The Listen! Watch! Eat! Year-End Wrapup 2012

Here at Listen! Watch! Eat! we’re so excited for the end of the year roundup that we can hardly type. Thanks to all our audience for being around for the roller coaster ride of 2012, and we know you love the list as much as we do, so let’s get right to it.

MUSIC

Real talk: Pig Leg owned this year. Topher T.’s rich, growling vocals never sounded tougher, and the twin-guitar assault of the Laughlin Twins dropped a Television-quality buzzsaw all over Leggsy and Bags’ rolling unguent beat. No one could have predicted than an offal joke band could go from food truck to headliner in such a short time, but the ‘Leg won our hearts long after they’d left the giblets behind. We’ve heard an advance copy of their upcoming “Uncured” album and you already love it. Trust us.

Anyone who spent as much time as we did at the Rusty Rooster knows how much Garry Turgenev ruled this year. If we said “it’s just slap bass and spoken word” there wouldn’t be many takers, but anyone who goes just once understands. Garry’s branching out, too. The few of us who caught him jamming with Uncle Aloha at the Sausage Festival know he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeve. Stay tuned closely to this station—and to Garry—for a kick-ass year.

This isn’t a big Krautrock town, but we have a treasure. You know who we mean. It’s Leverkühn, who ripped us all a new one this year when we least expected it. Thursday nights at Balder’s was a pop-up temple of the Teutonic. Hissing backbeats and unexpectedly laminated malignancy oiled the groove for some Faustian noodling and snapped-down wrenching worthy of Neu! Don’t be intimidated by Euro-styled hair and apparent ennui. Grab this schnitzel next year.

FILM

And by film we mean indie film, and by indie we mean local. You know what that means: Gazpacho. The single-named soup-named auteur made his usual 24 short films this year, each one a lapidary gem. “Thirty Minutes at the Drive Through” rocked our world the hardest, with an intense focus on commerce and boredom that hit us right here. Nobody didn’t like the Egg Cycle, either: four films d’oeuf in four locations in four days is a record even within the highly competitive Alimentary School. Not every town has a film scene, much less a powerhouse savant like the G-Man. Honor that shit!

The Elephant Leg Collective continues to hold it down with their film happenings at Sammy Peep’s. A late Tuesday night means two things: Irish Coffee and the Elephant’s Leg Collage on the wall outside. Despite the heavy hand of the law, the proud pachyderms screened four films at once eight times this year, to the delight of a well-warmed crowd. Our personal vote goes to the “Four Die Hards of Christmas.” Let’s hope for a less litigious year for the trunksters.

FOOD

When it comes to local and sustainable, there’s no tastier activists than the Food Bike Posse. Going where trucks cannot, these intense but charming young men have powered the Bunny Bacon BLT, Big Balut Burger, Boston Baked Bones, and everyone’s favorite Bat Balls dessert all over town. They won’t admit who the top chef is in their strictly egalitarian collective, but those in the know point to the guy they call Big Nacho. We hear with sympathy the controversy about their “No Dames” policy, but maybe the kerfuffle will give us a posse of Grrl Pastry Cyclists or even a Lunch Lady ride!

Boy, what a storm we had this year over Konys! Owner/chef Topher Ian is the first to admit his concept invites controversy. His international humanitarian focus has a laser-like intensity that shows in everything from the décor to the award-winning menu. You don’t know food in this town until you’ve had his small plates under photographic documentation of ethnic cleansing. The contrast makes a tremendous point, and the tofu/pretzel “hot wings” compete with the artisanal walnut-wrapped pork fat for piquant, energizing snap. Word has it that the atrocities video loop over the bar may give way to soul-searching documentaries, but the barberry Old Fashioned will keep flowing.

Gackers! We all say it at once after a long day or a long night. There’s no better restorative than Manny T.’s nouveau churrascaria, and since he went 24-hour it’s the only place in town past midnight. Our favorites include the toasted snout wrap, “deviled egg” of shaved kidney, and the Tuesdays-only Maw Pie Skewer. Word has it Manny is planning a Pan European Smoked Meat drive-through that might just get us over to the East Side after all.

