by Ryan Meehan
When we were younger I remember Ben Ingelson had the cassette tape of “Yo! Bum Rush the Show” by Public Enemy. At the time I was extremely drawn to it due to the fact that middle aged white people were terrified of them and I loved that more than anything else in the world at that point in my life. They looked like a more modern version of the Black Panther party, only with a louder PA system. PE even had a security team on stage called S1W (Security of the First World) that marched, carried flags, and packed Uzis. They were a pretty crazy sight to see if nothing else.
But the one member I was never able to figure out was Flavor Flav. He wasn’t very active in the verses of the songs or how they progressed. He did rap, but not a whole lot, wore brightly colored clothing, huge sunglasses and a clock around his neck. Apparently from the beginning the record company loved the group but didn’t want anything to do with Flav, yet eventually caved in and signed PE anyway.
In 2003 I had read online that Flav (real name William Drayton, now age 51) had agreed to participate in a reality TV show called “The Surreal Life”. I was actually kind of excited to see him make a jackass out of himself, not realizing how much of his street credibility he was about to lose.
But, like so many victims before him that were claimed by reality television, Flavor Flav turned into a complete fool in a matter of about two episodes. He hooked up with that man-chick-thing that used to be married to Jets defensive end Mark Gasitneau, and became very close friends with one of the guys in New Kids On The Block. I figured it was over, and that we wouldn’t hear another cry of “Yeahhhh…Boyeeeee!!!” ever again.
I was wrong. His antics actually got him a couple more shows on that network: One with the scary peniswoman, the next two reality dating shows that would see twenty women compete for a cash prize that would briefly make them feel better about the fact that they were contracting genital herpes off camera. Surely (I thought) after this there was no way we’d ever hear of him again.
Then in January of this year news began to circulate that Flavor Flav was opening a Fried Chicken restaurant in Clinton, Iowa. I’m not sure why he would have picked Clinton: Maybe it’s because he figured that this region would be star struck by a celebrity opening a restaurant, or maybe he just felt like Clinton smelled so much like fried chicken breading because of the ADM grain plant that the health department would never show up.
Whatever it was, Flav made connections with a local businessman by the name of Nick Cimino to open up a Fried Chicken Joint in C-Town. It was the biggest thing to hit Clinton since its residents discovered they could purchase as much Sudafed as they wanted over the counter at their local gas station. Apparently Flav met Cimino through his brother Peter who runs Mama Cimino’s in Las Vegas. Once the media found out about it, the hype was on. The social networking sites blew up with posts about how people couldn’t wait to shake hands with something that had been wrist deep in Brigitte Neilsen’s babymaker. The local TV channels and newspapers jumped all over it and it appeared that the ultimate hype man had done his job.
Then it actually opened. The reviews were mixed at best. Customers waited twenty to forty-five minutes to get food, and hours to get a picture with the man of the hour. There were ashtrays on the tables, and many people were smoking which is of course illegal (In the state of Iowa) in a business establishment where food is being served. (Kind of an inexcusable thing to overlook) A woman that I work with had visited there with her boyfriend about three weeks after it opened, and described the event to me upon her return: She said that from the second they walked in the place was complete chaos. They ordered their food, just one chicken breast because they weren’t really going there for the food, just to say that they had been there. Over 20 minutes had passed and finally she walked up to the counter to see where their food was, and come to find out the order hadn’t even been placed. At that point they decided to cut their losses and head elsewhere. Twenty minutes is a long time to wait for food anywhere, let alone fried chicken, but to not even get served is pretty weak. That’s of course not counting the twenty five minutes it took them to drive there when there are plenty of delicious places to eat within a short drive of their residence. She also said that it appeared as if no one inside had any idea what was going on at all. Obviously, this is only one testimonial but I did hear from other people that they had similar experiences.
Shortly thereafter reports began to surface about the employees not getting paid. This is where I started to realize that something fishy may have been going on. I mean, the story seemed weird to begin with, but then when Flav responded to the accusations by saying “it was a credit card glitch” I wondered why a guy that’s supposedly that rich wouldn’t have a PR guy that could come up with a better excuse. Right there I knew this wasn’t going to end well.
A couple of days ago WQAD.com and Yahoo! reported that Flavor Flav was shutting the joint down, after a period in which there was a pretty serious war of words between Cimino and himself. Cimino even went as far as calling Flav “a fraud” and that he had “engaged in illegal activities while on the premises”. For those of you who can’t read between the lines, that’s a PG rated way of saying that Flav was smoking weed in the office. I do understand that it’s illegal, but I don’t think anybody reading this would be gullible enough to think that isn’t going on at over half of the restaurants in the country. Flav countered back by saying that he had found some potato salad in the walk-in that was passed the expiration date by over a month.
The strangest thing to come out of this whole situation was that one of the reports stated that FFC spent $14,000 on frying oil in the first week, because Flav wanted the oil to be changed every hour. Anybody who’s ever deep fried anything knows how off the wall this is. When you first pour oil into a fryer, it’s white. It’s not hot enough to cook anything in, let alone fried chicken which must be cooked at high temperatures. Another thing that’s common knowledge about this subject is changing fryer oil is something that is only done during down time, in between mealtimes. Additionally, fryers are usually right next to each other so changing them requires a lot of foot traffic to begin with and if done every hour could really increase the time between the customer ordering and being served. (See above story if you’ve had a stroke over the course of the past few paragraphs) You don’t want the fryer oil to be full of fried breading, but you do want it “broken in” to a certain extent, that is, you want the flavor for the oil itself to be able to cook into your fried chicken. It sounds to me like Flavor Flav hasn’t done much with the culinary degree that he earned. Another piece I read said that Cimino estimates he lost $400,000 in just a quarter of a year in the business venture, and it’s unlikely he’ll get any of that money back from Flav who (according to his Wikipedia page) was still scalping baseball tickets “to make extra cash” as late as 2000. No wonder the employees weren’t getting paid.
So in just three short months, it was all over. Another celebrity had invested in an establishment that tanked, and time moves on. The only difference was this time it happened in our backyard.
I just hope that through all of this, the rest of the world doesn’t become so dumbed down that in a hundred years, people only remember this area for being “that place where Flavor Flav’s chicken bit the dust”. A lot of people talk shit about this area, about how they can’t wait to get out of here because of how much they think it sucks…I disagree. The Quad Cities is a relatively inexpensive place to live, and has a lot of rich history. I don’t want this three month period during which a failed business venture that never had a prayer to begin with to eclipse the story of the guy who invented the steel plow. That’s not fair to myself or anyone else that lives around here.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
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