Saturday, December 06, 2008

Stand Up, Sit Down to Get Up, Get Down

Pharoahe Monch - "Simon Says"

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - "Get Down Lover"

BTW: if you're ever stuck in Richmond at night and can't be bothered to travel downtown, or if you're sick of downtown and want a quiet class of wine and charcuterie, head down to Gudrun in Steveston. It's nestled behind the storefronts on the main strip: look for an incredible courtyard with a large banquet table surrounding an old tree. Don't be too thrown off by the pricing: the cheese/charcuterie platters are almost twice the size of Salt's.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Radio Radio

I tuned into college radio for the first time in years. In a span of 20 minutes, an Australian (a constant fixture up and down the dial these days) and his foul-mouthed compadre went from Kung Fu Panda ("hated it!") to rating systems ("1.5 out of 10") to the current price of gas ("it's why gas is below $1.00!") to Rogers Video ("those assholes!") to blank media levies ("they enshrined an approval for piracy!")(they didn't, actually). (All paraphrasing overly generous.)

Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Freaks for the Festival (v1 and 2)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gas Smiles

Sabu Martinez - "Meapestaculo"

Tim Maia - "Nobody Can Live Forever"

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


JC Davis - "A New Day (is Here At Last)"

Quincy Jones - "Oh Happy Day"

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Minding Arteries

Tindersticks - "Vertrauen III"

Nick Cave - "Good Bye Marilou"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hot Stepping.

Run DMC - "Peter Piper"

De Falla - "Popozuda Rock N' Roll"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Been Long Enough

The The - "This Is The Night"

White Town - "Your Woman"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Pan American - "Code"

Galaxie 500 - "Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bloggin' Ain't Tryin'

AND: no second guessing.

Dorothy Ashby - Soul Vibrations

David Axelrod - Urizen

Sunday, August 10, 2008


After last week's diatribe, we finally did go to Fuel (1944 West 4th, between Cypress and Maple) tonight: the drama had provided us with a good kick-in-the-pants to finally make good on our long made plans to visit.

As I've explained, I'm on Fuel's side of the debate, and thus I went in with hopes of being vindicated: I wanted the food to be dazzling, success being the ultimate victory. It probably didn't help things much, then, to have such high expectations, because I was a bit disappointed.

That's not to say the food wasn't good. On the contrary, it was extremely competent, the product of a team that obviously cares about what they're serving and have taken time to seriously think about their menu.

What we ordered showed an emphasis on technique: I had the chicken, wherein white meat was stuff with the dark, sous vide, and then crisped up at the end, accompanied by braised artichokes, and crispy cornmeal. While it was exquisitely prepared, the concept likely got in the way of results: in the end, it wasn't overly different enough for me from a type of crispy chicken you'd see in a Chinese restaurant, and the crispy cornmeal was a bit too similar to hashbrowns. If the overall idea was to bring a comfort food quality to the plate, it definitely succeeded, but that really wasn't what I was in the mood for.

Dessert was much the same: a rice pudding using arborio grains (common in risottos), with a raspberry 'meringue.' The arborio rice definitely made it a much creamier and silkier rice pudding, but the raspberry 'meringue' really didn't seem like much more than raspberries with a fluffier whipped cream (not quite as light and airy as a meringue), slightly torched. While it was definitely comforting and good, it wasn't mind-blowingly so (the plating seemed a bit off as well: the raspberry meringue was piled on the side of the bowl, like an avalanche about to crush the rice pudding terrain below).

While I might not rush to go back to Fuel, I never - not for a moment - felt that the food was deserving of anything quite as self-involved as Gill's shoddy review. Fuel definitely merits more effort than a few inconsequential anecdotes dribbled off without much thought, and I'd certainly recommend the place to anyone that's in the area (I'd recommend Gastropod a bit more, though, which seemed just a touch more innovative). It just didn't instill as much fervent passion or praise, though, that would have had the crowds cheering loud enough to drown Gill out completely.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

It's Been A While

There's a couple of easy answers as to the shortage of posts as of late: a lack of time, and a lack of ideas.

This story, however, from the Urban Diner grabbed me within seconds: it seems that Alexandra Gill, food critic for the increasingly sloppy Globe and Mail, was ejected from Fuel, one of the city's more popular restaurants that opened last year (on West 4th by Maple, used to be home to a shish kabob place).

