Shannon’s Super Sexy Blog. Music. Travel. Randomness. And a Lot of Wine.

Archive for June, 2004


Sunday, June 27th, 2004

Oh my, what a weekend. Such a perfect day, glad that I spent it with you (yes, I watched Trainspotting the other day.)

Street fair. Hooked up with my boyfriend’s sister and her girlfriend – the sky was half cloudy and half sunny, making me & Mark’s sun/no sun bet a toss up. “Yo-” I ask Robin. “Is it foggy, or sunny?”

“I read your blog.” (This being like, 30 minutes after I wrote it.) “I have to say, it is sunny.”

Traitor! Blog reader! Fucker-upper! I should have lost the bet right then and there but, the fog continued to come in, and in the end we had to declare a push.

The rest of the day was very nice. I had a couple of conversations that I remember. One was with some dude when I was commenting on how a $5 beer in the beer garden was, well, sort of a lot of money for a beer.

“Control.” He said. ” If the beers are $5, you’ll drink fewer beers, thereby making the world better for everyody.”

Now, at the time, that made total sense to me. Yes, more expensive beers, less beers, less drunk people! But then I thought about how many $10 glasses of wine I have been known to inbibe, and also, I thought about how one could leave the beer garden and go into the nearest bar and drink a beer for like, $4.50.

Whatever. This is way too much to be thinking about on post-streetfair day. I did have another conversation that will be with me till my dying day.

While watching Wise Monkey Orchestra, a truly kick-ass funk band, a girl approched me. She wanted to know how I got my fuschia hair to stay fuschia. Because fuschia is hard to keep going. I explained how I slaved and worked in order to keep the pink and purple to last. We talked hair products.

She told me about some hair product from Nexus. “I’m a mortician. And this shit rocks.” She said.

I looked at her. “Er.” I said. “Do you mean, you do dead people’s hair?”

“Yep,” she said.

“Er.” I said. “What is it like, fussing with Dead People hair?”

“Well,” she said. “It probably doesn’t pay as much as it should.”

We left it at that.

Today, a foggy sky and a cold wind… yesterday was exceptional, in terms of beach weather. Today, it is back to June Gloom. And I, today, for the first time, kicked major ass at Bocce Ball (consistently – not randomly) and whooped some boot-hey at Shuffleboard. How do I explain this new Kick-Yo-Assed-Ness?” Can’t explain it. Could be summer is here, or my new Fitness Program is kicking in. Whatever.

For those about to rock…

Saturday, June 26th, 2004

Today is the day of Ocean Beach’s annual street fair. There are booths all up and down Newport Street, and live music, and the streets will be full of drunk people by, well, let’s say two o’clock.

This is a party town by nature anyway, so street fair day is an especially partysome day. We have our first appointment at 11:30.

It has been foggy for most of June. June Gloom, without a break, pretty much. So yesterday I made a bet with my boyfriend that it would be foggy most of the day, with maybe a little break in the late afternoon. He said that it would be sunny all day. We bet the first two rounds of drinks at the fair since betting one round wouldn’t make a lot of sense. I should have known better though, since at the time he was totally fleecing me at poker and, one should know when you are on a losing streak, one should not bet on other things.

Well. 9:00 A.M. and the sun comes out! Color me shocked. It’s as though the collective consciousness of the entire community was so into the sun coming out on this very special day, that it burned right through all the fog.

So now we have sun for the first time in days, and I don’t even care about losing the bet. Well I do, but he just cleaned all the windows in the house and that is worth something, right there.

It’s pretty fantastic out there right now, let me tell you. And we have a ticket to party. What could be better than that?

The In-Between

Thursday, June 24th, 2004

I’ve become a sort-of slave to my blog. That is, I feel I need to write in it every two or three days, to keep it going, to keep me going. This is all fine and good when there are things going on to write about. But what of those days when you are in Valium mode? When you’ve got no visions popping into your head that you could write about?

So I just sit here and write. It’s possible that I am all written out, as I am trying to finish various projects before a certain June 30 deadline. I am way behind, bit off more than I can chew, and also, am worried that it all will be lame. I live in fear of being boring.

