Question: What did the Dalai Lama say to the hot dog vendor? Answer: “Make me One with Everything!” This is a cheeky play on the idea some Buddhists have about life being a journey whose end game is becoming “One with the Universe." It also is the name of a book by Surya Das (who was born Jeffrey Miller in NY). He is a lama, author, poet and meditation teacher whom I've had the opportunity to hear speak at various venues. And finally, it’s a story about my childhood obsession with a certain brand of hot dogs.
Sabrette Hot Dog push carts were very popular growing up in Hoboken in the 50s and 60s. You could find one on street corners scattered about the city. There was always one across from Our Lady of Grace Elementary and Secondary School, which I attended. At lunch time I would always tell the hot dog vendor, “Make Me One with Everything, which I explained above had a different connotation then, than it does now. On the other hand, eating one was a form of Nirvana. I would always order one—and sometimes–two with a Yoohoo chocolate drink.
Cal Furino, son of Italian immigrants used to sell hot dogs on the corner of Newark and Harrison streets. According to grandson GIaco Furino, a Brooklyn-based writer who penned an article in the New Jersey monthly last January, Cal sold his hot dogs in those days for .15 to .20 cents. It was such a deal. Hoboken born and bred singer, Jimmy Roselli, a contemporary of Frank Sinatra, was a customer, as was boxer Chuck Wepner. But, Cal’s most notorious customer, was “Richard Kuklinski, a contract killer better known as Iceman,” who was very “polite” and dressed like a “lawyer." He was “eventually convicted of five murders,” added his grandson, Giaco.
Outside of Italian Deli Food and my late mother’s cooking, Sabrette Hot Dogs were the best comfort food I ever tasted when I was a kid. When you took a bite, it was like I died and went to heaven. It continues to be a guilty pleasure I indulge in when I am back in my home town. Eating one was a form of time travel that brings me back to the old days. As they say you can take the man out of the Hoboken, but you can never take the Hoboken out of the man.
These days I spend more time cultivating “moment-to-moment awareness” and that all "inclusive connection with all things,” than eating hot dogs. But, old habits die hard.
Postscript: Many are surprised to learn that even the Dalai Lama continues to eat meat for “health reasons.” However, he also points out that the discipline code for monastics (vinaya) has no prohibition against eating meat, so monks in Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka take vegetarian or non vegetarian food, respecting what is offered to them. So does the Dalai Lama eat hot dogs as the joke seems to imply? Maybe it's his best kept secret.🙂
Photo Credit of Sabrette hot dog in hand facing NYC: Hobokenhappyhours.com in a story written by Brittany Temple, SiriusXM producer of "Make it Plain," with Mark Thompson
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