Tuesday, November 6, 2012

**Fox News Declares Race for Romney**

This just in: Fair and Balanced bastion of all things reputable, Fox News, has officially declared Mitt Romney victorious in today's presidential election. The update came in at roughly 7AM EST, just moments after polls opened across much of the Eastern seaboard. Viewed as a complete surprise by many pundits who had for months anticipated a tightly-contested race, Fox analysts seemed unsurprised by the results.

"With as much as .000009 percent of precincts reporting in the bellwether states of South Carolina and Georgia, it's a no brainer that Romney has this thing locked," said former GOP Strategist and guardian of Satan's minions, Karl Rove. "Many other networks are going to try and claim they called it first, but if you look back at the record you'll clearly see that we had this thing pegged as early as January 21st 2009," Rove added before hastily retreating into the smoldering vortex of an eternally-damned dimension. 

Staff Photo

Others were not so convinced. Nate Silver, the notoriously maligned prognosticator of probability, furiously questioned Fox's methodology which purportedly involved watching old episodes of Hee Haw while flipping a coin featuring the Republican candidate on both sides. "Sure, the coin produced results in line with their eventual conclusion," Silver was quick to note, "but how many times did they flip that coin? And I doubt they took into account the variances on the central limit theorem proposed by 19th Century Russian mathematician Aleksandr Lyapunov. How can you ignore something so obvious? It's plain as day!"

Regular Fox News contributor and failed reality star Sarah Palin defended her employer, emphatically assuring the cynics that, "although I don't speak a lick of Russian, I still can see Putin's ugly head rearing up over the jungles of Alaska." 

Although unable to establish the relevance of her curious comment in regards to the Romney projection, she ultimately praised the merits of calling a winner mere seconds after polls opened, citing, "what with Jesus and freedom, and all." She's well aware of her network's insatiable veracity: a Fox survey from earlier this year placed her ahead of the future president, 70% to his 60%.

Back to the Drawing Board

By press time most skeptics had been silenced by Ann Coulter's Adam's Apple, who in speaking openly for the first time, reminded the public that Fox News has indeed been, "infallible since the dawn of man." The inexplicable laryngeal prominence then went on to inadvertently accuse 'Miss' Coulter of being a self-loathing transgendered male.

With the indisputable results now certified, talking heads were at last able to stray away from the horse-race, shifting focus to more pressing domestic matters. Shortly before 8AM, the ever-cerebral hosts of the award-winning Fox & Friends Comedy Hour--who famously moonlight as MIT astrophysicists--began discussing wether President Romney would be defeating Senator Clinton or Governor Cuomo in his upcoming 2016 reelection bid.

Is Our Children Learning?

Breaking: Start of the 2016 Presidential Campaign

Run--don't walk--to the polls. And be happy that after today you won't have to hear a word about presidential campaigning until about halfway through 2013, when Christ Christie vs. Andrew Cuomo really starts to heat up! It promises to be a horse race of epic proportions...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Global Warming Is Totally A Hoax

Hurricanes kick it with blizzards like all the time. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with human-induced climate change. In fact, if there is anyone to blame, I'd have to say that it's President Obama. He knew about this Frankenstorm all along and refused to warn ANY OF US! 'Why?' You might ask? Because he hates us all, duh! Now let's all just hide our hands firmly back in the sand until this monster of a storm passes over the more than 60 million people whose lives and property are threatened.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Inspired by this awe-inspiring GQ list, which places Budweiser firmly in the ranks of the 50 Greatest Beers on the Planet, I figured I had to create a head-scratching mini-list of my own. This one ranks another of man's great joys: Hamburgers. Now I know I've expertly tackled this subject before at great length, but GQ helped me come to my senses about how elitist and snobbish I once was. I've since learned to embrace the pedestrian nature of our society, and so here now is the result of my style magazine-induced epiphany:

5.) Famous Star w/ Cheese - Carl's Jr. 

This char-broiled, all-beef patty is already a sensory revelation on its own. But when you throw in melted American cheese--the honey boo boo child of the dairy world--then top it with "special" sauce AND mayonnaise before sandwiching it all between a seeded bun that's preserved well-enough to withstand a nuclear holocaust; that's one holy cow!

Carl's Jr.--even prettier in real life!

4.) Sirloin Cheeseburger - Jack In The Box

Ever since they were shut down several years ago for poisoning people to death, Jack In The Box has been back with a vengeance! Their Sirloin Cheeseburger is a prime example. Not just a clever nickname--it actually consists of 100% Sirloin, which is fittingly one of the closest cuts to the asshole of the cow. I personally enjoy how it's served on a bakery 'style' bun, much like it's a quality 'style' hamburger. 