So now I’m in the In-Between. In between scattered and grounded, in between flying and bedridden. In between planning and doing. In between words pouring out, and words hiding. Somewhere in there, is where I am at.

I’m not on Valium – I wish I had some though.

On a happier note, yes, it is true, Wilco’s “A Ghost is Born” is the #1 seller in the amazon.com CD department. Yes, it is true, it is a brilliant record. Everyone else I listen to is turning out less than stellar albums. But Wilco… thank you for making 2004 a better place to visit.

Bill Clinton has the #1 book, Wilco the #1 CD. So fantastically American! It makes me very happy that this completely deserving, incredibly talented band is getting the recognition they deserve.

It’s the only place I’m not In-Between. “A Ghost is Born” is my church right now, and the guitar solo in the song “Muzzle of Bees” is the sermon. I pray that these moments continue to lift me.

I am buried in sound

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

I am ecstatic, because today the new Wilco record was released and now I am listening to it on my CD player, not my computer like I have been doing for two months now.

Sounds that pierce me, rhythms that resonate within me. This record is definitely the best I’ve heard so far this year. There is something oh, so satisfying about that first listening on your player, loud, and the knowing that indeed, this is music that you are going to play over and over and love for a very long time. Music that will make you look up from whatever mundane task you are doing and make you think, as long as sounds can make me feel this way, life is worth living.

It’s true I love to eat, and drink, and to travel. But I must admit, if there is one thing I could not live without, it is music, and especially these nights of discovery, where I am buried in sound, and sound that I can bury myself in over and over. It is a clean addiction, one that won’t kill me, or break me financially. So bury me in sound, and make it really, really loud. No, louder, please.

The Teeming Mass

Thursday, June 17th, 2004

How do you write about New York City? Sometimes I forget how incredible New York City is. New York is our Barcelona, our Paris, but also, so very American. I love Chicago, and New Orleans, and Hollywood. I used to love San Francisco, and now love San Diego. Portland and Seattle have their charms. But there ain’t any city in this country that is as wacky, vibrant, raw, and inebriating as New York City. New York is a giant cement body, the streets are arteries split open wide, and people are the blood spilling out. New York is a screaming monster, a manipulative mother, and the best chef in the world making all the food you can eat, if you can afford it.

I arrived on Friday night and got into Sister Rita, the reggae singer’s, cab. There is something very special about that first New York cab ride after a couple of years away. New Yorkers drive with their front bumper, like Italians do. There is that speed factor. And the getting very close to other cars factor. Rita handled her cab as though she had eyes on both sides of her head as well as in the back, like most New York cabbies do.

I had a dilemma. Should I drop my bag at the cheap Times Square Hotel I had booked and then cab down to the restaurant where the party had already begun? Or should I go straight to the party, bag in tow? Rita thought I should drop the bag first, and I agreed, until we got stuck in a little traffic jam that delayed us for a few minutes. “I’ve changed my mind,” I told Rita. “I’ll go straight to the restaurant.” Rita grunted yes.

Finally we got to a point under the East River where we came to a V in the highway that would take us to either Greenwich Village, where the restaurant was, or Midtown, where the hotel was. A half second before we reached the split, Rita, barely hesitating, said “are you sure you want to carry your bag with you to your party?” “No! No!” I screamed. “Take me to the hotel first!” She veered to the right, barely missing the giant cement partition thing, and we went on our way towards Times Square.

Rita dropped me at the hotel and I checked into the cheapest hotel in NYC, the Portland Square. It’s a good thing I am not squeamish. Bullet-proof (I think) glass separates you from the desk guy. There is a line for the payphone in the lobby. The vending machine is empty except for a few random tubes of Certs. It is not glamorous, in fact it is pretty much a total dive. My room was tiny, with a single bed and a sink, but had a large TV with satellite reception. I dropped my bag and got out of there.

Now it was 10:00 P.M. on a New York Friday night. Outside it was warm and smelled like anticipation, if there is such a smell. I walked to 5th Avenue and got a cab downtown. I met with old friends and new in a loud, hot space. We ate pizza and gelato and drank wine. Later, some of us would drink warm beer in a lame pub, and then went back uptown, where the search for a bar that served expensive cocktails was unfruitful. 1:00 A.M., and they were all closed! Dorothy Parker is turning in her grave. Down at Times Square, the teeming mass wore tank tops and short skirts, but I didn’t want to drink at TGI Fridays, I wanted to drink at the Algonquin Hotel.

