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Random Issues to Rant About

April 29, 2006

kr’s note: I’ll have a real post in a day or two, Inshallah. In the meantime, enjoy these meandering thoughts of mine.

edit, 3:10 pm: New site music added. The lyrics on this track are amazing.

1. The 2006 NFL Draft

I’m sick and tired of the NFL Draft hype that’s been dominating the sports media world for the past two weeks now. I don’t care about Reggie Bush’s financial scandals or the Texans taking Mario Williams instead of Bush. I don’t care about who’s going to trade up and who will trade down. I don’t care what these draft experts (like Mel Kiper) have to say, since what they say this hour will change the next hour. Quite frankly, I don’t care about Mel Kiper period. There’s so much else going in the sports world: the NBA Playoffs, MLB drama with dominant veteran pitchers… heck, even the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yet, the lead stories on ESPN and such are about this stupid draft. And, really, what happens during the draft? Nothing. No team wins or loses. It’s all hype, just hope packaged into running backs and quarterbacks that will be their team’s messiah and lead them to a championship. Of course, half the guys taken even in the first round are going to be total busts, a la Ryan Leaf, Rashan Salaam, and of course, David Terrell.

ESPN will show 8 hours of draft coverage on Saturday and 2 more hours on Sunday. That’s 10 hours of coverage of nothing more than watching Paul Tagliabue (the NFL Commissioner in case one doesn’t know…) walking up to a podium and announcing that a team has selected some player from some university. They’ll show some highlights of the player, and of course he’ll look like a stud because he did it against players that aren’t going to the NFL. The fans will cheer or boo (like McNabb was booed in ’99 when Philly took him instead of Ricky Williams… wonder who got the better of that deal…), the football pundits will weigh in on the player and the new team, and they’ll some various images of young men and their families crying tears of joy or displaying open frustration at not being picked. All in all, it’s stupid, it’s idiotic, and as much of a sports fan as I am, the draft hype and coverage is the dumbest thing ever. Just tell me who my team picks, start training camp, put the pads on and play. Enough with this hype. This country has become nothing more than hype and showmanship… the real substance in nearly everything is totally lacking. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that if sports are an art… art only imitates life.

2. The Long-Overdue Boycott of Italian Express

On the way back from Jumu’ah today, I phoned in an order to the Italian Express near MSI to pick up a spicy gyro for lunch. When I got there to pick it up, I pulled out my wallet, thinking I had to pay something like five bucks. I was shocked when I was told that the bill for one spicy gyro, one packet of white sauce, some fries, two packets of ketchup, and some napkins was a freakin $6.50 and with tax, it was $6.95. SIX NINETY FIVE?!?! For what? It’s not like their gyro is the greatest sandwich in the world!…(the philly cheesesteak at Ahmo’s is, of course). When i got home, the sandwich was so small that I barely ate 3 or 4 pieces of gyro meat before it was manageable enough to roll it up and eat the actual sandwich. I remember the days when the sandwich was so big that one had to spend a good 5-7 minutes just eating the gyro meat separately (by dipping into the white sauce) before the actual sandwich was manageable enough to eat. And the sandwich was so big that you’d have to take half of it home. But now? The quantity and quality has totally deteriorated. The last time I went there, I went on a weekday during lunch time… I was the only one in the restaurant. The waiter didn’t even respond to my salam (more like a grunt) and took more than 10 minutes to come over and take my order. In other words, I know that it’s a desi Muslim restaurant (read: don’t expect much in terms of ambiance and hospitality) but come on… freakin gimme something here.

And that’s when I realized that the reason Italian can get away with raising prices, cutting back on food quality/quantity, and shoddy hospitality is because they have a total monopoly over the Chicagoland area in terms of being purveyors of zabiha sandwiches and pizza. Oh yes, I know that we have some upstart places like East-West (near IFS), but at the end of the day, IE is still THE place that everyone goes to. Even when out-of-towners come to Chicago, they want to go to IE only cause of their gyro pizza. Because of this monopoly, IE knows that it can do anything it wants to and get away with it… why? Because at the end of the day, we’ll still buy the damn sandwich.