Studies suggest that you can actually contract Salmonella from staring at this image

3.) Dave's Hot N' Juicy Triple - Wendy's

As America knows full well, BIGGER IS ALWAYS BETTER! Wendy's validates this incontrovertible truth with their alarmingly oversized triple cheeseburger. After all, why only have one, lonely human-size portion of 'real' beef, when you can have three at three times the price? Diabetes is no joke people. If you don't start getting serious about your meat consumption now, you'll never be able to drain our severely overburdened healthcare system by the time you reach your early 60s. Also, it should be a given that when you think of the late, portly restauranteur Dave Thomas, the first two adjectives that come to mind are 'hot' and 'juicy.'

Now available in 'Merica! Size

2.) Carolina BBQ Whopper ® - Burger King

Who doesn't love the Whopper--vegetarians and people with tastebuds withstanding? I mean it's a flame-grilled beef patty of indeterminate origin, that essentially confirms the existence of God. There's no way you can improve upon perfection, right? WRONG, ya moron! Add bacon, and not the 'real' kind, but that super-sad bacon that has the consistency of a wetted, chewier square of Charmin's toilet paper, then smother that bad boy in a corn-syrupy swath of southern sauce that's defined even more vaguely than a Romney economic policy. Now you're cooking! Just like momma used to make, if momma was an ethically-challenged multinational conglomerate. 

I actually prefer the 'actual,' far less of that silly green stuff

1.) Big Mac - McDonald's

Topping this list of unimaginable greatness...Is there really any question? Did the hamburger even exist before America's friendliest, most health-conscious establishment unleashed this artery-clogging artwork upon the world? The short answer is no. The long answer is of course. But thanks to the ingenius insertion of a curiously-placed interloping third bun, we never looked at the hamburger quite the same again. They put the H.A.M. in hamburger. And does the third bun serve any purpose whatsoever? If that's your takeaway from the Big Mac, you are missing the entire point, not to mention you're far stupider than the billions and billions of satisfied customers that have enjoyed this game-changer since it was introduced over 50 years ago. To put it bluntly: die. Or, in other words, eat a bunch of Big Macs.

Gotta love that 9:2 bun to beef ratio

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Perhaps the greatest line and delivery of modern political sparring:

Bentsen: "I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine...Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

Quayle: "That was really uncalled for, Senator."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bringing The Heat

AJ's Mango Habanero 'Masterspice'
I like things spicy. Real spicy. Unfortunately, most foods and sauces labeled as such fall underwhelmingly flat, aimed at a country with a proclivity for impossibly bland tastes. I'm looking at YOU, Taco Bell 'Fire' Sauce. And Tabasco doesn't even scratch the surface, although I do at times appreciate its vinegary essence. Conversely, the few hot sauces out there that do deliver on the promise of their label often fail to bring any meaningful medley of flavors to the palate. 

Why does it seem as though I can't have my cake super hot and eat it too?

Spicemaster and entrepreneur Anuj Patel sympathizes with my dilemma. As a connoisseur of Indian flavors, he fully understands the pleasures derived from the happy coexistence of intense taste and insane heat. This is why he created his very own hot sauce, harnessing heaping amounts of locally-grown, organic habaneros which he enhanced with the unexpected addition of fresh mangoes. The result is his newly-minted AJ's Masterspice, a surreal explosion of furious fire and serious soul. By introducing the fruit element, your tongue is able to discern the hidden intricacies of the habanero. It is an unfamiliar exploration to be sure, because most sauces incorporating this infamous pepper, fail to temper the initial heat blast with such gentle precision. You'll find yourself enjoying aspects of the habanero that you never even knew existed.

A gentle dollop of this potent elixir added to your favorite dish reveals a subtle sweetness accompanied by the deep, devilish tones of habanero. When the spiciness drops, it drops BIG. But when used sparingly, it's nothing that can't be tackled by less than a spoonful of yogurt or cucumber sauce. 

To me, however, it's not a real meal unless you've broken a sweat. Hyper-heat can be a spiritual experience--meditative even, as you contemplate the pain, dwell in it and let your mind temporarily elevate you to a higher plane. That being the case, AJ's Masterspice is my new guru. If you see it around, pick it up (carefully, of course). With its stunning packaging, semi-serious warning label, and trademark orangish-yellow hue, the bottles are hard to miss. Just remember, you've been warned: if you can't stand the heat, stick with Frank's Red Hot or something.

