Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

The World Can Be Saved Through Doughnuts

Monday, June 21st, 2010

At least, filmmaker Jaxon Defa believes the world can be saved through doughnuts. I stumbled upon this “mockumentary” within YouTube and I have repeatedly reached out to the gentleman whom I believe made the film to talk to him about it, but I have yet to hear back from him. If anyone knows him, have him drop me a line; I’d love to interview him. But until then, I will share a pretty hilarious 8 1/2 minutes with you. It includes everything from sexual obsession to poetry to philosophy. And as a piece of film making, it isn’t bad either. Congratulations, Jaxon, wherever you are.

National Doughnut Day – Don’t Forget the Salvation Army

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Stella Young, the Salvation Army Doughnut Girl

The first Friday in June is a very important day. It is National Donut Day. Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts establishments all over the country are giving away free donuts (if you like that sort of mass-produced, overly-sugared sort of thing and with Dunkin, the donut is only free with a purchase). Here in the Bay Area, I would suggest the likes of Dynamo, Pepples, or Psycho Donuts. I have no idea if any of these establishments are doing anything special to mark the day

Those who are more concerned with their gratuitous hunk of calories probably don’t care WHY it is National Donut Day. But I do and I think it is a pretty cool story. Well, my friends, it all goes back to the Salvation Army and World War I. In April of 1917, when America joined the war, the Salvation Army was right there to support the troops. National Commander Evangeline Booth, working with Lt. Colonel William Barker, responded to a request from the troops to “bring over some Lassies” and Evangeline imported a total of eleven Army volunteers to Europe, including four single women. More Salvation Army volunteers followed and small hostels were established very near the American troops, often right at the front line. Many stories still exist where the women as well as men were in danger from gunfire and mustard gas.

Vintage postcard showing a Salvation Army Doughnut Girl

It was October of 1917 when Ensigns Helen Purviance and Margaret Sheldon were assigned to the First Division at Montiers-sur-Saulx. After more than a solid month of demoralizing, deluging rain, the girls wanted to do something to lift the spirits of the downtrodden soldiers. Supplies had run out and were difficult to buy locally. The only things they could purchase were flour, sugar, lard, baking powder, cinnamon, and canned milk. “What about pancakes?” the girls debated. “No good cold, or without syrup.” “Doughnuts?” Originally, the dough was all hand-made, patted flat and fried in a shallow pan, seven at a time. The story goes that on their first attempt, the two girls, working late into the night, drew the troops with the aroma of fried goodness and served 150 handmade wonders. The requests overwhelmed them and more than double the amount of doughnuts was requested by the second day, with soldiers reminded of the flavors of home, lining up in the pouring rain for a single morsel.

Ansauville c.1918

The soldiers cheered the doughnuts and soon referred to the Salvation Army lassies as “Doughnut Girls” even when they baked apple pies or other treats. The simple doughnut became an iconographic symbol of all the good that the Salvation Army was doing to ease the hardships of the frontline fighting men.  The American Expeditionary Force was nicknamed “The Doughboys” and from being viewed with an attitude of skepticism the Salvation Army soon became the most popular organisation among the troops in France.

The importance of the Doughnut Girls and what they did for our troops grew. War correspondents and the letters home from the soldiers told stories of many of the girls who, besides frying doughnuts, became field nurses who suffered the inflictions of the gas and were often killed alongside those boys they were there to assist.  While the organization is more known today for its Santa Claus-clad volunteers ringing handbells outside of department stores during the holidays, in so many ways we have the Salvation Army to thank for American’s obsession and love of doughnuts — and the fact that they memorialized all of this in 1938 by announcing that the first Friday of June would be National Doughnut Day (or, National Donut Day, depending on how you spell it).

And the best treat of all – I invite you to listen to one of the original songs compliments of the technological marvel of an MP3. Written by Arthur Fields, the song Don’t Forget the Salvation Army was recorded on an Edison Blue Amberol 3796 in 1919. The sheet music cover is obviously designed after the photograph above of miss Stella Young, one of the original Doughnut Girls, clad in her Salvation Army uniform complete with helmet, with a ray of patriotic colors behind her. Here’s to you, Salvation Army and to all the Doughnut Girls everywhere.

Arthur Fields – Don’t forget the Salvation Army .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters, hear them ring
Oh what joy and what oh what bliss those coins can bring
For now our boys are landing at our shores everyday
This is what you’re bound to hear them say,

“Don’t forget the Salvation Army
Always remember my doughnut girl!
She brought them doughnuts and coffee
Just like an angel she was their best pal
As brave as a lion, but meek as a lamb,
She carried on beside the sons of Uncle Sam
So don’t forget the Salvation Army,
Remember my doughnut girl!”

Glory Hallelujah you will hear them shout
Helping any stranger who is down and out
Humanity uplifting in their most cheerful way
Is it any wonder that we say,


Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man 2, and Randy’s Donuts in Los Angeles

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I haven’t done a full review of Randy’s Donuts in Los Angeles yet. Believe me, I will. I have a LOT to say about this Southern California institution and will undoubtedly refer to it often. I lived in Southern California for almost a dozen years and to this day, their Apple Fritter is the benchmark against which all others are judged. But that is a footnote about their actual product. Today’s post is about the architectural landmark which has become such an iconic symbol in so many movies, most recently, Iron Man 2.

