I remember flipping the channel one day and landed on channel 9, our local PS station, only to hear Joseph Campbell talk about Sir Galahad and the Holy Grail. Galahad was the bastard son of Lancelot and was renowned for his gallantry, his purity and the most perfect of all the knights. The Grail Legend, in my mind, is to constantly seek and strive to be better in life and to do so with as much grace and dignity as you can. Any-hoo, while I had been reading and listening to stories my entire life I recall this as the first time I began to connect a message with them.
Later in college my English class read Beowulf, another classic hero story. This time strength of body and character were told about in Beowulf’s great swim into the ocean and his battle with Grendel and Grendel’s mother. There was much discussion that day about dominant cultures and their use of violence against lesser ones. Another eye opening, and mouth shutting, experience for me and yet another seminal story in all of our lives.
We have all seen these stories re-enacted time and time again on the big screen. Superman, Batman, the Black Panther are all examples of Galahad and Beowulf told in contemporary terms. Each has their super power. Each has their form of purity. Each has their harsh beginning, the Origin Story.
A recent Origin Story that came across my feed was the snapping turtle with the earth on its back. You see, snapping turtles hibernate in the mud for months on end and when they awake they push up out of their hidey hole with a caking of mud and grass growing on their backs. Can you imagine the symbolism our prehistoric ancestors must have seen in an image like that?
- Back at the cave with newly discovered fire. “No I tell you. It is really true! The earth is being carried on its back by a large turtle beast. I just saw one of its babies!!”
The first origin story I learned began with, “Let there be light.” It was a dad joke for many years when I was little and young. It is hard for me to think of a time when, even in the faint recesses of mind, a tiny sparkly synapse did not fire reminding me of that saying whenever I flipped a light switch.
This week I saw the light – City Lights Café & Catering at 1515 Tennessee Street. I have been in this town since 2002 and yesterday was the first time I even noticed they were there, and that was only because a friend pointed them out. “Hmm,” said I and turned the car around. We popped in to a simple little establishment. Now when I say simple I do not mean unprofessional. To me it is easy to see that they focus their efforts on catering but decided to keep a little café space for their regulars. I, for one, am glad they did. I ordered a grill chicken with lettuce, tomato, avocado with balsamic dressing on a soft French roll. I am a sucker for soft bread sandwiches and this one was simple . . . and amazing. The tastes were clean, light and pure. The Galahad of sandwiches that day, to be sure. The gentleman behind the counter was another one of Vallejo’s kindest men I have ever met. He genuinely appeared to be there for the love of the work. I immediately felt at ease and promise you that I will return to sample more of their brand of simple.
I often do not even joke with this next saying but now seems appropriate. If you can find your way to the light, City Lights, I recommend it.
- Spooky voice, “Come to the liiii – gght.”
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Until next time,