The Long John Silvers is Evil & Rockin’
Long John Silvers could kill me. That wretched grease-soaked fish is like an RPG smoking straight toward the arteries, yet I (used to) eat it willingly, even joyfully. There was something about eating rice, beans, peanut butter, and popcorn all the time that had you heading for Long John Silvers when payday hit.
Down here in the “’Ville” (as the university sports department’s marketing wing calls it) I momentarily let my love for fried fish get the better of me. Not only the real deal, like the Fish House off of Barrett and Winter, but the chains big & small. A particularly lethal nexus was the Moby Dick just off the Mellwood ramp onto 64 East. Days when I was hanging down by the floodwall, the Moby Dick was the only joint within a quick stroll, & there was a paper box out front . . . a nice leisurely lunch with the CJ, a First Mate on rye with fries and pups and plenty of tarter sauce, hot sauce, malt vinegar . . . two huge slabs of cod with extra-crunchy cornmeal breading . . . well, it’s a wonder I still walk the earth.
Clarksville has its two poles of fried fishiness as well. Not far off 65 on 131 is a Captain D’s. I used to eat there often since it was easy walking distance from work, but I had to stop. It became more than borderline disturbing: I rarely saw anyone slimmer than myself, and at 6’ 2”, I tip the scales around 250. I’m not exaggerating when I say this. I was definitely the skinny of the bunch.
The other pole, down in front of the old Kroger along with a Frisch’s and a Rally’s, is that broke-assed classic, Long John Silvers. Not too long ago (I don’t remember exactly when) they underwent a facelift. Seems they really wanted to nail down that FISH/SEAFOOD thing, so they went for a funky surfside look – rustic “aged” “wood” paneling, fish shack adverts (“The Beachcomber”, Charleston SC, “Sea Lion”, Galveston TX, “Castaway”, Mobile AL, etc.), references to corrugated tin roofing, booths upholstered like ‘50’s car bench seats (heavy on the turquoise) – the whole mid-century schtick. The food, of course, has remained pretty much the same forever, or at least since the strategic roll-ins of chicken and shrimp onto the menu. They’ve recently added some NON-FRIED fish, but they’re not fooling anybody.
The thing about the LJSs is that they rock. I mean, if not exactly the hard edged Charlie Feathers-as-King royal lineage, then still pretty rockin’ . . . Mitch Ryder, Spencer Davis Group, “Memphis” by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers, leavened with the likes of “Don’t Be Cruel”, B J Thomas’s “Hooked On a Feeling”, “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin, and so on. Or, was it simulations of real rocking? Sometimes I had to listen really closely to make sure I was hearing the real thing. Now, granted, I’m going to know the real “Space Truckin’” in three notes, whereas my Mitch Ryder exposure is somewhat more limited, but for chrissakes, I really wasn’t sure about “Don’t Be Cruel”, and how many times have I heard that damn song, especially since I had the single when I was a kid?
The Long John is insidious. You go for the fish, but is it the fish, or is it the saturated fats coursing through your blood, soothing your body into a warm, wooly, almost hallucinogenic food coma after a couple weeks of struggling down rice and beans after another lousy paycheck? You know that the wood is fake, you suspect the fish is barely fish, you even question the validity of songs you’ve heard a million times. In the end, you don’t even know if the simulacra are a real problem.
Comes a time in a man’s life when he needs to take that nutrition shit serious. The Long John Silvers is out of rotation. Like McDonald’s, it’s dead and gone, goner than the Rally’s, which can still suck me in for the occasional barbecue bacon double cheeseburger (topped with a big, fat, deep-fried onion ring!). It’s gone like the Burger King, gone like Fazoli’s, gone like the Captain D’s. In the event that I need fried fish, it’s the Fish House, or the Moby Dick, who can do fish right.