Friday, August 30, 2013

The Great LA Burger Debate

By: Ben Seeder

In Los Angeles, there are three main local hamburger chains that dominate the marketplace. In-N-Out, Fatburger and Astro Burger. In-N-Out is by far the most lauded, sought after by tourists and troglodytes, known the world over. Fatburger, whose praises have been sung by none other than Ice Cube, and lastly the lesser known dark horse that is Astro Burger. After five years of living in LA, I like to think I’ve got a pretty good handle on the situation. Here is everything you need to know for lunch, dinner, or when it’s late and you’ve just gotten out of the bars.  

In-N-Out Burger   

As stated, In-N-Out is easily the most famous. Its moderate number of locations and celebrity endorsements lend to the air of exclusivity surrounding it. When your friends visit from God knows where, this will for sure be one of the places they’ll want to go. But be careful. The location most attended is the restaurant off the corner of Sunset and Highland. This area is one of the worst places you could ever go, the LA equivalent of Times Square or Wrigleyville after a Cubs double header, only way more banged up. There are other  locations out in the valley, but if you live there you don’t count.  

SIDENOTE: If you by chance happen to be in charge of a family and are thinking of using your vacation money to bring the family to Hollywood, please don’t. You’ll be much, much happier using the money to take them to San Francisco, Napa, San Diego, etc. The streets of Hollywood, most notably the walk of fame and Hollywood Blvd. in particular are almost exclusively populated by bong shops, dildo shops, street kids, crazy people, homeless people, weed stores, stores where you can buy miniature plastic Oscars, wank theaters, transvestites, and unbearable D-bags of every size shape and color. It is not nice. It is not glamorous. It is not impressive. It is not pleasant. It is a collection of people who have had too much sun and too many drugs. They desperately want to be famous but don’t know how. You will hate it, your kids will be appalled, and I will love watching it happen. That is a promise. But if you want to witness a seven year old girl forced to sing boombox karaoke on the streets at midnight on a Monday because her Ukrainian parents believe it will make her famous, then absolutely take your family on vacation to Hollywood.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, in the middle of everything I just described is the central In-N-Out burger of Los Angeles and it is a horrible, godless place. One summer when I was going to be a sophomore in high school, the Chicago Bulls won the NBA championship. I went to a rally in Chicago’s Grant Park along with a hundred thousand other Bulls fans to celebrate with the team. I ended up being probably two miles from the stage with an overcrowded melting pot of all ages and ethnicities, everyone on top of each other. The intoxicated mixed openly with the children and elderly, all of us crammed together in the broiling humidity under the punishing summer sun. It was terrible and no one there felt like they were part of anything, let alone a world championship. This is what the atmosphere at the In-N-Out on Sunset is like. Everyone jam-packed into not a very big space because these burgers are the Chicago Bulls and we are in love with them.  

The In-N-Out parking lot is one of the worst you will ever experience in your life. Size, width of spaces, people accidentally driving at each other and then needing to turn around but they can’t because too many people are behind them, the whole nine. It is absolutely on par with the cruel joke that is Trader Joe’s parking lots, perhaps the last Nazi experiment. Armed police smile politely and watch over the activities of the lot which means there must have been some pretty horrible shit that went down there one time. Or maybe it’s the company’s subtle nod of suggesting “Look, we know where we are and we know what this is, everyone just be cool. There’s hamburgers inside.”
Once you have narrowly avoided four car accidents and entered the restaurant, you will find Armenians screaming at each, club kids, white nerds from the valley, tourists with Hollywood sign fanny packs making comments like “Susan, they’ve got strawberry shakes!”, Hispanic metalhead skaters, and you. However, what remains most astounding about In-N-Out Burger is that you will almost never catch any member of their staff in anything less than a fantastic mood. For real. It’s amazing. I don’t know how this happens, but I’m beginning to think they might all be Scientologists.  