Be sure and share your year-end favorites and opinions on ours! Hit up that comments section and join the conversation. Here’s to a great 2013 from Topher L. and the whole gang!

Annual Christmas Post

From E.B. White, 1952, in The New Yorker.

From this high midtown hall, undecked with boughs, unfortified with mistletoe, we send forth our tinselled greetings as of old, to friends, to readers, to strangers of many conditions in many places. Merry Christmas to uncertified accountants, to tellers who have made a mistake in addition, to girls who have made a mistake in judgment, to grounded airline passengers, and to all those who can’t eat clams! We greet with particular warmth people who wake and smell smoke. To captains of river boats on snowy mornings we send an answering toot at this holiday time. Merry Christmas to intellectuals and other despised minorities! Merry Christmas to the musicians of Muzak and men whose shoes don’t fit! Greetings of the season to unemployed actors and the blacklisted everywhere who suffer for sins uncommitted; a holly thorn in the thumb of compilers of lists! Greetings to wives who can’t find their glasses and to poets who can’t find their rhymes! Merry Christmas to the unloved, the misunderstood, the overweight. Joy to the authors of books whose titles begin with the word “How” (as though they knew!). Greetings to people with a ringing in their ears; greetings to growers of gourds, to shearers of sheep, and to makers of change in the lonely underground booths! Merry Christmas to old men asleep in libraries! Merry Christmas to people who can’t stay in the same room with a cat! We greet, too, the boarders in boarding houses on 25 December, the duennas in Central Park in fair weather and foul, and young lovers who got nothing in the mail. Merry Christmas to people who plant trees in city streets; merry Christmas to people who save prairie chickens from extinction! Greetings of a purely mechanical sort to machines that think–plus a sprig of artificial holly. Joyous Yule to Cadillac owners whose conduct is unworthy of their car! Merry Christmas to the defeated, the forgotten, the inept; joy to all dandiprats and bunglers! We send, most particularly and most hopefully, our greetings and our prayers to soldiers and guardsmen on land and sea and in the air–the young men doing the hardest things at the hardest time of life. To all such, Merry Christmas, blessings, and good luck! We greet the Secretaries-designate, the President-elect; Merry Christmas to our new leaders, peace on earth, good will, and good management! Merry Christmas to couples unhappy in doorways! Merry Christmas to all who think they are in love but aren’t sure! Greetings to people waiting for trains that will take them in the wrong direction, to people doing up a bundle and the string is too short, to children with sleds and no snow! We greet ministers who can’t think of a moral, gagmen who can’t think of a joke. Greetings, too, to the inhabitants of other planets; see you soon! And last, we greet all skaters on small natural ponds at the edge of woods toward the end of afternoon. Merry Christmas, skaters! Ring, steel! Grow red, sky! Die down, wind! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good morrow!

My travel day so far, or Nightmares of Wealth and Convenience

Going to Portland, Maine today. Yay! Early flight, 7 am, so that we’ll have a nice two hour layover before the connecting flight from Newark.

Up at 4:30. Cab called at 5. Cab to be there in 15 minutes!

Cab does not arrive. Call dispatcher. Dispatcher is evasive, yet concerned. Says cab driver is not far and is on the way.

Call again, this time 45 minutes later. Cab is “right there” and is in fact 30 minutes out.

Cab driver is a gentleman of retirement age from the Near East who is out of place here.

Cab is a minivan but inexplicably has been set up with a tiny trunk. Trunk already has several miscellaneous small boxes in it, which have to be moved for our two carry on sized bags.

Arriving at the airport, cab driver almost takes the route back out to the freeway instead of the one marked “All arrivals and departures.” When informed of this, he freezes up for a good 30 seconds and then nearly clips the center divider swerving over.

Pulling up at the terminal, the cab driver cuts off and nearly smashes another car, and then remains in the lane instead of pulling to the curb. causing the deputy sheriffs in charge to yell at him.

