Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
So it's almost time for me to cash in on an old half-joke of mine: for my 60th birthday I want a horn section, for my 70th a string section. (Never got further in the time line than that, but perhaps for my 80th, a single bugler playing "Taps"?) That's not to say even young me didn't get suckered in by the strength of strings, for there's this, ABC's debut album Lexicon of Love, which, in 1982, when I was all of 19, delineated how perfectly ridiculous and profound coexist. At that point I'd teen love-and-lost a couple of times, but those heartbreaks are the most stinging because you can't imagine anyone has ever felt as raw as you have, as even you haven't yet. And strings, dammit, they make that hurt so gorgeous.
How lovely is it, then, for much much older me to find this 2017 live version of the band, with a Martin Fry five years older than me (that's all?), still tuxedo-clad and immeasurably sad, leading the band in front of a whole orchestra. As the swell builds, there are so many versions of me to cry for. I'm sort of pleased this particular video never zooms in for a close up--it might be too much. Or even more, the too much is the wide shot, the panorama, the whole world winging its strings for you. (And who wouldn't want that?)
Speaking of want, I never got to see ABC live myself. Despite having not only tickets, but the opportunity to interview Fry himself as a novice radio DJ before a show in DC in 1982, it didn't happen. Fry was sick, it was the last gig of the US tour, the show was cancelled. And my love was unrequited. How perfect is that? If that's the trash aesthetic I suggest that we forget it....
Which, of course, gets me to the fourth to last C-90! Go! radio show on KCSB in March of 2021. I'm an old fuck now. I'm more deeply in love than I ever could have imagined at 19 (well, let's sure as hell hope so, no?). But I feel all the ages of my aches when the simple, stupid, lovely, so much of everything songs on a mixtape like 1990s' "Only the Lorn-ly" play. And especially when the strings come in.
You can listen to the show on Spinitron for two weeks from the post.
Monday, March 8, 2021
Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Think of Rachel Bloom’s memoir I Want to Be Where the Normal People Are as a bathroom book. It’s written in zippy chapters—some lists, some mini-screenplays, some poems from her childhood (they are often illustrated, as it seems she’s kept all her life’s journals, and yes, she is OCD)—so makes for quick, diverting reading when you might be busy otherwise. But it’s also a book about the bathroom: turns out it’s one of Bloom’s favorite locations, and you will get details. If you’re a squeamish reader, you have been warned.
Want to read the rest then do so at the California Review of Books.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
The James Beard Award–winning author and Netflix star Samin Nosrat needs no introduction. To call her thought- and taste-provoking. Salt Fat Acid Heat a cookbook is like saying Hamlet is a ghost story — except Shakespeare didn’t have such nifty infographics.
It’s our great fortune that she will be part of an UCSB Arts & Lectures virtual talk on Sunday, February 28, at 11 a.m. Moderated by Santa Barbara’s own restaurateur Sherry Villanueva, owner of The Lark, La Paloma, Loquita, and other hotspots, the chat also features Israeli-English author/chef Yotam Ottolenghi — remember when his book Plenty would be set dressing on television shows as a symbol that characters had hip taste?
Want to read the rest, then do so at the Independent's site.
And, yes, she's as warm and funny and self-deprecating and engaged as she seems on the Netflix show in real life, if a 35 minute phone interview is real life.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Eula Biss wants me to be better and I’m not sure I’m up for that. When I refer to the quick several page essays that build up to her book Having and Being Had as prose poems, I do so to praise and not blame, warn, not scare. Her jewel-like essays are pristine and precise, exciting and exacting. They ask of you as reader to weigh every word for there’s always a bit more there (and it has to do with you). It’s as if the space between each period and the first letter of her next sentence is a silent accusation of your life.
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Which came first, the genever or the gin? Wait, you don't know genever? Well, then you should have been on the Zoom tasting I was part of on Monday, all about genever, America's Lost European Spirit (which as a tag line is brilliant marketing, no?).
So it's simple (unless you're trying to distill a good one)--genever, originating in the 1500s in Holland (well, The Low Countries, back in the day), must have two things: malt spirit + juniper berries. Like gin, which it preceded, it's usually got botanicals, sometimes of the "if I told you I'd have to kill you" variety. It can be aged or un-aged, in oak or not. It can have added caramel color to suggest it had been aged (kind of a reverse Grecian Formula for spirits). It's got a great history, helping create the term "dutch courage" and being connecting to William of Orange--when he married into English royalty, genever and gin came with him.
And this is way too late in my post to add the most important thing, it's damn delicious, in lots of different styles. Sarah Lawson-Stopps, bartender at Wildhawk in San Francisco and a genever brand ambassador, took us through the evening, a tasting of five different expressions showing the ranges within the two basic styles. The first, the old style, is darker and with more malt (15%-100%) and makes one think of whiskey, the second, the young style, is lighter, brighter, and more like a dry style gin (with a malt percentage under 15%).
That younger style is a bit more in ascendancy now, as genever is still recovering from its near fatal moment during U.S. Prohibition. But mixologists of the past 10 years or so find it fascinating for its backstory and versatility, so get used to seeing it more frequently behind your favorite bars. Why not, given Bobby's Schiedam Jenever you could easily assume was just a dry gin, but then its Indonesian botanicals sneak up on you--lemongrass, cardamom, ginger. Or when you could drink Rutte Old Simon Genever, 40% malt, so brilliantly complex, even more so with its additions of celery, carob, and a distillate of roasted hazelnuts! How convenient that along with our sample bottles (nowhere near the gorgeous full 750 ml bottles most genevers sell to the public in) we were sent snifter packets of classic botanicals to snort. Makes a Zoom event a lot more sensory.
And then there's the origin of a shot and a beer, which goes back to genever. Kopstootje is the Dutch term for this special ritual, and it translates as "head butt." So if you want to be a mating ram at your bar, get them to pour a healthy shot of genever into one of the classic tulip classics that match the spirit and have your beer ready to go. And by healthy shot, I mean one that almost over pours--the goal is to have an arcing meniscus of genever above the glass, the rainbow for you to wish the exciting future of your night upon. Then you lean in--I mean, you aren't trying to pick up that close to an overflowing glass--with your hands behind your back and sip deep. There's even a crazy method where you lip-lock the tulip into your mouth and toss it back that way, but I'm too old for that kind of uncouth thing. Even if the genever itself has a good four centuries on me.
*OK, this title doesn't really make sense, but I just really like this Eurythmics song, sorry.