One upside is that In-N-Out offers by far the cheapest prices of all three chains mentioned, pricing the holy trinity of burger, fries and drink at less than seven dollars. In-N-Out’s secret weapon is its spectacularly fresh ingredients. I mean, you know... by fast food standards. They are delicious. The fries blow, the actual hamburger patties are thin, but the ingredients bring it every single time. If you want to feel like a boss, request your burger “animal style,” which means they grill the onions and put some strange secret sauce on it. It’s probably made of dogs, but you could do way worse than In-N-Out Burger. Also, its consistency rate is one hundred percent, not unlike Chiptole. When you’re in the mood for it, it never doesn’t hit the spot. If you show up between 10:30 and midnight, you will avoid seventy percent of the horror I’ve just described, but the people who are there will be three times as fucked up as the daytime crowd.

My favorite experiences with In-N-Out are honestly when I’m driving and not thinking about anything and maybe it’s the weekend and In-N-Out just happens out of nowhere and I think “Oh, nice” and the lot is half empty. No stress. No fuss. The sun is down. Low key. In-N-Out is essentially the ideal place for people who don’t usually eat hamburgers, but if your friends are in town, you may as well go.  


By far the most locations of the main three. Drive in any direction and you’ll eventually hit one. Where In-N-Out are little molly coddles in terms of the size of their patties, Fatburger is out of fucking control. This place grills everything right in front of you, the actual turnaround time is way longer than In-N-Out, but you burn lots of time in In-N-Outs often unacceptably long lines, so it can eventually even itself out. Plus, everyone’s not all on top of each other.

At Fatburger, you’re offered a selection of different sized hamburgers, but here’s the thing, you’re already at Fatburger so you may as well play to win. I’m willing to guess you didn’t show up at Fatburger to eat conservatively and pack on only a polite one thousand calories.  

While the ingredients are average at best, you get your money’s worth at Fatburger with the sheer size and awesomeness of the burger you are eating. There is no question you are eating something that has been killed, you won by being higher up in the food chain than it was so now it’s time to celebrate. The fries are thick wedges, cleverly titled “Fat Fries.” They offer smaller sized fries, but again, you’re at Fatburger. Who are you trying to impress? You’re probably wearing sweatpants.

Fatburger is not a joke. It does not take prisoners. This will involve sweating and is pretty much the prelude to a stress nap in which you will have terrible, sodium-induced nightmares. This is what’s wrong with America but when you choose to answer the call then it’s on like nobodys business.    

As you can guess, there are a few downsides, and one of them is that Fatburger is so unhealthy for you that you may temporarily lose your eyesight. After you’ve eaten it, out of all the chains discussed Fatburger will by far excel in making you say things like “Oh no... What have I done? I can’t feel my face or hands!” or “I haven’t had an erection in weeks, do you think it was that hamburger, Joan?” or “Why is my ass bleeding?”

Because the actual burgers are so massive, the grease usually ends up seeping through the bottom of the bun, pleasing nobody. Another downside is that the trinity at Fatburger will cost you in the neighborhood of fourteen dollars making it the most expensive of your three options. The price, loss of will to live, and subsequent bouts of vertigo can lead you to ask yourself, “For the price, why didn’t I just get Thai food?”

While this doesn’t occur at all of them, I’ve noticed a strange ritual some of the locations seem to partake in, which is if you order, say, the Fatburger, the employee at the register yells “Fatburger!” and then all of the cooks by the grill will compliantly repeat in unison “Fatburger!” If you then order the Fat fries the dude will yell, “Fat fries!” and the cooks will yell that too, though none of them look at you. It is childish and degrading and it is a totally joyless routine that will thoroughly convince you you’re hated which you probably don’t need more of if you’ve found already found yourself at Fatburger.

On top of everything else, Fatburger has doubled down on the 50’s sock hop old-timey-jukebox hamburger stand of the past vibe. This lends itself to the bizarre when you are the only one in Fatburger who speaks English while being crooned by Carl Perkins and looking at posters of the King. It is also worth mentioning that for whatever reason Fatburger has the flat out strangest clientele by far. I don’t know why.  

