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!

On Hating Vegetarians

Many of my friends are vegetarian. To clear up the terminology, I am talking about people who do not eat meat of any kind (not fish or chicken either, folks), but may use other animal products, e.g., eggs or honey.

Non-vegetarian friends rarely handle this well. If the subject comes up, at least one person will immediately and vociferously attack it in one of these ways:

  1. I don’t get it! Boy, I sure do love a big steak. And my mom’s meatloaf. So great! What is with this vegetarian shit? I love lamb chops, and fried clams, and lobster! You know, one favorite place of mine is Kelly’s down on the beach. Boy, they sure do make a great hamburger. Another thing I like…
  2. What is their problem? I’m so tired of all this preaching. Everyone’s telling people what to eat, what to smoke, what to say. Why can’t they just enjoy a normal life like anyone else? Let me tell you, my sister-in-law is one of those vegetarian types and I can’t eat at her house. Just broccoli and shit. Tofu! It’s not food! Who’d eat that shit?
  3. So what do you mean, like, I’m a bad person? Who are you to judge! I bet you do bad things, and you’re telling me I’m a jerk just for doing what everyone does! People like you are all hiding something.
  4. Wow, that’s really unhealthy. Be sure to get enough protein. I mean, you have to make up for it. Be sure to eat huge amounts of [food with high protein content] in it or you’ll get really sick. OMG you make your KID eat vegetarian? That’s like CHILD ABUSE!!!
  5. It’s ridiculously unnatural. Humans are hunters, we eat meat. I mean, c’mon, ancient cave paintings are about hunting. We aren’t meant to survive with out it. How else would we continue to be large, dominant creatures with upper arm strength and a killer instinct? People who don’t eat meat are girly and possibly homosexual. It’s a betrayal of our natural healthy state.

None of these make sense. Let’s learn!

  1. Other people don’t necessarily like your food, and you know it. Why should others like a whole class of foods you enjoy? For that matter, if you learned that a food you enjoyed was made from babies or profited al Qaeda, would you continue to eat it? Your taste has nothing to do with other people!
  2. Did anyone just tell you what to do, or what not to do? Other people not eating something doesn’t constitute restrictions on your habits. It’s their choice. If your sister-in-law can’t cook, either tell her so or push the food around on your plate until it’s time to go. And tofu is just another food, not some condensed symbol of Berkeleyite pseudo-meat hypocrisy. Like it or don’t, but leave the poor curdled soy alone.
  3. Wait, who said that? The person across the table from you just said she doesn’t eat meat. Did she go on to say that people who eat meat are psychopathic murderers without empathy? Did she just start with a lecture about where your burger comes from, or what some religious figure said about eating animals? Did she tip your plate over? If not, she’s just choosing to eat differently from you, and the implication of wickedness is all yours. Not everyone with principles is either a Tartuffe or an inquisitor. Drop it.
  4. You’re just wrong. People who eat a reasonable mix of foods don’t get malnutrition. And that reasonable mix does not have to include meat. When you hear people talk about getting enough “protein,” they are talking out their ears. “Protein” in U.S. culture is just a word for meat. Actual proteins come from many foods, and nobody is getting beri-beri or pellagra from lack of burger. Go look it up!
  5. If you hear an argument for modern behavior based on “instinct,” or “evolution,” or “basic human nature,” stop and investigate, or just dump it. Any human behavior can be justified or condemned based on unexamined assumptions about our nature. These arguments have been used to justify rape, celebrate war, demonize men, excuse cannibalism, and attack pantaloons. Humans have survived with and without meat just as we have survived in the Antarctic and the Sahara, survived genuinely destructive malnutrition, survived Pop-Tarts, and survived living in rivers of raw sewage without antibiotics. All evolutionary biology means is that someone lived long enough to fuck and someone else lived long enough to squirt out some babies of which some survived. It does not imply burgers.

What have we learned? We have learned that meat eaters like meat. We have learned that people who feel criticized morally become upset and defensive. We have learned that in U.S. culture, not eating something can get a person in big social trouble. And we’ve learned that the reasons for this are not reasonable. And finally, we have learned that reactions to food choices are visceral (ha).

It’s true that vegetarianism in the U.S. is almost always a moral choice rather than a tradition or a practical dietary one. Choosing not to eat meat implies a judgment on the act of meat eating parallel to the message of celibacy, sobriety, or boycotts. Vegetarianism also goes against deeply rooted (ha) beliefs about wealth, health, pleasure, and choice. It’s not neutral.

What I take from this is that many people are threatened by the idea of conscious morality. Of any kind. Someone who makes a moral choice and gives up some pleasure, adding some complexity and trouble to life, is a psychological threat. The immediate response is that the person making that choice is a stereotyped hypocrite from a Hollywood movie, an unhappy person who wishes others to be unhappy, an obsessed idiot. I’ve noticed a linguistic shift during my life that perfectly evokes this: I hear people using “righteous” to mean “self-righteous,” as if the very idea of moral choice implies hypocrisy and the need to control others.

I myself am not a vegetarian. I have no meat days twice a week. I am not a believer in “animal rights,” nor do I consider killing animals and eating them to be immoral. My reasons are humanist. Meat takes a lot of grain to make, and eating meat has an environmental and economic impact on others. I’ve been impressed by some calculations of how much better one can do just by eating less meat, and so far I’m doing so. I have no authority or desire to tell anyone else to do the same, or to say that I’m “more moral” because of this. It just feels right to me, and I enjoy my food more.

if you’re not a vegetarian, and vegetarians make you grumpy, consider why. Are there good reasons why someone else’s personal moral choice makes you upset? Are people who make a moral choice necessarily hypocrites, nannies, deluded utopians? Or have you avoided and denied ethical and empathetic impulses so much in your own life that anyone making the effort has you terrified?

Hating others for harmlessly doing what they believe to be right does not reflect well on us as individuals or as a society. Eschew that.

Mike and the Bank of America.

Mike and the Bank of America

Mike is a frequent visitor to the Corner. He lives in his van. He has had—and is—a long, strange trip. He goes to swap meets a lot and shows up with some very colorful women he’s met, especially at the San Diego one. He drinks half & half and smokes a lot, and has probably done whichever drug you’re thinking of. Today, Mike got a few things at the Vons and decided to make them into a sandwich and eat them on the strip of grass next to his van.

Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 57 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,900 retail banking offices and approximately 18,000 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 29 million active users. Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 4 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange