31.8.12

briefjes.


















American things I miss without usually knowing it: the ubiquitousness of melted cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce; swimming pools; A1 steak sauce; the sound of airconditioning from outside (being outside listening to the airconditioning "unit" itself); nonstop luxury. I probably don't need to mention the things I don't miss.













So, I'm almost back in action I think. I've remembered to stop worrying about getting on the right schedule, b/c well putting pressure on myself to sleep is completely not a recipe for sleep. Instead, I shall try to see my lovely family as much as possible during my awake hours, whenever they are; try to mostly eliminate the wine from my diet b/c we know it's not good for normal sleep don't we; spend some time in the pool every day; get some kind of actual exercise, etc. In other words, live as normally as possible.

No definite plans for today other than playing a few hours of Skylanders (below) with Cole and then trying to make some kind of vegan dinner for dad. I just bought him Ottolenghi's Plenty, b/c if there's anyone who needs it, it's him right now.


















+++

bueno.



Fresh roasted New Mexican green chiles are in fact very bueno. Arriving to find that your likemindedly-condiment-obsessed dad has already gone to the giant Asian grocery store to buy a crate full of mysterious sauces is totally bueno, as is the huge wonderful pile of salmon and shrimp that greets you as you open the fridge. The family portraits on the inside of the Squidbillies (funny Wikipedia article btw) season 2 DVD are wholly bueno.

Transatlantic West Coast USA jet lag? Pretty much niet zo bueno. I'm starting to wonder if this whole going to Arizona before Georgia thing is really the best approach. The idea has been to get the hard part over with first, putting the 24-hour travel day/time warp at the beginning of the trip instead of the end, but yeah I don't know, at the moment it doesn't feel super smart, nine time zones is a lot I guess.

Currently on the docket: sleeping please; trying to cook for new vegan dad; making green chile pork for the non-vegans; editing the new SG record; shooting an assload of legal handguns; finding a way to survive Phoenix summertime temperatures.

 

30.8.12

Qelxw tomamErica.























this is me using an iPhone 4 the first time, its simultaneously a cool idea and frustratingly shitty. the title of this post is supposed to say welcome to america. More later after I go swelter at a soccer game. It really is 110F in the shade here today. IN THE SHADE PEOPLE.

+++

29.8.12

intrepid.

Sleepless and riddled with mosquito bites, I trudge/zoom over to America today. Wish me luck.

+++

26.8.12

hits.

Somehow this morning ze Mara and I started looking at year-by-year lists of 1980s US pop singles. And we immediately noticed two things: in 1981, something happened that mysteriously transformed the music from feeling like "our parents' music" into feeling like "our music", shitty or not. In 1981, I was 12 and Mara was 10.

Beyond us getting older, looking at that list of singles I really couldn't identify what single thing might have changed that year. At first I thought it was maybe because this was the year we were finally allowed to make decisions about what station the car radio was on. But then it hit me like last post's never-mentioned meteorite: O duh, 1981 was the year MTV happened.

(And yet, for 1981's list of singles, only a handful of them had videos. Hmm. So maybe that was just the beginning: in 1982, I can literally see the video for almost every single song in my head. And some historically relevant bands begin to show up: The Police, Devo, The Pretenders, Prince, The Clash.)

And then suddenly in 1985, something else happened that transformed the Top 100 into a horrible swamp of vapid, sappy sound-alike bullshit. If I were Chuck Klosterman I would spend the next two days and roughly 10,000 words figuring out exactly what went wrong, but since I don't have that kind of time or devotion to pop culture deconstruction, I'll just blame it on the Yamaha DX7 and be done with it.

+++

25.8.12

meteorite.



Went to Parade last night to see the HBF do her damn thang. I may have been overambitious in my mixing of wine with margaritas.

+++

I'm pretty sure there is no cuter or more impressive show on TV than Junior MasterChefs Australia. I'll have to find a clip online for those of you who don't have access. In one of today's episodes, one of the kids made a red nam jim, and another one made alpukat. What?




























+++

24.8.12

uitgepoept(e) @ de gouden reael.























Celebrated going to pick up our permanent residence permits today with a little wine and charcuterie on the lovely terrace at De Gouden Reael. The newspaper headline above says "Pooped-out coffee bean is the tastiest", talking of course about these

We passed on the coffee cuz, well, it's 192 euro per kilo, and plus it were hot outside:


















And one thing led to another and soon we had us some bread and garlic mayo, a side effect of ordering the charcuterie platter...























