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Netflix & Grill: Finding Zen with Garry Shandling, Tom Petty and Momo Ghar

Watch, listen, eat, drink
Welcome back to Netflix and Grill, where we piece together some grub, a boozy drink, an album, and a binge-worthy show. Along the way, we plug the local establishments that make Columbus shine. For this entry we will discuss the Zen Diaries of Gary Shandling, listen to Tom Petty and eat momos (Himalayan dumplings) from Momo Ghar. Set your receiver to a peaceful volume, open your dumplings container and get ready to do some introspection!

Entrée

For those unfamiliar with one of Columbus’ best and not-so-hidden gems from the Himalayas, Momo Ghar started as a small kitchen in Saraga International Grocery on Morse Road.

Saraga quickly surged in popularity, opened a second location in the North Market and has been featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.”

In the photo above, you can see the delicious JHOL MOMO item I ordered. Consisting of eight pieces, the dumplings were piping hot, had the perfect texture, were filled with chicken and sweet spices and served in spicy momo sauce.

It is hard to beat this $8 value anywhere in Central Ohio.

I chose Momo Ghar because Garry Shandling embraced Buddhism and because Buddhism is celebrated in the Himalayas. Be patience, this will all make sense a bit later on.

Drink

Those dumplings are a tough act to follow so I knew my search for the perfectly paired libation would be a hard one.

After consulting my buddy Donnie at House Wine, I went with Boulevard Brewing Company’s Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale.

The Belgian style ale is light and crisp with citrus notes and subtle hops (38 IBUs) and pairs with the Momo spices nicely.

Be careful, this momo and one drink combo could become addicting at a combined $11.

Vinyl

Tom Petty and Garry Shandling collaborated on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders show and were close friends off screen. The two shared a great chemistry (which by all accounts could be difficult to establish with Shandling), were true artists and unfortunately share a bond of passing away much too early and within 18 months of each other.

Because of their cosmic connections, I chose the 1989 Tom Petty opus, Full Moon Fever. This album needs no introduction or real review, it only needs a turntable and the willingness to listen.

There are no clunkers or songs to skip, there are only meaningful and introspective songs to put you in a Zen state of mind.

So, if you’re strong enough to get your momos and Tank 7 to go, drop the needle on this bad boy for some soft smiles and rhythmic head bobs.

 

Streaming

Created and directed by Shandling protégé Judd Apatow (Freaks & Geeks, Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin), The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling is a two part HBO documentary that chronicles the life and times of comedic legend and television visionary Garry Shandling.

You don’t know who Garry Shandling is? Well, allow me to indulge myself and fill you in.

If you subscribe to streaming services, you should thank HBO for changing the game with The Sopranos. The Sopranos wouldn’t exist without The Larry Sanders Show.

Simply put, The Larry Sanders Show forever changed television when it premiered on HBO in August of 1992. It was a pay cable show that was instantly the coolest and smartest show on the block and offered a smarter, darker and funnier alternative to its laugh track laden broadcast television peers (Friends, Just Shoot Me, Seinfeld, etc).

The Larry Sanders Show focused on fictional late night television show host Larry Sanders. Larry was neurotic, paranoid, guarded and hilarious in a show-behind-a-show concept. The show managed to survive for six seasons and allowed HBO the opportunity to produce other high quality original programming (The Sopranos) and forever altered the television landscape.

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling chronicles the entirety of Shandling’s life by featuring Apatow interviewing Shandling’s co-stars, friends and (real or imagined) enemies.

Conan O’ Brien, Sarah Silverman, Jay Leno, Bob Saget, Kevin Nealon (among others) are interviewed and footage with and Jerry Seinfeld is highlighted.

Rare insights are given into Shandling’s personal life such as the childhood loss of an older brother, his mother’s mental health issues, a messy break up with fiancée and co-star Linda Doucett, the nasty legal entanglement with former manager Brad Grey and even a wiretapping controversy.

Good times are also remembered and many friends, particularly David Duchovny, regale the viewer with tales of Shandling’s support, friendship, encouragement and how he helped them both personally and professionally.

The good times and bad times all led to an interest in Buddhism, which Shandling became immersed in for the last 20 years of his life. His new found spirituality led to a better state of physical, mental and spiritual health and by all accounts, gave Shandling the peace he had looked to obtain during his life.

Apatow tells the whole Garry Shandling story and it is a wonderful pupil to teacher tribute. A long tortured soul found Zen during his last two decades and hopefully the universe repaid him for all of the joy his art brought into it.

My only reservation is that casual fans will be put off by the almost 4.5 hour run time but if you make it through the entirety, you will be rewarded with laughs, tears and maybe even a little Zen.

The Zen Diaries of Larry Sanders is available to stream on HBO GO.

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