This is why I’m calling for a boycott of Italian Express. I think that if enough people boycott Italian, we can force them to return to the quality food that made them so famous in the first place. I also think that if we can convince people to open up quality restaurants that will compete with IE, it will force IE to raise its game to the next level. Darwin was right, survival of the fittest. When one isn’t challenged by any competition, there’s no motivation to innovate and maintain quality. Only when one is challenged, when one’s very survival is at stake, is one forced to adapt and go the extra mile for the customer’s dollar. So, my dear brethren, let us resolve to boycott IE until our demands are met. Someone should come up with a formal letter and list of demands so that we can present it to the IE management. I understand that thousands of people are marching this Monday in Chicago about immigration laws or something… I think it’s perhaps far more vital to mobilize the masses of Chicago to rally to this noble cause and force IE to improve.

Let us therefore resolve not to buy anything from Italian until our demands our met.

You know what the sad part is… even if they don’t improve, within a month, I’ll probably be back there, buying another $7 gyro… sigh.

Oh, and you Michigan ingrates that complain about shawerma sandwiches becoming $4.95 now… don’t even start.

3. Check Out This Restaurant Instead

Instead of going to IE, I suggest that we go to a restaurant that I had the opportunity to visit more than a month ago: the Four Seasons Cafe and Grill in Arlington Heights, IL. Yes, I know it’s quite a drive out there, but trust me, the food there is amazing and affordable. The Don, Imran Khan, and I had went out there for dinner and I was really impressed with the food selection in terms of quality and diversity. Check out the menu: it has everything from chicken fajitas (what I had and I highly recommend) to steaks and standard Arab food. The sad part about this restaurant is that while the food is amazing, no one knows about it yet. Unfortunately, it’s not in the greatest location (since it’s so far out), but trust me, it’s well worth the trip out there. And not only is the food great and plentiful, the owner himself works there (he was a former cook for Marriott hotels) and is one of the most genuine and nicest people I’ve ever met.

I’m not getting paid for this plug… I sincerely enjoyed my meal there and felt I should advertise old boy’s place since no one knows about it.

4. Abdullateef Muhiuddin (Muhi) is a Stud and I Owe Him an Apology

When I wrote my Michigan trip post, I mentioned all the things I did there, but I erroneously left out one of the most important details of the trip. Regretably, I forgot to mention how one Abdullateef Muhiuddin (Muhi) totally rolled out the red carpet for me. As president of the Dearborn MSA, he totally went out of his way to welcome us and treated us quite graciously. He drove us around, took us to lunch, etc… and sadly, I forgot to mention his ihsan upon us. So this is my apology, Muhi honey, I’m sorry that I was a jerk and I forgot to mention your studliness and kindness. Please grace me by accepting this apology for me. In addition, I just plugged your xanga, and now I’ll plug your picture for… uhm… da`wah purposes =).

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27 Comments
  1. I think a flooding of their mailbox requesting bigger sandwiches would work better than a boycott. But the gyros at Four Seasons are definitely better. And Muhi is my friend. I hope he’ll spend time with me in Michigan this summer, insha’Allah

  2. hey, i live in Arlington Heights, hooray for me. Huzzah!

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Salman got the chicken parmigiana (sp?) when we went there, that was really good. The only problem was that they had some stuff on their menu that they weren’t actually serving anymore due to low orders, like the New York Strip Steak. I agree with you though, they deserve our business. That man and his wife are super nice.
    -Saima

  4. ^^what?! they stopped serving steak?!! and here I was all excited to come back to Chicago so I could try some of their steak. I think I’ll reconsider coming back now. And kr, you have my unequivocal support for the IE boycott. How dare they rip off the poor hungry Muslim youth who just want some gyro and possibly a fry….yes, one fry?!Just out of curiousity, what is your friend Muhi wearing on his head?

  5. Roger that boss!  no more Italian Express till I get the green signal from u again. =)  the picture of the gyros being crossed out is hillarious.
    By the way, K R killed liked 4-5 fajitas at four seasons by himself masha Allah…haha!  so if he can eat that much, i am sure all of us can eat a lot more.  GO FOUR SEASONS!