Hella Habanero

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: Muse - The 2nd Law

Courtesy of Muse
Few would accuse Muse's newest studio offering--released October 1st--as being their most groundbreaking work. Yet it surely continues the successful formula which they've ridden to the top: kicking serious ass

The gut-busting begins in earnest with Supremacy, a fitting choice for an opener with its guitar scratching, earth-scorching bombast. The stakes are raised almost immediately upon the introduction of a full orchestral accompaniment.  Cue the choir and it's clear that England's favorite hard rock act is setting the controls for the heart of the sun. All of the usual suspects that we've come to associate with the band are on full display, from frontman Matthew Bellamy's operatic falsetto, to the deep, dark riffs  that he so often whips into a frenetic crescendo. It concludes with a twang of whimsical arpeggio, summoning the listener on the aural odyssey to follow.

The voyage veers off-path in a hurry with Madness, their most recent single, and an obvious departure from their tried and true stylings. Decidedly more Pop than Prog, the track finds Bellamy crooning in a sorta futuristic R+ B manner. While not at all what I have come to expect from the power trio, the song is undeniably catchy, beginning with rhythmic electro-bass pulses and building upon itself with purpose as it unfolds. Slowly it gives way to a brief-yet-blistering solo where we find Bellamy channeling his inner May before culminating in a triumphant, emotional climax. It somehow becomes more profound upon sequential encounters. 

Courtesy of Will Ireland/Getty Images
Next up is a dirty little wallop known as Panic Station, featuring a full-on horn section (from the same folks  that brought you the legendary hook in Stevie Wonder's "Superstition"). Bassist Chris Wolstenholme slaps out a driving groove that provides a firm foundation for the intoxicating funk that Bellamy layers on top.  The brass, riffing repeatedly throughout the chorus, melds itself effortlessly into the sonic landscape.  

The mood shifts drastically as the album explores the symphonic grandeur necessary to prelude an olympic anthem. A swinging piano riff emerges, accompanied by the metered cadence of an extended choir and an occasional sopranic flight of fancy. Such is the pomp and circumstance that defines Survival. The official song of London's 2012 games is wrought with such over-the-top delivery that--if  the lead singer's heritage was anything aside from Anglican--we'd have to question wether or not he was putting us on. 

Chris Wolstenholme, Matthew Bellamy and Dominic Howard
The remainder of the album tinkers with the more common trappings of contemporary music, like the dubstep-minded hook in the otherwise pedestrian Follow Me, or the Radiohead-inspired polyrhythms of the melancholic Animals.

Save Me and Liquid State are notable entries. Penned by Wolstenholme and chronicling his struggle with alcoholism, they showcase a surprisingly infectious timbre. As impassioned as his delivery is, the songs are as memorable for what they aren't. Bellamy's trademark wailing has become such a fixture of the Muse sound that these numbers could be mistakenly attributed to another band altogether. 

The chaotic immensity more familiar to the band reemerges in spades for the conclusion of their sixth studio album. The title track is broken down into a two-part suite, as ominous as it is ultramodern. Unleashing a salvo against the insatiable desires of man, Muse continues to weave the thread of social commentary into the core of their music, as they have from the beginning. "A species set on endless growth is unsustainable," we are warned. Begging the question, 'where do we go from here?' If the melodic finale of The 2nd Law serves as any indicator, a rendezvous with post-apocalyptic minimalism is unavoidable. It's not a groundbreaking notion, but that doesn't make it any less provocative.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Bottle Room

Tucked between the bustling shops of Uptown Whittier, a few miles east of Los Angeles, is one of the county's premiere gastropubs: The Bottle Room. Chef and restauranteur Tony Alcazar opened the place up just over 3 years ago, inspired by his passion for good beer and good food. When those components collide, it inevitably results in an abundance of good people.  After meeting Tony and his staff last night during their very special Night With Russian River, I was bombarded by that trifecta of awesomeness. 

First of all: the beer. I could go on for days about how Pliny the Elder is the perfect pint of beer, but you already know that. Luckily, in Southern California there are a handful of places that dependably keep it on draft. So instead, I deemed it more pressing to progress to a few of their barrel-aged sours which are far more elusive: Temptation--the sour blonde, aged in French oak--and the real winner, Supplication--a sour brown ale aged in Pinot Noir barrels from Sonoma County. Its tempered tartness overwhelms my palate with the pleasant pungency of wild yeast. The slight tinge of wine, a delicate dancing partner for the tart candy flavor that makes my lips smack. I could literally never have enough of this beer. 

Turkey Burger with Russian River's Supplication
To accompany this delectable nectar, some food was in order. Tony earned his pedigree in the kitchen working at high-end gourmet restaurants throughout the region. His menu reflects this expertise, highlighted by all sorts of inventive dishes and robust medleys of flavor. As he was describing some of the food, a wave of panic swept over me as I realized that I couldn't come close to trying everything I wanted in just one visit. Mac and Cheese, Belgian beer battered onion rings, flatbreads laced with bacon pineapple and jalapeño? Chicken lollipops? I don't even know what those are, but of course I wanted them. Yet when I'm drinking good beer on tap, something in my gut always steers me to steer. After I saw one of his towering bacon cheeseburgers come out of the kitchen, I my dining selection suddenly seemed a forgone conclusion. But Tony complicated things for me considerably when he described the intricacies that went into his impossibly juicy Turkey Burger. A 60/40 blend of white meat and dark, it's doctored up with smoked baconaioli, melted swiss, marinated mushrooms and fresh avocado. Although I never thought I'd hear myself say these words: "I'll go with the Turkey Burger," I certainly don't regret having said it.

