Sunday, June 27, 2010

the show last night

The Red Clay Ramblers and the Texas Tornados in Prospert Park, free. I decided to go because I adore the Red Clay Ramblers and hadn't seen them for about 17 or 18 years, and because I wanted to see Flaco Jimenez play live.

The Red Clay Ramblers are kind of a big-band string band...they're about as big as a string band can get and still be a string band. They have a drummer with a full kit, a stand-up bass player, a guitarist who also plays mandolin and mandola, a fiddler who also plays harmonica, a keyboard player, a banjo player, and a guy who plays tuba, trombone, guitar and accordion (who also has been sporting a red fez for about thirty years that I know of). They all sing. They play quite a few traditional fiddle tunes, which are extremely clean (as opposed to the raggediness of many other string bands I've heard over the years). Plus the musicianship is first-rate, and the guys even have a nice sense of humor. The fiddler, Clay Buckner, is fairly astonishing, and I'm very picky about traditional fiddlers. These guys have only gotten better since I saw them early on (they played for an off-Broadway show called Diamond Studs which I think I saw twice, as well as Fool Moon on Broadway, which I saw three times).

The Texas Tornados basically began as a Tex-Mex supergroup, which included Doug Sahm, Freddy Fender, and Flaco Jimenez. Sahm and Fender are gone now, replaced by Doug's son Shawn on guitar and vocals, and Ernie Dirawa on vocals. But the real attraction for me was Flaco Jimenez, who has won five Grammy awards and is basically the man as far as accordion goes. The band was a little more loud and rocking than I expected, maybe more Tex than Mex at times, and the more Texan offerings basically sounded like southern rock with great accordion (I am not a big fan of southern rock, which is generally a little twangy for my taste). But I loved the more Mexican stuff. (I also love Los Lobos, pretty much everything they do, but I have a soft spot for their more Mexican and Spanish-language songs.)

They also covered "Wooly Bully" -- I had no idea that Sam the Sham was Chicano! This got a lot of people on their feet in the aisles, including a guy we'd been stealing peeks at because we were fairly certain that he was Marshall Crenshaw.

I can't say enough about the Celebrate Brooklyn concerts in Prospect Park. They're basically free (they ask for a three dollar contribution at the gate), the venue is comfortable (it has seats!), and they have interesting vendors and great shows. (The main food vendor is Two Boots, a Louisiana-style restaurant with a few locations in NYC, and I had some red beans & rice and jalapeno cornbread last night that were just awesome, and cost a total of $6.) We went a couple of weeks ago to see Allen Toussaint, who, besides being a treasure and a living legend and all that stuff, is a wonderful performer and just exudes charm and warmth. (We saw him once before, when he was touring with Elvis Costello after Katrina.) I don't get excited about all of the shows -- we were going to see the Buena Vista Orchestra a few days ago, but they canceled because they couldn't get visas in time (I blame Fidel). And in August, I will not miss Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. The whole series has a very Brooklyn flavor somehow.

I used to go to the similar Central Park Summerstage shows, especially when I lived in Manhattan, but they're become very crowded in recent years (I don't think they have seating anymore), and their shows have gotten a little more esoteric. But I did see a lot of great acts there: Booker T. and the MGs, the Fugees, Yomo Toro, Black 47, Solomon Burke, the Holmes Brothers, the Don Byron Klezmer Band (which was inexplicably on the same bill as Black 47), and many others I can't recall offhand. They tend to have more afternoon shows, while Celebrate Brooklyn mainly does its shows in the evenings (a bit more comfortable in the summer -- I got some awful sunburn at the Black 47/Don Byron show, which was on a July 4).

