What Do Kids Eat and Clown-drunk Streaming

Streaming some shows and having some pre-baby thoughts

These got me thinking:

Ugly Delicious 2 - Netflix

So season 2 just dropped last Friday. I love this show. The format is different from a lot of other food tv formats so that makes it pretty fresh. It’s somewhere between the topical based programming of “Salt, Fat, Heat, Acid” and something from the Bourdain (R.I.P.) canon. However, it’s irreverent—not in the way it treats its topics or the lens it views various cultures, but in how serious it takes itself. Particularly Chang, who is honestly something of a masterful shapeshifter as host, always playing the foil to any episode’s real star. He inserts himself to a great degree, but this makes it cohesive unlike the mildly disappointing “Street Food”.

Episode 1, “Kids Menu”, hit me right where I’m standing. It’s all about him and his wife having their first baby. Chang speaks to several chefs who’ve been successful raising kids in one of the most demanding professions, stands in front of a TV learning how to tie a baby-wrap thingy around him, and ponders the current status quo related to what we feed kids. He visits school lunch in Japan, makes baby food with Nick Kroll, and makes and serves wholesome lunches in a public school cafeteria (with bated breath because he’s not sure kids will actually like his food).

This last point is the one that got me. I’m not sure why I’m terrified of what my kid will eat, but I am. I think it’s because I know how much I love junk food and empty calories. I’m a guy who downloaded the McDonald’s App to get a free Egg McMuffin on National Egg McMuffin Day. Then two days later, when I found out Wendy’s had breakfast—I tried it. Now, to be honest, those are two of the four junk food meals I had last week. The remainder of the food consumed was fish, nuts, sweet potatoes, fruit, salads and the like— but it’s taken me a long time in my life to find that balance. It’s taken me a long time to live in that moderate 80/20 balance of health/indulgence. I have no idea how I’ll teach my kid that in a joyful kinda way.

But I guess that’s small potatoes compared to the other things I’m supposed to be teaching. Like how to love people, how to be curious, or how to grow into someone who isn’t co-dependent.

Speaking of Co-Dependency

I’m not sure how this happened, but I found myself a little clown-drunk over the weekend. It all started when I watched Shia LaBeouf’s “Honey Boy”, on Amazon Prime.

Honey Boy - Amazon Prime

I’ve been fan of Shia LaBeouf since Dito Montiel’s 2006, “A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints”. He’s been a little hard to root for over the years—and I’m not even talking about the drunken disorderliness— mostly the Tranformers stuff is what had me questioning his ideas about his art. But when 2014’s “Fury” rolled in, I knew I was all in for LaBeouf. What looks like a standard war movie on the surface cuts deep into the human experience of it all, and LaBeouf is a big part of why it works so well. Of course Brad Pitt helps a little, too.

But “Honey Boy” is all LaBeouf. Written by and staring. It’s a beautifully shot, biographically inspired film about his relationship with his father and fame. It’s deeply moving and doesn’t play like a familiar Hollywood biopic, i.e. boring. Credit director Alma Har’el for this as the visual pacing and her technical fingerprint in matters like coloring and evocative lens flair give it a dynamic range that move you between feelings of nostalgia, a dream-like state, and the visceral here-and-now.

Style Legend:

If you’ve ever wondered why Shia LaBeouf is the way he is—he’s been arrested several times, he dresses how I aspire to dress one day, like a scuz lord fit king, the way a really old man would dress or how you might if you made bazzillions staring in Hollywood trash and couldn’t care less what anyone thinks, but then despite of this precariousness he always brings a solid naturalism to his roles onscreen. If you’re like me you’ve likely wondered why your neurosis, idiosyncrasies, and character flaws don’t lead to flashes of artistic brilliance as LaBeouf’s seem to. They just lead to failed hobbies for me. Am I not eccentric enough? That’s probably not the difference.

Among other things, the difference may be my dad. Chances are you were dadded different than LaBeouf, I know I was. His dad, a former, seemingly-successful rodeo clown entertainer and recovering addict was mentally unstable, abusive, jealous, self-righteous, entitled, demanding, and hugely dependent on Shia’s success for basic survival. The weight of this, plus being in the middle of a divorce from a somewhat concerned mother, leaves the young actor poorly equipped to deal with all that Hollywood offers as his career continues to climb. The film shows him entering rehab (where he penned the screenplay as therapy) after an accident and ultimately accepting his damaged father. The thing that makes this a beautiful film isn’t just its “truthful” depiction of a terrifying childhood, one held captive by a co-dependent, unstable parent. What makes it beautiful is its message of grace and forgiveness. His dad isn’t just a monster dealing out pain—but a deeply troubled man, acted by LaBeouf in a way that shows his humanity, his deeply conflicted nature, and a suffocating desire to be better and to be a good dad. But in the end—he just needed too much from the boy and the boy broke.

One of my favorite episodes:

Baskets - Hulu and FX Network

More clown stuff… Hulu recently dropped a heavy FX Network catalog and this caught my eye. I’d heard a lot about it, but never seen it. It’s a deadpan absurdist kind of comedy staring Zach Galifianakis and Louie Anderson. Zach’s character goes to France to study at a clown institute- despite not knowing any French- and ends up flunking out. It’s bizarre and hilarious, but has a deep theme of co-dependency throughout it, too. I’ve only seen one episode, but it seems like I’ll fall in pretty deep before too long. The thing that I’m noticing is how real it is if you look beyond the ridiculous facade. Underneath the impeccable comedic timing and joke-a-minute pacing, under the glitter and face-paint; it’s deep and subversive and human.

That’s all.