25th Anniversary Toronado Ale
I was even happier still when John, the manager, offered me a taste of a supremely limited edition Russian River offering: their 25th Anniversary Toronado Ale. This wild sour is a bottle-fermented blend of all sorts of exclusive, craft-minded deliciousness. Celebrating the quarter-century mark of one of San Francisco's most beloved beer bars, it hasn't really made it too far outside of the Bay Area and I was super lucky to catch a taste of it.

After meeting all sorts of friendly homebrewers, we took our drinks out to the front patio, adjacent to the cozy confines of Whittier's commercial epicenter. We exchanged stories of craft beers past and made promises to meet up again for a bevy of beer drinking in the near future. In fact, it was such a warm, pleasant vibe, that I was invited back to a nearby house party shortly after the woeful pangs of last call.  An evening of old favorites like beer and burgers could only be topped with the introduction of new friends.

It took me a long time of living in this area to make a trek to the lesser-traveled streets of Whittier. If it wasn't for Tony and his craftily conceived establishment, I might not have ever known what this town was all about. The Bottle Room was worth the journey and as an all-around experience it's one helluva destination.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deli Melee

Courtesy of Food Republic. Certainly nothing democratic about their comical culinary assertions.

File this under absurd. According to an article from the so-called Food Republic, Los Angeles can lay claim to better pastrami sandwiches than the Big Apple. 

I think I understand what's going on here. Since most people have never heard of the Food Republic, they need to say something inflammatory and utterly preposterous in order to generate the controversy that translates so fluidly into web traffic. I see what you're doing...and I LIKE IT! Just kidding, I abhor it. In other news: Des Moines, Iowa is home to the best arts scene in the country. And the best pizza. And the best beaches in the continental United States. Now let's sit back and watch the clicks rain down o'er me!

PS-- Sorry for the extended hiatus. The editorial staff at the RB has been on location gathering information on some of the most pressing issues of the day. Stay tuned for articles of actual significance (pictures of scantily clad models) throughout the rest of the summer. Politics are heating up--if sleaze and corruption counts as a form of convection--and general economic malaise continues to permeate the globe. Hey, there's even an Ebola outbreak currently ravaging Uganda that could threaten to spread to the U.S. 

So much calamity to write about, so little fucks for society to give.

Never Surrender...sang Corey Hart, before abruptly losing his career to the 90s

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Epic Fail: The War On Drugs

Nic Cage Just Doesn't Know How To Say 'No'
In order to ascertain where your country is headed you need look no further than where and how your government is spending your money. In the United States, over the past 20 years, state expenditures on prisons have outpaced spending on higher education by a factor of 6. Last year, California spent $9.6 BILLION dollars on their prison systems--nearly double the amount they spent on state colleges. 

Surely all of this money is spent helping keep our society safer, right? Surely not. Unless you feel that perpetrators of victimless crimes are the primary scourge to your personal safety. And if that's the case, you're an imbecile and probably don't even know how to read these 'words' anyway (no offense). In 1980, only 15 inmates out of every 100,000 were in jail on drug-related charges. By the mid-90s that figure had sky-rocketed to 148 per 100,000. Today it is even higher. In fact, HALF of all federal inmates are in prison on drug convictions. Worse yet, 4 out of 5 of those arrested merely possessed contraband without any intent to distribute. Consequently our prisons have now ballooned to numbers unseen in human history, beyond even the Gulags of Soviet Russia--more than 6 million Americans are currently under 'correctional supervision.'

These staggering statistics are all a result of the so-called 'War On Drugs,' launched during the Reagan Administration and universally deplored ever since as an abject failure, by any conceivable measure. A recent report signed by Reagan's own Secretary of State, George Shultz, concluded that "vast expenditures on criminalization and repressive measures directed at producers, traffickers and consumers of illegal drugs have CLEARLY failed to effectively curtail supply or consumption." And in the wake of this war waged on our own citizens, we have seen the meteoric rise of drug cartels throughout South and Central America, leaving tens of thousands dead along the way, hundreds of thousands of families torn apart, billions of dollars spent (wasted). All this, yet recreational drug use in America is as prevalent in 2012 as ever before. In fact, it's thriving.