  6. yumm…i want gyros now =(
    yeah i know people who have reserved the entire day for watching the draft picks..what a waste of life

  7. and if you’re near IFS, try Safari Juice Cafe…the food is underrated and the owner is extremely nice

  8. Anonymous permalink

    I don’t even remember the last time I ate at IE — so I’ll definitely boycott. I don’t understand why all of you insist on eating there when it’s so clearly one of the worst restaurants in Chicago. What else can you even eat besides gyros/gyros pizza? Everything else on the menu is disgusting. Once I tried ordering something different and the waiter looked at me all weird and said “Have you ever had that?” I ended up getting gyros only to find that my bread was ice cold. And the food isn’t the only thing wrong with that place.
    I’m opening my own restaurant. 100% zabiha and 100% guaranteed to kick IE’s butt. Will you guys come?

  9. ^if you build it, we will come

  10. Anonymous permalink

    screw all of u. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU. seriously. how DARE you put down gyros.
    im furious. no words can…
    i think people just want to jump on the ‘i hate IE’ bandwagon cuz they have nothing better to do. i can easily say that i have been there more times than ANY of you(combined depending on who you are) and have yet to approach a gyro that had issues. too much salt on the fries? at times. frozen white sauce? at times. but never the gyro.every single one of u is just too critical. cold bread? y dont u ASK for them to warm it up, princess?
    okay okay, u can criticize the chicago italian a bit mor. they have issues at times. before last friday, the last time i went to chicago IE was a year ago. their mango shakes were horrible and poor service. but dont hate on the glendale heights one or italian in general.
    unbelievable kr. keep in mind that this is a MUSLIM restaurant and u should retract ur statement rejecting it. it has adverse effects. im getting emotional(im joking, maybe)..
    i was expecting a kickbutt post about monday’s immigration rally that you’ll be attending cuz ur an undocumented worker ya know?

  11. Anonymous permalink

    Dude.. TRUST me that I’ve been to IE more times than you have (I was born and raised there — my dad is the founder of it, but sadly, no longer the owner) and it’s absolutely horrible. People who eat there are jumping on the “let’s eat at IE” bandwagon because they think they have no other place to eat. And what good is it if the meat pieces are perfect but everything that comes with it is disgusting? You can get good gyro meat at lots of places. And I have to ASK them to serve me warm food? The GH IE isn’t much better — same food, slightly better restaurant so it just seems like the food is better. Man, overall, IE gets like 1/2 a star. I think it’s time to revisit my post on it from last year.
    Kr – thanks for your support. I will let you guys know when my restaurant opens. First meal is on me iA.

  12. KR, I agree bro, the biggest problem with Italian is their prices. But I think the Chicago one is cheaper… but that has a whole bunch of sanitation issues.
    Oh, and I love this new site music… it’s my favorite one so far. The words of the song deserve their own post (hint hint)

  13. Where exactly is this Italian Express you speak of?

  14. Lotfi (the owner of 4 seasons) is awesome, mA.Just maybe as more incentive for you to go and eat there: He used to be the head chef at several Marriots, about 4-5 years ago, he had become more religious (I wont get into the details of what this means, exactly) but as he became closer to Allah, he realized that since he cooks with pork and alcohol that the money that he earns is tainted with that which Allah hates. So about 4 years ago he made the intention to open up his own place so that he and his new family (he just had kids recently) would be eating and living from a halal income.So, anyways, he opened up 4 seaons…and aH, he’s been getting by. But really, if you are EVER in the area…give him business. The food is amazing…and the prices are great. You can get a whole chicken and rice for $8.50…and he always gives you something else for free (hummous, salad, etc) And if its not spicy enough for you, just ask him to masala it up.About Italian express…i mean, gyros pizza with the guys is good sometimes, having it like 4 times during ramadan is not like…the best thing to do. But, its still a Muslim establishment, so I’m of the opinion that it is haram to bash it in public…but just as a warning…never ever have the meatball sandwich unless you REALLY have to miss class the next day.And, new UIC shura, you better cater from this guy, or else…

  15. lol I think your the only person who hasn’t complained about any of my new layouts….haha anyways I’m working on your banner….I probably won’t finish it till after finals…

  16. italian express sux…we used go there all the time when we were little and now i can’t remember the last time we went. i never liked their gyro sandwich that much to begin with…i was alwaz the only one who ordered sumthin else from there and i can say that the other food wasn’t any better

  17. i havent eaten at italian express in such a long time. have their gyro sandwiches really shrunk? that sucks. but the spicy gyro pizza is awesome. i hope it still is awesome.