....which consisted of some perfectly pleasant cured meats (Serrano ham, Coppa di Parma, Spinata Romana). Not superduper exciting but if you're eating bread (I myself am not) this a pretty good little terras snack.

















The rest of the dinner menu looks very much like the kind of French bistro shitz I've been hungry for lately, so we should go back for a more serious bite soon.

+++

21.8.12

all work and no play makes jack a dull boy.























Yay me, I finally went to EYE today for the Kubrick thing, a day well spent. For non-Amsterdammers, the EYE is that white spaceship building in the photos above (next to Malcolm McDowell's giant face) and below (looming futuristically), it's where our old Filmmuseum was relocated to, a forced relocation that I used to regard as completely boneheaded and emblematic of Amsterdam's increasing disregard for historic cultural institutions...but after today I think I might be a convert in this one specific instance.

The exhibit itself was, tja, well done, though I could've stood a few more prop kind of things. There were plenty of great relics nonetheless: note below, the axes on the wall behind the model hedge maze (unique sentence alert?). Also note that the Dr. Strangelove round table is actually a plastic model the size of a dinner plate.

Seeing The Shining itself on the big screen (and more importantly, with excellent, appropriately loud sound) was like watching it for the first time: it was a truly visceral, mildly terrifying experience in the theater, much more so than it ever was on a TV set (where I've probably seen it three or four times), and I mean that in the best way.

After a wintry and mountainous three hours with Jack and the gang, it was disorienting to walk out into a muggy but beautiful afternoon on the water, and the EYE building itself was a surprisingly nice place to hang, especially the rocky little "beach" just outside. There's a grassy patch as well, might even be a smart little picnic spot if you're visiting the EYE around a mealtime.







20.8.12

projections.























I took 7 pictures on the four-minute bike ride to The Movies today. As projected, we saw Meek's Cutoff, which was, mm, good enough I guess, but my expectations were pretty high. It was good. I think it would've been even better if it had allowed itself 10 more minutes to end pretty much exactly the same way it did end.

It's a real story, which I didn't know, or at least it's "fact-based" (I don't recommend following this link if you plan on seeing the movie), and yeah reading about the Oregon Trail just now made my own personal emigration traumas seem pretty darn inconsequential in comparison.

Other movie plans for the week might include finally fucking going to the Kubrick exhibit at Eye today at 13:30 to see The Shining on the big screen because it's my last chance (It's my last chance b/c as you may remember I'm unleashing myself on America in a week or so). Johnny D also hipped me to the fact that there's a new Leos Carax movie called Holy Motors that needs watching. I saw Pola X when it came out and while I can't say I loved it, it was provocative and had a nice soundtrack. And "unsimulated sex", as Wikipedia calls it.

+++

This next paragraph was a tie to Meek's Cutoff before I added all the other text above, but I'll leave it here anyway: speaking of water, the water on the bridge below (it doesn't really look like a bridge I guess)? It's because when it gets too hot here the bridges stop working, meaning that they stop opening and closing to let boats through. It doesn't happen every year, but the last few it has. So there are city workers in lawn chairs sitting there with big hoses hosing the bridges down all day.








19.8.12

get it off me.























The heat. Get it off me. It's supposedly 93F right now at street level, but I"m pretty sure it's even hotter three floors up. Last night's roof terrace BBQ in the Rivierenbuurt was sweltering but tolerable, and the 20-minute bike ride home at 3am or whatever was the closest I"d been to a happy temperature all day.

















Today, however, is much less tolerable. It's too hot to even sleep up here. We should go to The Movies and watch Meek's Cutoff to put everything in perspective, but it isn't showing again til 7:30 and by then we probably won't need to go anymore.

So I'm going to go, hmmmmm.....smoke a bowl and then clean the kitchen I guess. I'm already dressed like Lebowski, I might as well act like him.

+++

14.8.12

13.8.12

ze best of all.

















Recording for a week. Food-related news? Made Black Pepper Cod last night, was all good.



9.8.12

crontastic.

Tasted a couple more Ottolenghi recipes last night at Alena's party, these pumpkin wedges (great) and some lentil thing I can't find but was also great. I may finally have to break down and buy those books.

