He is a fast-talking man, a straightforward man, the Earl of Deadpan.
His wife is never quite sure if he’s
joking. He tells me he used to dine
regularly with Buddy Cianci, the
disgraced former mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, who also
launched a line of marinara sauce.
I ask if Earl helped Cianci launch
the sauce. No, Earl says, but he ate
a lot of it. He says this with a straight
face. It is believable.
The Earl of Sandwich and Robert
Earl. The only person missing is the
Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl.
My sandwich arrives, rectangular and wrapped in gold foil.
“It’s a gold brick,” Robert Earl
says, pleased, leaning forward.
“Why a gold brick?” I say.
“Why not?” he scolds. “Does ev-
erything have to have a reason?”
Some things do, certainly. Like,
how does one know a good novelty
when he sees one? Planet Holly- wood, Hard Rock—these are prepos- terous ideas, borderline offensive, as if anyone would think glamour and soul are transferable in a Celeb- rity BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger that costs $13.99 and tastes like half that. And yet the tourists come, and eat, and leave thinking they’ve had a localized experience, though the only substantive difference between Planet Hollywood Orlando and Planet Hollywood Guam is the place
name on the T-shirt.
Robert Earl is the Earl
of Good Times.
strapped times, pegged to a novelty
that raises it above whatever other
generic sandwich shops are out
there—places that don’t make you
feel a part of something, don’t give
you a legacy to plug into, don’t
tell you a story, however almost
certainly false it is.
For the record: Robert Earl pre-
fers the version where the Earl of
Sandwich is a hungry war hero.
“True story,” he says.