October 8, 2012: Junk Food Restaurants invade West Hollywood!

Posted on : Oct 11th, 2012 | By | Category: Still Speaking

Is anything sacred anymore?  Tucked among the two-block 24 Hr. Fitness Center, the Temple of “Crunch,” “Barry’s Boot Camp,” and “Pink Iron” (Women’s gym) there is a whole new industry invading our beloved city.  It’s junk food!  Well, even worse than junk food, it’s burger joints!

In addition to the established Burger icons of the east side:  Astro Burger and Fat Burger, Center City’s  Irv’s Burgers and our patron saint of fundraising, Hamburger Mary’s, and of course the infamous western “welcome to WeHo burger shack,”  Hamburger Haven, we now have Five Guys Burgers (a high-end take off on “In-N-Out Burgers” which is so un-gay they just stole the color scheme of “In-N-Out” burgers – a true insult to the entire interior design industry), O! Burger – a burger joint that specializes in Organic Burgers.  (Is that where Organic Cholesterol comes from?) – Burger Lounge (You’ve got to be kidding, right?), Rounds Premium Burgers, and my fav. WeHo burger stand:  L. A. Buns.  If any burger joint deserves to survive I think Buns should be the one simply on creativity of name alone.

Shockingly (or not so shockingly) “Fruits” (produce bar) has more servers hanging outside than customers inside and just recently the newest “alternative” fast food shop opened in west WeHo, the “Chop Stop.”  “Chop Stop” is a fresh salad restaurant.  It just opened.  It doesn’t have anywhere near the line that the hottest new WeHo “comfort food” restaurant, “Laurel Hardware” has,  but I guarantee you, it’s healthier.  BTW, if “Five Guys Burgers” had any gay sensibility, they would have hired the interior designer of “Laurel Hardware.”  Only in WeHo can you gut an old hardware store, keep the dilapidated old sign (that doesn’t even include the word “restaurant”), buy 50 old wood-slat chairs from the social hall of a defunct church, use the paint-stained floor of the old hardware store, have no off street parking, and have a line of patrons that winds half way down the street just to get into the place.

So why are all these junk food restaurants proliferating in our weight-conscious, body-conscious, carb-obsessed city?  My hunch is, almost all of us like junk food.  Given my keen eye for emerging social trends, I doubt any of these WeHo burger joints have a chance of rivaling the lines at the “In N’Out” Burger in Hollywood, but even those of us who try to take excellent care of our bodies and watch our diets want junk food once in a while.

The point I’m trying to make is that all of us like some stuff that’s not really good for us, and most of the time, if we partake of it in moderation, it doesn’t harm us.  Let’s face it, some days we crave a juicy burger more than a protein shake or fruit smoothie.

I think the same is true about Christianity.  There are some Christians that just don’t seem to have any fun with their faith.  They try to be such purists, are so obsessed with diet (as in strictly following the rules) or body image (appearing “righteous”) that they just lose sight of the fact that (hold your breath for this!) Jesus ate junk food.

That reminds me of an honest-to-God true story.  A number of years ago I wandered into the French Market Restaurant.  A friend of mine was having lunch with another friend.  I went over to greet him.   This particular friend strove to be more Jewish than Moses.  At times he drove me crazy!  As we were talking, the server brought his meal and his friend’s meal.  With me standing right there, the server said as he placed the meal in front of my friend, “Here’s your BLT.”  In shock, I said quite loudly, “BLT as in BACON, lettuce and tomato???” To which he said, “Oh please don’t tell the Rabbi!”

In the 7th Chapter of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is having a food fight with the Pharisees.  Things were getting mighty heated between Jesus and the Pharisees.   The Pharisees were the “purists.”  They could never have fun with their faith.  They had little space for occasional pleasure, let alone fun.  These guys needed a little junk food – just once in a while!  Jesus gets a little testy with them and starts quoting the Bible to them!  He said to them:

“How accurately Isaiah (the Prophet) prophesied about you hypocrites, when he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.

The worship they offer me is worthless;

the doctrines they teach are only human precepts.’”  Mark 7: 6-7

Then Jesus summoned the entire crowd that had gathered around to watch this fight, and said to them, “Listen to me, all of you, and try to understand.  Nothing that enters us from the outside makes us impure; it is what comes out of us that makes us impure.”  Mark 7:14

A burger every now and then isn’t going to kill us.  Doubt me?  Go stand in front of “Rounds” or “Buns” and look at those eating there.  Perfect specimens of health!  Not an ounce of body fat on any of them.   And besides that, they’re having a great time.  To me that is the prefect recipe for spiritual health.  Indulge in a little spiritual junk food every now and then and ENJOY your Faith!


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