In the end, Fatburger offers a haven for the recently broken-up-with, the freshly unemployed, the clinically depressed, and the down and out. For that we must give it credit. It’s probably best to have Fatburger twice a year tops unless you’ve already given up and then hey, we’re all just trying to do our best, you know? If it’s good enough for Ice Cube it’s gotta be good enough for us. Fatburger should not be eaten by pregnant people.

Astro Burger

Now we’re talking. The red headed stepchild of the three, Astro Burger rests quietly in only a few parts of the city, having the lowest number of locations by far. Astro Burger is like the youngest sibling of a family where the two older siblings are mega-ambitious over achievers. Meanwhile, the youngest sibling Astro Burger decides it’s not interested in trying to compete and instead chooses to do its own thing, making it the most fun to hang out with, because who likes to compete anyway?  

A touch less expensive than Fatburger but more expensive than In-N-Out, Astro Burger clocks in at about twelve dollars for the trinity. The biggest downside to Astro Burger is it’s cash only, though there are always ATM machines right next to the cash register which may or may not be working. Still, for the cash strapped and debit card enthusiast, an unneeded trip to the ATM can be a deal breaker.

The good news is that Astro Burger is fucking delicious, and acts as a perfect marriage between the Fatburger hamburger patty and In-N-Out ingredient. The burgers themselves are thick and full flavored without being monstrous or grotesque, the ingredients not spectacular but stellar and far better than that of lowly Fatburger. The fries are textbook diner fries, full figured but not a meal unto themselves, complementing the burger exquisitely.

Astro Burger also grills your food in front of you, and offers the chillest vibe and lowest douchebag percentage. They are fantastic hamburgers and are my favorite chain in Los Angeles. Plenty of seating, plenty of sun, liberally placed tubes of ketchup, plus many offer relaxed outdoor patios. Though the patios are placed directly next to major streets like Santa Monica or Melrose, they usually succeed at providing a pleasant or at least non-traumatic dining experience, and that can go a long way in LA.

Astro Burger offers a moderate level of “Hold on what have I just done to myself? Can I even have kids anymore?” bodily feelings after consumption. Or maybe it only feels moderate when compared to Fatburger, in which case the feeling after drinking seven warm PBRs also feels moderate by comparison. Astro Burger does not disappoint and triumphs as the perfect late night burger for when you’re totally housed.     

So there you have it. You definitely can’t go wrong with any of these three choices, but check in with yourself beforehand and choose wisely. Hopefully my advice will help you properly decide the best decision for you if you ever find yourself in this the city of angels.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Balls Occasionally Vol. One: How to Be Brave

By: Kelly McClure 
You are a man. You have a man's body. You are learning how to be a man. Learning how to drive the machine that is your body, while also carving out the ideal parking spot for it in the world is tough, but it's also important to take time out to nurture your other god given abilities, like using the gristle and snail shells that make up your body for good. Goooooood. Say it slowly in your mind: "gooooooooood." 

You are strong. You can easily open almost any jar. You're probably tall too. You can reach any item on almost any shelf. Test yourself throughout the day. See that couch? Try to pick it up. Did you do it? I knew you could. See that thing in the road, blocking your path and threatening to leap up and chip the paint on your car. Go pick it up and move it. Act like it's annoying that you have to do it, but do it because you know that no other person is gonna do it as correctly. Did you do it? I knew you could. You're a man. See that lady on the subway getting harassed by a man wearing a dirty pink bathrobe and holding a plastic saxophone who keeps yelling at her about how the idea of her vagina is making him cry? See her sitting there trying to wish him away in her mind while everyone on the subway car is hiding behind a newspaper or looking at their bangs in the window's reflection? You could help her. You could politely ask the raving lunatic bothering this poor woman who just worked eight hours selling expensive cheese to 20-years olds who get paid to go to school and learn about what colors look pretty next to what other colors to stop it. You could help. 

