Vegan Pastrami

Also Cancer

I was talking with a congressman yesterday who I respect tremendously. He was talking to me about campaign mailers and how most of them are a gigantic waste of money because candidates tend to write about themselves and— with a few exceptions— voters generally don’t care about them. Most voters, he said he’s discovered over the years, want to know about what you’re going to do for them and their families, not about the candidate’s bio. This particular congressman, who I consider a friend and who I know considers me a friend, never reads DWT unless I send him a particular post. The only members of Congress who read my blog regularly are the ones I denigrate.

So this one doesn’t know I’m writing a memoir. He wasn’t trying to send me a message when he then went on to say that another old friend of his, who led an interesting life, wrote and self-published a memoir. My friend was continued along the line of campaign literature: no one cares.

This made me think about the tremendous project I’m embarking on. If no one cares, why bother? I haven’t invested much in the project much beyond navel gazing. I wrote 3 random pages. You can find all three— and any future pages, as well as posts like this one talking about the project here. It’s a “Howie” tag devoted strictly to the memoir.

So this morning’s meditation turned to the question of the worthwhileness of the whole project. Would anyone even read it? Would anyone publish it? Yesterday I went to Mariel’s, a vegan butcher shop in Highland Park. I had just read about it in Eater but didn’t realize yesterday was opening day. The food was incredible— but no one knew that. It was so crowded— every seat taken and a line that took an hour. I asked the owner if it was like this everyday. He said this was the first day so he didn’t know. I asked him what kind of promotion and marketing he had done. “Just the Eater article,” he said.

Wow! That sure worked. And now it would be all about word-of-mouth— which is what actually sells stuff and which should work well since the product was so top notch. Would my book be as good as their vegan pastrami sandwiches? And what about the equivalent of Eater for books? The New Yorker? Would they care about a memoir by someone they never heard of?

A friend told me not to worry about it, just to get it out. She also told me something I didn’t know: memoirs are the top selling category of books. I had no idea. Maybe people would be interested if it wasn’t about me. You know, it could be about my travels and my time living in interesting places. And about my time as a chef and my recipes. And my life in the music business and my brushes with celebrities. That kind of stuff and less about things like my experience getting and overcoming and thinking about cancer. And that brings me to… guess who just found out he has cancer again?

I’m cold a lot— even when it’s 90 degrees. I always have a hoodie on— and a heavy jacket. That’s a thyroid thing. So is being itchy a lot… and having some male dysfunction problems. So I persuaded the doctor who treated my mantle cell lymphoma a few years ago to order me a thyroid scan. And when there was something suspicious, I got a biopsy. And then— they told me I have cancer. Not much and slow… no big deal. You know what they say? If you’ve got to get cancer, thyroid cancer is the one to get: easy to treat, few side effects, etc. So… first I met an endocrinologist and she made me an appointment with a surgeon. Everyone says the surgeon is the best thyroid surgeon in L.A.

We’ll see in a couple weeks. First I have to do a pre-op day at the hospital and get some more tests. And then the surgery. It take a day. I’ll be out of it— knocked out and when I wake I won’t have a thyroid. Is that something people are going to want to hear about— or about my experiences with Jimi Hendrix? Or how I met President Kennedy?