Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
2. thoroughly enjoyed yelling at marty while he "blows" his "horn" in public.
3. let my crush on ellen page grow and grow.
4. eaten my weight in cooooookies!
5. mentally prepared myself for a week of pizza consumption (this was not difficult). monday: homemade. wednesday: ken's. thursday: scholls...?
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
that said, life without the cell phone, it turns out, is pretty nice. i don't have to worry about being available at every waking moment, as has become the expectation when you have a cell phone; there are no phantom ringing neuroses; i'm less concerned about giving myself brain cancer; i don't have to carry around one extra clunky thing or losing an expensive piece of electronics; i don't have awkward buzzing emanating from my pants at inopportune moments.
still, it's been a week without it. sometimes i wonder if i'm missing out on stuff because i can't check my text messages. i will try and head over to target today to purchase a replacement charger. but maybe now that i've gotten kind of used to being without it, and realized how nothing terrible has come of it, i'll have the psychological wherewithal to keep it off most of the time.
Updated: i have been to target and their universal charger for the LG phone is not compatible with my LG phone. of the three different plugs available with the charger not one of them fits the jack on my phone. it makes me wonder exactly what universe the charger is from...
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
At both I tried their margherita and a house specialty.
The Delfina margherita (above; stock images from a past visit in the spring is due to poor lighting at night in their outdoor seating) easily came out on top, with a perfectly baked crust (I realize the photo shows otherwise, but the charring was fantastic this time around)—crisp, yet pliant with the crackly edge protecting soft, spongy innards—sweet and tang-tastic sauce, and a drizzle of fragrant olive oil.
Tony's margherita was good, but the sauce lacked the flavorful punch of Delfina's and the cheese was not entirely melted. It did benefit from the added smokiness added by the wood-burning oven. Extra kudos to Tony's for being open for lunch, which is a meal most of the better pizzerias in SF thumb their noses at.
I also tried the clam pie at Delfina and Tony's Cal Italia (Asiago, Mozzarella, Imported Italian Gorgonzola, Sweet Fig preserve from Croatia, Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano, Balsamic). Both were delicious. The Cal Italia is baked in a domed, gas oven, and uses a different flour (higher gluten content, it seemed, based on the tougher, more chewy consistency) than their margherita. It was overwhelmed by the sweet fig preserves to some degree, which was heavy-handedly dolloped into the center of each slice, with a small piece of prosciutto and a couple shavings of the parmigiano stuck on top. The gorgonzola was used sparingly and counterbalanced the sweet figs with its bitterness. It was pretty delicious, but maybe too rich and I had a hard time getting through my third slice.
Delfina's clam pie (unfortunately I have no photo documentation) was fantastic, with toothsome shelled clams scattered about on a sea of spiced tomato sauce. All underscored by a salty pecorino. Boffo.
I also tried a slice from Arnell's Pizza, which would give most NYC corner slice establishments a run for their money. A thin, crisp crust, topped with your standard greasy, cheesy fair. A good sauce-to-cheese ratio. And served up by a gentleman with a slightly toothless grin.
Please also do drop by the Bi-Rite Creamery after—or before!—hitting up Delfina. I sampled their salted caramel and malted vanilla. A+ in my book. I also had the pleasure of tasting Humphry Slocombe's off-kilter ice cream flavors: secret breakfast (bourbon and cornflakes), peanut butter curry, blue bottle coffee, and balsamic caramel.
Victory for the forces of good!
Friday, October 30, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Last night I saw the Coen Bros. latest, A Serious Man, which is as unsettling and bleak a movie as I've ever seen. The conversation afterwards was mostly directed around that issue and how much of a bummer it was that that was the movie we ended up seeing. But I have to say, after a day of removal, that A Serious Man is a fucking fantastic bit of cinema. Oh, yes, it's stomach churning watching the main character get the shit kicked out of him by fate without putting up a fight. It makes you queasy and is inordinately frustrating. The Coen Bros. have been practicing their rug-pulling technique and the end of the film finds you flat on your back staring into a blackness of uncertainty and destruction and evil.