+++

I myself invented two really comforting and healthy dinners this past week that need documenting. Here's one, the fish is based on something Mario Batali did and is almost great.

mustardseed-crusted salmon with salt, black pepper and balsamic.

400gr salmon filet
1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp black pepper
salt to taste

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Pretty straightforward: coat the salmon with the mustardseeds, salt, and black pepper. Bake at 200C for 12 minutes or so. Pour balsamic vinegar over and serve.

roasted cauliflower and kohlrabi with anchovy, capers, rosemary, parmesan.

1 head cauliflower
1 kohlrabi
2 tbsp olive oil
salt

1 oil-preserved anchovy
1 red onion, chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
2-4 tbsp capers

1/2 cup greated parmesan
black pepper to taste

Roast the cauliflower and kohlrabi. Saute the red onion and the anchovy together until the anchovy falls apart. Add the rosemary and capers along with the cauliflower and kohlrabi to a wok or something and saute until everything's integrated. Then add parmesan and black pepper to taste.

+++

Then dinner number two was
Montreal-spiced salmon (which means this)
peppers & onions with garlic, fennel seed, oregano, black pepper, paprika (designed to mimic Italian fennel sausage)
harissa yogurt.

These were both super good and pretty unlike anything I would normally make.

+++

7.8.12

suit. of. armor.











This keeps happening. Not the dying part, but the seemingly natural and obvious friendship that gets torpedoed by someone saying or doing something aimed at me personally that I would never ever do or say to them and thus I find it difficult to forgive. A critical component of these situations is that the other person involved doesn't think they need to apologize for anything.

To know me I don't think you'd think this would be part of my life, but it seems to be. I keep telling myself it's because I work from a rather strict moral/social code to which I expect my friends to magically adhere. Problem being that no one really knows what the details of this code are but me (fyi, in a nutshell, it's "don't be a fucking dick").

The below set of circumstances isn't exactly the same thing, though the end result pretty much is.

+++

This is a placeholder for when I have time to write about Tom Edwards and the voicemail he left me one day back in 1996 or so. He's in the picture above somewhere, or at least he should be. I should be too, but I think neither of us are. I mean I know I'm not, and I can't positively identify him anywhere (later I did: he's in the back row, sixth from the left).

Tom and I were roommates whenever we went on company trips. Like twice or three times a year everyone from our little geographic region would be flown out to Seattle, or New Orleans, or San Francisco, somewhere supposedly fun, for what was supposed to be a week of training and "inspiration". If you knew how to "work the system" you could manage to stay out there for two weeks or so, most expenses paid, in fact a pretty great arrangement. Also pretty inspirational, in terms of inspiring you to not quit your job.

So the idea was that you'd be in these tremendously exciting classes from, say, 8am to 6pm, with subjects like "Case Study: Integrating the Ungerman-Bass XNS Protocol v 1.0 With Existing LAN Manager/OS2 Networks" and if you survived that awesomeness then your reward was that you could go out at night and explore the city you'd been ferried to. Some people actually did this all week long, the classes, which totally amazed me (and still does really, until I reconsider what some of these people were like in terms of imagination and ambition).

I kind of usually didn't do this all week long. I just pretended I was on vacation and explored whatever city we were in, both during the day and at night. Pretty exhausting really. You would try very hard, eventually quite desperately, to get up in time for breakfast so your manager and non-drunkard colleagues could see you, and you'd talk about what classes you were going to attend that day ("Cool, man, see you in Advanced DHCP/WINS Architecture after lunch!"). But on your way to your first class you'd pretend to be having trouble deciding between two sessions (in case your manager somehow left the breakfast table with you, so you could change your mind at the last minute and escape), or worst case pretend to forget something in your room, and then...just never come back.

Then you spend the morning at Pike Place Market, or SF Ferry Building, or anywhere interesting and just far away enough from the action so you wouldn't be seen. Or go back to bed, trickier but doable. Then make an appearance around lunchtime in the convention center, having taken a peek at the slides for the session you were supposed to have gone to ("Can you believe they're dropping NetBEUI support? Dude I didn't see you there. Yeah, I was in the back kind of dozing in and out").

