15. Joe Mantegna’s facial hair. Just squeaked in this time!

14. The five pound jar of Nutella.

13. Drakkar Nöir. The Baku metal scene had its high water mark in the late 90s, but nobody told these guys the grim grind party was over. We especially liked “Shashlik Midnight” but don’t stop before you get to the hard-bashing Turkic reinvention of “Little Wing.”

12. Kevlar’s. Last year this New Culver City treasure was a top 10, but since star pastry chef Lucas DeBeers defected to a revitalized nearby IHOP the brioche hasn’t been the same. Still the place for a weekday brunch in the Furniture District.

11. Dressing, The Orgone Trail. If you haven’t seen Dressing live, you’ve missed a projected screen game of Myst and a lot of M&M throwing, but not too much music. Where they shine is on record, and this flaming puu-puu platter of psychotronic gamer nostalgia will mark 2011 more than any number of on stage beach furniture auctions.

10. The oxygen bar at Raoul’s. Like it or not, the number of people in the scene “ironically” huffing is rising fast. Whether it’s just a giggle with a palmful of marker ink or a full gold paint overnighter, Raoul’s is the one spot to get a lung rinse without a crowd. Be safe, kids. The enamel kills even if you’re just joking.

9. Punch & Judy at Patch Park. Sunday morning isn’t just IHOP and regret now. Those in the know drag themselves down to the Merkin District for the marionette beatdown that’s too good for kids. Remember to stay in the back few rows and keep the smoking down or the whole delicious business is done.

8. The Beatles. Seriously!

7. Pressed Turkey. Remember brining and whole frying? Okay, we laugh now, it was dumb. But it’s not just Miley Cyrus and the Gypsy Kings ordering those big turkey presses this year; we’re all in on the act. Try David Lee Roth’s “Mushroom Mashup” version from August’s GQ if you dare!

6. The Barry Gibbs. Four of the same Bee Gee, singing nothing but classic Motown Soul. Only in this town, only Wednesday nights, and only at the IHOP on Technology Parkway West. Look carefully and you’ll see a “unique” celebrity guest most nights.

5. Virago State Prison Ballet Company. Probably the only maximum security dance company in the world, and certainly the best. Don’t mind the razor wire, but stay for the limeade and the heartbreakingly beautiful annual production of The Nutcracker Suite. Remember: there but for the grace of God the show must go on.

4. Balalaika Jones, Nightmares in Flax. We knew him as Fabrizio from the IHOP in the Lamination District. The whole world knows him now as the guy with the orange stuff on his balls. The two worlds meet in this two-fisted doubleheader, full of city pride and suburban swagger and that simpering cough we all knew would someday be the signature sound of a star. We want to put it on the list twice, and not just because our own Advertising Manager Jennifyr DeBeers sits in on percussion for two tracks.

3. AAA Art Supplies & Accessories. Don’t be shy, admit it. A lot of us end up in the Solvents District on Friday night, and there’s no shortage of places to to grab a quick “art break.” Tim and Broennwynn will remember your brand and color and even your bag size after just one visit, and their spacious alley is perfect for “jamming.” And don’t forget, Raoul’s is just a quick stagger west!

2. Badwater Grill. Just when the Dhaka was getting a little too damp, the latest “environment spot” hit our spot this year, spot-on. Lance DeBeers took this former IHOP on McMansion Parkway and turned it into a 130-degree Death Valley ultra-lounge that has the whole scene sweating like happy pigs. If you can brave the Sebum District after midnight, reserve the Scotty’s Castle table and order a Gatorade keg.

1. Pfft Gallery. Tucked into the armpit of the Resistor District where I-400 dead ends is the epicenter of an artistic earthquake. By now the phrase “infrastructure expressionist” sounds tired, we know, but when you see those blown-out transformers, bent girders, and huge jagged sheets of polyurethane, you’ll get what everyone from the Times-Record-Leader’s Ashok DeBeers to Christina Ricci already got: broken stuff. As cynical as we are here, we’re overcome every time we visit, and not just because our own Circulation Assistant Ashlii Redacted is the paint can girl. This year’s #1 and last year’s too. See you there!








General statements of minor grumpery

  1. Don’t try to use the heart symbol in anything on the internet, ever ever ever. You instead will get a pipe: |. Also, you’re trying to use a heart symbol. Just stop!
  2. That thing that ships your twitter to LJ is pointless and a mild annoyance.
  3. Sentences beginning with “Check out…” are forbidden.
  4. When you say ‘Muah!” to indicate an air kiss, you make others sad and tired.
  5. If you’re reading this, you’re rich. This may seem surprising, but it’s true.


  1. This is me at 80, I hope: Young@Heart does Sonic Youth. Wow. Courtesy la_lisa They also do a fairly amazing “Fix You” by Coldplay, and I don’t even like Coldplay.

    Young@Heart’s website is at http://www.youngatheartchorus.com/. They also have a myspace page like everyone else in music. edit: url fixed thanks to salome_st_john

  2. Speaking of music, in my dream last night a country band did a fine version of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” and now it’s stuck in my head. How did I get an earworm of something that doesn’t exist? It’s like trinnit‘s description of hell: being deaf and having the Super Mario theme in your head.
  3. I’d like to wish everyone a happy Listmas! This is the very special time of year when journalists of all kinds, but especially entertainment writers, turn in lists instead of articles and go on vacation. Two representative examples are Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums and Rolling Stone’s equivalent. I suggest throwing out publications during December. Also, you’re reading one now. Ha!
  4. I’m having a blissfully stress-free “holiday season” because I followed Stimps’ Best Advice Ever: don’t watch TV. That’s where all the bad messages come from. If you don’t watch the television, the “season” is just some good food and maybe giving someone a book you think they’d enjoy.
  5. Pescadou is doing up New Year’s really well. I think my mom and I are going to go to the earlier and cheaper seating of their prix fixe, which is $52 a person for three courses. Any one else interested? It’s a 6 pm ish thing. Their second seating is later and $80 for five courses and that’s too much money and food for me.
  6. The Rules of Engagement have been expanded to cover destruction on sight of SUVs with wreaths on the front. Please make a note of it.


  • Driving down Chapman in Orange today I saw a woman in a witch costume. By “witch costume” I mean the full Wicked Witch of the West outfit with conical black hat, flowing black garments, weird shoes. I could not figure out what this meant on the day after Thanksgiving in Southern California. As a bonus, the entire effect was ruined by the large neon pink duffel bag she was carrying.
  • The cranberry ginger cherry relish made by salome_st_john is Cranberry Crack.
  • culfinglin is a very cool person and I enjoyed the long convo over coffee today tremendously.
  • The “Holiday Season” has arrived in the traditional way here in Southern California. Today I was tailgated by my first SUV-with-grille-mounted-wreath of the season!
  • My cat has been staring at me a lot lately.
  • The new Pynchon has arrived. I am simultaneously eager to start it and afraid of its bulk. It’s like having an entire ten pound cheesecake in the house.

It was the best of bands, it was the worst of bands

So, Muriel Spark died after a long and illustrious career. I was reminded that the band Public Image Ltd. named themselves after a novel of hers, which then made me think about literary-rock connections. I started to make a list in my head of Musical Groups Named After Things Literary. Add any you can think of! Note: I cheated and used Wikipedia for some of these. I’m not quite that smart!

Public Image
The Soft Machine
Steely Dan
The Boo Radleys
The Velvet Underground
Pere Ubu
The Thompson Twins
Aerosmith (disputed)
The Grifters
Heaven 17
Love and Rockets
Eyeless in Gaza (double Huxley/Milton score as pointed out by someone else)
As I Lay Dying
Veruca Salt
The Grapes of Wrath
Collective Soul
The Doors (double Huxley/Blake score)
The Fall
Hot Water Music

notes from underwear

Food note: Today I rediscovered the beauty of a whole fat fresh scallion sautéed just until the green changes.

Geek note: It takes all freakin’ day to compile KDE.

Drink note: The Macallan 12 year is a beautiful thing and on sale for $38 at Hi-Time.

Car note: based on an observation in the Hi-Time parking lot, the Lotus Elise is a beautiful thing if and only if you do not get it in a loud lime green color.

Love note: salome_st_john rules

End note: Everyone needs to read (more) Graham Greene

The cars he used to drive

My father was a true Southern California, born in Pasadena in 1921. Like everyone else he was car-crazy. Later in life after living in Europe he became crazy for tiny little European sports cars.

He made this list for a piece he wrote in the Los Angeles Times late in life in which he talked about the cars he’d owned. He was astonished at how many there were, and especially at how many enjoyable sports cars he had as a graduate student. I personally got to drive the ’67 MG (he says it’s a ’68 which I think is a mistake), which was a delight; he didn’t get rid of it until the 1980s sometime. The 1990 Volvo my mother still has. I inherited both T-Birds in series.

The Fiat station wagon famously died by dumping its engine on Irvine Avenue with a uniquely Italian flair. I wish he’d kept any of the cars before that. Wow, what a list! The Renaults were, of course, purchased in France and all the Italian cars when he was living in Italy.

  1. ’30 Ford Model A phaeton
  2. ’30 Ford Model A 2-door touring car
  3. ’36 Ford V-8 coupé
  4. ’30 Olds coupé
  5. ’47 Crosley
  6. ’38 Lincoln touring convertible
  7. ’40 Chevrolet coupé
  8. ’47 MG-TC
  9. ’51 Sunbeam Talbot
  10. ’48 Morris Minor convertible
  11. ’51 Morris Minor sedan
  12. ’52 MG-TD
  13. ’55 Austin Healey
  14. ’56 MG Magnette
  15. ’60 Chevrolet Corvair
  16. ’58 Chevrolet station wagon
  17. ’59 Alfa Romeo Giuletta Sprint coupé
  18. ’62 Fiat 600
  19. ’60 Fiat 1800 station wagon
  20. ’70 Opel Kadett statio wagon
  21. ’73 Volvo 144
  22. ’67 MGB-GT
  23. ’77 Renault 6TL
  24. ’70 Jaguar XJ
  25. ’84 Ford Thunderbird
  26. ’87 Renault II
  27. ’90 Volvo 740 sedan
  28. ’91 Renault 19 Chamade
  29. ’93 Ford Thunderbird LX

If you’re interested in the document we found in the files, a scan is behind the cut like so

Ten things I do when I’m alone

1. Belch a lot
2. Talk to myself and the cat interchangeably
3. Listen to incredibly cheesy guilty pleasure music on repeat
4. Eat macaroni & cheese
5. Drink a whole bottle of wine and mumble to myself
6. Chase the cat around the house
7. Invent new recipes in the kitchen and often flush them down the sink
8. Spiral into inexplicable depression and self-hatred for hours
9. Feel an even more inexplicable nostalgia for Kansas City
10. Write and then erase what I wrote

Yours? Horked from klikitak

To Don’t List (slight return)

  • Going to IHOP during All-You-Can-Eat-Pancakes promotion and eating three servings of pancakes after being on a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate regimen for two years
  • Trying — several times — to remove a contact lens from your left eye when the lens is in fact not there.
  • Mixing an underlying neurologic injury, resultant ADD-like and emotional pathologies, long-term personality and character issues, three psychiatric medications including a stimulant, and two dangerous sites for neurofeedback all in the same month
  • Listening to Devo and Neil Young duetting on “Hey Hey My My” from the soundtrack to Human Highway. (Only made 3:14 into a 9:43 track, and friends can testify that my tolerance for funnypain bad music is very, very high)
  • Putting some dark brown curry spice powder in a peanut butter jar that was then placed next to the other peanut butter jar containing the actual dark brown peanut butter