Preface: As my understanding of the software that drives this blog continues to evolve, so to will its presentation. For example, some of you, especially those who signed up, will notice that I removed the “followers” application. I deeply thank those of you who signed up, but for some reason(s) I still don’t understand the site stopped showing you, as well as the method by which others can follow suit and join my legion of minions. I attempted to use the “help” site, which did nothing but run me around in circles without any solution to the problem whatsoever. So I took it off, with the hopes that in the future I can resolve the problem and repost this call to arms.
Also, I dropped off the fence, so to speak, in terms of my fiction. In the future, I will be posting stories, but not here. Instead, I’ll use FictionPress.com, a site much like my original Maztorphyl in its purpose, but on a scope far, far surpassing it (Very special thanks to another slave to the Word Muse, Bob Bogle, for turning me on to it, along with this blog service). Notices of my stories will come in the same way as the posts for this Maztorphyl, as well as here.
Anyway, on to the post.
And so it came to be that I, The Maztor, and my mate decided we needed a little “personal” time, that the post-postmodern world’s everyday dysfunction was getting the better of us and we needed to get out of Tucson for a short husband-and-wife getaway.
She already had a business trip arranged to Las Vegas, Nev. where, as an HOA manager, she was to learn how to better withstand the harsh psychic assaults focused at her by the godless HOA hordes. Based on that, we decided to dovetail our getaway after her class, a good strategy we’ve used before.
She left first by air and, two days and uncounted replays of Queensryche’s “Jet City Woman” and “Without You” later, I assumed possession of my avatar, tossed some reasonably wearable underwear into a suitcase and followed by car.
Mad, you say? Mad that I took the car and not flown, travelled that long way alone where the inner demons were so free to exit my id and play havoc with my higher brain functions? Mad with method, says I! As cheap as airfare is nowadays, driving is still less expensive, to say nothing of eliminating the extra expense of renting a car.
Still, I had alterior motives beyond practicing some good travel sense. Thanks to to wonders of the Internet, not too long ago I stumbled upon another Swampdog, a fellow Chaos Lord whom I considered a very close chum, but with the intervening years we’d drifted apart and sadly lost touch at some point in the timestreams: the Great and Powerful MARZ!
In his human form, Lord Marz had done pretty well for himself during the epochs since our last meeting. He found a great mate himself, became the editorial director for Overland Journal and basically turned every backwoods trail and out-of-the-way patch of nowhere on the planet into his own personal playground. Going well beyond the “let’s toss a couple cases of beer into the jeep and piss off the ranchers around Patagonia” concept of offroading, he’s can certainly walk the walk when it comes to vehicle-based outdoor adventure. Hell, he’s even done the four-month Baja run with his lovely wife and owns a Tacoma outfitted with a snorkel and an integral tent, for Chaos’ sake!
After a little back-and-forthing on Facebook, we settled on hooking up while I was enroute to Vegas. I’d take a short detour and swing into his current lair of Prescott.
“I haven't been (there) since I was six or so,” I explained. “Hence, I'm not sure how to get around. If lunch still sounds good to you, we can meet some place at least initially. Pick a place only a hometowner would know about, nothing touristy or chain, and send me the address so I can map it out on Expedia.”
“Ok, you asked for it,” he warned. “We'll eat lunch at a liquor store.”
Well, okay then.
So I braved the I-10 badlands between Tucson and Phoenix (which actually wasn’t so bad, except for that exploding semi), squeezed through the labrythine quagmire that is the Phoenix highway system and bolted up I-17 to Prescott.
As I arrived, it occurred to me at once that Prescott was not the small town I visited in my childhood. Dispersed between the native flora grew blot after blot of subdivisions, marring the landscape and providing ample evidence that embryonic sprawl, now epidemic in Phoenix, Tucson and countless other places across the United States, had infected the area.
Aside from a minor misstep, we hooked up at Park Plaza Liquors, a quaint little place as much eatery as booze emporium. Whatever supernatural pact Marz made many years ago still held. Aside from a faint shade of manly stubble, he retained his youthful good looks, even much of his curly blonde locks, damn him.
