfect rectangle.

Jeff: He might still be on the Titans roster.

David: So, this isn’t necessarily connected to anything, but the unfortunate presence of Shanahan’s orange, mean-puppet face on my TV has reminded me how much I miss Herm Edwards. I would watch a Herman Edwards reality show, if anyone from the NFL network is reading this. A weight loss show in which he makes Tina Yothers hit a tackling sled to learn things about self-esteem.

Jeff: I get the sense that Edwards is manorexic. You’d need to watch his show with the sound off. But you could still understand what he was saying by his facial tics. “We may not win the game, but we WILL out-facial gesture you…”

David: I think a muted TV with Herm Edwards playing on it would still somehow make some sort of sound. A high-pitched, nasal sound. A very determined sound. Talk about crisp diction, though. Every time he says a word that ends in –er, it should make that “Top Chef” ‘shinnng’ knife sound.

Jeff: Here’s a good autumn song, to get that off of your brainpan. Still no apology from the Patriots for me. I am hiring Tony Dungy to mediate.

David Roth co-writes the Wall Street Journal’s Daily Fix, contributes to the sports blog Can’t Stop the Bleeding and has his own little website. And he tweets!

Jeff Johnson tweets here. He is also responsible for doing weird things with old sportscards here and here.

Photo by cnewtoncom, from Flickr.

Previously: The Flavor of Tom Coughlin’s Gum