"When the truth is found to be lies, and all the joy within you dies... "
Has anyone else seen this movie? Did it have the same affect?
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
it's received some pretty high praise from most critics. i recommend it. it's 100% solid comics. there are few artists working in comics who tie together the words and images together to underscore the meaning as well as david mazzuchelli does in this book. it's also pretty.
it seems likely to get enveloped into the canon of great american comic books: jimmy corrigan, blankets, black hole, asterios polyp.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The implication that the public option is insidious and will put good and honorable privately-run health care companies out of business needs to be beaten back with a giant stick with a nail in it. Regardless of whether a public option would or wouldn't put private insurers out of business—since when have private insurers been worth saving? What has a free market brought us in terms of health-care? Run-away costs, awful service, and—yes!—rationing. The wealthy can afford it and afford more of it, those who are monetarily challenged cannot. (One could maybe argue it brought us accelerated technological advancement, but I don't know enough about that either way.)
The thing that really pisses me off is that these jackasses in Congress arguing against government-run health-care all gladly accept their gov't plan.
Does anyone feel strongly one way or the other about this stuff? Government option? National private non-profit? Regional non-profit? Leave the system as is? Choices D through Z?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
also watched synecdoche, new york and cold souls this weekend. i do not generally recommend the former unless you're into semi-incoherent david-lynch-type films. it's ambitious in terms of its thematic scope, but it really lost me in the middle when it veered away from linear narrative. i'm sure there was some meaning in it, but i could not figure out what it was exactly. it re-congealed toward the end, when the main character's grandiose macarthur-genius-award-funded theatrical work takes on a life of its own. the actor he hires to play himself begins a romance with his assistant, while the main character has a run-in with the woman playing the assistant. it becomes mind-bending in the fun way that kaufman's other stuff (eternal sunshine, adaptation, being john malkovich) is. the result of the love, loss, jealousy, and existential crises is ultimately depressing, emotionally draining, and confusing.
cold souls was easier to wrap my head around. alternately darkly humorous and completely ridiculous, it's paul giamatti at his best and probably most likable role (dude plays a lotta losers and curmudgeons). there's less to it than synecdoche, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. focusing more squarely on the question of identity and existence, it still tackles love, loss, and jealousy, but by using one frame of reference it creates a more coherent story. and you get to see paul giamatti do a pretty good impression of a bad william shatner performance in a chekhov play. the ending lacks much of a resolution though, which is pretty unsatisfying.
also: glee. watched the season opener. generally enjoyable. they seem to be blowing their sexual tension load a little early regarding the football player–nerdy singer. also, the lip synching is a little over the top and distracting. i'd rather the performances feel more live, less produced. the whole kanye west interlude was, frankly, awful—too cheesy even for a show that is steeped in a variety of dairy. the extent to which all of the characters are fairly gross stereotypes is somewhat bothersome. that said, it's only the first episode (well, second, if you include the pilot), and there's plenty of room to grow and change.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
now this got me thinking in my standard cynical anti-establishment mode. it seems to me that there's a parallel between these parasitic wasps—which i think, regardless of how you feel about cockroaches, may be one of the most heinous creatures on the planet—and the capitalistic/materialistic society we presently find ourselves in. granted, capitalism doesn't exactly lobotomize us, but what it does do is insidious in a way that's almost more evil than a direct stinger to the brain is. we're all trapped in this process that slowly brainwashes us. we're inundated from birth with carefully designed advertisements targeted at our exact demographic, whatever that happens to be at the time, to consume product A or use service B. we become used to consuming these products and services, cannot imagine life without them, even though in almost all cases these products and services only came to be recently—recently at least relative to the breadth of human existence. we recommend service B to friends and family—it makes life easier and it costs so little! we become fixated on these goods and services. they are a focal point in our lives. we begin to see them as not just the accoutrements that they are, but as the become increasingly important until they become our raison d'être. not only do we find ourselves buying them, but we're making them, we're selling them, advertising their existence to the newly born so that they can grow up and be enveloped by the same things.