And then you disappear again, plus this time you can have beers if you like b/c the next time anyone's going to see you is dinnertime. And then you go out and have dinner and afterwards see Swans (Seattle) or Atari Teenage Riot (SF) or Rebirth Brass Band (New Orleans) or whatever else was happening in town that night that seemed like an adventure.

You can imagine how one might not be able to make it to a group photo. It was helpful to have a roommate that was comfortable with this approach, which Tom was.

+++

So this voicemail he left me. He had taken Microsoft Encarta or Bookshelf or something and made it pronounce every remotely obscene word he could find. Not just the obvious things, but lots of vaguely (and innovatively) euphemistic words, which could become more and more abstract as the context expanded.

So you'd have to imagine me, possibly in a suit and tie (if so, it would be either gray or blue, I was spending a lot of time at Coca-Cola then and this was their dress code, complete bullshit), standing in my cubicle checking my normally unpleasant work voicemail, my finger hovering over the "Delete" key. Then a man's computerized baritone voice solemnly intoning:

"Cunt."
"Cock."
"Pussy."
"Vul-va."

Etc. And then:

"Sexual."
"Biological."
"Chocolate."
"Anus."

Moving to a suite of military/battle references:

"Missile."
"Helmet."
"Suit."
"Of."
"Armor."

And on and on for about 3 minutes. Finally ending with:

"Sodomy."
"Sodomy."
"Sodomy."
"Sodomy."

I have no idea how many times we, me, Mara, Stu, Steve, etc listened to this voicemail, but it got to where lots of people around the office and my home could (and would) recite random sections of it on a daily basis. Pretty sure you had to be there.

+++

I'd never been friends before with anyone who liked to fuck with me as much as Tom did. I like to think my buttons are pretty tough to push, but I guess they're not once you've figured them out and he had a real talent for detecting things I was uncomfortable talking about and not shutting up about them until I stopped resisting.

I say we were friends, but I guess we were more like colleagues. We almost never saw each other outside of work, maybe one time in 7 or 8 years. No more than 5 times. It was just too much, in a kind of invasive way.

But we saw each other at the office almost every day for a few years. And at work I tended to tolerate/absorb whatever invasiveness there was because Tom was pretty darn entertaining in a battle of wits, combining quick thinking with a sadistic prankster's threshold for the social discomfort of others. He had a great gleeful laugh, a distinctive, disturbing high cackle you could hear from a good distance away, and after being around him for a while you found yourself wanting to imitate it because it just sounded like so much retarded fun.

I'm talking like Tom's dead or something. He's not, he just suddenly, inexplicably became a devout Christian back in 2001 or something and it immediately became impossible for he and I to talk about anything other than my atheism because he just had to convince me he was right about his decision.

Which I understand, surrrrre I do, but it's a conversation I didn't need to have and an argument I knew he'd never win, not at all because I'm an awesome debater but because ultimately I didn't care if he thought he was right, or at least I don't care anymore: I really hope I tried telling him that it was OK, it just didn't matter to me, good for you, yay, pacify yourself however you need to, can't we please just go back to talking about unforgettable long-distance ejaculations or the Pantone names of shit colors because otherwise this is going to end badly, but the last thing I remember is that he wouldn't/couldn't stop trying to show me how wrong my godlessness was, logically, morally, in every way.

Eventually he did give up and bade me farewell and wished me good luck and I said hey you too man. And now we don't talk, all because of someone that doesn't even exist, ha ha ha, hilarious.

+++

6.8.12

on the beat.

When planning last month's beach trip, I ended up using TripAdvisor for a lot of things. Just now I ended up out there again and realized I'd hadn't really used it to research Amsterdam restaurants in a while.

Some surprising results for "Best-Ranked Restaurant in Amsterdam" included #1 (out of 1,528 restaurants) Zaza's, which I'd just never heard of. Situated in De Pijp, it looks like an affordable, semi-interesting American brasserie menu, though the owner is Irish. If they have seats at a bar, this might be worth looking at.

Also #2 Vlaming, which is right down the street. Mara's suggested this a few times and I've always talked her out of it because I'd never heard anything good about it and the menu looked pretty boring. It's possible I suck though. Plus the owners seem very interested in making sure people have good experiences there. How strange (UPDATE: Mara and KK went last week and had a great time, so yes I suck)

Others: we've been looking for places with decent wine lately, #157 Graves has been a due for a revisit for a while now (I don't remember my last visit's food at all, which as you can imagine is super unusual), but also #66 Cote Ouest just popped up on the radar now too, a real and affordable French place with galettes and cidre and duck and all my other favorite things, plus this looks like a good mussels/frites spot for the wintertime.

