Road Food: Mr. Zubs in Akron, or Big, Big Hearts Beat Big, Big Beats.
January 18, 2012 § 1 Comment
Ostensibly, this post is about Mr. Zubs in Akron, Ohio. This is where Nick Sturm, organizer extraordinaire of the Big Big Mess Reading Series took Tyler Gobble, Layne Ransom, Ashley Ford, and me to stuff our stomachs with sustenance to keep us upright through the amazing evening ahead.
Mr. Zubs is a rad little sandwich shop attached at the hip to The Matinee, where you can enjoy a plethora-board of sandwiches named after various iconic movies like the Dirk Diggler (a foot-long hotdog a la Boogie Nights) or the Rick Deckard (a buffalo chicken sandwich named after the protag of Blade Runner). The menu was put together by someone with an obvious boner for typography, though I have to admit, it was a bit daunting due to the sheer size of the menu and the all-caps text. I love the look of it, but there was some readability sacrificed.
The cool part about its Siamese twin situation with The Matinee is you can get some good brew to wash down your sandwiches, which I didn’t notice until we were on our way out, but it’s okay, because I was on the hunt for bourbon. And everyone knows, no beer before liquor if you’re in for a long night.
Ashley and I both put down the above-mentioned Deckard, which was awash in a spicy good buffalo sauce and the bread was perfect. My only complaint is the chicken wasn’t apt to staying in the bun, so I kept having to stuff pieces of chicken back into the sandwich.
Tyler doubled-down with the Hightower (Police Academy), which was a monstrosity of a sandwich containing an abundance of macaroni & cheese and bacon, stuffed between two pieces of toast. Vegetarian options here are plentiful, too, as Layne and our hosts were primarily vegan/vegetarian, and all of them went away happy, though I didn’t take note of what they were scarfing.
I didn’t get any pictures of the food, because I’m new at this whole food blogging thing. Sue me.
So there it is. Mr. Zubs in Akron, OH. A perfectly sound place to get a good sandwich, beer, and some tater tots in northeastern Ohio. You can stop here if all you care about is the food. If you want to hear about the rest of the weekend’s chicanery, hit the jump.
We gotta back up.
Mr. Zubs came only after a 5-hour road trip across the topographically bereft tundra of middle-Ohio that included pop-and-locking across Layne’s icy parking lot, stopping at an Arby’s in the 3rd best Portland you’ve ever been where I ordered a milkshake that nearly wrecked me (I need to start eating like I’m actually lactose-intolerant), a surprising lack of Ohio State Police, wisdom regarding the proper use of dandruff shampoo, the shimmering glory of a combo Marathon/KFC/Dairy Queen/Long John Silvers, and countless other jokes of the “you had to be there” variety.
We pulled up to the Big Big Mess house, made up of Nick Sturm, Mike Krutel, Sam (the Ghost), and their skittish but sweet black cat Maggie. It was one of those places where you felt no need to stand on ceremony. We four Hoosiers were exactly who we were inside the house having just met these 3 dudes as we were in the car. We immediately cuddle-piled on their couch, determined that I was the oldest person in the bunch, and coined some catch phrases for the weekend, including Layne’s refrain of “You’re so good at being an asshole” to me, “buncha queers,” and “Who’s this?” (a question constantly posed to our hosts every time they put on another consistently great record).
Josh Kleinberg showed up via Greyhound to take Nate Slawson’s place on the reading as Slawson had come down with a nasty case of the sick-in-bed, and off we went to Zubs for grub. There was something of an intermission in the evening while we browsed around a little record store with an amazing selection, then to Annabel’s, the bar where the reading would take place in a perfectly ambianced basement where the Jameson flowed cheap and the words came tumbling.
Kleinberg sing-shouted three long poems that held some sort of spastic electric light. He tipped on his toes, shuffled his feet, held us all on our own edges. Layne faithed with fervor unheard, admitted to adoring dragons, and I heard a few in the audience audibly exclaim their appreciation when she launched into work based on the Dark Materials books. Tyler Hulk-smashed his way through his poems, donning some 90s-era power pants and a too-large Hooters t-shirt that eventually engulfed him in entirety. I headlined and seem to have settled into a really natural, conversational style to the way I read my poems, and at some point I took off my shirt.
Also, I did Q&A during my set, which was fun, and at some point some dude asked, “Do you think your poetry has any social relevance?” and this came up as a joke throughout the rest of the night, and we made fun of the dude pretty hard, and I kind of feel bad about that in retrospect because it was a legit question, and really, I just didn’t have an answer for him. Or, maybe I did, but I didn’t want to admit it to myself and everyone.
The rest of the night involved a search for some alledgedly amazing albeit aloof grilled cheeses, and we settled instead on Pita Pit, which was probably for the better because I’m not sure my stomach could stomach more dairy. Though, we stopped for more beverage on the way back to the house where I bought an exorbitant amount of Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream potato chips and Peanut Butter M&M’s which I proceeded to share with nobody.
The next morning, some flax seed waffles and coffee appeared seemingly out of nowhere, and we enjoyed the company and musical preferences of the Big Big Mess crew a little while longer (Songs: Ohia and Dr. Dog are excellent morning musics), and reluctantly said goodbye to Josh and his friend Bethani before he left to catch another Greyhound.
As we were packing up, it came about that a crusade should be endeavored. Ashley Ford, ladies and gentleman, had never ridden a sled of any sort down a snowy embankment of any sort at any point in her life. She is 25. She has a list of 25 experiences that she has never experienced that she wants to experience while she is 25. Sledding is one of these experiences.
We said goodbye to Sam (the Ghost), and with Nick and Mike on point, made our way to Wal-mart, where we proceeded to not buy the only sleds they had in stock because they were $20. I have never known Wal-mart to be bourgie about anything, but evidently, they are about sledding.
We almost gave up, but Nick, ever the spirit of the crusade, said “Ah, hell nah!” and we went across the street to Lowe’s where we found spinner sleds for $6 a piece. Done.
I’ll tell you what. Central Indiana hasn’t got shit on northeastern OH for hills. Here is Ashley about to go sledding for the first time.
After about 45 minutes of giggle-fits and “Look at the fresh powder!” and puns on sleighers/slayers, we warmed up by a fire and drank some apple cider that Nick had recently lifted from a dumpster a few days earlier. It’s been a good few years since I’ve enjoyed the pilferings of a good dumpster dive.
I wish I could describe the drive home, but I can’t and don’t really want to. It is something best left between four friends tucked into a sedan heading west away from a much needed weekend of laughter and forgetting. I can’t thank Nick and crew enough for inviting us to read and spend the weekend smiling with them. I’ve never known a hospitality like theirs. Hopefully again soon.