Tuesday, February 15, 2011

If Hemingway Had a Pizza Place

Hemingway's Green Hills of Africa is the memoir of a 1933 safari he went on with his wife (the second of four). In it he describes how he mostly fails to shoot anything good, and if he succeeds, someone else gets a better specimen and he gets jealous for a while and then he has a drink in the evening and shakes hands with the other fellow and balance in the universe is temporarily restored. Variations on this theme are brought to a close when he at last proves to himself that he is, indeed, a superior shot. Maybe the best shot ever to have lived. Maybe the best shot ever to live. Hemingway then satisifed that he is the manliest of all men, all is right with the world, and the book ends.

I exaggerate because there is nothing else you can do with Hemingway but mock him and secretly resent that he actually is kind of better than everyone else, his personal problems notwithstanding. Anyway, here's a brief brief exerpt, concerning the long-awaited shooting of a kudu:

"The Wanderobo-Masai and I looked at this kudu, measured his horns, smelled the fine smell of him, sweeter than an eland, even, stroked his nose, his neck, and his shoulder, marvelling at the great ears, and the smoothness and cleanness of his hide, looked at his hooves, that were built long, narrow, and springy so he seemed to walk on tip-toe, felt under his shoulder for the bullet-hole and then shook hands again while the Wanderobo-Masai told what a man he was and I told him he was my pal and gave him my best four-bladed pocket knife."

Not being up on the particulars of African ungulates, I went through the book picturing everything as an antelope because I figured that was roughly accurate for whatever Hemingway was hunting at any given time. I meant to look up kudus and elands after I finished the book but I forgot.

Skip head a few months to this conversation with my sister, enhanced for comic effect.

Sister: We could get pizza for dinner.
Me: Is there a good pizza place near you?
Sister: Well, there's the place up the street. I don't know if it's good, but it's fine.
Me: Hmmm.
Sister: It has animal heads mounted on the walls.

Thinking of a potential blog post, and hoping very much for kudu, I brought my camera and subjected my sister to the humiliation of loitering around while I took not-terribly-discreet pictures. I honestly can't imagine they're not used to people taking pictures inside a pizza place that is full of taxidermied wildlife, but it was still totally weird of me. Yet, so worth it. This hunter-slash-pizza-parlor-entrepreneur had definitely been to Africa and pretty much shot everything in sight, examples below.

Lion (clearly)

Eland, brown bear (brown bear obviously not African)

African buffalo (maybe), a trio of impala in the corner, another impala over the lamp, and an oryx (with the very long horns)

Caribou, (zebra on the other side), caribou, (kudu on the other side), caribou, (ice cream cone on the other side), wildebeest
I'm not wild about hunting for sport, buuuuut there is something so extremely weird about this pizza-by-Hemingway atmosphere that it very nearly crosses the line into "delightful." It could only be better if these were the decorations in, say, a restaurant with an entirely vegetarian menu.

If you live nearby and these photos do not convince you to find this place and go there, I will add that the pizza is pretty good, too. However, I firmly believe it would be worth a trip either way. This decor is rather rare. As, I now suspect, are caribou.


Amy S said...

My favorite - "caribou - (ice cream cone on other side." That made my day.

Simon said...

I'm glad! I thought it was best to identify it in case anyone confused it with African wildlife.