Friday, March 28, 2014

Lunch In Lowell

Lunch In Lowell

            Leaving Maine early to arrive in North Andover and Andover ‘in’ the nine o’clock hour by intention to ...nothing anticipated... forage... for antiques, fine art and rare books we... this... “our morning”.  That, to us, is like the ‘going to the beach’ ‘for a walk’ (no dog, no Frisbee).  Fine villages such as these may be ‘nothing anticipated’ and ‘yield’.  After several hours of very traditional antiquarian rummaging-around, we had gathered ‘some’ ‘yield’ and:
            “In Andover?”
            “No thank you”:  Wait to be seen... wait to be seated... wait to be served... wait to be “the check please” for... “that kind of food”.  No... you DO KNOW what ‘that kind of food’ is.
            At the bottom of the hill... then slightly back uphill, we ...jumped... on “four-ninety-five” “west”.  I HATE HIGHWAYS.  They are bad (antiquarian) judgment.
            For... how is I... or anyone... going to ‘buy’ great antiques ‘cheap’ going... ‘seventy-five’ in ‘an outside lane’?
            One is NOT going to... so... I
            STAY AWAY;
            STAY ‘OFF OF’
            Them; ‘highways’.
            BUT I MUST... be the ‘utilize them well’ for... time management ‘during the business day.  SOOOO:

            We ‘boarded’ the ‘interstate’ west and.... therefore... drove by one million antiques being sold ‘too cheap’ at... seventy...five in ‘an outside lane’... to get off the stranglehold artery “NEXT EXIT” at ...very old New England... Chelmsford (exit 34).  From the off ramp turn LEFT to next ‘right there’ first light LEFT on to Stedman.  To the END of that (about five miles?)... while always noting the ‘type of home’s’ and streets.  LEFT on to Westford.  Left at the next light continuing on Westford two tenths of a mile to LEFT into a crummy looking strip mall BUILDING harboring “OUR LUNCH” at (1270 Westford) Pho 88 – “Vietnamese Cuisine”.  Pho is pronounced “pha”.
            This restaurant... is the king... queen... jack and ACE of Pho dining in Lowell and ... in the region (Boston metroplex north... north east and west).  It’s ‘well known local’ and ‘local lunch’ with... in addition to the fine and ample portions served... a ‘quick’, clean, affordable, attentive and ‘easy in – easy out’... TOO.  Clean spacious bathrooms too.  Twenty-five to thirty dollars with tip ‘back in the car quick’ full cost TOO.  She had a Pho.  I had a bun.  That’s no special order and we’ve eaten all over the ...very extensive... menu but...

            IS LUNCH.
            And we go.
            BACK down Westford to past the return-to-the-highway intersection with Stedman to go straight by and ‘drive into Lowell’ on Westford
            TO GET MORE FOOD.
            “What are you CRAZY?”

            “HEY:  When your there; your THERE; don’t mess it up”.  So... starting at Pho 88 and going EAST into downtown Lowell... WE... travel Westford, a very old MAIN ROAD that is NOT congested or known about or used other than by locals... nor even looks like a “MAIN ROAD” through... PAY ATTENTION ANTIQUARIANS... a... side streets, side streets, side streets ...dense... labyrinth... warren... of SIDE STREETS of... ‘pretty old, older, older-older and ‘actually early’  (Right off of west Westford back at Pho 88 ... in the MUCK of strip mall dentists and car dealership... lands... IS a seventeenth century ‘oldest house’.  For real.)
            ANYWAY:  we keep going.  And going.  And going along this street of ‘old’ with becomes increasingly obvious that the Asian immigrant community has made very extensive inroads into ‘taking over’ the ...ever more dense as one travels ‘downtown’ little ...charming... vividly REAL... single proprietor storefronts, homes, houses and al.
            And no one is there.  It is all very gentrified-by-Asian... and wonderful and... there is no one else there.  It’s a five mile drive into a wonderland of an urban-in-old New England-mill-town... decay ... NOW SAVED by... gentrified-by-Asian.  So we get almost-almost to the end of that where it turns into “DOWNTOWN LOWELL” and ‘at last minute’ TURN LEFT on to “Grand Street” with that being a tiny one lane ‘two way’ street with packed-in-there parked cars so ‘two-way’ driving is ‘impossible’ but since the whole street is ONE BLOCK LONG ‘going down hill’ one can ‘get through that’ (especially since it is ‘only local’ coming the other way and they’re driving two miles per hour TOO).  ON THE LEFT at the bottom of the hill (11 Grand St) IS the Hong Cuc (Vietnamese) Sandwich Shop “JUST OPENED” at this location.  (They used to be ‘across the river’ on Dutton).