Entering the terminal, I discover that I somehow left the boarding passes in the cab. I place my mother in the check-in line and reprint the boarding  passes.

We reach the front of the line only to discover that they’re not taking any more checked luggage for this flight. Would have been great to know that beforehand, because there’s a security checkpoint line and we are now way past the time we should have been at the gate.

At this point the odds are terrible. The probability of failure hits 1 when I discover that I cannot find my drivers license and therefore cannot satisfy the demands of the State to board an airplane. I leave my mother in line and tell her to fly without me if I don’t show.

A search begins for the ID, in various pockets and bits of bag, at the station where I couldn’t check in, at the machine where I printed the passes, on the floor, on the ceiling, through the pineal gland’s radiant vortex into Dimension 23. I hear my name called; some kind person has found my ID.

By now I have decisively missed the flight. However, a really nice TSA lady tells me to just come through and she’ll expedite me and see if I can catch the flight.

Nope. Because the day left the reasonable universe, I have also somehow lost the second boarding pass. I head to the thing that prints the passes, hoping against hope. It refuses to give me a pass because it’s too late. 

At this point I notice that I have lost my phone. This means that I cannot contact my traveling partner, call the airline, call the people we’re visiting, or look anything up. I fire up the laptop to “Find My iPhone” but the airport wifi is clearly broken. It will not even connect to the thing that makes you do dumb things to connect.

I am now resigned. United Airlines holds the key to saving this day. Though they slay me, yet will I trust in them.

No way is anyone getting to Maine from Orange County now. I am booked on a redeye that will leave tonight and arrive there at 10 am tomorrow.

I take a much nice cab home and call my phone. A nice woman named Christina calls and says she’ll give it to lost and found.

Then I write a blog post.

Aunt Substitute’s 2012 Mandatory Voter’s Guide.

Hi. Vote. It’s not about you, okay? It’s about everyone else.

Also, below is my opinionated ballot guide, which becomes less and less useful as you go down the list until it’s pointless for people who live more than 10 miles from my house. Also, I am a combination of lefty and ornery (two of the less popular Dwarves), so if you’re not either of those you’ll probably not want to vote this way.

More of my friends than ever before are refusing to vote, or voting for symbolic third-party candidates for national and state offices. This is slightly worse than a mistake.

There are several arguments against voting for the President and other Democratic candidates.

The first is that there is no difference between Obama and Romney, because they are both business-friendly conservatives who perpetuate wars and oppression. It’s true that if you have any principles at all, the election is painful, and that if you’re on the left it’s even more painful. It’s also true that Obama started as a middle-of-the-road Eisenhower conservative and then proceeded to betray his followers by continuing Bush-era abuses of power, failing to honor promises, committing a variety of mortal sins against civil rights, and killing people without due process.

However, there are some important differences. For example, if you’re a woman,  or have women as family or friends, or think women are generally human beings, it’s important to vote for Obama. The current version of the Republican party is set on destroying women’s rights in every way: reproductive rights, domestic violence, equality of pay, the whole deal. Without the Executive Branch’s opposition we’d have The Handmaid’s Tale, no joke.

The second is the Supreme Court. This is always dicey because Justices don’t always do what you’d expect once they’re hired, but Romney replacing one or more judges, with a Tea Party Congress vetting them, would be a nightmare that lasts a lifetime. Ouch.

Third is worker’s rights. The Republicans are focused on union-busting and grinding on working people the most they have been since about 1903. If you are an employee, or have friends or family who are employees, or like some employees, please vote for the President.

Finally, I dislike the apparent motives for the boycott and the useless third party vote. Nobody honestly believes that their absence or protest vote will change a thing. The important thing about the vote protest is telling others about it as a way of defining yourself. The political opinion itself is respectable. However, nobody else really cares. Voting has real world effects, and whatever its symbolic value might be it is a practical matter first. Your decision to vote can help or hurt many other people. Don’t be Byronic and special and yell out your iconoclastic views. Please just vote.

That all having been said, I don’t like the choice. Coming up to the next election it’s going to be important for more of us to get involved with the party earlier on and push for candidates who wouldn’t have been Republicans in 1975.