the scary thing about consumerism is not that we consume so much, rather it's how much it consumes us.
this blog post was posted to blogger, written in gmail on a mac book pro (with intel inside!), powered by pacific power, connected to the internet via comcast, while sitting on a bed puchased via overstock.com, covered in sheets bought at fred meyer, and perched on a bedframe made from wood, screws, and nails, all summarily consumed from home depot. it will be posted on blogger in verdana, a typeface designed for microsoft. i'm sure there are dozens of other soulless, multinational corporations involved in this whole process—who made the sheets? the lightbulb lighting the room? mined the copper for the co-axial cable? we're all drowning in it.
/ / /
in other news, laurel's co-worker informed her that the space shuttle and ISS would be undocking and visible this evening. we watched for about 30 seconds, which was as long as we could see them, as the shuttle rocketed away from the space station at 18,000 mph. they were both remarkably bright objects for things that were relatively small and 220 miles away. it was cool. thanks NASA (also, thank you for my Memory foam mattress).
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
time really flies the older you get. i what used to seem like a week is now a month. there's probably a lot to tell since the last entry, but i can't think of much. tera is outta the office on a permanent basis and is prepping for a strict regiment of higher education by enjoying the delights of le france with the martinator. with her gone, the office dynamic is very different. her replacement is high energy and has a ridiculous amount of design experience: 20 years, plus design schooling. i've also taken on some more responsibility and at least for the past week haven't really had a shortage of things to do, which is kind of nice. but i do enjoy reading the news and there's been a lot less of that.
last weekend tom and laurel led me on an expedition up South Sister, the third highest mountain in all of vasty vastness of Oregon. there's documentation of the expedition located here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/egadman/show. it was a rewarding but a difficult, steep, and slippery, slide-y climb to the summit. it's probably the highest summit i've climbed to. even starting from halfway up, it was tough. i definitely noticed the air thinning out at about 8,000 feet. the last thousand feet or so i found myself resting every 20 feet or so. it wasn't so bad though, the exhaustion just gave me a good reason to stop and enjoy the view.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
* * *
i've noticed recently that when typing in a purposely informal mostly-lowercase-with-the-exception-of-proper-nouns-and-other-things-that-feel-like-they-should-be-capitalized house-style, i find it difficult to keep consistent. it's easy to leave everything lowercase. it's fairly easy to keep things in the proper standardized form. but if i start without capitalization and then start capitalizing words (like names or book titles, for instance), i involuntarily start capitalizing sentences and first-person singular pronouns again. does anyone else have this problem? does anyone else purposefully capitalize in this (or another) bizarre manner?
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
with even more photos.
new photos up on flickr. well, semi-new. some of them are from the road trip in april, some are from this past weekend, some from recent trips to SF. it's mixed bag of baggage.
i bought new bicycle wheels. i plan to install them next week.
planning a pizza and pastry evening in a couple weeks. details may or may not make it to this page.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
230 Ninth Avenue & 24th St
Of all the recent NYC pizzerias to have opened, Co. has received the most buzz. Jim Lahey, famous Sullivan Street baker blah blah blah—you either probably know the story already or you don't care. Regardless, these are the things you really need to know: the owner knows his dough and there's a wood-burning oven.
For a place that was hyped (resulting in stupidly long waits) and hammered by the press (one star review by Frank Bruni NYTimes) simultaneously, being both praised and reproached for its 11-inch pies, but pretty much universally beaten to a pulp for its service, the place was remarkably inconspicuous. The dining space was warm with amber-stained wood tables and floors, and with only one other group present when our small, motley crew convened, there was nary a moment of waiting in line (or on line) to be seated.
After a few rounds of negotiation, our foursome settled on splitting a Boscaiola (tomato, mushroom, buffalo mozzarella, pork sausage, onion, chiles) and a Margherita (you know). I don't think it even took five minutes after our order was in for the Margherita to arrive, piping hot, puffed, charred... and small. Really, it seemed pretty tiny, even for a neapolitan-inspired pie.