We are broke and do love us some free live music.Search for Sharon Jones & the Dap-KingsBest ofEsta BuenoSearch for texas tornadosRamblerTwisted Laurel 1976 / Merchants Lunch 1977

Friday, June 25, 2010

hot and the hots

The weather has been brutally hot over the past week. I finally got out today to swap change for cash at a bank near the Avenue U station on the B and Q trains. It's a bus ride from here. We tend to accumulate a lot of change because Barry doesn't spend change -- he always forks over paper money only, so the change piles up. (On the other hand, I always carry and use change, especially pennies, which makes store clerks very happy.) So usually, when I carry as much change as possible, I get about $30-40. But I guess I had more silver and less pennies than usually, because I got $134. This was excellent, since we're still cash-poor. So I picked up my prescriptions at RiteAid, bought some couscous, wet wipes, cotton rounds, nonfat Greek yogurt, and other necessities. I also stopped into a large mideastern kosher grocery, and joy of joys, they had pickled lemons! (Our local guy isn't making them again until August, when the orthodox folks around here come back from summering in New Jersey, generally Deal or Monsey. I pickled a jar of lemons myself, but they won't be ready until July 4.) They are so, so delicious!

Speaking of delicious, I seem to have developed the hots for Adam Richman, the Brooklynite host of Man v. Food. I love me some big men -- I definitely prefer husky to scrawny. I've dated four plus-sized men that I can recall offhand (one was Ron, mentioned in a prior entry), and three of them were dead sexy and gave wonderful head. (Oral types, y'know?) I also love Adam because he's Jewish and from Brooklyn. I guess I'm coming alive below the waist again, first time in about two or three years. I love watching Adam eat on TV and can imagine, rather vividly, making out with him. (The show itself is pretty funny -- he travels to a city and checks out it's pig-out specialties, generally ending with some joint that has a food challenge -- like eating eight huge tacos in an hour, or a four-pound grilled cheese sandwich. Hence the "versus." He tends toward spicy food and pork. He did an NYC show recently and ate at Brennan & Carr, on the same Avenue U as my very own crossstreet, and where Barry and I have enjoyed many a hot beef sandwich. I love Adam and am going to watch him right now.

And hey -- I get a traffic report on this blog every week, and it comes up all zeroes, week after week. I understand that my subscribers don't show up on it, but that would mean I only have two readers. I guess I do this for my own mental health.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I was napping this afternoon, and had a dream about someone really horrible, though in the dream he was quite nice. In the dream, I was cheating on Barry with M., who was very hot and also very sweet.

In real life, M. date-raped me in the early 80s. He was someone I met in college. We had quite a few mutual friends, and I always admired him and wanted to be friends with him, but he was never nice to me. In fact, he was unpleasant to me from the first day we met, which was my first week at college, at an activities fair. He was manning the table from the college radio station, something I really wanted to do. He said that you had to take an exam to be on the air, and the closest place to take the exam was in Syracuse. Having no car, I asked if the station might arrange for a group of people who needed to take the test to go together. He said, "Well, I'm not doing that!" It seemed to me that he was trying to discourage or block new people from coming on; he was certainly not inviting. A few weeks later, I was in the student center, where they piped in music from the station, and someone was playing a song by one of my favorite bands, one so obscure I never imagined I'd hear them on any radio station, even a college one. I decided I had to go to the station (which was in the same building) and shake the hand of whoever had such good taste. It turned out to be a guy named Ron, who was about the sweetest guy in the world and who eventually became my first lover at college ("boyfriend" doesn't exactly describe it, though we were always close). He made the station seem much more available. The first step was to "apprentice" to one of the current DJs, which meant sitting in when he/her did their show, and presumably the DJ would teach the newbie how to run the board and such. Rather stupidly, I chose to apprentice with M., because I loved his taste in music and his show (despite having played my favorite obscure band, Ron's taste was basically the Grateful Dead and space jazz, neither of which were my thing at the time, though I eventually did get to like the Dead). M. was nasty the couple of times I sat in with him, and I did end up apprenticing with Ron.

Once I had a circle of friends from the station, many of whom were friends with M., I reached out to him and he was still unpleasant to me.

Fast forward to 1981 or 82, in Brooklyn. My then-boyfriend and I went to see a band at a club in Brooklyn, and there was M., DJing between band sets. I still admired him for some reason, and still wanted to be friends, so we exchanged phone numbers. He called me once, and soon turned the conversation to sex talk -- I believe he started by asking me if I liked to wear lingerie. I didn't care for this and was faithful to my boyfriend, but somehow we got in touch again during my next single period, and he invited me to visit.

He tried to feed me a lot of liquor (I drank some), and then he went after me. It was forced, in a way that terrified me. He did poppers, too. Afterward, he walked me to a train (I'm not quite sure how or why that happened), and we ran into a very beautiful woman who he told me he dated, emphasizing how beautiful she was and I wasn't.

Fortunately, that was my last encounter with M., almost 30 years ago. Why exactly he popped up in my dream, and why now, is a total mystery. I'm also wondering why he seemed so nice and so sweet in the dream, when the reality was that he was never nice and frequently awful to me over the seven or so years from our first encounter to the last.

I'm thinking now that it might have something to do with V., someone I considered very nice and sweet for a lot of years, but who proved to be selfish and narcissistic, and had a taste for mock-rough sex, though never anything remotely close to what M. did. V. was more of a role-player than a psycho/sociopath. M. was a really sick guy, and maybe still is.

Ron, I invited to my wedding. He's still the "grand old man" at the radio station, or was ten years ago, even though he must be pushing 60. He was older even back then -- he worked for the university, and took a course around once every couple of years, just to keep student status. And he was a maniac about music, had thousands and thousands of records of all types, and made hundreds of numbered mix tapes that he sent to his friends (I received them for years after I moved away). I only every saw him less than sunny once, and it was actually when someone walked in on us when we were in bed together. Well, it wasn't quite "bed" -- he was between apartments for a short time, and slept in the engineering studio at the station. So we were more like "in sleeping bag." And walk-ins were always a possibility. But he did get cranky with the woman who walked in. That was the sole time I saw him in anything like a bad temper. Ron took me to a lot of concerts, loved to smoke dope and eat, and gave great head. Too bad I didn't dream about him.

Monday, June 14, 2010

greetings from Brooklyn

I've been a little low since getting back from the Memorial Day festivities, partly because of money concerns. Even though my new medication has gotten me more normalized than I've been in a couple of years, I still haven't felt quite equal to going back to work, at least not the kind of work I used to do. Because I only have the absolute minimum work experience to do publishing publicity, meaning it would be almost impossible to land a job, I'm probably looking at administrative/executive assistant work again. And I always had trouble keeping those kinds of jobs because I generally got bored. Especially when I worked in professional firms (e.g., law and engineering), there was a certain ceiling, and a certain limit to how much I could learn about the business of the company. When I'd learned what I could learn, and risen as high at possible (which was often no rise at all), I would get bored, and start to think that I was very unhappy trading most of my waking hours for whatever the salary was (and I had pretty good salaries for a lot of the nineties, less so later on).

When I was having trouble leaving the house -- that is, up until about six weeks ago -- the plan was always for Barry to go back to work and for me to do whatever I could manage. But Barry's progress has been extremely slow. He's been going to a Department of Labor career counseling center, but has generally let weeks lapse between signing up for information sessions or meetings with the counselor. He's not dealing well with the idea of career change, but since the industry he worked in for many years basically no longer exists (NYC garment center), he needs to learn how to do something else. But he's been balking and balking. (Some years ago, he was unemployed for about seven months, and I tried to convince him to change his line of work, saying that I didn't think there'd be a living for him in the garment center until he was ready to retire. He went for career counseling, but when some options were suggested to him that required some retraining, he *really* balked and just waited until he was offered a garment center job. He only went to community college very briefly, and then mostly to avoid the draft, so he doesn't have much higher ed experience, and no school experience at all for thirty-odd years.)