Everyone retired, and I went back to my room and stayed up until 4:00 A.M. watching “Secretary” with Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. I can’t imagine a better place to watch a twisted movie than a cheap hotel room in Midtown Manhattan.

Saturday in New York. Sunny, beautiful, really exceptional. Who could not want to pack up and move to New York when the sky is so blue and everything seems so clean and the streets and cafes and shops are all filled with people? I want to move to Manhattan and spend my Saturdays sunbathing at Battery Park. We walked around and went into shops where there were millions of people shopping for millions of items. Eventually (thankfully) we got to a cafe and had a glass of wine. I think this is the first Saturday in about 10 years where it was 3 P.M. before my first glass of wine. It was like being on the weekday plan.

Saturday night was the big to-do for the 3rd Anniversary of SlowTrav.com, the kick-ass web site for travel freaks and wanna-be travel freaks and occasionally, just freaks. There was drinks first, and then dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. Some of these people have become great friends, and all because of the Internet. Some of these people I have never seen before, and possibly will never see again. There was a lady with a finger puppet she passed off as a living creature (I am so clueless I fell for it.) There was untouched Sprite and Coke on our table and several empty bottles of wine and beer at dinner’s end. There were large platters of jellyfish and fried quail. I think I stopped eating after the 5th course. We had the most raucous table and it was a lot of fun.

After dinner we went to some bar and drank cocktails, then went back uptown. I had to get up at 8:00 to get to the airport; otherwise I would have been sorely tempted to go to a club. I didn’t want to New York weekend to end. It was a small taste, but I think it was enough that I want to get back very soon, and for longer, the next time.

Public speaking 101

Tuesday, June 15th, 2004

Where do I begin? It’s been a bit of a crazy time the past few days. So I think I’ll start at the end, and go backwards.

Last night I spoke at the Distant Lands Bookstore in Pasadena. Odd that I would be speaking in front of a group (at least one that I do not know) in the same town that I was born in. I only lived there for the first year of my life, but I think I must have viewed the Castle Green Apartments at a very young age, and the viewing of these apartments directly affected my view on life. The Castle Green is a giant structure covering at least one city block, all stucco and crazy Arabic windows. It is bleeping fantastic. It’s the kind of building you drive by and say What the Hell is That and How do I Get In. I have a crazy fantasy that I was conceived there.

So before I went to speak at Distant Lands, I stopped in one of my Pasadena accounts, a wine store with a tasting bar. This was a good move as I was able to kill a couple of pre-talk hours there and therefore, feel less nervous. There were a couple of older, rich, wine-drinking dudes at the bar, and me. There was a girl and a sort of schizo dude working at the shop/bar. Between the four of them there was enough stimulus that I could effectively not think about the speaking in public thing. I drank a glass of New Zealand Riesling, and one of the older wine-drinking dudes told me about his life. He reminded me of my dad – a guy who is aging yet, he still thinks he has a way with the ladies. He actually said to me – “stick around – I’ll wine, dine and line you.” Dude. 1985 is over, nobody is packing an eightball in the glovebox of their Datsun 300ZX any more. Those days are gone. The girl working behind the bar told me how stressed she was and how her co-workers and her customers were treating her. Her life is a living hell, pretty much. It was an odd couple of hours and then I left and checked into the Pasadena Inn, changed and walked to the bookstore where I was to speak.

I was shocked to find that there were over sixty people coming to hear me talk, that it was the largest crowd in many a moon, according to the bookstore personnel. I was worried about people looking at my toenails! I did not have to worry about that. The crowd gathered, I was announced, and we were on.

I started out talking about the way Venice has two parts, the tourist part and the local part, and how they were invisible to each other. It didn’t take long before the crowd began asking questions, and then it was easy – they asked, and I answered. This went on for some time until the bookstore staff made us stop. Some of the questions were good (“what do the Venetians drink?”) and some not so good (“I went to a restaurant on an island that served all you can eat seafood, we were part of a tour, do you know that restaurant?”) It all moved quickly, only one guy fell asleep, two people left early, but the other sixty-two seemed to enjoy themselves.