Rather than a flattened disk with a puffed edge, Co.'s crust has a steady gradient from a relatively thin center that gets increasingly bubbly and airy as it gets to the circumference. Their pizzaiolos don't waste an inch of space and cover the whole pie in toppings, disregarding the idea of a bare edge. This I think is a bit of a shame as it would allow for an opportunity to spotlight the bread. Coming from a renowned baker, it seems odd that the crust isn't given a bit of a glory moment at the end of the slice. That said it is the crust that distinguishes Co.'s pizzas from the rest. It is unique in its soft, yeasty, salty, and airy stylings.
The Margherita, in short, was very tastey, but unremarkable. The sauce was unseasoned as far as I could tell and was light with a mild sweetness. The cheese was a buffalo mozzarella, and typically extra watery with a creamier, less potent flavor than your standard fior di latte. All in all, a well balanced meal.
The Boscaiola, which may have been the wettest slice of pizza I've eat, thanks mostly to the healthy sprinkle of moist and meaty mushrooms, was driven largely by the temper of the chiles and spicy sausage. It was a punchy combination and there were moments of gustatory excitement, but it was occasionally overpowering and there were times when my tongue would have preferred to duck and cover. It's a wild one.
Conclusion: Nice for a change of pace, but not someplace I would end up as a regular.
3-1/2 John Cougar's out of 5.
2. Kesté 271 Bleecker St.
(across from John's)
Sallying forth from the starting line, the four of us meandered over to Bleecker, losing Eugene to the underground on the way. Kesté lay in the bowels of a street fair. Brendan waited for us at the door. The pizza menu at Kesté is extensive and they're all cooked in a beautiful, ceramic-tiled, wood-burning oven in the back of house.
Our rounds of choice were the Margherita (duh) and the controversial Pizza del Papa (butternut squash cream, smoked mozzarella, artichoke, roasted peppers). Our server seemed somewhat non-plussed at our paltry two-pie order, but we were not deterred. We held fast in the knowledge that there was more pizza to come in the very near future. It is in this kind of race more than any other that slow and steady wins.
Kesté's pizze are beautfully blistered. The Margherita looks in many ways like the platonic ideal. Sadly though, it's a bit of a gold-plated trophy. The slice that met my mouth was over-topped, which is no small feat on a slice containing only mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil. The paper-thin crust could not hold the weight or the wetness of a heavy-handed dose of cheese. The edge crust was a cushiony pad with a smattering of char. It had a nice mix of crunch and chewiness, but was light on flavor. The Pizza del Papa sounds like the crazy uncle of pizzas—fun to hang out with for a weekend, but not for everyday consumption. Maybe it just takes a little getting used to, but I found the combination of the puréed butternut squash and mozzarella to be much too creamy and heavy. Brendan likened it to butternut squash soup on a flatbread. This is not an inaccurate description. I also found the pieces of roasted peppers to be too large, somewhat unwieldy and overpowering. The pie would have been better served without the cheese and a sparse distribution of diced peppers. Despite the drawbacks, Kesté is rounder than your average bear and if there weren't carbon-flecked competition from Pizza Mezzaluna, John's, Joe's, or No. 28 just around the corner, I would keep a pot of honey out for it. 3-1/2 victory gardens in a world short of massive monoculture farms.
3. Pizza Mezzaluna
146 West Houston Street, New York, NY 10012 (b/n MacDougal and Sullivan; map)
I don't know what I was expecting when I dropped by Pizza Mezzaluna (located next to what used to be DeMarco's, the now defunct Di Fara spin off), but it was not the marble-benched, open-awninged environs that I found. It's a small, but open and friendly space.
