Sapiens Qui Vigilat*
It is the wise one who watches
There’s a darkness on Instagram. It’s rarely found in the images themselves, a smattering of curated “real” moments to make our friends and family believe we’re not actually bipolar or getting a divorce or about to lose our job.
Even those are rare or unseen now, due to the algorithms which generally promote what is essentially a corrupt marketing environment masquerading as spontaneous content.
This is not the shadow I speak of, though.
About six weeks ago, my feed contained a photo of a beautiful cashmere gray doodle lounging on a Mies van der Rohe Barcelona chair next to a honey sunburst Gibson Les Paul guitar. Behind the pup, was an expanse of plate glass affording a view of swaying prairie grasses and noble trees, backdropped by an azure stretch of lake and sky striated with cotton candy clouds.
It was a post from one of my favorite chefs, Bo Fowler. Bo’s work was like a corner tavern for me. In fact it was, as her now defunct Fat Willy’s BBQ and neo-British pub Owen & Engine were approximately 250 and 300 steps respectively from my front door.
When we moved here to Logan Square eleven years ago, a slab of ribs with a side of onion rings and Willy sauce was the thing that revived me as I slumped amongst unpacked boxes.
With two young children at that time, we were a magnet for grandparent visits, which meant foie gras-fat-glazed pop tarts at Owen and Engine’s brunch.
If none of this is ringing a bell, then you surely know Fowler’s brisket, chuck, and short rib blend Slagel burger, a Niagara Falls of juicy beef crowned with golden caramelized onion jam swaddled in the marshmallow-soft bedding of a homemade potato bap (bun) served with golden frites and a side of aioli.
You want ketchup? You have to put that on yourself. But also, that would be dumb. If you were lucky, it was Tuesday night and you also got a shot of bourbon and beer with the patty for a ridiculously low price. Your friend Jason would be there. It would be the last time you’d ever see him.