Do These Guys Know How To Party Or What?
How and why does this failed policy continue? Who on Earth would proclaim it a good idea to remain on the same path when even the country's most vocal moral pundits--like Christian Right Posterboy Pat Robertson--openly object? As with any questionable aspect of our ethically-bankrupt brand of Capitalism, it's essential to concentrate not on how much money is being spent (which is invariably a lot) but to where that money is going. 

Whitney Houston's House
Too often debates get bogged down on the monetary sums associated with unimaginable failures. Take for example the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While the average American is aware that over a trillion dollars has gone into these endless quagmires, what percentage of citizens knows precisely who received majority of those funds? The same can be said for the most costly war fought here on our own soil. Many Americans fail to recognize that the prison industry is a multi-billion dollar business swelling to the lucrative heights of the military-industrial complex. And the very same Reagan administration that fought so futilely to counter the scourge of drug-use in the 80s also brought us rampant, irresponsible privatization. So at the same time that we started accumulating more prisoners than ever before, large private companies arrived on the scene--many from overseas--to begin developing the infrastructure necessary to house all of these new detainees. A happy coincidence, no?

Nowadays, oversized corporate interests--that would happily see half the damn population incarcerated if it helped their bottom line--lobby Congress every year to insure that anti-drug legislation stays as heavy-handed and non-sensible as ever.

If you're not infuriated, you're not paying attention. But if you are paying attention, it's up to you as one of the few informed citizens out there to help spread the word about what this 'war' is really all about: corporate profits. And just because you advocate a sensible drug policy--one that doesn't pluck otherwise  law-abiding individuals off the streets at a tremendous cost to taxpayers and families everywhere--it doesn't mean that you're enthusiastically encouraging everyone to try drugs. I am advocating that, but it doesn't mean that you have to in order for us to ally our common interest: putting an end to unscrupulous profiteering at the expense of the public weal

If you are totally satisfied living in a country that spends billions more on incarcerating rather than educating its citizens, then by all means continue not doing anything and let's all see where this path leads...


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

24 Hours In...Austin, TX

Austin City Limits
So you have nary a day to soak up one of the country's most electrifying cities? Well let an experienced guide..umm, guide you with our exciting new report that--in a spirit of unbridled originality--we have elected to call '24 Hours In...'

Austin, TX

Home to the most liberal population within a 2,785 kilometer radius, Austin, Texas is commonly regarded as an isolated bastion of sensibility submerged amidst an endless sea of card-carrying lunatics. This is incontrovertible truth. But to me, that doesn't make the city any more endearing. In fact, it makes it all the more terrifying. If I per chance stumble beyond these friendly confines with California license plates firmly affixed to my eco-friendly hybrid (I don't actually own one, but it is implied) I'll almost certainly be chainsaw massacred in seconds flat. Nobody will come to search for my bloodied remains.

Nonetheless, if you are traveling across the country via the traditional southern route--typically involving unsavory swaths of i-10--you are bound to traverse endless miles worth of Texas, and so you owe it to yourself to spend at least a day in this unexpected outpost of hip bars, great BBQ and most importantly, incredible live music.

For me, the only way to bare the sweltering climate (meteorological and cultural) of this part of the country is to drink...heavily. Thankfully Austin is home to some of the best microbrews in all of Texas. Skip the rest and head straight for the best: Independence Brewery (3913 Todd Lane). It's here in this unassuming, industrial part of town that owner Rob Cartwright and his wife Amy produce their tasty-ass craft beer for the lucky people of southeastern Texas. They opened the warehouse in 2004 and
Rob Cartwright of Independence Brewery

their artful array of ales, lagers and stouts have been getting more and more refined ever since. You can snag bottles of their sensational Stash IPA or crave-worthy Convict Hill Stout from most package stores around town. But on the first Saturday of every month, Rob and Co. open the doors to the brewery, offering free samples while supplies last. Live music and local food abounds and well-behaved pooches are welcome to join in on the fun. This is the ideal venue from which to get your hands on some of their limited edition seasonal suds, like  Lupulust Tripel--a heavily-hopped Belgian  clocking in at 9% ABV. If you are looking for something a little more suited to continued consciousness, I highly suggest Independence Pale Ale. It's an intense, rusty blast of bitterness yet still session-worthy with a sensible 5.6% ABV.

All of this beer drinking is bound to build up an insatiable appetite for a bountiful daytime feast. And when you're in Texas there's really only two dining options at every meal: Tacos or BBQ. Since you're already in the general neighborhood you might as well check out the innovative fare that's cooked up on the daily at Torchy's Tacos (1311 South 1st Street). This is not your mom's Mexican eatery. The menu here is chock full of insanely Gringified delicacies like the famous Trailer Park featuring sumptuous southern fried chicken, green chiles and poblano sauce. And when in Rome...you might as well get it 'trashy,' which means removing that menacing green lettuce and replacing it with copious amounts of greasy queso. Torchy's also rewards its loyal patrons with a slew of off-menu specialties like the unearthly Ace of Spades taco. You have to eat this multi-meated monster to believe it, so I'll just hold off on the description and assure you to order it...NOW.