+++

CRON going OK. But I need some salads that can be mostly pre-made and ready to go. And they should have some protein. For example: all of these ideas are based on the lunch menu from a Chicago restaurant called Moderno.
  • egg, cucumber, pumpernickel crumbs, blue cheese, tarragon
  • fried catfish, peanuts, field greens, creme fraiche/ginger dressing
  • arugula, crispy ham, pine nuts, pickled red onion, hirtenkase
  • beets, raspberries, pistachio, mascarpone, red wine vinegar
  • tuna, chopped romaine, rosemary, dried tomatoes, grilled radicchio, olives, creamy parmesan
  • spinach, hard-boiled egg, pickled onion, pecorino, mushroom, black pepper vinaigrette
  • smoked chicken, red apple, red pepper, mayo, pistachio, basil
  • sardine, preserved lemon, fennel
+++

bad boys running wild.


View this shit bigger. 

+++

Today's task is to try and help an old friend entertain himself and a few buddies on an overnight layover in Amsterdam. They have no hotel and are trying to just stay out all night, not as easy to do as you'd think in our fair city. I did my best to compile a list of centrally located addresses that might assist them in this quest.

Cafe the Minds
Spuistraat 245
9pm-3am
late-night punkish bar that usually ends up being the last destination of the evening

De Buurvrouw
Sint Pieterspoortsteeg 29
10pm-3am
late-night small rowdy place that is a bit hard to find so you'll probably be the only tourist

Café Cuba
Nieuwmarkt 3
12noon-1am
good mojitos if that's your kind of thing and more chicks than most other RLD places, if that's your thing

Nes-Café
Nes 33
4pm-1am
i like this weed-friendly bar, good beer, pool table, decent music usually

Burger Bar 1
Kolksteeg 2
11am-3am
above-average European burgers

Burger Bar 2
Warmoesstraat 21
11am-3am
above-average European burgers

Café Belgique
Gravenstraat 2
2pm-1am
tiny but great place for Belgian beers

A-fusion Food & Drinks
Zeedijk 130
noon-11pm
decent dim sum + sushi, unless you're from California, then it will probably disappoint

Engelbewaarder
Kloveniersburgwal 59
11am-1am
used to be our local, good bar for a laid-back hang/conversation

Aneka Rasa
Warmoesstraat 25-29
hours unknown
sit-down Indonesian, best Indo you'll find in this hood

China Si Chuan Kitchen
Warmoesstraat 17
hours unknown
sit-down Sichuan, a rarity in Amsterdam

Kam Yin B.V.
Warmoesstraat 6
hours unknown
takeout/sitdown Surinamese, crazily cheap for this hood, decent rotis and duck, avoid the soups

Toko Joyce
Nieuwmarkt 38
4pm-8pm
Indonesian sandwiches, something you won't find outside of  NL, this is the best non-shwarma fast food in the red light

De Kletskop
Zeedijk 10
4pm-1am
dive bar with a lovely old ambiance

Nachtclub San Francisco
Zeedijk 40-42
noon-3am
late bar for serious troublemakers, this is officially the last resort

Sex Palace
Oudezijds Achterburgwal 84
hours unknown
Amsterdam's last remaining peepshow, slummy/scummy adventure

La Vie En Proost
Bethlehemsteeg 23
8pm-3am
a*dam's only strip club, it sounds horrible and depressing but only €5 to get in, and you know, on the right night...it could be adventure city.

+++

5.8.12

still would.















For some reason this morning I woke up thinking about my impending Atlanta trip, and eventually found myself checking Google Maps to see if I could find a picture of our old apartment out there in the Internets.

Unfortunately, Street View didn't quite make it there, I have no idea why, it's not like it's an unpopular area, I mean come on, Elton John used to own a house down the street for Chrissakes. And, though apparently "our" house was sold in March 2012, there are no pictures of it online. How do you sell a house these days without putting pictures of it online?

This led to me imagining myself driving down there ("down there" as in downtown Atlanta) and trying to clandestinely take photos of the outside of the house, and then quickly realizing that this would probably involve being shot at or at least Tased, bro.