As for Park Plaza Liquors, while much of it was devoted to isles of many different kinds of distilled spirits and kisses of brewed heaven, its front and patio adjacent to the main entrance were reserved for locals wishing to wash away their hunger rather than sorrows. Most of the tables were on the small side, fit only to sit three people comfortably, four for those not minding coziness. Ordering food, on the other hand, took place in the back through a large window that exposed the kitchen’s inner guts.
As small eateries go, the menu was both predictable, with salads, soups, burgers, finger foods and especially sandwiches populating its pages, and surprisingly diverse with each category containing many individual dishes from which to choose.
I asked about the signature dish, and was given several choices (always a good sign), from which I settled on the green chile chicken sandwich and fries. Marz’s wife, Sharon, decided upon the avocado sandwich, while Lord Marz himself ordered the meatball, his usual according to Sharon.
We sat down, our order flag proudly presented at its center and chatted, getting caught up on old times. It was great seeing him and meeting Sharon, and he seemed livened by my presence as well, until I revealed how much of a botched job Tucson’s Rio Nuevo Project was becoming, and he got downright depressed when I informed him of the Rialto Theater’s impending doom (Author’s note: Anybody know that happened with that? Let me know.) and the mismanagement of the Fox Theater. Good thing the dishes arrived just about then.
I grew up in a large, boisterous family, and few things quieted us faster than a good meal. This very thing occurred. The chatting remained, but dimmed as we dug in.
Good manners blocked me from asking for bites of their respective sandwiches, but I can’t say I wasn’t tempted. Looking at Sharon’s, I could tell that merely calling it an “avocado sandwich” was a misnomer. Rather it appeared to be veritable salad squeezed between two pieces of bread! Rich colors flourished at it core in the form of fresh greens, orange slices and other vegatarian goodness, mouthwaterinly accenting the avocados. I’m willing to guess even Ted Nugent would put down his bow, just for a little while, to savor its cornucopic goodness.
Lord Marz delayed little in diving into his own meatball goodness. Slathered in rich, bright marinara sauce, the plump balls lined up in their bun like a Roman legion. Earlier, Sharon remarked they often split this particular dish, as it was so large, but Marz seemed to expect little such trouble as he devoured it.
Then, there was my dish. It was wonderful! The grilled breast sported the three traits that make good chicken great: plump, juicy and flavorful. The diced green chiles provided a mild accent (a trait I’ve found common in non-ethnic dishes where this miraculous ingredient is used) to the breast, as did the melted white cheese. The ciabatta bun in which it all nestled bore a texture I enjoy with this kind of roll: crunchy enough on the outside not to lacerate gums, soft enough on the inside to, as the cliché goes, melt in my mouth.
The fries surprised me. Cut thin and straight, they lacked the thickness I enjoy, but made up for it in, like the ciabatta, their softness/crunchiness ratio. Also, the fries were seasoned, but only slightly, unlike the ostentatious caking one finds at the chains. There was enough not to hide, but rather add complexity to the fries’ rich earthy potato flavor.
I wished I could have stayed longer, but Vegas and my mate still called. We said our goodbyes, along with sincere promises to keep in touch, and I was on the road once again with a satisfied belly and just a little hopeful sadness that our reunion was too fleeting, but with more to come.
And what about Vegas, you ask? Well, we burned through our gambling money in about a half hour, ate a lot, walked A LOT, slept and napped a lot (At least I did; apparently I was experiencing certain high-volume nocturnal nasal and GI issues that kept my wife awake.), viewed the most numerous collection of breasts I have ever seen (Oh come on, people! They’re everywhere!) and took the long drive home together.
Park Plaza Liquor and Deli is located at 402 W Goodwin Street in (presently) beautiful Prescott, Arizona. They can be reached via phone at 928-541-9867. I have been told an official Web site is forthcoming, but as of this writing nothing yet.
For those into high-end offroading and the outdoors, check out Overland Journal, a five-issue-per-year publication dedicated to “…environmentally responsible, worldwide vehicle-dependent expedition and adventure travel,” at http://www.overlandjournal.com/.