Torchy's Trailer Park Taco
If all of this lusciously-larded lunching somehow doesn't activate your appetite or your type-II diabetes, perhaps it's BBQ that floats your boat. Well sail away my friend, you've arrived in one of the galaxy's premiere destinations for slow-cooked carnivorous cravings (I can't vouch for any meat prepared beyond the confines of the Milky Way). If it's still early enough in the afternoon--and you are blessed with pristine Karma--perhaps you'll be fortunate enough to scarf down some pulled pork and life-altering beef brisket from Franklin Barbecue (900 East 11th Street) before they run out, as they usually do, seemingly before noon. This unforgettable, finger-licking affair is notable for the juiciness of their fare and their sizable portions. Come hungry and be preferably several pounds underweight because I don't see how you could avoid obesity if you lived within 10 miles of this place. They recently received a huge heaping of hype from famously-fancied idiots who have even larger followings than the Revolting Blog, so be prepared to line-up and wait. It is after all only fitting that you should be herded like cattle before gorging yourselves on unsustainable amounts of cooked cow.

Stubb's Bar-B-Q
By this time of day, if you have any common decency whatsoever, you're clearly craving some big-time cocktails and live, local jams. And if you don't know, now you know: 6th Street is the place to be when you wanna keep it weird in Austin. The epicenter of any bar crawl, this thoroughfare is closed down most nights of the weekend creating a promenade of drunken revelry underpinned by the thumping array of diverse music wafting out the doorways of each and every establishment. If its rock or blues-related, there's a band playing it somewhere on or around 6th Street. But there's perhaps no more eclectic a mix of boppin' beats than what you'll find on stage at Stubb's Bar-B-Q (801 Red River Street) The self-avowed home of 'cold beer and live music' continues the proud tradition of southern rock that was once pioneered by the licks of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joe Ely and John Lee Hooker. While you're enjoying the tunes, be sure to sip on one of the most beloved local libations: the Mexican Martini. Described as the Margaritas more sophisticated older sister, it basically takes those classic ingredients and embellishes the flavor with a little bit of Sprite and some jalapeño-stuffed olives.

The Salt Lick

If you're anything like me, you'll probably be chased out of town sometime before downing your final 6 cocktails but just slightly after descending into a foggy haze of unforgivable debauchery. But prior to your designated driver questioning his/her friendship with you on a very fundamental level, make sure they bring you to the most obligatory pitstop in all of Texas: The Salt Lick (18300 Farm to Market Road 1836). This cafeteria-sized eatery features one of the most-photographed BBQ pits in the Western Hemisphere. Please post it to Facebook ASAP so you can make all of your friends jealous of your insurmountable originality. Located on the outer periphery of the metropolitan area, the Lick prides itself on unabashed Hill Country hospitality. And by hospitality I'm not suggesting that they'll be pleased to have you. Heavens, no. I simply mean that they'll actually let you bring in your own beer and will even ice it down as you go to town on $20 all-you-can-shovel-into-your-mouth smoked meats. The brisket is good, and the pulled pork more than serviceable, but the ribs are the real stand out here. Fill up a hearty plate of leftovers for you to take on the road with you because you're not going to find anything this good for hundreds of miles in any direction. Unfortunately there's no hope of you leaving this place feeling even remotely comfortable in your waistband, even if you're wearing sweatpants--especially if you're wearing sweatpants--everything is bigger in Texas, as they say. But have no shame; you just fucked the shit out of this city in less than one calendar day. Now quickly get the hell out of here and don't even consider coming back until it's time for Austin City Limits.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Boonville Beer Fest

16th Annual Boonville Beer Festival
I like beer. I like it a lot. It makes me happy to drink it, I get happy just thinking about it. In the West Coast--particularly Northern California--craftbrewing is a cult-like obsession. The best brewmasters in the world live there as do the snobbiest drinkers. They go hand-in-hand in fact; obviously the people with the best tastes are going to be producing beer that tastes the best.

This is all common sense, but what might not be commonly sensible is the fact that one of the greatest beer drinking events in the world occurs annually in a Mendocino County town with a population of just over 1,000. Boonville, California is home to the award-winning Anderson Valley Brewing Company, producers of a lovable line of satisfying suds like the caramel and toffee-tinged Winter Solstice Seasonal Ale. The pastoral mountain town is also the setting of an annual party to which some of the 50 greatest beers on the planet are all invited. And although the Mendocino County Fair is only a few acres, every year on the second Saturday of May it represents the Mecca of microbrewing.