So then I imagined knocking on the door and trying to explain myself without sounding crazy, saying something like: "Hi, um, sorry to bother you....Yes. I used to live here like 17 years ago or something and somehow I have absolutely no pictures of this house. I've looked. Lots of important things happened here and somehow I have no pictures. Well, ok, I have 3 pictures, but they are completely uncharacteristic and unrepresentative of my time spent here."

"One of them is of the sidewalk out front, standing with my dad, his hand is on my shoulder but I look like a cardboard cutout of myself, which is entertaining but not representative of my time here. Another picture is of my parents and Nan sitting at the dining room table (not the unfortunate glass one that my ex-girlfriend requisitioned, but its more modest wooden replacement) eating peanuts and potato chips and trying to throw them into each other's mouths."

"And then I think there's one more, but I don't remember what it's of. Oh maybe there's one of the bathroom from that time we gave me a mohawk and stuck clip-on earrings up my nose to make it look like I had nose piercings."

"But I have no pictures of the front of the house, not one, where we stood for a while that night we locked ourselves out of the house on Jamie's birthday. We told Jamie that the Party Bus was a bad idea."

+++

Jamie was our "third roommate", a super nice and very-straitlaced kind of corporate fratboy type. Extremely tolerant, considering what we put him through.

When I say "we", I don't mean me and Mara: I mean me and O'Neill. Somehow it had seemed like a good idea to get an apartment with O'Neill after he graduated from law school. No, I mean, actually, this made completely perfect sense: he was my best friend, and had been since we were 13 or so.

Initially it had looked like our choice of colleges might separate us after high school, but neither of our original plans worked out and I ended up joining him in Tallahassee, Florida so we could drink shitty beer together every weekend and during the week we could bowl at Seminole Bowl (the Hotel Earle of bowling alleys, absolutely nothing functioned properly) and oh yeah we got meaningless undergraduate degrees in the meantime at that big school there.

I hadn't seen O'Neill much in the year or two since graduation because he'd gone up north to get some o' that fancy law school education in North Carolina (ambitious!) and I'd gone back home to Atlanta with absolutely no plan at all other than to move in with my aforementioned glass-table girlfriend and get some kind of job that she might approve of (less ambitious!).

And actually, getting an apartment with Jamie made pretty good sense too: he was in the cubicle next to mine at work and we made each other laugh pretty often about work things. He had a pretty good "put-upon/bewildered" act and an especially good fake laugh that he used when he was pretending to either find someone entertaining or understand what they were talking about. He was also quite conservative in almost every regard, but yis I somehow didn't understand this until later.

Anyway, each of them seemed to separately make pretty good sense as roommates: Jamie had a good job, O'Neill was obviously going to have a great job very soon (law school!). And I'd just diverged from glass-table girlfriend by sleeping with one of O'Neill's ex-girlfriends in North Carolina (not pictured, remind me to tell you about that someday, keywords "bad dirty talker").

Three handsome young entertaining young yuppie bachelors in the heart of gay Atlanta the city. What could go wrong???

Well. One thing that could've gone wrong would have been if, for example, O'Neill had been at college for so long that he wasn't quite ready for it to be over yet. If he, for example, kind of wanted to just keep on blackout drinking and inviting his/our blackout drinking friends over to drink and black out and (significantly) piss themselves in their sleep, a sleep that might be, for example, taking place on Jamie's brand-new couch like a week after he bought it. A piss that proved absolutely unremovable from the couch cushions, and believe me, we tried fucking everything. The piss had soaked into the couch itself in a way that concentrated itself in the center of the frame and thinned out towards the arms, so that the front of the couch now sported an indelible upturned parabola on its front side, a sort of smile-shaped piss ring.

This was maybe two weeks after O'Neill moved in. Things did not really improve from there, though they didn't get a whole bunch worse either. Please let the record show that I am not complaining about any of this, I'm just telling a story, and we'll wind this one up for now by saying that for the next year or so Jamie continued to be perky and uptight and over-responsible and O'Neill continued to be (at that juncture) a polite, aggressive nihilist and the two of them were incompatible in almost every way and it's semi-miraculous they never came to blows, I guess because Jamie realized that he would most likely be grievously injured and because O'Neill understood that it wouldn't have been a fair fight in the first place, b/c it never is when one participant doesn't care if they get hurt.