By the time our band arrived it was around 2pm and the joint was vacant, with a low-key atmosphere. The pizzaiolo was in no rush to get things started, but even then, with their wood-burning oven, it only took a few minutes for our order—a Bufala (a Margherita with buffalo mozz rather than the standard cow variety) and a Piccante (tomato sauce, mozzarella, spicy salami)—to make it in and out of the oven and sit steaming in front of us.
Pizza Mezzaluna produces some fine eats. The buffalo cheese was delicate and velvety and the crust was well blistered (see left). The salami on the piccante was a nice combination of smokey, salty, spicy, and sweet, and though I'm generally partial to my salami slices being smaller in diameter (truly, Di Fara's pepperoni is about as close to perfect as it comes), I would be happy to order it on a regular basis, given the opportunity.
And though these pizzas were very good, they lacked a certain character, a little eccentricity. They were too round, too regular in their distribution of toppings, the edge was too consistant in size and color. Yes, this is a nitpicky thing to complain about, but when you're in a city with as many quality pizza establishments as NYC, then you have the luxury of such opinions.
4 horse-and-buggy rides around central park out of 5 horse-and-buggy rides around central park.
319 Graham ave. Williamsburg
L stop to Graham Ave. Brooklyn
Why did it take so long for me to get to this one? Because writing these things is actually kind of boring. Sure there's somewhat of a personal challenge in figuring out novel ways to describe the same four components, but even that wears thin after a few go-rounds.
Let me say this, after eating our way through three distinguished NYC pizzerias, those of us left standing took a much-needed respite at a nearby record store before heading out to confront hipstervilleberg. With our appetites at risk, we judiciously skipped San Marzano Brick Oven Pizzeria and headed straight to Motorino.
Go here. With an bright and airy atmosphere and friendly waitstaff to match their friendly pizzas, if there's one new place you hit up in the next few months, this should be the one. Motorino's crust is perfectly cooked and they've got a great sauce–cheese balance. The edge is soft and bready on the inside with a crispy exterior. You won't be disappointed. Motorino was the highlight of the tour.
Una Pizza Napoletana. Di Fara. Motorino. It's been said. Can't take it back. This place is a top fiver.
And their desserts ain't half bad either.
Monday, June 15, 2009
reunion was whirlwindy and now seems like much of it happened eons ago. having not slept at all on the red-eye into JFK, the weekend began with me at a disadvantage. though amie, laurel, and i still managed to make a run to di fara (as seen in the previous post) before heading up to vassar. i stole some piecemeal shut-eye while riding the Q train and on the metro-north. i further slept through the first hour of brendan's bbq extravaganza.
the reunion highlight for me was being around mr. miller, listening to him, and basking in the bittersweet glow of his retirement. look up "mensch" in the dictionary and you'll see his bespeckled owl-eyes looking right back at you.
for those of you in nyc with $5 to burn, i recommend checking out the current MoCCA exhibit featuring the work of David Mazzuchelli. The nerdy types will recall him as the penciller/inker of Batman: Year One and one of the more memorable runs on Daredevil (both with Frank Miller as writer). what a lot of people don't know is that after that he went on to do a number of more artsy and experimental comics. the man knows how to juxtapose images. (as an aside: the museum's descriptions of his work, while probably accurate, are remarkably pretentious and wanky. they're trying too hard to make comics high art. one of the great things about comics is how accessible they are, why muck that up?)
i also dropped by MoMA for their free Friday. nothing really blew me away, but i was glad to see they finally rearranged the design exhibit (which may have been done years ago at this point, and maybe it had been rearranged already last june and i just don't recall). now showcased: the aluminum soda can with the pull-tab mouth. really, it's kind of a beautiful bit of design.
furthermore: Boxed Water.
Friday, June 05, 2009
this is what he does.
he does it well.
but, yeah, ok. here's the thing. and i know this is kind of sacrilege in the world of nyc pizza-snobs, but:
1. the crust, really, isn't that good. it's kind of bland and a bit dry.
2. dom smothers this thing in cheese. it is a cheese-heavy pie. with the pepperoni especially, you can't let this pie sit. it soaks through and becomes a delicious, but soupy mess.
it's my favorite place, but it has it's drawbacks...
