Archive for June 4th, 2008
Village Voice columnist Robert Sietsema once had an eye-ball eating contest with Dr. John in New York. He lost.
So, when I heard that the dapper New Orleans musician and composer once known as the Night Tripper was back in town chilling prior to the June 3 release of his new album, The City That Care Forgot, I asked a mutual friend to call and arrange a rematch.
He’d eaten a surfeit of eyes in the interim, so we decided to switch the contest to chile peppers. And the venue would be the spiciest restaurant I could think of: Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I knew from several previous visits that the fearsome pepper onslaught would include dried red chilies, scarlet-chile oil, fresh green chilies, and—most formidable of all—Sichuan peppercorns, the berries of a shrub that induce a scary metallic numbness in the mouth, like a Novocain overdose. I secretly hoped the peppercorns would throw my adversary off a bit and give me the advantage.
The restaurant’s awning glowed yellow as we pulled up in Scooter’s blue Honda just as the sun was setting. As usual, Dr. John looked every bit the boulevardier in a trim black beret, leather coat, striped tunic, and carved African cane dangling gris-gris, the talismans of voodoo magic. The joint was nearly empty, but the staff was welcoming and cheery. Picking up the menu, I plotted the sequence of dishes so that the food would get hotter and hotter as the meal progressed.
If you didn’t click the above link for the rest of the story (which includes details of all the spicy dishes consumed at Grand Sichuan House), I’ll tell you who won, Dr. John. New Orleans cuisine has a lot of spicy elements, Dr. John must have a tongue of steel. I like a bit of heat in my food as well, but don’t think I could keep up with the Night Tripper either.
The album, The City That Care Forgot, looks good, btw, but I’m a big fan:
Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Ani Difranco and Terence Blanchard join Dr. John and the Lower 911 in this musical paean to Dr. John’s beloved New Orleans. This powerful new recording features stirring and thought-provoking songs about the post-Katrina crises in the ravaged jewel of the American South, including “City That Care Forgot,” “Time for a Change,” “Promises, Promises,” “We Gettin’ There” and many more.
Can’t go wrong with George Clinton in his prime…
In a refreshing sign that math and hope can just get along, Barack Obama predictably sewed up the delegate count on Tuesday night and defeated Hillary Clinton in what turned out to be a long, contested Democratic primary. And now, for the first time ever, a black man is on track to inhabit the White House, fulfilling Parliament-Funkadelic’s dream of turning Washington, D.C. into Chocolate City.
Unfortunately for P-Funk’s iconoclastic frontman George Clinton — no relation to Hillary or Bill, for you squares in the house — Reverend Ike Turner and Richard Pryor have passed away, and are unable to fill the positions of Secretary of the Treasury and Minister of Education. (Clinton invented the latter.)
Similarly, Muhammad Ali and Aretha Franklin will have to forego their positions as President and First Lady, as Barack and Michelle Obama will be handling those duties. Which leaves only Stevie Wonder to fill Clinton’s other invented position, Secretary of Fine Arts.
Obama apparently likes classic 70s soul, that better include funk too. Don’t get me wrong, I like Stevie Wonder, but Parliament/Funkadelic/James Brown are a lot more fun to groove too, with the bonus that (seemingly) nearly half of all hip-hop songs borrowed beats from this trinity. Throw in Sly and the Family Stone, a little Fela Kuti for international flavor, and we’re talking a party, ya’ll! Whoo hoo!
A second reason to visit New York this summer (the first reason).
“So, what do you want to know?” asks David Byrne, beaming beneath a straw fedora, as erudite and affable as ever, even with a couple busted ribs. “What’s not apparent?” He’s gesturing to an ornate antique organ, the only adornment to this cavernous 9,000-square-foot hall in the Battery Maritime Building in Lower Manhattan. A bewildering farm of tubes and wires runs out from the back and snakes along to the walls, the towering columns, and the pipes looming overhead, as if the instrument itself were on life support. Not much, at first blush, is apparent.
David would like it if you came and had a go at the organ. Or, more accurately, the venue itself. Playing the Building, his partnership with arts gurus Creative Time, is basically an interactive experimental-music station, a chance for you (and/or your kids) to pretend you’re a member of Einstüerzende Neubauten for a couple minutes. Each key on the organ connects to a tube, which connects to some facet of the building, which dutiful whirls or clanks or whistles or saws at your command. The tones are generally arranged low to high on the keyboard, though you can’t exactly play “Stormy Weather” on it; it’d be more satisfying, perhaps, to rattle off a few full-keyboard slides, Bugs Bunny/Jerry Lee Lewis–style, though so far, everyone seems too polite (or too fearful of busting the thing) to do this. Probably just as well. Your choice, though. Spray-painted in yellow onto the cement floor at the foot of the organ is a simple request: “Please play.”
The exhibit will be open till mid-August – he ought to take it on tour to a few other urban environments around the world (including Chicago, of course).
David Byrne blogs about the installation:
Playing the Building — my installation in the Battery Marine Building — opened to the public today. Creative Time had music, hot dogs, beer and ice cream downstairs. (No food or drink from the party was allowed in the actual installation space.) My iPod provided the music and I saw at least one couple dancing! The line to play the organ traversed all the way to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The fire department only allows 150 people in the space at one time since the exits are not all well lit — hence the long wait times. But there were other long lines were just for ice cream or beer.