And now the Guide!

For President/Vice President: Barack Obama and Joe Biden

Senator: Dianne Feinstein. [1]

Proposition 30: Yes. We’re out of money.

Proposition 31: No. It’s so confusing that we have no way of knowing what it would do.

Proposition 32: No. It’s solely an attack on unions without any general benefit to the State.

Proposition 33: Another confusing mess from the insurance industry. Nope.

Proposition 34: Yes. The death penalty is murder and must be abolished.

Proposition 35: No. It’s grandstanding. Human trafficking is already very illegal. This adds inflexible weirdness and enlarges the sex offender category.

Proposition 36: Yes. It fixes the three strikes law so it’s more likely to jail scary criminals rather than just feed the prison industry.

Proposition 37: Yes. It’s not perfect and could cause some problems, but we need to know what’s in our food.

Proposition 39: Yes. Kills a loophole that let companies avoid paying their tax in the State.

Proposition 40: Yes. All it does is keep the redistricting as it has been, and the opposition to it has even bailed out.

Representative: Ron Varasteh [2]

State Senator: Steve Young [3]

State Assembly: Robert Rush [4]

Newport Beach City Council: Write in something. You have no choices at all, literally.

Costa Mesa Sanitary District: Jeff Mathews [5]

Orange County Water District: No recommendation

Measure M: Yes. I don’t care for bond issues (credit card spending) but the community colleges are really screwed and need this urgently.

Newport Beach Measure EE: No. It’s a load of stuff the city doesn’t want or need, with a prohibition on red light cameras stuck on it to make people like it.

NOTES:

[1] God, she’s awful. The alternative is worse, and the Senate is very close. Reproductive rights again win.

[2] He’s running against the legendary madman Dana Rohrabacher, who has great entertainment value but is a terrible legislator and a nut who should be passing out pamphlets at the County Fair.

[3] Steve Young is a genuinely good guy. He runs every time with the same cheerful quixotic attitude. Give him a boost.

[4] Rush’s opponent is Allan Mansour. Just look the guy up. Full-bore white supremacist. Terrifying.

[5] I went to high school with this guy. The trash guys have not been put up to bid for 20 years and he wants to do that. Makes sense.

 

An open letter to The Onion

Hi Onion.

You guys are consistently the funniest thing I see. Congratulations and thank you.

However, you really blew it with Nation Did Not See Mark Wahlberg’s Sex Change Coming.

Trans people should not be a punchline. Not because I believe in prudery or censorship, but because they’re the people everyone shits on, and it’s supposedly acceptable in mainstream humor. And they get beat up and killed, and denied jobs, and abused in every way without recourse. Because everyone sees them as a punchline. Please don’t do that. I know you get a lot of your humor value from extreme statements and foul language, and it’s generally hilarious.

You also don’t do cheap mainstream comedy. Or at least you shouldn’t. That shit isn’t funny.

In the 80s, East Asian and Middle Eastern people were approved targets for comedy. Ching-chong Chinaman and Hilarious Habib jokes were mainstream. It was shocking to me at the time, but everyone else thought it was just great. The results for Asian and Middle Eastern friends of mine were distressing, from constant public mockery to physical violence. I would be surprised to see the Onion do that now, because not only is it despicable but it just isn’t funny.

Bad comedians can always get a laugh with dick jokes. I bet you hate those guys. Don’t join them.

Using trans people as cheap easy comedy is not hilarious. And it gives legitimacy to a world view that gets people killed and badly abused for being who they are.

best,

Conrad Heiney

What’s French for “Clark Griswold”?

When I was a kid we spent a lot of time in Europe. On one summer trip we drove around the Loire Valley visiting rustic towns and castles. The Loire is famous for its old castles, which have mostly been preserved. It was a great trip: old stones, rustic villages, great food.

At one of these beautiful old châteaux, there was a panoramic view of the countryside from a high parapet. Visitors could climb up one of those tight and worn medieval staircases, risking death at each step, and get a moderately nice view of French countryside.

Directly below this castle wall, about 100 feet down, was the winding road that connected the castle’s hill to the main road. The hill was steep, and the top of the wall couldn’t be clearly seen without looking at an odd angle directly up.

Eventually my attention was drawn from the boring vista of rolling countryside down to the road directly below. A little Renault was stopped and a woman and two children were standing around the car. On the other side of the road, about 20 feet from the car, a middle-aged man was urinating.

I was not the only one looking down, and as paterfamilias continued peeing people nudged each other and giggled. Eventually the entire set of summer castle tourists had their eyes fixed on the unfortunate man.

Just as he straightened up and turned around, his wife sensed something and looked up at the necessary uncomfortable angle. A fifty-strong ensemble of the world’s visitors stared back, and there was a silent moment.

“Henri!” she cried out, “tout le monde tu regarde!”

And so that phrase entered the family punchline library.

There is no moral to this story.

fragment

Let’s begin in the desert.

Shotglass was at the top of the wash, a rapidly spinning drum about a meter wide and protruding almost to the top of the weeds. Tongs  stuck out of the slanting east side just a little and looked like a stray bit of rebar. Olive and Onion were hair-thin wires squiggling the whole length of the Slot, as everyone called it, although it was supposed to be called the Bar. Anyway it was a desert dry river which had its own issues but we’ll get into that later.

There was a weird curved structure like part of a crane or a bridge, covered in a patina of rust, that jutted out of the rim of the Slot on the west side. That was Shaker. Shaker had to be at an exact angle and height pointing southeast or nothing would come through right, and it was nobody’s favorite.

The last one all the way at the bottom was Bitters. Bitters was a huge heavy son of a bitch concrete slab with 30 or 40 instruments embedded in it, pushed down into the rocky sands in a fiesta of yelling and swearing over two weeks. After that it was steady but we all remembered the install and hated the thing.

There were two boring radar antennas on the east and west ridges, a slow one east and a fast one west. We never named them because they weren’t in the Slot and we rarely even saw their data. So forget them. They weren’t part of the Barware.

There wasn’t much need to go down in the Slot except when Shaker went awry or one of Olive or Onion’s wires got cut. The wires were crazy strong but some desert animals are persistently insane so that happened every few months. Everything else just carried on.

The desert dry river situation was that the river wasn’t dry sometimes. Flash floods pushed stuff around once a year or so and afterwards there was muddy repair work and much discussion of the original decision making process until someone would tell us all to shut up.

About a kilometer out on all sides was an impressive fence. It was three times a person’s height and totally covered in razor wire, with spikes on top. Just inside and outside of the fence the No-necks drove around in Jeeps. The No-necks were heavily armed and had dogs, and some kind of sensors on the fence let them know if a coyote or idiot was bumping the fence. Fortunately there was no reason to go near the fence.

The Slot was booked up pretty tight. Something would arrive and go down or up the wash almost every Monday. The whole crew had to be in the shack for the day making sure everything in the Slot worked and recorded its data, and then go over the data for triple-C which was “Checksummed-Complete-Collected.” This just means that we had the right length of recording and it really had come from the barware in the Slot. As you can imagine in a shop like this there were way too many abbreviations like that.

All kinds of stuff would go through the Slot. There were a lot of trucks with covered payloads. Once there was a tank, and for a while it was a series of normal-looking cars and Jeeps. Helicopters might carry some lump-on-a-chain slowly at a precise height. Often very, very slowly which was a huge bore. Foot traffic was rare but we once had some soldiers carry an oil drum hanging from poles the whole way up. Doubt they enjoyed it, especially since it was July.

Everyone agreed about the weirdest one. A big semi truck showed up accompanied by guys in civilian clothing. The guys were all in big black Suburbans, obvious spooks. The truck was refrigerated, and a blast of condensation made everyone swear when it was opened. Inside was a glass-like box, almost as long and tall as the truck bed. It looked like a giant aquarium. They threw a white tarp over it right away and then we all had to help slowly slide it on to a trailer bed. The combination of paranoid black-Suburban guys and heavy moving work in the desert didn’t suit any of us. Then they dragged the trailer up and down the Slot four times behind one of the Suburbans.