While we haven't been to Fuel yet, I've never heard anything bad about the place, and Gill's review is probably the first time I've heard anyone not rave about it. As the story goes, Gill returned for dinner, and was asked to leave after being recognized by the staff.

One of Fuel's co-owners responded by saying "when a reviewer actually loves food, it comes through in their writing, whether they are being positive or negative, and we can handle those negatives. Those critics will always be welcome at Fuel, for without positive, legitimate feedback, we will never have the chance to grow and become better."

I'm undecided as to whether this was the right path for Fuel to take or not - it instantly propels Gill to even further attention than she probably deserves, and she's certainly no punk rock critic that anyone should have any affection for. It makes for a great story (and only serves to add to street cred) when Lester Bangs or some such gets trounced or kicked out of a show, and Gill doesn't play at that level.

Gill's reviews usually treads along the lines of one or two salient points, muddied up by Carrie Bradshaw writer-is-the-subject nonsense, to the point where one has to question her palate or overall taste (Gill has also written numerous travel and pop culture pieces). Reviews are as much about Gill's personal life as about the food; Gill is both subject and observer.

This, in itself, is not a bad thing. On the contrary, one of the best VOX lessons I ever learned was to understand that reviews were inherently subjective, and not to shy away from it. As with anything, there's a right way and wrong way to do this, and Gill, like many others, doesn't seem to know the difference.

As with any good review (I'll stick with music reviews for familiarity), one really doesn't need to know how an album was named, where it was recorded, what the inspiration was, blah blah blah: that sort of filler is available from press releases and television interviews. Instead, a proper review should reflect the writer's own subjective response to it: for instance, it's instantly understandable to read that a writer's first listen to Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions feels the same as being trapped in a garbage bin being pounded on by baseball bats. This does not mean that I need to know that the writer was shopping with his/her BFF for rollerblades when the picked up said album. One can inject his or her personality into a solid piece without having it overtake the actual subject at hand.

Gill, as many others, makes this mistake over and over again: writer-as-subject only works for Hunter S Thompson and a select few (Nick Kent comes to mind), wherein the subject and personal experience have become so intertwined that it becomes imprudent or even impossible to write about one without the other. Does it make sense for Gill to mention that her companion loves a particular dish enough to have eaten it on four or five other occasions? Sure. Do I give a rat's ass about Gill's fiancee? No (in a recent review, she goes as far as referring him to "the", not my, fiancee; in other reviews, she 'gets married to herself': bejeezus, I'll just watch SATC reruns on Cosmo if I need that). This sort of thing, though, has unfortunately found its way into more publications than ever, and, with blogs, newsgroups, forums, etc., will undoubtedly spiral further and further out of control.

For such self-indulgent writing to inspire an active response from Fuel, then, is perhaps a bit unfortunate. If it calls attention to Gill, and others, as lazy critics, I'll be tipping extra when we do visit Fuel.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sarah Silverman in a Few Easy Points

While I am waiting to attend a conference call, here's an easy point-form rattle-off for the Sarah S. show we saw last night:

- no photos, as I couldn't even really make out her face for most of the night (blame failing eyesight, pencil in optometrist appt);

- it was at the casino. Slightly odd for being outside of Vegas, but not quite as odd when you note Diana Ross is playing there in May;

- the show was sponsored by mainstream FM, and correspondingly introduced by a female radio host. This prompted a 'shirts off'-type holler, which, given that most of the crowd were Sarah Silverman fans, may have been that 'irony' I hear about. (Note: this is countered with the fact that many of the audience were also drinking heavily);

- sat in front of two ladies who provided running commentary through the warm-up, "Fucker!" and "He's funny!" being the main observations;

- Sarah Silverman is one of few celebrities who appears exactly in person how she appears on screen (note caveat above re: eyesight);

- it is odd when comics do recorded material live. It is usually fine, in that sort of respectful way: a good joke is a good joke is a good joke. But hearing bits a second time through is usually not as delightful, particularly when a certain level of shock is involved as with Silverman. In general, it tends to fare well only when nostalgia is attached, eg. Cosby, Kids in the Hall (who are also playing said casino);

- many people like to yell things out during a set. This is entirely offputting, in that it assumes I will think said audience members are more funny than the funny person I have paid to see. Usually, they are not, though Silverman used this fact to good effect;

- I like being able to drink in the theatre; I do not like other people being able to drink in the theatre;

- Silverman's songs are generally not as funny as her non-song material, but only in that musical comedy has left such a general bad taste in my mouth;

- Silverman has toned down the race content, perhaps in light of her comments from this NY Times piece:

"(From the AO Scott review of Jesus is Magic): She depends on the assumption that only someone secure in his or her own lack of racism would dare to make, or to laugh at, a racist joke, the telling of which thus becomes a way of making fun simultaneously of racism and of racial hypersensitivity,” he wrote. In short, he added, 'naughty as she may seem, she’s playing it safe.'

"Ms. Silverman said the review articulated a point that she had felt, but had been struggling to express. 'That was something that always festered in the back of my mind that I never talked about,' she said. Her crowds are usually liberal ones, 'and we know we’re not racist,' she said. 'But the whiter the crowd, the more that kind of voice in the back of my head comes toward the front, and I feel grosser doing that kind of stuff.'"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


(1)"Take the chicken wings, for instance. All you knew when you were eating them was that they tasted really good. What you didn't know was that they'd been brined in a salt-and-sugar solution for a whole day (but not longer, or they'd be too salty), then dried out and cold-smoked over mesquite for forty-five minutes, then poached in a vat of pork fat for an hour and a half, then browned on the flat-top, then glazed in a chicken-infused soy sauce combined with mirin, garlic, and pickled chili peppers."
(from the New Yorker's profile of David Chang, owner/chef at the Momofuku restaurants)

(2)The Clutterer muxtape: a 12 track online mixtape.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Funday

(1) Common with D'Angelo - "Ghetto Heaven Pt 2". It's been a long time since the Soulquarian age.

(2) DJ Jazzy Jeff with Little Brother - "Whatever U Want"

(3) I've been reading the comments on the Globe's Tibet/PRC coverage, and have been noticing an ongoing slugout between PRC-friendly readers (eg. Meng W, tulip7R, etc) and their critics (eg. Clark the Mighty, Republic of Saturn, etc). Without siding with either, there's been a deluge of "Yellow Peril"-type comments that get their expected response. What generally ensues afterwards, though, is surprising.

Many of the 'Yellow Peril" call-outs are usually countered with "race card" responses: i.e. 'stop playing the race card.' This is a problematic response. While the 'race card' has, at times, been thrown around flippantly and without proper thought, relegating any and all race-related response to over-sensitive PC thuggery only serves to erase race out of the equation, a fatal blow to discourse when, particularly in relation to "Yellow Peril" commentary, race is the point. It treats race as a non-issue, unworthy of proper discussion, and is, though perhaps unconsciously so, just as racist as an overt example.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


If only the PRC and the Tibetans could all put on bunny suits....
(Giant goldfish, you're on your own.)

Happiness is a Warm Sesame Bun

(1) Portishead - "Machine Gun"

(2) Sue Garner & Rick Brown - "Umo" (OOIOO cover)

(3) That new Parker Posey sitcom is a whole lot of words and laugh track in not quite enough time.

(4) Stuff Our White Liberal Kinfolk Somewhat Enjoy (Aside from Laffs!): Sorry, I'm just undecided on it. The mind races with all the race issues that it inadvertently brings up amidst, you know, all the jokes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Ethnic Headdress Weighs A Ton

Swinging Soul Machine - "Spooky's Day Off"

Soil & Pimp Sessions - "Funky Goldman"

TS Monk - "Bon, Bon Vie"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mister, My Pony Needs Some Assistance

Cee-Lo "Living Again"

Tindersticks "My Autumns Don't Come" (Lee Hazelwood cover)

Friday, February 29, 2008

Songs for Bud (Kenny)

I'm not an Olivia fan either, and Cousin Pam is just too much. That leaves Bud/Kenny. Unless I can find a better picture of Cockroach.

Cal Tjader - "Fried Bananas"

Fania All Stars 3 - "Busamba"

Joe Bataan - "Muchacho Ordinaire"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Songs for Vanessa

For the sake of completeness. Not that I'm going to include Sandra or Alvin.

Calypso King & the Soul Investigators - "Greasy Pork"

Dennis Coffey Trio - "Hair & Grits"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Songs for Rudy

We'll have to go back to Vanessa later - for now, I can picture Rudy going APESHIT for congos and cowbell.

Universal Robot Band - "Barely Breaking Even"

Kaos - "My Reputation"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Songs for Denise

Does Denise Huxtable like Herbie Mann? Nobody could have guessed she'd like Peter Frampton, so MAYBE.

