Thursday, April 30, 2009

day too two.

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.").

pop-ish rocks.

not my usual stuff.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It happened already?

Two days ago I was in San Fransisco. Two days ago I was a free man. Today I am parked under the fluorescent-lit drop ceiling that is the pestilence of modern living, a blight that causes the slow deaths of countless psyches across the developed world. Yup. There's nothing like a good road trip to remind you how dull and inane your daily life actually is.

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.

pizza upskirt




the oven

Thursday, April 09, 2009

songs about time

the rentals' first chapter of songs about time is ear-ready:

Monday, April 06, 2009

monday morning photo play




pdx loves neck beards

pdx loves bikes

pdx loves walking

pdx loves geometric shapes

pdx loves posters

more flora

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.

Friday, April 03, 2009

the return of the all-seeing eye

my new, refurbished camera arrived in the mail the other day, fully formed with a working LCD display and everything. it fits snugly in my right pants pocket. i will try and use it to better document the comings-and-goings, ins-and-outs, hithers-and-thithers, repetitions-and-redundancies—the general hurly burly of everyday life in my little cloud of subjective reality. at some point this may mean additions to the long stagnant flickr page. its arrival is also just in time for my exploratory thrust into to the southern areas of the western continental united states. point being, if i can figure out how to the the photos off the goddamn thing, then there may be some photos of things besides pizza on this log of electric information.

image stabilization rulez.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

meat plate

went to korean bbq for lunch today. work function. ate an unhealthy
amount of meat. seriously unhealthy. feel kind of ill about it. not
food poisoning ill, more clump-of-meat-sitting-in-stomach kind of ill.
pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, and either squid or octopus were consumed
(hard to tell... it was in a seafood pancake). not sure what was in
the potstickers. luckily no one seared themselves on the hibachi.
please do not try to duplicate this experience at home.

should've eaten more kimchi, less spicy pork.