            THIS is our destination... ‘to get sandwiches’ TO GO... home with us to ...Maine... “for dinner”.  Aside from ‘making the best Vietnamese sandwiches (called ‘Banh Mi”) (“Bon Mi”) “locally”... this... ‘new location’ is squeaky new spacious, lighted, crisp, shiny, finger print free CLEAN with... a novel almost franchise look AND... having spacious, new, crisp super-super clean ‘restrooms’...that will roll any Maine Bon Me sandwich eater back onto the heels of their Bean Boots...:  THAT CLEAN... and for veterans of ‘the Vietnamese sandwich’ THIS IS ‘almost too much to take’ but:  “WOW” because I remind you that just outside the door you ARE in “WHERE AM I?” backstreet almost downtown LOWELL:  “No one is ever going to find this place”.
            They do and we waited in line while two fashion forward young women ‘get theirs’ and some ‘serve yourself ‘– put ‘em in the tiny brown paper bags yourself - egg rolls too.  They ate those while their sandwiches were ‘being made’... made in front of everyone at the counter.  Then the kid in front of us gets some egg rolls too... along with his “I’ll warm that up for you” steamed ‘meat bun’.  Gulping a ...not of antiquarian color palette ... soft drink (energy drink?) he... and he with his lunch... seems fully pleased.
            WE ordered “two number ones (the anchor classic Banh Mi) and two number six (Viet BBQ beef Banh Mi) ‘to go please’ and they (the two young woman-at-work) “like” MADE THEM... right before the EYES of ... ‘us’ including another young women in the Asian fashion forward BLACK with the heels too... who was now behind us in line with a “HE’S IN LINE TOO” behind her.  The sandwiches... “obviously super fresh” with tissue around the outside and rubber banded AS a Banh Mi SHOULD BE... and into the brown paper bag “TAKE AWAY” and:

            We were outside in the car “with the sandwiches” and ...back tracking the exact route in reverse to ‘get on the highway’ at Chelmsford and...
            “NOT SO FAST, Buckwheat”.
            We’s ah in “where are we?” Lowell.  We drove in... through... one of the most dense WEB of old houses on old side streets ‘undisturbed’ and NOT urban renewal destroyed (bulldozed) in... New England?
            We just don’t ‘leave the area’.
            Lowell, here ‘on Westford’ is a large triangle of ‘that’; the ramshackle side street with the packed with ramshackle cars parked before old-older-oldest ramshackle houses with ramshackle old outbuildings... ‘out back’.  The word is triangle.  That is the aerial view shape.  Lowell is actually a circle of overlapping-each-other of old ‘out from the center’ ‘residential’... triangles.  Triangle means ‘not square’; not a square grid as villages are ...usually ‘laid out’.  What that means... furthered in intensity by the compressed repetitive sameness of the ramshackle narrow residential packing... is that one accustomed to a SQUARE GRID quickly becomes hopelessly ‘turned around’ (in the lost in the Maine forest sense) LOST if one... ‘takes off  into that’ (the ramshackle).  “Deal with it” best by ...being prepared to ‘get lost’ by knowing that in this Lowell triangle... one will get lost... like one in a Bermuda triangle.  Cannot deal with that?  DO NOT GO THERE.
            “Not going there” is the ‘normal’ there anyway.  LEAVE the TRASH PICKING to ...did I just say “TRASH PICKING”?
            What did you think... I was writing about take away food?

            No.  I am writing about... TAKE AWAY TRASH:  The... in the antiquarian trade... picker’s pursuit of finding great antiques FREE by PICKING THE TRASH.
            First... one has to go to a ‘good place’.  I just describe a superior old New England good place.  I like Maine towns but... few offer ‘density’ like here in Lowell.  There are just not that many ramshackle streets and ramshackle houses in, for example... Mechanic Falls or... West Minot.  Portland... “was burned”.  Opportunity for lush ‘throwing out’ there... is not... dense enough... combined with ...not... OLD ENOUGH.  Remember that for throwing out antiques dense needs to be MERGED with OLD.  Suburban cul-de-sac ramshackle... such as one finds ‘further out’ of Lowell... are ...not old enough so... the they-there do not throw out ‘much’ that is ‘old’.  Use the deduction capacities of one’s antiquarian brain to ...go where the good stuff... can be thrown out... and... pick the trash... “there”.