+++

"Oh right, anyway, Jamie and the Party Bus night."

The Party Bus night. Not only memorable for the Party Bus itself. And here's where this post turns into what it's actually supposed to be about. After O'Neill moved out, Mara moved in. It's possible that O'Neill moved out because Mara moved in. Mara was (is?) O'Neill's ex-girlfriend. That wouldn't be why he moved out, that's just extra information.

O'Neill moved out, Mara moved in, and shortly thereafter Jamie decided to celebrate his own birthday by hiring a "Party Bus" and having it take him and a bunch of his friends around the city from fun venue to fun venue so they could drink their light beers and wine spritzers without having to worry about driving (that sounds catty, but you'd understand if you'd met his friends).

There were a couple of problems with this plan. One: it would seem reasonable that you needed to really want to "party" in order for this endeavor to make any sense. It was a big bus. Like a city bus. 20 people would've filled it maybe halfway. So, I'm sure it was super expensive. Plus you'd need lots of friends for it to not be depressing.

And what kind of night would you even need to have in order to require this kind of hardware? An unusually festive evening, I'm thinking, like Stevie's limo-chauffeured bachelor party that started at the Clermont Lounge and finished who the fuck knows where seven or eight hours later with multiple participants on their hands and knees in some parking lot throwing up. Now that was totally worth having someone drive us around.

Or the first time I tried acid and we ended up deciding to go see Who Framed Roger Rabbit at the Omni (Brian Carlson where the fuck are you?), completely without knowing that the 1988 Democratic National Convention was also happening at the same mall where the theater was, and we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by lots of "free" food and drink (we couldn't figure out how to pay for it) and menacing security people with big guns telling us we had to go somewhere else because we were dressed inappropriately (shorts and T-shirts) and Rice Krispie-textured pavement that would not stop undulating and breathing ominously.

Or the night of the company Christmas party when I very stupidly decided to drive home after playing 2 or 3 sets (with a full band) of extremely embarrassing and thus tequila-fueled cover songs (Bachman-Turner Overdrive? Yes.) and spent a good 10 minutes running into various structures in the parking garage and knocking most of the external features off of my car while trying to exit my parking space.

Those all either were or would've been good nights for a chauffeur. Jamie's birthday party just wasn't. It was mostly just sad. My lingering memory of the "party" portion of the evening is like 9 disappointed people ("I thought you said this was going to be a party?") trudging dejectedly down our long gravel driveway towards a huge empty bus parked with its lights on inside, while Mara and I stood together arm-in-arm on the porch waving and thumbs-upping and pretending to be supportive but mostly being relieved because we weren't on that lame-ass bus. We told him it was a shitty idea.

Maybe you think that sounds harsh. Apparently The Great Magnet also thought it sounded harsh, because as the bus pulled away lamely into the party-less night and we turned to go back inside to clean up and debrief, we realized that the front door had locked behind us and we had no keys.

And: I left something out. We were all dressed in "70s" garb. That's right, not only was there a "party bus", but everyone on said bus was dressed like Brock Landers. Two great tastes in one etc etc etc.

We'd gone along with the clothing theme primarily because we felt bad about pooh-poohing the bus idea, so our dressing up was a show of support for Jamie and plus we weren't planning on leaving the house so who would see us.

And yet, here we were, outside the house. With no wallets or keys or cell phones or anything. Mara had a giant Afro. So we had to get back in. The good news was that my bedroom had a little balcony and I'd left the door open. The bad news is that it was on the second floor. We went to the back of the house to assess the possibilities. AfroMara thought that if I boosted her up to where she could grab the bottom of the balcony, she could pull herself up over the railing. I was skeptical, but yes this was before our brush with acute polyneuropathy, and before that life-changing shit happened Mara truly possessed strength of insectile proportions.

One problem: her 70s garb was absolutely skintight. It quickly became obvious that in order to climb with any kind of insectile agility, she would have to take off her pants (but leave the Afro on). Though we'd been good friends for 10 years or so at this point, we had not been dating for very long at all, and I remember being directed to absolutely not look up while the boosting/insectile climbing was taking place. I'm very glad I peeked and saved that shit in my memory banks, because it was literally over in 5 seconds, she was up, we were in, and....yeah. Good times.

