The zen of the dollar slice
Six months is a lifetime. Longer than that. Eons.
I realized this last week when I was going through some old film last week that I shot back February. It was surreal: photos of crowded bars, people touching, and — the one that really jumped out at me — a candid I grabbed at a dollar slice joint.
This photo’s nothing special, a forgettable moment from a forgettable day. So why does looking at this feel like a ton of bricks?
At least that’s how it feels for me. I took this before a gig at Berlin Under A in East Village. It was after soundcheck and I was hungry, killing time. A dollar slice is made for two things and that’s saving time or killing time. You take it on a paper plate going greasy by the second, burn the roof of your mouth on the too-hot cheese that cements itself to the inside of your teeth, stare out onto the street.
And it’s perfection.
The warmth of the oven, the steam rising off the slice. A group of strangers walk by drunk and laughing. You get to take a second to enjoy that New York pleasure of watching a crowd, the outsider looking in.
Under any other circumstances, the cardboard these guys try to pass off as pizza would be inedible. I mean, you think that’s olive oil they’re using on those crackers they call crust? But back in that moment in February, the end of the world looming in the unknown abyss they call tomorrow, I wouldn’t have wanted anything else.
The sound of the sidewalk coming in. The dripping of oil onto your hands. Warm and filling. Not exactly a five-course meal at Noma, but there’s something pure and authentic about the satisfaction of such moments for a broke, hungry kid. It’s the perfect blend of taste and place.
That’s the beauty of a dollar slice: it’s a watchful reprieve from the madding crowd. People pay thousands of dollars to go on a silent retreat looking for enlightenment from a weekend shaman they met at Burning Man with a reliable ayahuasca connection, when you can get that same thing at 99 Cent Fresh Pizza.
And there’s a constancy in the dollar slice. The Pizza Principle may in full force in NYC but no matter what MTA charges, the dollar slice will still be $1.
God, I can’t wait to get another one. Hopefully one day soon. Alone — that’s the best way to enjoy a dollar slice.