It was a good night. Tomorrow I will write about a fantastic 36 hours in New York City.

Hot sauce killed the radio star

Wednesday, June 9th, 2004

I spent my formative years listening to music. I remember listening to Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water” when I came home from the first grade, and the first record I played on my plastic Playschool record player (or at least the first record I want to remember owning) was the Moody Blues “Days of Future Passed.” On my 8th birthday, instead of “Happy Birthday to You” I heard the Beatles “Birthday” song. Let’s just say I have never let go of my rock and roll roots.

I also love to cook, to drink, to be a quasi-gourmet, to pretend to be a jet-setter. These are all fairly un-rockandroll things, except for maybe the drinking. I read Bon Appetit and Gourmet. This is extremely non-rocking.

So imagine my surprise when I turned a page in my new Bon Appetit tonight and found a picture of non other than Joe Perry, guitarist of Aerosmith, hawking his new hot sauce. I’m sorry to say, my stomach turned. It seems things have been going steadily downhill since Led Zeppelin sold out in that Jaguar commerical (or whatever car that was. Let’s please not talk about Sting.)

Joe Perry! I remember when he used to be so unbelievable cool. So distant, so remote, and such a slaying guitarist. I always had a thing for him, and was totally devasted when I saw him in a Gap ad.

I mean, these guys don’t really need the money from a Gap ad, do they? Don’t they already have gazillions from the bazillion records they had sold? The ninety nine World Tours?

And now, to see Joe Perry in friggen Bon Appetit. Maybe I am getting old. Maybe he is getting even older. Maybe Bon Appetit thinks they have totally scored. Joe Perry looks uncomfortable in the picture. It’s all very sad and confusing to me.

Sometimes all we have got is the memories of the coolness we have seen, heard, and known. I wonder if the kids of today see Justin Timberlake in the same way I used to see Joe Perry. I guess you could ask Joe Perry’s kids. I wish I could tell Joe’s kids how I used to listen to “Train Kept a Rollin” when I was fourteen and how Joe was like a god to me. I wish I could tell them how that could never happen to me now that he is hawking hot sauce in Bon Appetit.

A nice evening in a Chicago Pub

Monday, June 7th, 2004

I learned a phrase once from a dear friend, Prentiss Smithson that I use constantly to this day. The phrase is, “I am worn to a Nub.” It is so much more glamorous to say “I am worn to a Nub” than it is to say “I am very, very tired.” I’ve learned things from my years in the Castro District, let me tell you.

Anyway, I am well and truly worn to a Nub. I was in Chicago, I was sick, and now I am home. But let’s not forget that I am also, well, me. So even though I was sick and also WTAN, things happened and before I knew it was 2:00 A.M. (I am talking about today? Yesterday?)

It was Sunday. Yesterday, moving into today. Me and my posse worked hard and then slowly broke down our booth at Bookexpo, being of course the last people who weren’t Union Workers to leave the hall. It’s a combo of excessive wine consumption and attention deficiency disorder, our inability to break down our booth in an efficient manner and I won’t bore you with those details here.

We finally emerged into a perfect Chicago night, brought our bags-full-o’-books to the hotel, and went to a Pub for dinner. That would be Kitty O’Shea’s Pub, in the Chicago Hilton & Towers. Kitty’s is not a normal hotel bar – it’s a cool place. I met one of my long-term (almost a YEAR!) boyfriends there once. We pounded a lot of fattening pub food, drank some cocktails and a bottle of wine, and then my posse (boss, co-worker, co-worker’s mate) all lit up cigars.

Being in my flawed (sick) state, I couldn’t really take the smoke. So I moved a few feet away where two guys were watching the Sopranos on a TV overhead. It was nice, mellow and smoke-free, and then the Sopranos was over and I started talking to the two guys. One was around fifty and lived in Florida, and the other was probably thirty and was a Chicago cop. We were all brought together for a moment by the Sopranos and for a little while, we really had a good time. Things were mellow and it was a perfect Sunday night in Chicago, until things went a little sour.

After a time, the young cop looks at me and says, “I don’t know who your Party is, but…..)” then goes on to tell a story about some guy he hates who is screwing the system, welfare and all that, his wife is obese, and the cop is paying for all that.

This came sort of out of nowhere, and I was like, huh? What do you mean, my Party? Then both of them were totally staring at me. And my hair is looking really, really normal right now.

I am not part of any “Party” I told them. I’m just a citizen. But somehow, somewhere, things had crossed over into a weird space. They both started railing on me about the Democrats and how they were screwing everything up. I swear to you, I said nothing to deserve this, nothing to egg them on. Those two guys went off like a Republican M80 (wish I knew the name of a larger explosive, but I don’t). The cop was fairly mellow, but that other guy… he seemed so nice, but….

I guess the gist of what I am getting at is, I am not use to meeting people who really believe what our government is telling them, i.e. George Bush is protecting you, and me, and our children, and our grandchildren, from the terrorists. Whatever, everyone has the right to their own belief system. But last night was the first night I have ever run across people who would kill ME, run ME down because I don’t believe in the same things as them. It was quite frightening. Florida guy was Really Railing – he was not making any sense at all. He was talking about building a wall around the U.S. and then all the countries that were eating all our food would dissolve. “America is the economy of the the World!” He said. “Without us, everyone else would die!”

“Uh, excuse me, (Mr. freak.)” I said. “I lived in Italy and I think they can do OK without the U.S. Also I think most countries in Europe can do without us.”

“Blah! Ha! Them… didn’t you watch CNN today?” (The D Day thing.) “Without us the Europeans would be Speaking German! Blah! Ha!”

This went on for a while. I had not the wherewithal to fight with this guy, but instead had a very sick feeling in my gut – there are Bush-loving people who HATE people who don’t love Bush out there. Florida-freak went off to the bathroom. Chicago cop said, “I gotta go.” We looked at each other. He knew he had opened this can of worms, and that it had fed on me. And that he was too much of a pussy to admit to that. He left and Florida Freak came back. Thankfully, so did my friend Chad.

At this time, there was also a guy sitting near us at the bar. His eyes looked in different directions and he was very, very drunk. He was totally deranged looking.

Chad, the only one left of my posse at that point, joined me in the bar, where Florida Democrat hater was still railing on me. The world’s problems are because of Clinton, also Democrats like me, you know.

Florida homey wasn’t prepared for Chad though. Hee hee. Chad ripped through that guy like a razor cutting through licorice. “You served?” Chad asked him. “Yeah?” The guy said. Chad really did serve, and spent time in Somalia, and I am thinking Florida guy was maybe telling a fib. The deranged guy comes up and says, “Woof, woof!” The discussion gets very animated and then the deranged guy is talking to me, and I miss the very heated departure of the Florida republican guy. Chad is grinning, but I am still chilled by the vehemence of the Florida guy. He really disliked me, and for no other reason but that I did not believe in Bush and his terrorist threat. I am too WTAN to make sense now, but will try to make sense of the whole thing a little later. In the meantime, PEACE.

A guy may be hot but not if he’s shot

Saturday, June 5th, 2004

Greetings from Chicago, where it is Saturday night, and I am sick. Even though I am sick, the day has not been uneventful. I rode the wave on an endless supply of Aleve (more than the recommended daily dosage, should have read the package I guess before I took seven of them.) At any rate I had no choice because I had to work and there was no way I could get through the day without swallowing. So, I took a major quantity of over-the counter-drugs.

The call of free internet and my addiction to writing weird crap drove me to the lobby of my hotel, but now that I am here I realize I must make this quick, as my drug-induced energy is waning, and quickly. I am too scared now to take more Aleve. I may have to suffer through several hours of not being able to swallow. Luckily I am not yet congested, because that takes all the fun out of partying while sick.

The coolest thing that happened today was we went to a party on a rail car, in Union Station. It is an old rail car and you can rent these things and cruise around in them! All over the country! If you have ever taken a train, please throw away all thoughts of those moments. These rail cars have leather sofas and kitchens. I was completely in love the moment I stepped into that car. There was not much room so there was lots of squeezing around people. I earned bad points for saying that of course Smarty Jones did not win the Triple Crown, that shit is all fixed, and also that George W. was going to try to capitalize on the death of Ronald Reagen. It was a small space, and I guess I should be more conscious of sound carrying in these situations. But I gained points when we were all discussing the renting of the rail cars and how food and beverages were included. “All beverages?” I asked. “Like liquor too?” A moment passes. “Suckahs….” I yell and the whole car erupts with laughter. “I’ll drink a bottle of Bailey’s before 10 A.M!” Some guy says. It was a different kind of after trade show party, one of the best ones I have ever been to. I will not rest until I get to rent one of those rail cars and go to New Orleans in it.