  18. Anonymous permalink

    oh man, i was so looking forward to IE when i got back to chicago. the spicy gyro was to die for.
    by the way, thanks for your comment about my brother. he’s a lot better now alhamdulillah. appreciate it.

  19. Anonymous permalink

    common sister :::: “oh my god, kamran riaz hates italian express? … i better hurry up and write about how i hate italian express too so he notices me! oh and the sooner i write it, the greater the chance of being one of the first to comment!”.. you all make me sick. not a SINGLE girl disagreed with kamran. There’s no doubt that there are sanitation issues .. not to mention communication issues with the waiters .. BUT .. THANKS to salman for standing up for the joint that has carried us thru the past decade.

  20. “Darwin was right, survival of the fittest. When one isn’t challenged by any competition, there’s no motivation to innovate and maintain quality. Only when one is challenged, when one’s very survival is at stake, is one forced to adapt” – I never thought I’d see the day when Kamran Riaz would concede that Darwin was right about anything. What ever happened to the Kamran who was a passionate anti-Evolutionist?

  21. salman: im criticizing IE cause they were once the greatest restaurant in chicago. they’ve totally dropped off. they have the potential to return to greatness, that’s why im being hard on them. IE right now is like the ’06 shaq whereas the one in 98-99 was like the shaq of 98-99… totally dominant. as for monday’s rally, i think ill organize a similar rally (in terms of quantity) to demand that IE return to its old ways.whitesharif: i wasn’t “bashing” IE… i was merely stating facts: prices have gone up while portions have gone down. because of this, i think the only way IE will improve is either: 1. through a boycott 2. establishment of competitive restaurants.kareeem: haha, youre such an idiot… yes, i agree that italian carried us for many years now. which is exactly why im advocating the boycott. they need to realize how vital they are to our well-being, since we non-clubbing, non-hookah smoking folks got no where else to go to on a friday/saturday night =). this is exactly why they need to improve… and do it soon. as far as everyone agreeing with me… dude, i cant help it if im always right….asad: i agree with microevolution… i just dont agree with macroevolution =). we’ve had this discussion before.

  22. God, I hate IE.  They’re burgers are just plain atrocious.  Honestly, it’s not just them though.  Sabri has gone south along with Pita House. But interestingly, Pita Inn in Skokie is still top quality.  Maybe it’s the difference in demographics, if you get my meaning.
    And to jump off what Saqib said, Muhi is also an unofficial cousin in our family. We inducted him in 2001. The ceremony was at Dunkin Donuts, Farmington perhaps, over a box of munchkins.

  23. damn, I gotta spell check before posting.  They’re = Their. sorry.

  24. haha, i like these random posts.  mannnn… spicy gyros pizza!  i love IE!  but i guess i partially agree with you, i’ve heard a lot of how they’re quality has gone down and prices up… so i’m waiting for falooda’s restaurant, hehe.  oh and yes, native deen rocks.. that is a good track indeed, and so are the rest, mA.

  25. Anonymous permalink

    mann, here i was expecting to read some enlighting post of yours?? what is this huh? bashing on italian?? i ernooo….
    eh but then again it was fun to read…plus i feel generous today…u shall get one e prop for the convincing post..yeah…from what i read….i dont think il be going down there for a while now..

  26. good stuff my brother, i love the selection of picture, does justice to my goofiness.just as some clarification, i’m the Outreach Coordinator for our MSA (www.msadearborn.org)yeah, holla at dat. see ya on the flip side k arrrrr i’ma pirate.

  27. Anonymous permalink

    Yo is that four seasons place even Zabiha? who supplies their meat? and i agree with the Italian bashing, i’ve had a few bad experiences myself recently and the service really got to me, specially the one in GHeights, with that “hero” sitting behind the counter.

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