Knee Deep Brewing Company

For just under $50, you can spend the entire afternoon sampling unlimited amounts of porters, stouts, lagers, sours, IPAs, wheats, Belgians, wild ales, barleywines, pilsners, doppelbocks, saisons, lambics, bittersKölschs, Imperial IPAs and stouts or even the occasional trippel. Am I missing anything? Probably, because at around this time of day I passed out behind the shade of an old pickup truck.

But that was well after enjoying mind-numbing offerings from Knee Deep Brewing Company--with their award-winning Hoptologist DIPA, the illustrious pinot barrel-aged Supplication sour by Russian River and a whole slew of lesser-known-but-equally-magnificent micros like the Space Oddity from Redwood Curtain Brewing Company in Arcata. They experiment with all kinds of flavorful hybrids such as Belgian Style Porter or Imperial Golden Ale, and are all very difficult to find anywhere outside of Humboldt County.

Bear Republic out of Sonoma had a few selections on tap that I had never seen before but none were as memorable as the Campfire Stout from High Water Brewing out of Redwood; dark and delicious with the mouth-watering tones of melted marshmallows. I am making myself very thirsty right now and extraordinarily jealous of my former self. 

There were of course a few other things going on that day. I distinctly remember eating a bunch of deep-fried pickles while listening to a band of unknown genre play some entirely unmemorable tunes. 

Show Me The Way To The Next Beer On Draft...
After the festival ended in the early evening, local restaurants served up veggie pies and seafood dishes of questionable origin to patrons that were drunk enough to enjoy just about anything. In exchange, I offered our waitress some homemade quinoa salad which she seemed to enjoy. 

The evening ends with much deserved rest around the campfire as some final bottles of local libations are consumed on a subdued evening at the nearby campgrounds. Ultimately, in looking back, I am filled with a certain sense of sadness: all I have now are a bunch of fuzzy memories to hold me over until next year's go-around. 

Next time I'd be smarter to try smaller pours so as to enjoy a little bit more of everything before slipping out of consciousness. Can't guarantee that will happen, but I can guarantee that I shall return triumphantly to the Anderson Valley on the second Saturday of every May, ready to rock. Good God, I love beer so much.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Know Now Why You Cry...

I have posted the following clip in order to illustrate a simple point: the action movie genre has gone to complete and utter shit. When I was growing up, action movies were more than just high-priced vehicles for which to showcase state-of-the-art special effects. They actually told captivating stories, providing a window into the very heart of humanity as well as warning us of the dangerous trajectory down which we are so fool-heartedly entrenched. Drama and social commentary tucked into the core of a Hollywood blockbuster--with an impossibly large budget. Can you imagine such a beast existing in today's climate? Of course not. Nowadays you have 'films' like The Avengers--largely devoid of any metaphorical significance whatsoever. Vapid wastes of celluloid specifically-engineered to cater to the lowest common denominator while steering clear--at all costs--of any sort of overtly controversial subject matter. When you hit up theaters this week to help make this pavlovian drivel the highest-grossest film of all time (I'm as guilty as the rest of you), just remember that there was a time in the not-so-distant past when action movies were actual films, capable of eliciting emotional connection and provoking us to contemplate the complexities of the human condition.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hardcore (Food) Porn--L.A. Edition

Since this is a family site, let's try and keep it mostly PG-13:

Sloppy Joseph -- Stout-braised shortribs with fried onions @ Golden Road Brewpub

Sausage and Peppers Pie @ 800 Degrees

Bacon Cheeseburger @ Rustic Canyon

Côte de bœuf @ Patina

Birthday Cake @JDoubleO

Slippery Shrimp @ Yang Chow

Home-cooked Bacon Egg and Cheese

Albondigas for Cinco de Mayo

Friday, May 4, 2012

Concert Review: Radiohead at Coachella

It is said that Hipsters love irony. Perhaps this is why one of the most universally-embraced bands in that all-too-easily loathsome community is the ever-venerable Radiohead. After a particularly revealing 90 minutes with them in the hot California desert, it became increasingly apparent to me that the World's Greatest Rock Act regards many of their concert-goers with a certain, thinly-veiled disdain. Maybe it's because Thom Yorke and company are so hellbent on promoting some vestige of social awareness in this markedly apathetic world into which we have grown. In return, many of the attendees at a typical Radiohead show--especially at the unforgivably scene-y Coachella Music and Arts Festival--could give two shits about changing the world for the better. They're much more concerned with capturing this live event on their smartphones so they can post incontrovertible proof by way of Instagram and Youtube that they were here--LOOK AT ME! How very fantastic for them, and indeed the world.