Today we also had an altercation. It was me, my boss, my co-worker Chad, and his girlfriend Gina. (Earlier, Gina, who is a chiropractor, did some weird thing to my neck that totally freaked me out, but that is another story.) We all left the convention center where there was a huge line for cabs and also, for the busses that take you to the hotels. We never wait in line, we just walk towards the hotel until we can flag a cab. But today we encountered the security guard from hell. We walked up the street, and he points back and says, CAB LINE OVER THERE. We were like, Dude, we are walking. (Until we can get a cab that is.) He was watching us for a long time, I guess, because we heard a shout and someone on the other side of him hailed a cab. He was screaming and ranting at these people, when we hailed a cab and got in. This is Chicago – there are cabs everywhere. So, we are in the cab going down the street and the Security guard walks out into the road, and stands, arms outstretched, in front of our cab. GET OUT OF THE CAR, NOW he says. We were like, are you tripping? My boss is yelling, you have no authority here in the middle of a Chicago Street! The guard comes over and demands that the cab pull over and kick us out. The poor cabbie, who had no idea what was going on, said quietly, I can’t kick a fare out of my cab. The guard was kicking and hollering and I swear, was about to completely lose it when we pulled away.

Is it really worth getting your panties in such a bunch? I’ve got to go to bed now, and hope I am not a slave to the Aleve in the morning.

The problem with Palates

Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

I’m feeling sort of sad today, sort of out-of-sorts. For one thing, June Gloom is here and it is foggy where I live. Another, I had to have some dental work done and it hurts now that the shots have worn off. But the main reason I am sort of sad, actually more like grumpy and pissy, is that the stash of wine I brought home from my big work tasting in late April is now history.

This is the worst part of my job. Because of my job, I can’t drink Charles Shaw, I can’t drink jug wine, I can barely swallow anything that costs less than $10.00, unless, of course, I am at a party and there is nothing else to drink.

When I first got my job it was almost 20 years ago, I was just 21 and drinking Glen Ellen by the gallon. I was in college, I lived with three other students and our crazy, freeloading boyfriends, and we lived on something like 50 cents a day. In those days, I had absolutely no problem drinking that swill. It was easy with eight people in a three bedroom flat.

Damn the palate. It keeps progressing even if your brain (or your income) stays in one place. If you drink good wine, even once in a while, it leaves an impression that is hard to forget, and then it is even harder to go back to swill. So, you drink a little better wine, like maybe Forest Glen or Mondavi Woodbridge. The palate, after a few more good-wine-teasers, says f*** you the next time you try to drink Forest Glen. And on and on it goes. Before you know it you are looking at the top shelf in the grocery store, where all the wines are over $20 and if you are lucky, some are on sale.

For the past month I have been drinking $35 Zinfandels and $50 Meritages on a nightly basis. My palate, now, is like THANK YOU, I LOVE YOU, YOU ARE MY HERO. Just now though, I had to pull a $10.99 Chianti on my palate. Now, The Palate is saying GO TO THE STORE HONEY, AND BRING YOUR CHARGE CARD.

My palate embarrasses me sometimes, like when it makes me smuggle wine into a baseball game or a concert, because I can’t drink what they’ve got there. Sometimes people snicker behind my palate’s back, when I bring moderately priced Gewurztraminers to the beach, instead of Miller Lite. But I stand behind my palate, and ignore the stares and giggles, because I know that we have together forged ahead and somehow, built something.

It’s too bad that what we have built is so expensive. Also, that if I was, say, suddenly unemployed, everything would tumble down around us and I would be drinking stuff I find on sale at the canned foods store. The Palate would not be happy with this situation.

Onward, back into the land of the $10.99 bottle with occasional attack on the cellar. It’s only eleven months until I am in Nirvana again.