Herbie Mann - Yardbird Suite (St Etienne treatment)

Herbie Mann & Stereolab - One Note Samba

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Songs for Theo

A cover, a remix, an old chestnut:

the S&Cake - from the Plum set of covers

Air - "Sexy Boy" (Bertrand Burgalat remix)

Issac Hayes - "Ike's Rap II"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Songs I Managed to Listen to Today

There's basically two times through the day that I pay any attention to music: (i) the five or ten minutes it takes to haul my ass to and from the office, and (ii) at the actual office, depending on how busy the day goes. Which means to say I've got 10-20 minutes to give anything a good listen. There's always music at home, but if I gotta choose, you know I gots to watch THE COSBY KIDS ON OPRAH. That's not even a dilemma.

Here's where I am:
David Axelrod - "the Mental Traveller"

Did you know Paul McCartney owns a slew of Axelrod's publishing rights? That, on top of Buddy Holly's catalog. That guy has more money than Oprah.

Bobby Caldwell - "Open Your Eyes"

Smooth B - "I Want My Money Back"

There's nothing more wonderful than hearing someone rhyme about pie, meat, riding the bus and fighting a bull in a span of twenty seconds.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Some Items of Interest From the Past Year

A few choice things from 2007 around our abode:

1. Civic Pride - I found a new feeling in my stomach and it wasn't from breakfast at the Tomahawk. When they unveiled the Olympic mascots, I had to do a double-take to make sure I wasn't on vacation somewhere else.

2. Speaking of which, we went out of town numerous times, and as it turns out, Beard Papa was a common theme. From Hong Kong, back home, to San Francisco, we were hooked. Not that there weren't other awesome things that happened on those trips....

3. Culinary Feats - Two meals of note: (i) while there's no shortage of good restaurants in town, there's only a handful that elevate it to an artform: the tasting menu at Gastropod achieves that in bounds; and (ii) the delicacy of Shanghainese cuisine is often lost at most places, but dinner at Ye Shanghai in Hong Kong certainly found it.

4. Speaking of Hong Kong, this was one of my favorite finds from the year - Masabumi Yokoi's entry for the Uniqlo t-shirt contest.

5. Other Clutter: I did so amazingly well for toys this year, I feel (almost) guilty. I got the Labbit for Christmas, and went down to the mothership and picked up this Bossy Bear for under $20 (yay for parity!)

6. Comics: The year saw a whole slew of Chris Ware output, but I was really feelin' Misery Loves Comedy. Sure, it was a re-print of all the old Schizos, along with some other stuff I had already, but this was probably the best anthology since the Newgarden book from the year before. Didn't see the Clowes strip in the Times, sorry. Didn't feel Tomine's Shortcomings as much as the next Asian-N. American, sorry (it was interesting, but not as interesting as some thought). Can't read French, thus didn't get the new Michel Rabagliati, sorry. Didn't read the Pascal, either, sorry. (The NYorker cover beside is also one of my faves of the year, though that might be due to shotty memory than anything else)

7. Muzak: The more I grow dependent on my i-Toons, the less certain I am as to what the heck came out in the past year. This problem compounds itself the further I end up in this crazy mp3 blog world: what's old is new again, and back-catalog is as current as new release. Thus, a quick scan of my hard drive would probably yield a 3:2 ratio of music from 30 years ago to tracks released in 2007. Worse: my free time can't keep up to the sheer glut of files on my hard drive, and there's not nearly enough free space on that thing either; I might have listened to that Ronson album intently for a couple of days, only to burn the thing to CD and never pick up on it again.

There's not a heck of a lot I remember from the past year of music. I recall Radiohead did something, didn't they? That girl from Rilo Kiley showed up in pictures everywhere (not nearly as many as Cat Power though), and I even liked that album a lot too. I tried extra-hard to give rock n' roll a chance this year, and recall that I liked a slew of albums (Sea and Cake, etc) - heck, I even liked that Liars track that Brian posted on his Facebook a whole bunch. I think I remember that.

But more than anything, if my current playlist is any indication, 2007 seemed to be a good year for hip hop. (I didn't think the Pharoahe Monch got enough hype, and thus here's that gah-gah-gah re-working of "Welcome to the Terrordome"; I'd post something from the Top Shelf comp or the Y Society or Ohmega Watts albums, but there's enough blogs out there that have covered them already: