Saturday, March 29, 2008

Don't Front:

It's Don't Front, the ongoing series in which I tell you to re-think some stuff you've been unjustifiably fronting on.

Not so very long ago, my brother and I had the idea to do a public access show entitled "Adventures in Meat." Each week we would sample and discuss a different family of meats: chickens, fish, cuts of beef, little known meats of the sea, squirrel and other varmints, the sausages, potted meats, venison and other gamey meats, haggis, various pork meats. Things of that nature. For a number of reasons which I won't go into, the show never really came together. But every time I bite into a slab of beef jerky, I remember.

You may not have the same aspirations, but you can't front on the low-fat, low-calorie, delicious taste of beef jerky. On at least a theoretical level, it's also an environmentally friendly food: beef jerky lets no part of an animal go to waste. Sure, one stick of jerky provides you with a week's worth of sodium—but that's what water is for.

In conclusion, beef jerky makes you feel sporty. Don't front.

Don't Front #1 Billy Ocean "The Love Zone"

Friday, March 28, 2008

Space is the Place

Some space-age sounds to go with my post below about model rockets.

Unless you love musicals and/or collect Olivia Newton-John memorabilia (this is one of her first appearances on record), Hugo Montenegro's soundtrack for the Australian film "Toomorrow" is mostly forgettable—except for this little moon rock:

Hugo Montenegro Spaceport MP3

Love and Rockets

If you find yourself in Soho any time soon, stop by the Jack Spade store on Greene Street—they've got a bunch of vintage model rockets on display.
They wouldn't let me take pictures in the store so I grabbed these images off the web. (It's kind of annoying. On the one hand, Jack Spade has a cool aesthetic and fashions itself as a place for regular American dudes with a heightened sense of design. Judging by the old things they collect and display, I would say that it's as close to my point of view as any store out there. On the other hand, they're pretentious as hell, and the majority of their own products—the things they actually sell—are way too pretty. If you understand the inspiration, you also realize that the products that inspire Jack Spade—Klein tool bags, army surplus, Brooks Brothers, real messenger bags—are still available, are much less expensive, and probably better made. It's a case of the inspiration being cooler than the outcome.)

Still, the inspiration is sometimes mind-blowing, and that is definitely the case with the great colors and modern, sleek design of the model rockets they're currently showing.

When I was younger my dad, my brother and I built a lot of model rockets and launched them in the field next to my grandma Dessie's house in Marysville. They go up really high and then they come back down on a little parachute that deploys when the burner is spent. Truthfully, my dad did it all, but we got to pick out the rockets, hold them, press the button, stuff like that. We were obsessed with space and it was fun. Here's a picture of us (Sky, me, my dad) in I'm guessing 1979, about to launch.

Photo by Lee Woodfin, aka "Mom." Note the patches on Sky's jeans—she used to make these really cool patches when we'd wear through our pants.

Rocket images courtesy Sky High Hobbies.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Shut Your Mouth.

Richard Roundtree's 1972 foray into the world of singing would probably have been laughable, were it not for the presence of genius producer and co-writer Eugene McDaniels—the man responsible for Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love" and a ton of great work with Les McCann, Nancy Wilson, Jimmy Smith, Universal Jones, Bobby Hutcherson and others, as well as his own classics Outlaw and Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse.

Here's the best cut:
Richard Roundtree Lovin' MP3

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Thrills of Owning a Chicken Ranch

One hundred years ago today, Vashon Island's own Betty MacDonald was born. The author of The Egg & I, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and many other books, MacDonald garnered a worldwide following and still has millions of fans today.

Why do I care? Number one, if you can't celebrate your local heroes, what the F can you do? Number two, my grandfather Don Woodfin had a chicken farm in Lisabeula (an area on Vashon) in the 1940s and '50s, and was a good friend of Betty and her family. He built them a barn, chicken coup, and caretaker house, all of which are now recognized National Historical Landmarks. Don was immortalized as "the unforgettable Marine" in Betty's book Onions in the Stew, her story of life on Vashon. After 9/11, many members of the international Betty MacDonald Fan Club e-mailed me to offer their best wishes and let us know that they were thinking of us, all because he had built her barn. It was really nice.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Stuck By This River


Busy day, so I will make this a quickie.

I was reminded recently of one of the most beautiful pieces of black and white cinematography I know of—the river scene in Charles Laughton's brilliant and chilling "Night of the Hunter." I don't want to ruin the story if you haven't seen the movie, but all you really need to know for a lead-in is that the evil preacher (Robert Mitchum) is relentlessly pursuing the brother and sister, and they escape in a rowboat down the Mississippi River. It's a long clip, but worth watching all the way through so you can catch all the different little animals on the side of the river (not to mention the feeling of utter dread at the appearance of the evil preacher's silhouette).

The weird thing is, this movie flopped at the box office and Laughton never directed again.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Some random things I am feeling right now.

Bacon jam from Seattle's Skillet Street Food.
Yes. Bacon... Jam. Feels so wrong, tastes so right.
You can mail order it through their eBay store.

The new Cancer Rising album.
The jam that originally got me hooked (um, the proverbial bacon jam of the record) is "Let's Start Some Shit"—but now I have "Perseverance" on eternal repeat. A ton of variety and really solid throughout. Check out clips on their myspace page, and get the EP from CDBaby or iTunes.

Gold's Cocktail Sauce.
It is superior because it has a ton of horseradish in it. Gold's also makes horseradish, so it's win-win for both their horseradish division and the consumer.

Campana Brothers Select at the
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

The Cooper-Hewitt has this ongoing series in which a prominent designer chooses items from the permanent collection to display in the room adjacent to the front desk. Of the various things selected by the Campana Brothers, I thought these plates from a 1927 French book called Insectes were some of the coolest. Click to enlarge.

Brunch at Tartine.
With all the Brooklyn brunch talk of my Saturday post, it may seem odd that we would then go have brunch in the West Village. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. The weather was beautiful and they have sidewalk seating. All of their Hollandaise family of egg dishes are delicious (Norwegian, Florentine...), and their homefries made Emily reconsider her deep-seated anger that it's almost impossible to find regular hashbrowns on the East Coast.

Filson Boots
Everyone's all metro over their luggage these days (Design Within Reach even sells it) but I remember in high school my brother and I would go into the Army Surplus store on First Avenue in Seattle and wish we could get a Filson oilcloth coat. It's just a good company through and through. I got these boots about a year ago, and they still feel brand new. It is weird and oddly comforting to know that you will probably never have to buy another pair of boots in your life.

68 Jay Street Bar in Dumbo.
It is bare-bones and they do not have Six Point on tap, but I have never had a better pint of Brooklyn Lager in my life. It's like they clean the taps every day, and the temperature is perfect. Incidentally, another good pint of Brooklyn can be found at Grassroots tavern on St. Mark's. In my experience, dive bars often have cleaner taps than fancy bars, because they tend to know how to run the place. (They get run down when they stay in business for a long time.) It's not always true but that's why I said it is often true.

Mr. Littlejeans (aka Mr. Science; Fang).
The best cat ever celebrated his ninth birthday last week. Littlejeans was born in the Bronx; his original owner got him as a kitten, named him Oscar, and then promptly died. His body was not discovered for a full week, and when it was removed, they just left the poor 3-month-old kitten in the apartment by himself. After another week, a neighbor heard meowing and got the super to let her in. It turned out she worked at an animal shelter in Hell's Kitchen, down the street from our first apartment, so she kept him there for about six months. When we decided to get a cat, we went to the shelter, and right away we knew he was the one for us. He has some stomach problems, probably the result of his traumatic experience as a kitten, and to this day he still leaves one or two kibbles in his bowl until the next feeding time, just in case. His diet food and very regimented feeding schedule has not stopped him from ballooning up to a massive girth (it's glandular) but he is very happy and surprisingly agile. He is dog-like in his steadfast loyalty, and one of the smartest cats I have ever known.* Thank you, Mr. Littlejeans, for nine great years.

*For example: he kicks the computer mouse and watches the arrow move around the screen. Also, if we say "sleep like a little man" he will lay down on the bed with his head on the pillow. His hyper intelligence led to the nickname Mr. Science.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

There's a Lot of Things to Love

I don't really know anything about this record, but the graphics are dope and it's printed on really nice, heavy paper. The vocals can be a little dramatic (if Tenacious D did jazz-rock, this is what it would sound like) but the music is solid all around. I guess the big tune is "Lady Rain" but I like this one better:

Lexia Love Is MP3