Friday, January 6, 2012


William Fuller: Whilst taking a stroll through midtown late last year, on the way to my weekly Society for the Blind recording, I came upon musician/producer/engineer supreme Chris Woodhouse. He seemed to be in a somewhat giddy daze. He said that he had recently engineered Wild Flag's new album here in Sacra, and that he just found out it had received a very rave review from music blog Pitchfork. Wild Flag is a coming together of four indie musicians from well known, at least in that world, rock bands. One of the four is Carrie Brownstein, whose last band, Sleater-Kinney, is probably the best known of the various represented bands.

(He also talked about trying to learn Capt. Beefheart's "One Red Rose that I Mean" from LICK MY DECALS OFF BABY. I asked him if he was going to learn "Peon", but he gravitated toward "Rose" because it's a solo piece. I'm still waiting for a promised recording when he masters it.)

At any rate, I didn't realize till yesterday, when I was recording the latest New Yorker at the Society, that Carrie Brownstein is the lead, along with Fred Armisen, of the TV show Portlandia. They're just starting season two this month. I endured one episode last year. It's basically a snarky, perhaps somewhat affectionate, look at the pretentious miasma that is part of Portland, complete with vegans, lesbian bookstores, and music snobs (not that there's anything wrong with any these!) It's a look at the hipsters who populate any decent sized city, but seem to proliferate in that particular American Northwest city (I'm lookin' at you, Colin Meloy - even though I love ya!) One usually equates hoity-toityness with money, but as you watch the show you realize it can span all income levels, and as you watch the show, if you're honest with yourself, you have to ask, in between condescending laughter: am I actually one of these people? Of course not in all ways, but in some? (Maybe that's why I stopped watching after one episode.)

So today my wife sent me to the grocery store and a local specialty German meat market. I went to the grocery store first, and of course didn't purchase any of the required meat, because my wife demands a certain high quality that most grocery chains, of course, just can't achieve. But when I got to the specialty shop, alas, it was closed for their annual winter vacation! What to do?!? Not just any old ground beef and ham would do; it had to be "special"! I was facing a full scale toit-tastrophe, i.e., a knotty, perplexing challenge that only a certain kind of true snob will have to face.

I live in a pretty diverse part of town, and at this point I was in the low rent section. As I drove down the boulevard thinking about where I might go, I realized I was fast approaching Mercado Loco, an independent Mexican grocery store with a very decent butcher section if you were interested in carnitas or carne asada or buche (pig stomach). So I stopped there. Unfortunately, the dish in question was not one that required any of these items, and the quality ground beef and ham that I needed just wasn't in evidence. I had to leave empty-handed, a cold sweat starting to bead up on my face.

Luckily, ANOTHER independent grocer about a half mile away popped into my mind, one that catered to the "foodie", the discriminating, the discerning. Expensive? Yes, but of course worth it! That's where I went and I wasn't sorry. My nightmare was over.

So to my fellow blogger Spence:
1) Do you have any recent tales of a toit-tastrophe?
2) Have you ever heard Wild Flag or Sleater-Kinney?
3) Have you ever watched Portlandia?
4) Do you think you could learn One Red Rose that I Mean?

Well, in the case of 1), no, I don't think I've had one of those, gastronomic or otherwise, anytime recently. Although I spent awhile looking for giant tapioca, and that before ever sampling bubble tea at a Pho house. But white tapioca pudding made with extra-large spheres of starch doesn't somehow feel toity. In any case, what came to my rescue was

who carried in a black box said product, which however now looks like

-and will provide any tapioca hound with the appropriate slimy chewiness.

As to 2) Wild Flag and Sleater-Kinney, the first was an unknown and the second my daughter's recommendation from awhile ago. I listened to a couple of agreeable rockers that sounded like they have influence from The Clash, Patti Smith, and no doubt many others, but didn't go back for no particular reason - though I did wonder at the time how the Olympia Public Works Dep't keeps up with what must be a chronic disappearance factor for

not to mention a couple of sizeable offramp signs. A quick refresher and intro to Wild Flag convince me I'd better dive in a bit as a new year's res.

My daughter also mentioned 3) Portlandia, but on that score as well I remain ignorant. She has been educating us on "hipsters" in the wild

at least on her Seattle context, and said that Portland, in perhaps the throes of Seattle-wannabe, exhibits similar plumage. Notwithstanding the hoodies, much of hipsterism has changed little since our band scenemaking days before 1980; black leather never quite goes away, ditto laddered stockings, wayfarers, elaborately torn jeans with or without duct tape (we went to get a calendar at a local office supply, and duct tape was an entire aisle; apparently silver is for the classicists, since they have plaid, stripes, dots, stars - do middle schoolers duct tape their backpacks with stars? do younger kids apply duct tape strips to everything instead of collecting stickers?), and spiked hair even is not quite gone. Although there are those hats...

And finally, in a final sign of resignation, I confess I probably never will learn 4) "One Red Rose That I Mean", even after an intrepid soul rendered clear all of its mysteries

because probably a) I like "Peon" better, even given that it requires someone on bass and b) it's probably just too hard, although I have no doubt I could dial it in.

So the questions of the moment: 1) Do you remember how or when you first heard or heard about Wild Flag and Sleater-Kinney? 2) (this one from both daughter and father) How does that exposure relate to your history of ways of being exposed to, becoming enthusiastic about, various albums and artists - or put another way, what's the new deejay and new-releases-auditioning mechanism for our era? and 3) what do hipsters wear in Sacramento? 

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