As you sit there wondering if you should do something to help, make a mental list of all the important things you did throughout your day leading up to this moment. You held the door for at least ten pretty blondes, and even that one dumpy looking one, because it was the right thing to do. You saw a woman exit the subway while you sat on a bench eating your lunch sandwich, and noticing her walk in one direction, and then look puzzled and walk back the other way, you asked if she was lost, and then you explained how she should get to where she's going. You did that. you're helpful. At the end of your work day, while crossing the street, you noticed a woman miscalculate her initial parallel parking attempt and pull out into the street to try again. You smirked and did that whistle that you learned from your dad, and then got behind her car to guide her into the spot using your face and your hands in her side mirror. So why not this? Why not cap off a day of good deeds with one more by helping a woman on the subway who's having a not so nice time? Is it that you think she doesn't need your help? Not likely. Is it that you think it would be rude to intervene? Probably not. Is it that you are waiting for someone else to do it? Possibly. Dear sir, if you really dive within yourself for the answer, you'll come to the surface with the wet flopping fish that is your sense of bravery. Are you a brave man? 

Bravery comes in many forms, and can mean whatever you want it to mean when you're trying to bend it into something that you can say that you are, but the definition of bravery is: "Courageous behavior or character."
The definition of courageous is: "Having or characterized by courage; valiant." 

Valiant! Doesn't that sound like a word you'd like to have applied to you? You, aside from being well paid and well liked, could be valiant. Think back to the shows you enjoyed watching as a boy. No matter what your current age, the shows most likely featured a strong-willed, wise-cracking man/boy who had all the answers, solved all the problems, got all the girls, and sure, he found himself in some sticky situations from time to time, but he always managed to get out of them at the nick of time because he had the luck of the Irish, nerves of steel, and didn't buckle under any circumstance. Meditate on that for a minute. How does this make you feel? Annoyed? Thinking that these words you're reading are "stupid?" Then we're on the right train track of nerves my strong shouldered man friend.

You have already learned how to do the little things, like remembering to always let women know they're pretty, and in what way. Always letting a woman, or a man for that matter - let's not leave THEM out, know how they could do a thing just a litttttle bit better. But what you may be lacking is that bigger picture. What you may be over-looking is that sometimes the bigger things are what matter the most. And by "bigger" I mean, more difficult. You may try and fail. You may try and be snickered at. But try. The next time you're faced with a "should I, or shouldn't I help this person who no one else is helping and I know that I could help" situation, just ask yourself, "self, what would the Hulk do?
Next week's Balls Occasionally will address the topic of how to handle the irrational women in your life. As always, questions or suggestions can be directed to

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What Are You Doing? I Want To Die.

By: Lucy Moonpie, Ben Johnson’s New Puppy

What are you doing? Can I eat your shoe? Can I eat this power chord and end my life right now? I want to die. I want to get sick and I want to die. While you’re busy painting the bathroom.

I’ve noticed your girlfriend really loves me a lot. She would be devastated if anything happened to me, huh? Even though I love to shit on the floor, huh? Interesting.

I’ve heard the two of you arguing sometimes. Gosh, it must be stressful to move in together and figure out how to live with another human being. I hope I’m not adding to that stress at all. FYI, you should walk me at 5:30am instead of ever sleeping. And while you're doing that, even though it's 5:30am and you were just dreaming like 5 seconds ago, pay extra attention and make extra sure I don't eat any poisonous bird poop. Bird poop is poisonous to puppies like me. You heard that somewhere. Anyway, all I want to do is eat bird poop, get sick, and die. Hey, I just thought of something: maybe that will help the situation with you guys. A dead dog. Me.

Maybe if I died you guys would be more relaxed, and nobody would blame anybody else like you did the time that adhesive hook ripped the paint off the wall. Same situation as the wall hook thing, except for a dead dog? No way that’s gonna cause problems. Everybody loves it when a puppy dies. I should know. I’m a puppy. And I am trying to end my own life with every breath I draw.