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So......my question is: how do I explain this to the current occupant of 1315 Stillwood Dr, that this is why I'd like a picture or two of the house?

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4.8.12

today's fad diet.

Messing around with a 1500-calorie CRON diet for a while, should be a good exercise. The biggest challenges so far are 1) getting to sleep early enough so that I'm not starving before bed, and 2) high-protein breakfasts that don't involve 3 eggs. Here's one potential solution for the latter, a cup of chickpeas + the egg is about 20 grams of protein and +/- 400 kcal. Seems like a little sauteed chorizo and a tablespoon of lowfat Greek yogurt wouldn't be bad ideas either in the protein and taste departments.

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chickpeas, tahini, shoarmaspice, harissa, pickled fennel + an egg over-easy.

Next time I make this I'll do proportions.

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1.8.12

dragon, attack.


















UPDATE: Republished for convenience's sake.

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Above: actually more of a crippled wooden frog.

Tonight I kind of inexplicably had a powerful recollection or transportation back to the first time I tasted tarragon. Out of nowhere.

This was an important moment in the life of VDuck, because it was my first understanding that there were such things as "herbs" and that if you found one you liked, suddenly eating became a different thing altogether.

It was at an Au Bon Pain at Copley Square in Boston, and I was starving, and I ordered a Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich. Kind of a ballsy thing to put on your fast-food menu if you think about it: who in America knew what tarragon was in 1987? And why for example would I, a typical 17-year-old culinary ignoramus, order a Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich?

Whatever, I remember after my first bite, just kind of stopping everything else I was doing and just tasting. Then I went back and got another one for later. Over the next year I spent in Boston, I had one whenever my budget permitted (apparently not an isolated phenomenon).

Eventually I decided that my budget wasn't permitting often enough, so I got a job: gentlemens, remind me to someday tell you about my adventures as a stockboy at The Limited, which, way more importantly than funding Au Bon Pain visits, put me in direct personal contact with many cute and unsuspecting (and, ahem, fashion-conscious) college-age women, a commodity in desperately, i mean desperately short supply at The Berklee School.  

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Speaking of nostalgic food experiences (segue?), I head back to the muthaland in a couple months. I should probably jot down some notes about things to put my tooth on. These are obviously just "ideas": I won't have a car very often, and I definitely don't need to eat 9 restaurant meals in the 8 days I'm in Atlanta, for example. I can imagine doing one or two per city. 

PHOENIX (in progress)
Pizzeria Bianco. I've never been, and supposedly the lines are less ridiculous these days.
Noca. Still. And still far away.
Gallo Blanco. Downtown, so this may be a stretch.
Woodlands. vegetarian South Indian in Chandler!
Takamatsu. real Korean in Chandler!
America's Taco Shop. The lady named America has a Tempe location now, making things easier.
Richardson's/Dick's. Of course.
Los Sombreros. Fancy Mexican Food, open from 4:30 on.

plus everything on this list

ATLANTA
Fox Bros. Apparently you can even get it at Whole Foods these days, so this should be possible.
Heirloom Market BBQ. In Smyrna, birthplace of Julia Roberts!!!
Yumbii. Korean-Mexican food truck, something we just don't see in Amsterdam.
Taqueria El Rey Del Taco. Great Buford Hwy tacos, this is the plan unless I can find similar closer to home base.
Chat Patti. The South Indian stuff I can't get here.
Seed Kitchen & Bar. It's a ridiculous name for a restaurant ("Hey, I'm going to Seed tonight, anyone want to join me?"), but supposedly a great burger 5 minutes from our old house.
Krispy Kreme. I just want one hot one. Puhleeeeeeeeze, can I.
Empire State South. A menu we will probably never see in Amsterdam.
Bocado. Supposedly the best burger in Atlanta.
El Señor Taco. The best fish tacos in town.

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that's the joint.























Residence permit scare seemingly conquered (thank you Nina), we stopped off on the way home from our immigration lawyer's office for a brief celebration involving Trashy Blondes, Brother Ruiten, Real Customer Service (the bar staff brought us logo-ed umbrellas when it started raining outside), Burger Bar (it continues to get better, the buns and condiments especially), and Mel Brooks. And then up jumped the boogie via Chic, Cameo, and Sugar Hill Records.






















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