Thursday, June 04, 2009
tonight i'll be emptying my water bottle, kicking off my shoes, and
gettin' the hairy eyeball from airport security. tomorrow, if all goes
according to plan, i'll chow down on a pepperoni slice from di fara,
inhale a dark chocolate and andean blackberry cone from cones, and
ride along the hudson up to poughkeepsie.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Yesterday we had a Memorial Day BBQ at the SE Hipster Castle (which I feel is more of a hipster repellent than a hipster haven). Tom finally got his mesquite on. The menu was as follows:
+ bbq pork ribs
+ bbq chicken
+ bbq pineapple
+ bbq vegetable skewers
+ bbq portobello mushrooms
+ bbq jalapeño poppers (filled with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon)
+ bbq peaches (quartered, dipped in sugar)
+ bbq oranges (halved, dipped in sugar with rosemary)
+ bbq asparagus (in peach & orange juices)
+ house made bbq sauce
+ black bean, cherry tomato, and cucumber salad with cilantro and a tomato/citrus dressing
+ potato salad with asparagus
+ cucumber & onion salad (in vinegar)
+ ice cream sandwhiches
+ chocolate–strawberry brownies
+ chocolate mousse
I may be forgetting a couple of things. It was quite the feast though. Clearly. The champion ice cream sandwhich devourer was Zac, who ate 4.
I'm now in possession of a basil plant of the Genovese persuasion. I will cultivate it and garnish my pizzas with its leafy protrusions.
Monday, May 18, 2009
clown-ballerina haunting long's drugs in Venice, CA
Los Angeles is a cesspool of scantly clad beautiful people drenched in
sunlight, but we didn't really find that out until the morning. The
evening was spent at Kat's brother's beach shack a couple blocks away
from Venice Beach. It reminded me a bit of living at the community
house in New Zealand, with seemingly dozens of people flowing in and
out the door over the course of the evening, except these people were
more blond and tanned and ate more dairy products.
After the desert and all the driving, it was a bit overwhelming. All I
wanted was some dinner and good sleep. These things were had, but much
later than I would have hoped and we all know what happens to people
when they are tired and hungry, they get grumpy. So I did my best to
keep to myself. Eventually the party atmosphere subsided and I was
able to crash... on a sofa that Giselle had once laid on for a
The next morning we had a nice little stroll around the beach area
before heading off to the north and meeting up with Fahad for lunch.
There was much catching up, pizza eating, reminiscing, and one case of
a mistaken identity ('cause, I mean, who can really tell the
difference between us?). My greatest regret on this trip is that I
didn't get a photo of us together. We are twins separated by genetics.
There was then much scenery and coastal driving. I believe that the
sunset image from a couple posts ago is actually from our trek out to
the Pacific Coast Highway.
Friday, May 15, 2009
requisite vacation sunset image
OK. So, my attempt at recapping the whole road trip in moderately
lengthy and detailed posts has derailed. I'm okay with this. I realize
that these things are somewhat time sensitive sense (a) my memory
isn't great for such things and (b) the nature of the web blog
generally enourages quick dissemination of information that is
immediately relevant, kind of short term-y/short attention span-y.
Also, I'm not convinced that anyone actually wants to read these
posts, even me, who appreciates having them for the sake of posterity,
but since I lived the events not too long ago, am pretty okay just
sitting here thinking about them. That said, sometimes writing a
little bit can be a good workout for the brain contraption and I'll
see if I can at least pen the highlights.
Day 3: Joshua Tree redux.
We'll rewind bit, and briefly note that after Coachella Kyle and I
drove somewhat cluelessly around in the desert looking for the Palm
Springs airport, which we eventually found, and where Shanni had been
patiently waiting for us for an hour or so. We then got lost leaving
the airport ("just leave the same way you came in," one would think,
but i was a bit giddy and not really paying attention to the direction
we were pointed in). As is the wont of the Jews, there was further
wandering in the desert. What should have been an hour drive to a
Motel 6 (situated next to my mortal enemy, Pizza Hut), turned into a 3
hour battle with highway signage, countless U-turns, and everyone
losing their cool a bit, but just a bit.