How am I gonna do it? I already mentioned power chords and bird poop. I’ve also got this thing going with the street. I want to just run out there. It looks awesome out there in the street. You guys seem like you don’t want me to go out there for some reason, but that only makes me want to do it more. Leave the door open even a crack and I’m running right out into the street. To get killed. By something. My mind can’t even conceive of what might kill me if I go in the street, I’m just going with my gut here. Go in the street, something might kill me, that’s good enough for me.


I just thought of something. What if I don’t die? What if I’m merely maimed? That would be great. If some sort of thing, like something heavy on a shelf with a chord attached that I could pull on, could fall on me and crush only half of me. I’m just spitballin’ here. And then there would be super expensive emergency surgery that you would have to pay for, and then I would have to be in one of those doggie wheelchairs for the rest of my very long life, which would require constant care and attention and also be expensive as shit. Maybe I could also be one of those dogs you have to squeeze the poop out of. Something awful and humiliating like that would be good. For years and years.

Oh man, I just thought of the best part. This maiming would happen on YOUR watch, Ben Johnson, so every time your girlfriend looked at me pathetically wheeling around, a crippled, broken puppy, she would think of you and your negligence. I'd be like a constant reminder of how much she hates you, building daily until finally she goes on a crazy rampage of sexual revenge, fucking you boss and your dad and your best friend. That would be totally out of character for her, but if I crippled myself REAL GOOD in just the right way, I bet that’s just what she would do. I want that for you. I hate you with a passion, and I am trying to destroy you. Never forget this. I am willing to die in order to ruin your life.

What are you doing? Can that kill me? I want to see if this can kill me. No? It’s just toothpaste? Maybe it will kill me. I will eat it just in case. Look how cute I am. I am trying to die.

Lucy Moonpie is a brand new dog.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Total Bozo Magazine Fantasy Football Preview: Tight Ends Etcetera

By: Ben Johnson

You know what’s not great? When a person that nobody cares about on a planet that nobody cares about with a life that nobody cares about does a thing, for instance fantasy football, that nobody cares about, and there are parts of that thing that EVEN THAT PERSON doesn’t care about. It’s like the least caring about of anything ever. That’s what fantasy football tight ends and defenses and kickers and shit are like.

Nobody cares about these guys, even the people who might have any reason in the world to care about these guys. I wonder if these guys even care about these guys. Maybe they’re just sitting in a bathtub somewhere, drinking $5 champagne from the bottle, pooping in the tub because why not because who cares, and saying “nobody cares about me.” That’s what I would do, probably, if I was a kicker in the NFL. Just wallow completely in my own pathetic uselessness and be extra bitter about it, saying “you fuckers only care about me when the ball goes through the things” out loud in any room I might currently be alone in. For instance some kind of workout room with only right leg strengthening machines.

I know that I would do this, because that’s basically what I do all day anyway. I am compiling NFL football kicker projection statistics on a big dumb spreadsheet because the world does not care about me and this is a thing I know I can do. Let me just have this one thing. Is that too much to ask, fuckers?

Tight Ends:

1.     Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
Jimmy Graham is the only tight end who is more than a tight end. He does so much catching and running with the football, it’s like he might as well be a very good wide receiver, except he’s a tight end so you get to have a very good wide receiver for a tight end instead of for a wide receiver, and then you get to have slightly less good wide receivers as your wide receivers, but that’s okay because Jimmy Graham is so much better than all the other tight ends. This is a real good thing to do in fantasy football, and since there’s only one Jimmy Graham, only one fucking guy in your league gets to do it and it’s not going to be you, probably, because you took fucking Roddy White who got injured (let’s say he got injured). So: fuck Jimmy Graham. Stop ruining everything for 90% of us, dickhole.

2.     Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
Gronkowski is like Jimmy Graham except he only plays like 5 games a year because he’s always injured, but during those 5 games he’s completely unstoppable. If you watch an actual full football game with Rob Gronkowski in it, you will be like, “This is insane, that guy cannot be tackled by a human, that is an unfair advantage in the game of tackle football, he should have to play against an all-rhinoceros defense or something.” And then the next week he’s got a fractured ankle or bent spine from something stupid that happened to him while he was playing Vodka pong with some frat guys from Iowa State. So if you draft Gronkowski, you also have to draft a backup tight end, which is like, come on. Let’s just do one guy, please.