All things considered, it is pretty cool to me that the main character of Tony Stark, despite his superhuman suit, still maintains the same basic needs and desires that we all have after an insane night — the ubiquitous morning-after craving for sugar. In Los Angeles, there is no better location than Randy’s; well, technically in Inglewood. Randy’s Donuts has the advantage of lying directly off the 405 Freeway, en route to LAX Airport. It is open 24 hours and when I fly to Los Angeles, it is usually my last stop before I fly home (it is expected that I will always bring home samples).

The building dates back to 1952 and is clearly earmarked with a giant, two-story donut replica which sits on top of the tiny structure in which all the goodies are prepared. In Iron Man 2, Robert Downey, Jr.’s character, Tony Stark actually sits inside the name branded, inedible glazed edifice. That’s pretty darn cool. The viewers get the classic juxtaposition of a sixty-year-old landmark, hearkening back to a golden age of Hollywood with the action-packed, futuristic cockiness and breathlessly exciting, tongue-in-cheek frivolity.

Iron Man2 is certainly not the only time Randy’s Donuts have been showcased in a film. Last year, in the film 2012, John Cusack’s character, Jackson Curtis ran the gauntlet of world destruction, highlighted by the famous sphere rolling in a cataclysmic path. There was something delightful in seeing everything in and around Los Angeles being completely demolished, but somehow this giant donut rolled, unscathed, to some form of eternal safety. At least that is what I would like to believe and that’s the story I’m sticking to…

National Doughnut Week – or, Why I Love England

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Most of my close friends know all too well that I am a dyed-in-the-[sheep’s]-wool Anglophile. There isn’t much about England I don’t adore; from its quirky sense of humour (yes, I will spell it with a “u” thankyouverymuch) to its antiquated sense of self-worth. I love the history, the people, and the rain. A man with a British accent could have me at Ay-up. Although I don’t smoke, I am charmed that a cigarette is a fag, that bloody seems more dignified than fuck, and a numerical zero is zed. I used to drive British cars and still worship the dark lord, Lucas. I will drink a Guinness any day of the week over any American-made brew and actually crave toad-in-the-hole.

So it should come as no surprise that the Mother Country of my Bosom has a National Doughnut Week. Not just a DAY, mind you! They devote a whole bloody week to my beloved culinary obsession. It is all done to support The Children’s Trust, a charity devoted to helping children with multiple disabilities.  From May 8th through May 15th, bakers all over the British isles are donating proceeds from their doughnut sales for the charity. So, in your best Queen’s English, sing Hail Brittania at the top of your lungs and buy a doughnut! You’ll be brilliant!

The Simpsons offers Homer Donut Hell

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

I have to confess I have never watched The Simpsons. Well, my friend Chi-Chi Maldonado once insisted I watch an episode about that showcased Patrick Stewart as a Stonecutter (read: Mason) because it was a parody on Secret Societies, of which we were members. Come to think of it, Chi-Chi also directed me to an episode where some character who never speaks breaks her silence to explain the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Lots and lots of friends have assured me that I would appreciate the layered, intellectual humor in it but I think it was the legions of adolescent boys who took on guttural grunt of “Doh!” which really started to get to me.

So I’ve mostly ignored The Simpsons, despite its longevity and staying power on television. I have ignored it until now. Maybe it is time for me to backtrack to the beginning of the series and start watching every episode from the beginning. Because this little ditty I am offering today is about Homer’s doughnut addiction and how that addiction confines him to hell.

Some of the interesting points that exist within these two-and-a-half minutes, is the fact that the Devil appears very similar in shape and materialization to that demon which appears in Disney’s Night on Bald Mountain. In Beezlebub’s human form, he still maintains the cloven hooves of a satyr. Striking for me was the fiery hole that opens in the kitchen, after Homer has consumed the final crumb of the “forbidden donut.” As a child, my nightmares of hell was exactly that type of gaping, fiery hole with a centrifugal force that would draw me in. The mere fact that Homer’s torments are subjected by the Ironic Punishment Division is barely ironic but I especially like the final comment that James Coco went mad after fifteen minutes of Homer’s treatment.

If you don’t know, James Coco was a character known in the 1970s. He was rotund in stature and one of my favorite roles that he played was in the spoof, Murder By Death. He parodied the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, penned by Agatha Christie. In the movie, James Coco’s character throws a volley of subtle food jokes. And from his IMDB biography, “In his last years, Coco received attention for his culinary talents and best-selling cookbooks. The James Coco Diet, an educational book which included chapters on menu planning and behavior modification as well as choice recipes), was just one that he promoted on the talk show circuit. It is probably not a coincidence that he often played characters with extreme food issues. Suffering from obesity (5’10”, 250 lbs.) for most his adult life, the talented actor died unexpectedly of a heart attack in New York City in 1987 at the age of 56, and was buried in St. Gertrude’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Colonia, New Jersey.”