I went to see Allen Toussaint in Prospect Park the other night (so, so amazing!), and spotted someone I'd interviewed with some years back, the head of a record group that puts out New Orleans, funk, and old rap and soul CDs. I'd almost gone to work for him, but at the last minute, I asked if he could possibly adjust the salary a bit or else let me have half-days on Fridays, and the deal went south. (I had been working at a law firm four days a week, at such a large hourly rate that I was earning over $40K a year, and the new job would have payed around $35K for five days, and I don't remember if that included bennies.) Now, of course, I would love to have that job at $35K, so I'm going to e-mail the guy. At the time that I applied, he was so busy that he hadn't had time to interview assistants, and I'm hoping he still needs someone, even a few years down the line. I think I could tolerate that office job.The Bright Mississippi

Monday, June 7, 2010

nature's most perfect food?

I was making falafel for dinner tonight, so Barry stopped into one of our local kosher mideast grocery stores for some pita. There's one local kosher grocery where they're okay to Barry and very cold to me, but the one he went into today is run by a very sweet guy named Moishe who is lovely to both of us. Apparently when Barry was in there, Moishe gave him a couple of containers of foodstuffs from his mysterious fridge, all things he made himself, for free, to try. One was some small pickled peppers, but the other was truly amazing. They were these spicy pickled lemon slices, and those suckers are like a party in your mouth. They must be cooked a bit because they're very soft, even the peel. They're probably made with a bit of sugar, but I'll let that pass. These things are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and juicy all at once, and then the hot peppers kick in, just a touch. (I mean, isn't that basically every taste except umami?) They're also deeply lemony because you get to eat the zest, which is perhaps more intensely lemon flavored than the pulp. I dunno, they're just outrageous. Barry was a little scared of them, even after I ate one, but he also thought it was fabulous when he finally tried it.

Perfect food aside, I had a great weekend at Jannah's (it ended up just being me), and even sold some jewelry. Since I got back, I've made some more very nice pieces, but haven't wanted to write at all. The weather's been very hot and sticky, and even though we have a/c, we live on the top (third) floor and it's often not freezing in here (the living room and kitchen are open to each other, so it's an impossible space to cool entirely). Plus, our living room air conditioner seems somewhat ill. It keeps icing up.

Tuesday night we went to see Conan O'Brien at Radio City (the "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour"). I missed the on-sale and ended up paying stoopid money to one of them-there legal scalpers they have now. (They call them "ticket brokers.") I did get awesome seats, though, and as I had figured, they had a raft of awesome guest stars: Vampire Weekend, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Paul Rudd and Bill Hader (I think I may be forgetting one). And the band was featured prominently, which made Barry happy. But I think the funniest thing was when Andy Richter strolled out singing the Trololo song. (And if you've never seen the Trololo guy before, isn't he trippy?)

My foot got a clean bill of health on Friday, hooray! My feet are happy once again.

Money has suddenly gotten a little tight, so I've had to keep a close rein on my lovely spouse, and I've made quite a few cutbacks myself. I've now cooked dinner six nights running, which is the longest streak in quite a while. After I saw the podiatrist on Friday, I took the Q train one stop to Avenue U, a different part of Avenue U than where I live now -- the part with all the Chinese stores. So I went to my favorite Chinese supermarket and bought a pound of salmon fillet, a pound of red snapper fillet, a pound of jumbo shrimp and a box of tofu -- all for $22. The salmon was poached and cold Friday, the shrimp were sauteed with olive oil, garlic, cumin and hot paprika (thanks, Mark Bittman) last night, and tonight I made falafel from a mix. I made gazpacho with the salmon and tossed salad last night and tonight. We're eating decently well. I feel good in a lot of ways.

Oh, here's a necklace I just made, labradorite on silver, and I hand-made the centerpiece, the clasp, and the hooks on the matching earrings.

Guess what? they've tweaked the interface here and I CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO POST A PHOTO. So, no freakin' photo of my new necklace.