None of us were really okay. What kind of person would live in a shack in the desert in the first place? Much less devote themselves totally to the Slot. Which brings us to the actual story here. Sorry for all the setup.

Are too a feminist.

Sometimes I’ll hear someone, either a friend or just someone in earshot, talking along about political and social issues, say this:

“I’m not one of those feminists.” Or, “I can’t stand those feminists.”

If queried on this, I’ll hear something like “I wouldn’t put myself in that category” or “I’m just not like that, I couldn’t be one of those people.” If the person is male, the original comment was probably “I can’t stand feminists” or “Those feminists, they are bad because of blar blar blar.”

My response is a series of questions. For women: Do you have a college degree? Do you drive your own car? Do you have a career, or plan to have one? Do you have your own bank account and credit card? Do you wear pants when you feel like it? If you are with a man and you can’t stand him, can you leave? Do you like the fact that you can leave?

For men, the questions are more fun. Do you have a girlfriend? Do you and your girlfriend share an apartment or house? If so, does she pay half the rent and utilities? Does your wife or girlfriend work, and contribute to the family finances? Do you like being able to date women without marrying them? Do you like being able to earn an income and keep it without being obliged to marry? Do you like getting sex retail instead of having to buy it wholesale? Do you enjoy participating in hobbies, sports, and work activities with women? Are any of your customers or clients women who pay you for your services?

Folks, if you answered any of these questions “yes” then guess what! You are a feminist. You are benefiting and profiting from the increasing equality of women in society over the last hundred years. “Feminist” does not mean “angry castrating lesbian who wants you to use awkward pronouns”. It means someone, male or female, who believes that women should have financial, political, and sexual freedom, and that these freedoms require protection and extension.

Next time you benefit from the F-word you should remember it’s not an insult, it’s a badge of pride.

Note: this was originally posted on my “Content Goes Here” blog in 2003.

Late Additions, SXSW Interactive 2012

Folks:

We know you’re just as pumped as we are about all the rockin’ events, speakers, sessions, and performances at this year’s SXSW Interactive. But it’s even better now. We’ve squeezed in some more items that kick ass so hard that we’re flyin’ here! Check out:

FRIDAY:

Mobile Karaoke for NGOs: Sharing Stories, Sharing Licensing, and Sharing the Love.

Getting Passionate About Kickass Brands the Buick Way.

SATURDAY:

The 411 on 311: Legendary band shares their social media comeback mojo.

Buddha and the Burn Rate, a spiritual comedy celebration of venture capital finance with Chip Asahara.

Extreme Architecture: Pairing in concrete with Ruby rockstars Ozzy and Manny Diaz.

TUESDAY:

Building Conscious Brands With Inmates

Jakob Nielsen’s Pontiac Experience Lounge.

THURSDAY:

A passion for passion: Igniting and monetizing the fire within. Brainstorm session led by rockstar passion entrepreneur “Corky 2.0.”

SATURDAY:

TeleJam 2012 is back! Interpol, Bono (via iPhone), Eddie Money (via Hankook Fire Lizard Tablet PC With Droid), Jack White, and black guy TBA (sponsored by Microsoft Urban Initiatives). Other surprise musical guests are on deck and off the hook!

Make sure to experience any and all of these and much, much more! Rock on, kick-ass rock stars!

For Black History Month: Bob’s Homecoming

This is Bob Trout’s story and not mine, so I’ll do my best to transcribe:

When we came back from Vietnam, the protesters were waiting for us. It wasn’t just yelling and a little spitting, it was a lot of throwing stuff. We had nowhere to go and no way around it. And these cabbies, all black guys, just came in and rescued us. They were taking bottles and shit. And they just rolled on in and took the guys to the strip clubs and bars and whorehouses, wherever they needed to go, without any complaint and at some real personal risk. I want everyone to know about that.

And as usual, we get a different perspective on everything from Mr. Trout.