3.     Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Good old Jason Witten. He sure is a Jason Witten out there. I’m Witten for my man. I can’t believe he Witten did that. Bed Witten Bad Boys. I’m just free associating here. I got nothing. This guy is probably one of the five best guys to ever play tight end, and I am searching for puns in order to say something about him.

4.     Vernon Davis, San Fransisco 49ers
Vernon Davis was the cause of one of the better head coach press conference meltdowns we’ve ever had, and also he went to college at the University of Maryland near where I grew up, and also he did crazy shit with his body at the NFL’s scouting combine in 2006 and as a result of this he got drafted in the draft too high and got paid too much and therefore continually makes uptight people very upset because he’s merely an excellent tight end and not some world-changing force of nature like Jimmy Graham. These are all things I know and like about Vernon Davis. I mean, come on, world, can’t we just agree to have a Vernon Davis in us? What’s all the fuss about?

5.     Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
Jermichael Finley is like Vernon Davis except if nobody had a meltdown about him, and he didn’t go to the University of Maryland, and he didn’t set any records at the combine, and he was drafted reasonably and was only moderately overpaid. I fucking hate him. Why can’t you be better, Jermichael Finley? You’re supposed to be better than this. Look at me, for example. I work my ass off all day long, except when I don’t, which is as often as humanly possible, and then I have to come home and watch you be an inconsistent offensive weapon for the Green Bay Packers with enough flashes of brilliance to potentially average out to the 5th best tight end in the NFL? Get serious.

6.     Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Falcons
Tony Gonzalez is the best tight end of all time, and he should know because he’s been around for all of it. Not to pat myself on the back, but that was a pretty decent “old” joke about Tony Gonzalez. You have my permission to use it in case the subject of Tony Gonzalez comes up in conversation and you want to end that conversation as soon as possible so you can go smash your skull in with a cobblestone.

7.     Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts
 “Coby Fleener” sounds like something a Scottish person would say and expect you to know what the fuck they’re talking about. Like “I thought I’d have a wash but she’s a Coby Fleener so I came out alright in the end” and you’re going to die someday without ever knowing what you just laughed at.

8.     Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
Kyle Rudolph’s quarterback is Christian Ponder, who so far has not been too good of a quarterback. You know what’s crazy, though? Christian Ponder completed 62% of his passes last year. If you watch football it is pretty evident that Christian Ponder sucks, and then everybody’s like “oh man, he SUCKS,” as if he only does anything good like 5% of the time. But something at least moderately good still happens more than 60% of the time he tries to do something. Anyhow, if I was the quarterback for the Vikings, and I might be by the end of the season because Christian Ponder SUCKS SO BAD, I would try and pass the football to Kyle Rudolph.

9.     Greg Olson, Carolina Panthers
Greg Olson is gross. You’re going to be that big and that strong and that fast and you’re going to brag about dominating women sexually, even in your freshman year of college when you’re a Division I football player on a scholarship at a gigantic party school getting mega-laid for the first time in your life, even if your college was the University of Miami, which probably has an available Bachelor in the Arts of Shady Near-Rape Sexual Maneuvering program? That’s a recipe for me not ever liking you or your weird two halves of your face that don’t match.

10.  Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
I did not know until I saw this picture that it would probably be awesome to hang out with Jermaine Gresham.

Other tight ends: Owen Daniels, Brandon Pettigrew, Jordan Cameron, Fred Davis, Dwayne Allen, but really you can just wait and see who on the waiver wire is sufficient at tight end and then pick them up. I mean, people rank too many players. It’s like people think there’s some fantasy football prize for the least sucky dude who never does anything. You’ll figure it out. No biggie. Or else, more likely, you won’t. Also no biggie.




No. I’m done.

I can write about anything else now. My life is going to be good again.