On the road promoting their most recent LP, The King of Limbs, most sets from this tour kick-off with the unsettling melancholy of that album's first track, Bloom. In the opening lines, Yorke advises all those that would listen to "open your mouth up wide" in a "universal sigh." This phrase has torn at the tendrils of my soul since the very first time it entered my ear canals. In the bleakly-aware landscape of our times we have traded in our desire to coagulate into meaningful masses in exchange for falsely elevating ourselves onto meaningless pedestals of self-diluted grandeur. Radiohead's frontman Thom Yorke suggests that the obligatory response is a billowing sigh.

In the 60s, hundreds of thousands of socially-conscious spirits would descend upon the streets and parks of our cities with minimal amounts of premeditation. Today we have the "social media" at our disposal to facilitate rallies ten times larger, yet instead we all sit at home in front of our screens to post pictures of our latest vacation to Facebook. As Yorke asks in his next number, the techno-rhythmic 15 Step: "You used to be alright, what happened?"

After he's done prancing around the stage in his trademarked maniacal manner, Yorke wonders aloud if the crowd of some 75,000 people are "drinking enough water?" It's a reasonable inquiry for a drug-addled mass of humanity that has been baking in 100+ degree temperatures for much of the day. Yet his sarcastic din implies that he doesn't really give a shit. You can't help but wonder if the sea of cellphones and MDMA is really attune to such nuance. 

The band fearlessly plods forward, offering an enchanting array of new B-sides that didn't make it onto the latest record. Only with Radiohead am I able to feel the same level of inspiration regardless of what era of their catalogue is being showcased. In fact, one of the most transcendent moments of the show came during Staircase. A song that can't be more than a year old, yet offers so much in the way of mesmerizing melody that you can't help but be drawn in upon first listen. Of course the elaborate stage setup helps to up the ante, with a series of large monitors--each displaying a different band member--slowly ascending in a staggered pattern high above.

After a hearty assortment of newer material, Radiohead digs slightly deeper into their repertoire--to the obvious enjoyment of the crowd. Busting out standards like Kid A, steeped in eery post-apocalyptic musings, There There, a heavily percussive piece that always starts off with the guitarists accompanying the drummer's beat with large toms hanging from their necks, and the anthemic Karma Police, which culminates in a (somewhat-forced) sing-along: "phew, for a minute there I lost myself. I lost myself." To me, this is always the most redemptive quality of a Radiohead show--or any great concert--the transcendence of losing yourself to another spiritual plane. These guys can bring you there like no other and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Radiohead's live experience typically features two separate encores, which were somewhat truncated on this late Saturday night/Sunday morning to accomodate the strict cut-off time of Coachella which I assume to be 1AM. As the concert is winding down they decide to break out a few tracks from 2007's In Rainbows. The first of which, Reckoner, is a supremely haunting number warning that you "can't take it with you." A fitting admonishment for this uber-materialistic menagerie of Southern Californians. The tune ultimately arrives at a crescendoing finale of spiritually-uplifting falsetto that I wish would just have the decency to extend into infinity. 

Unfortunately that's not possible and upon the angelic conclusion, Thom takes a moment to tell the horde about why the band chose to play large festivals this summer. Essentially: togetherness. Yet I have to question if there's anything to be gained in the collective process of passive listening; are we really all sharing the wonder or are we just hopelessly quarantined within our own respective bubbles of isolation? Goddamn, somebody's breath smells just downright rank! At any rate, they end the first encore with the gutbusting guitar-driven frenzy of Bodysnatchers, a gritty number that you can tell guitarist/mad scientist Jonny Greenwood just loves sinking his fiery fangs into.

For the grand finale, they decide to unearth a couple of classics from their seminal work, 1997's critical darling, OK Computer. Nobody's going to argue with a decision like that. The spine-tingling, Floyd-esque Exit Music (For a Film) never disappoints. And when Yorke commands us to "wake from your sleep," you have to wonder if anyone is really paying attention, or are they too busy trying to capture his mischievous mug on a million little smartphones speckled high above the landscape. When the drums kick-in halfway through this jarring masterpiece, it marks one of the most visceral moments of the entire show. 

Thom busts out the acoustic guitar for the final number, signaling the inevitable: a performance of their quintessential composition, Paranoid Android. No surprises here; played note-for-note with every iota of its arena-rocking grandeur. Many songs throughout history have hinted at an impending apocalypse and some paint the grim sketches of a dreary, post-apocalyptic world. But no other piece of art captures the end of days--as it unravels in real time--with such compelling vigor as this: "the dust and the screaming...the panic, the vomit." And everything comes to an end with that most classic of ironic lines: "God loves his children." A tidal wave of applause erupts into the desert night. Perhaps a universal sigh would be a more appropriate response.

The Aftermath