            So... WE veer off of Westford into the triangular spider web labyrinth warren WEAVE of DENSE... (are these even ‘streets’?) and start the street-side-piled-mound SCANS for... not just trash but OLD trash... from a ‘cleaning out’ and sure enough THAT in modest mounds of ‘done this; put out – clean out’... that... sort of, as a pile, tend to be done at a rate that cause that pile to ‘sit there’ as opposed to raw garbage from the house that is ‘more quickly removed’.  Yeah... the ‘cleaning out’ of the... old shed attached to the old but later garage... last WEEKEND is still ‘as put out’ Sunday afternoon on TUESDAY after lunch.   Just pull up next to the pile and... peer at it... ‘to SEE’ if.... here is the crucial part... YOUR antiquarian eye.  Again:  YOUR ANTIQUARIAN (trained) EYE... ‘sees something’... “GOOD”.  No need to hurry or fluster:  “IT’S JUST THE TRASH”.  And don’t just jump out and grab “EVERYTHING” because your will get full with CRAP very, very, very fast.  It’s what one does NOT take... so one truly “CHERRY PICKS” the piles for the “GOOD STUFF” (real antiques that are good that one can really sell for a good price and NOT ‘the rest of it’ that... “YOU LEAVE THERE”).  THAT ...professional judgment calling... IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of this and... opens with the criteria that ...if you do not know antiquarian art (antiques), fine art and rare books “GOOD” from “BAD” ...and... the gray areas of “MAYBE”... best ...leave this to ‘others’.  If one does not ‘know it’ on the pile... one is going to have a
            Pile of CRAP
            At one’s home... after taking it out of the ...CAR.

            Car is not a truck.  TRUCK does not maneuver well in ‘the good places’.  Truck also ‘confuse people’.  A small NOT EXPENSIVE AND not PERFECTLY CLEAN ‘car’ attracts NO ONE ...CARES.  Ok; don’t believe me.  You’ll find out.

            So... the  discrimination of choices... chosen... ON the PILE is then ‘put’ in the CAR.  And we drive to a ‘next pile’... in the spider weave web of triangular residential density.  “BINGO” is used to denote the selection of the one piece of Victorian pattern glass (“sprig” pattern today but once was titled in old New England “Indian Tree” pattern) from the “BOX” of “recycle?” ‘glassware’.  “OH.” is the TAKES BREATH AWAY of the old... framed***... English... (Charles Hunt after F. C. Turner, THE YOUNG ENGLISH FOX HUNTER  THE DESERT) fox hunting print (aquatint)... dated 1841... “MUST HAVE BEEN LEANING UP in the shed’s CRAWL SPACE to be so dirty and water stained (“but I like it that way”).  “ISN’T THAT NICE” is said as the ‘it’s fair game’ on the TRASH PILE when first... an old porcelain sugar bowl... is found.  Hand painted upon a mold cast blank it is... the shape of an inverted blossom or perhaps a covered squash?  In either case the pink above yellow flower (?) with brown stem leafage and gilt gold highlighting... “take away” ‘delicate’... as the only word to represent that this... made it to the street side trash pile without ‘being smashed’.  “YES!” and... WHY... BELOW THAT in the same... wet cardboard box... is spied an old plate with a flag at its center.  On back a blind stamped full registry mark squeal out an 1873 date above the all English made maker’s marks.  “WHOSE YACHT?” did this plate be TOSSED OFF FROM.  Was it sailing from New York to Newport?  Or it is from ‘just’ an old ‘burned flat’ hotel along the ‘North Shore’?  Did a guest run off with it?  Or was this purloined by ‘the maid’.  “It has to be good” we know... as it SLIPS from trash pile to ...treasure pile... in the back of our car.

*** :  EVERY pile with ‘frames’ on it MUST be inspected for... “IT’S AN OIL ON CANVAS”... although this old print here found... ‘framed’... is ‘just fine thank you.  Frames on a pile... is a ‘good sign’ of a ‘clean out’.  Go to the door and ask for more?  They’re probably ‘at work’.

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