Morning. The desert. We had no food. There was a diner and we were
saved by morning milkshakes. I had a Spanish omelet that was roughly
the size of Spain, and may have been populated with actual Spaniards
(I'm sorry, little Spaniards, you deserved a better death than one by
digestion). Then: into the heart of it. The morning was spent driving
through the park and the early afternoon on a two hour walk to a ridge
with magnificent views. Witnessed: Joshua trees, lizards, cacti, dirt,
more dirt, small bushes, &c. We'd just missed the bloom-y season, but
there was plenty of beauty to be seen.
Then! Away to Los Angeles!
Joshua Tree joy:
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Phoenix for the most part remains a mystery. From the airplane window you could see a seemingly endless sprawl of the city's white-roofed domains. But who or what inhabited those buildings? And perhaps more mysterous: why and how is there grass here? We don't really know. Kyle and I busted outta there as soon as we finished our pies.
Driving directly at the sun for a good couple of hours, we finally arrived in the Indio/Coachella/Joshua Tree area around 10:00 pm, deciding to take our chances with a national park camp ground. The park's south entrance only led to group camp sites, in which, thanks to our national park's honor system of reservations and payment, we had no problem finding space for our two-person tent.
Kyle, having never been further west than Lexington, Kentucky woke up with the sun and frolicked in the desert while I stirred in my sleeping bag. We were on the road by 9:30, headed to conquer Coachella's Saturday lineup, killing some time before the afternoon start by scavenging a breakfast at Target (a banana, orange juice, and banana-nut muffin for me) and picking up some forgotten supplies.
Then it was off to search for parking, which despite somewhat excessive signage seemed to elude us for quite a while. There appeared to be a number of event parking lots dotting the path to festival, but none of them were populated by concert goers and most of them were mostly empty and closed off. It turns out that parking was located to the right of an intersection with an impromptu no right turn sign, which had a police officer idling next to it. This didn't seem to deter other attendees from making a right, so we followed them with crossed fingers. No trouble.
We arrived at the festival, were interviewed by a local radio station (top five favorite bands? i froze. what makes a good concert? who am i listening to right now?). Entering the grounds, security made me dump out my water bottle ("It could be Vodka for all we know!"), were accosted by a couple minors looking for beer bracelets ("I don't think drinking in this heat's a good idea. You'll end up in the medical tent dehydrated and covered in vomit." The thanks I got in reply I'm pretty sure was a mispronounced "fuck you.")
P.O.S. kicked off our Coachella experience ("It's 1:30. You're at a hip-hop show in the desert. Fuck it. Throw your hands in the air. No. Like this. Up. Like this!"). If the crowd had known what to make of it (i.e., not been full of what can only be described in this context as a bunch of honkeys), it would've been an excellent set.
P.O.S. was followed by what turned out to be hands-down the best set of the day with Ida Maria, a Scandinavian outfit with a very earnest and blond backing band that tore through straight to the core of rock's definition—dynamism, youth, sex, rebellion, and spontaneity—all made easily digestible with catchy hooks.
From there it was mostly downhill: Joss Stone played a too polished set on the main stage (that had a rigging system roughly a million stories tall and completely dwarfed every act it hosted); Henry Rollins offered a pandering rant about the evils of war, being frustrated with the Bush administration, and airport security; the tail-end of Amanda Palmer's set was a rousing ukulele cover of Radiohead's Creep, and seemed to be the only occurrence that day of an audience really singing along; Tinariwen worked the crowd with the clever use of not speaking English and looking foreign, which was completely charming and effortless on their part as they are from Mali and do not actually speak English or seem to be inclined to wear t-shirts and bermuda shorts; Fleet Foxes offered very tight harmonies in a solid set that I can only really describe as gently raucous; M.I.A.'s performance was completely seizure inducing, a clinic in pop art replete awful video collages, dancers in neon piping, and incoherent rambling ("I didn't sell out. I played the Grammy's, but I turned the Oscars down! I just had a baby.").