Blah blah blah. Bud was so eager to wrap itself with the American flag, I have no sympathy for them now.
CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — As Anheuser-Busch frets over how to ward off a takeover attempt from Brazilian-run InBev, the positioning of its flagship brand might just be the closest thing the No. 1 U.S. brewer has to a poison pill.
In fact, A-B distributors and agency executives who have worked on Bud and its sibling brands have grave doubts that a brand as overtly red, white and blue as Budweiser — and, by connection, its siblings — would remain credible with consumers under a Belgian owner operated by Brazilians.
“It could be a disaster,” said an executive at one of A-B’s agencies. “It’s all-American above all else — the Clydesdales, all the imagery. It’s an enormous challenge” if the brand becomes foreign-owned. And there’s a lot at stake: In 2007, $8.5 billion of A-B’s $16.7 billion in total global revenue came from sales of Bud-family brands in the U.S.
The situation is made even more ironic by the fact that A-B has in the past been willing to play the patriotism card against competitors. Earlier this decade, after Miller was acquired by South African Breweries and Coors merged with Canada-based Molson, A-B railed against their owners as “foreign interests” with a nativist strategy that would make Lou Dobbs blush.
On its websites and in point-of-sale materials, A-B ripped Miller and Coors for sending profits abroad and closing breweries here. “With over 80% of its employees outside of the United States, it’s hard to ignore a simple question: Does Miller reflect the American spirit?” said Budweiser’s official website at the time.
American corporations like Anheuser-Busch who helped the Republicans get in power are now reaping their rewards – a dollar at near historic lows, and absentee corporate ownership in countries with stronger economies. Budweiser makes crappy beer to boot. They import a few quality brews (Bass Ale, for instance), but that has nothing to do with their brewing skills, just their distributing and political clout.
First oddity: a double post of the same entry. Oh well, hope it isn’t too confusing.
Mostly, though, no complaints about moving to wordpress. Much easier to configure everything.
Is it too early to have a sip? I could pretend we lived in 17th C.E. France…
Red wine may be much more potent than was thought in extending human lifespan, researchers say in a new report that is likely to give impetus to the rapidly growing search for longevity drugs.
The study is based on dosing mice with resveratrol, an ingredient of some red wines. Some scientists are already taking resveratrol in capsule form, but others believe it is far too early to take the drug, especially using wine as its source, until there is better data on its safety and effectiveness.
Far too early to take in drug form, but not too early to drink red wine in its natural state – a glass on the way to my mouth!
Oh wait, there isn’t much resveratrol in each glass:
the door has now been opened to drugs that exploit an ancient biological survival mechanism, that of switching the body’s resources from fertility to tissue maintenance. The improved tissue maintenance seems to extend life by cutting down on the degenerative diseases of aging.
The reflex can be prompted by a faminelike diet, known as caloric restriction, which extends the life of laboratory rodents by up to 30 percent but is far too hard for most people to keep to and in any case has not been proven to work in humans.
Research started nearly 20 years ago by Dr. Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology showed recently that the famine-induced switch to tissue preservation might be triggered by activating the body’s sirtuins. Dr. Sinclair, a former student of Dr. Guarente, then found in 2003 that sirtuins could be activated by some natural compounds, including resveratrol, previously known as just an ingredient of certain red wines.
Dr. Sinclair’s finding led in several directions. He and others have tested resveratrol’s effects in mice, mostly at doses far higher than the minuscule amounts in red wine. One of the more spectacular results was obtained last year by Dr. John Auwerx of the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France. He showed that resveratrol could turn plain vanilla, couch-potato mice into champion athletes, making them run twice as far on a treadmill before collapsing.
Seriously, even I would be challenged if I had to drink 100 bottles of wine a day. However, a glass or two? No problem, no problem at all. Clinical trials always start from a higher dosage – easier to see results that way – and then work back down to lesser dosages.
Separately from Sirtris’s investigations, a research team led by Tomas A. Prolla and Richard Weindruch, of the University of Wisconsin, reports in the journal PLoS One on Wednesday that resveratrol may be effective in mice and people in much lower doses than previously thought necessary. In earlier studies, like Dr. Auwerx’s of mice on treadmills, the animals were fed such large amounts of resveratrol that to gain equivalent dosages people would have to drink more than 100 bottles of red wine a day.
The Wisconsin scientists used a dose on mice equivalent to just 35 bottles a day. But red wine contains many other resveratrol-like compounds that may also be beneficial. Taking these into account, as well as mice’s higher metabolic rate, a mere four, five-ounce glasses of wine “starts getting close” to the amount of resveratrol they found effective, Dr. Weindruch said.
Bonus if you can translate into Chicago-ese
(I’m curious – does this extra large photo mess up the sidebars? Doesn’t on my screen, but I have a large monitor. Just curious.)
lots of good stuff here, especially Orchestra Baobab. I plan on listening, even if I don’t get tix.
Sounds watchable. Seems to be out on DVD, so to the Netflix queue with ye
I’ve been here a couple time, even tried whitefish, once. Stick with lox.
A treatise/essay on notebooks, and journals. I am part of the tribe, for sure, even though most are in storage.
“Um…Applebees doesn’t have salad bars. If you’re going to use this as a vehicle to test someone’s folksiness, at least know what the hell you’re talking about. Okay, bud?”
What kind of headline is that? Come on, Yang has had his chain yanked enough.