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Two Friday's ago I met Kyle at the Phoenix Airport Alamo Rental Car desk. After driving in circles trying to figure out how to get on I-10, we headed over to Pizzeria Bianco, a place often tagged as having the best pizza in these United States. We arrived on their sun baked front patio around 4pm, a good hour before they opened doors, and we weren't even the first in line—already there was a small collection of people hanging out under a canvass awning. Kyle and I did some catching up, interrupted periodically by a couple of very nice guys—fledgling pizza enthusiasts—asking me questions about pizzerias and pizza making. By the time Bianco's opened, the line to get in stretched maybe 60 people down the block.
How could Bianco's wood-charred pies live up to the hype surrounding them? Well, they couldn't. But I can't think of any pizza that could. We kicked off the meal with a couple of cokes and an antipasto (olives, cheese, soppressata and fire roasted asparagus, bell peppers, and onions) that turned out to be the star of the meal. A wild-haired Chris Bianco was manning the oven and stretching out paper-thin 12 inch rounds of dough. Our pizzas came out beautifully cooked, with the puffy edge having a slim crisp outter shell and soft, spongey innards. Between the two of us we split the Rosa (Red Onion, Parmigiano Reggiano, Rosemary, Arizona Pistachios), the Wiseguy (Wood Roasted Onion, House Smoked Mozzarella, Fennel Sausage), and a Margherita (Tomato Sauce, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil). The Margherita was excellent and the best of the lot, with a fresh-tasting sauce and a nice sauce and cheese balance. The Wiseguy was heavily loaded with thick strips of sausage and onion, both of which were delicious in their own right, but were detrimental to the pizza's pizza-ness. Their heft overpowered both the crust's structure and its flavor. I wondered why they bothered to put them on a pizza crust to begin with. The sausage and onions would have made a tastey meal by themselves. The Rosa is without a doubt the richest pizza I've ever had. The oils from the reggiano and pistachios mixing with the sweetness of the red onion were overwhelming and gave me that feeling of thickness at the base of the jaw where it meets the throat. I could only manage to down two of its six slices. Kyle seemed happy to play clean-up on that one.
The nail in the coffin for me though was crust, which while cooked to perfection, was simply bland. Maybe it was just this day's batch, but it lacked both the yeasty flavor and saltiness that combine for that satisfactory umami-ness one searches for in that last bite. The best pizza in America? No. But when it was all chewed and swallowed, it was still a damn fine dinner and certainly a pizza worthy of praise. Great service too.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
pdx loves neck beards
pdx loves bikes
pdx loves walking
pdx loves geometric shapes
pdx loves posters
more more flora
pdx loves decaying cherry blossoms
bike farm loves you.
The weather this weekend was ridiculously beautiful—sunny in the 60s on Saturday and 80 on Sunday. I managed to squeeze in a solid 5 hours of soccer.
Sunday I did some much needed maintenance on my bike at Bike Farm. Farbotron helped me overhaul my bike's bottom bracket (the section where the pedal and cranks spin around). It looks like I should purchase a new spindle and bearing cups. The trouble is that my bike frame is an 80's era Peugeot, which is French and conforms to French standardization with respect to part sizes and threading of screws and these French standards are no longer used. Fortunately Portland is a overgrown with cycle shops, so maybe it won't be so hard to track down.
And a personal PDX milestone: for the first time since moving here got invited over to hang out (read: non-party situation) with people who I did not go to school with. Low-key discussion about photography dark rooms, the correlation between astrology and Jesus, and cycling were had, followed by a viewing of choice internets entertainments.
and because it's a slow morning:
Marta is just plain better than everyone else. No one can match her quickness, speed, or creativity right now. She's arguably the best player—of any gender—in the world.