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

Archive for March, 2006

Vino, Vino and now, more Vino

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Man, time is going so fast. I cannot believe we have already been here a week. Colleen is running out of time, and I can tell she is bummed. Jonathan went to the airport last night and his Easyjet flight was cancelled, with no one around to rebook anything, or even explain anything. So he is back in Venice and staying with us in our apartment until Saturday. I guess it doesn’t suck getting stuck in Venice, especially when there is a couch to crash on.

Yesterday I met Nan who wrote the book “Italy, Instructions for Use” at La Cantina. A bunch of other people came around and it was a typical La Cantina evening – in other words, AWESOME. Before Nan came Colleen and her friend Ruth and Jonathan and I all showed up, and they all ordered off the chalkboard but I told Andrea to bring me whatever, so he shows up at our table with a double magnum and a decanter. Everyone cracked up, because it is pretty clear that a) I am the wino in the group and b) my reputation precedes me.

We also ate at da Alberto for lunch and as usual, I have this question to ask: why go anywhere else? This is my main problem here – I would rather make sure my old favorites are holding up rather than checking out all these new places which seem to all have carbon copy menus and too-high prices. And after the stress of Jonathan missing his flight last night, and coming around to our apartment at 9 or so, I was like, hey, let’s go to Casa Mia for a pizza! It’s really close! So we went there and it seriously is like three feet away from our front door. Me and Jonathan split one with radicchio di Treviso and salami which is laid on top of the pizza after baking (my favorite) and one with braesola and rucola. I totally pounded it. I don’t know how I am NOT going to go back to Casa Mia. But I have to break free of the ties that bind me.

This afternoon my friends Bob & Margaret arrive. They are part of The Vine Posse and so basically, the next three days are going to be wine bar steroid action. They will help me in my research, for sure. To get us started I am going out to the airport to get them, then we will take the Alilaguna to San Marco, have a nice bottle of wine on there, and they can arrive as they should: on the water, approaching the Doge’s Palace, disembarking on the Riva, and walking straight into Piazza San Marco. Then we will walk to Amelia’s B & B, where they are staying (Corte 1321 in San Polo.)

The weather has been great – didn’t need the rainboots after all, so I think I will use them as cookie storage on the way home. You can get a lot of packs of cookies into a pair of rainboots. Nan says I must eat at Vini da Gigio, so we do that Sunday night; tonight will be some pub cichetti action, and tomorrow everyone will eat together somewhere. Thinking about it is making me hungry, so I am off to meet the others for lunch……

Sun and Soave

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Last night’s 5 star lounge tour was so fun! Colleen – who is Super Crafty, made these cool little decorated books to carry around and to “rate” the bars. We rated – one through five – on stuff like crowd, music, vibe… we started at Harry’s Bar and it is no secret that I love, love, love Harry’s. We got there early enough to score some seats at the bar, almost everything scored a five except the crowd, mostly because of one dude who screamed into his cell phone “I AM DRINKING AT HARRY’S BAR, BROTHER!” What a doofus. We got prosecco, of course, because it is only seven euro (up from six on the last visit.) We wanted to save our big bucks for the next stop.

The next stop was the Cipriani. We took the private launch out, and the captain was oh, so cool. He let a little girl sit in his seat and helped her to drive us across the lagoon. Alas, when we got to the Cipriani, NO BARS WERE OPEN. Hello-ey, if you were spending a thousand bucks a night on a room, wouldn’t this be just a little bit of a drag? I guess they don’t open the bars until April. So we got back on the boat right away, to the amazement of the captain. “Where are you going?” He said. “To the DANIELI!” I said.

It is really cool going across in that boat. Much better than a vaporetto, I must say.

So. The Danieli! Fantastico… it is like drinking inside of a palace. Actually, it IS drinking inside of a palace. Marble columns, red fabric on the walls. About four guys came around to get our drink order before we were finally ready. The drinks came with a dish of almonds, hazelnuts and spicy little crackers. A guy that looked almost exactly like Chris, the husband of slowtalk moderator Kim, played guitar backed by a cheesy electronic accompaniment. I highly recommend going to the Danieli for an overpriced drink. The only crazy thing was the bathroom – it was totally thrashed, empty toilet paper rolls everywhere, water all over the floor, no paper towels. It was so shockingly bad that I took some pictures with a paper coaster with “The Luxury Collection” propped up against one of the toilet paper rolls. But all in all this was definitely our favorite spot.

Walking on to the Gritti Palace, a mist had settled and it was COLD. It has been so pleasant that I did not think to dress very warmly, and it was that mist that goes inside your skin. So getting to the nice, warm Gritti Palace was a relief. Their bar is not nearly as sumptuous and fanciful as the Danieli, but the deck outside must be great when it is not totally wet and cold. The bar was made of carved, Istrian marble and the bar guys were really cute (though no wheres near as hot as those dudes at Harry’s.) Since it is called the Longhi bar, they have Longhi reproductions all over, which is pretty cool. Also way too many of those horrid Murano chandeliers. I would go back, but only to sit outside on the Grand Canal. Jonathan said, yeah but you can do the same thing at the Accademia Pizzeria, right? Right, but – HORRORS – they are doing something on the canal there and the entire patio is ripped out. I don’t know what they are going to do at the Pizzeria, how can a business survive if you take away the dining room? I am going down there to talk to them about it. Venice without the Accademia Pizzeria? Hopefully not for long…

After the Gritti we were starving (one cannot exist on hazelnuts alone) so we went to Casin dei Nobili for a pizza. I am happy to say that places are starting to stay open later here. There also seems to be a lot of street drinking and partying way into the night… is is becoming a six month Carnivale again?

Last night, a huge wind whipped up and banged the shutters around and it was kind of insane. I thought for sure I would wake up to stormy weather, but instead, blue skies and no jacket required. I even saw some tourist in a dress in Piazza San Marco this morning.

So far, a tramezzino con gamberetti e radicchio and a glass of Soave… now on to the next bar that needs to be checked. I sort of love it.

Launch Date

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Sono qui. I cannot believe it has taken me so long to get into an internet place, because we have been pretty much running since we got here. The slowtrav party on Friday was awesome and kept both of us awake (both of us had severe cases of the lag, me because there was a friggen high school tour on my flight who seemed to think a transatlantic flight was an all-night party/place to rehearse the Star Spangled Banner.) It was great to meet Laurie and Sharon and everyone else (10 of us?) Saturday we ran all over, did a bit of a pub crawl with Laurie and her husband and dad, then ate at Boccadoro with Holly, also from the slowtalk board. Boccadoro has a new chef and a waiter from Liverpool. It was a good but all of us were kind of shocked that Holly got charged eleven euro for a plate of pasta with tomato sauce. Venice is changing even more rapidly than before. There are new wine bars and hip looking restaurants everywhere now. I am going to try to concentrate on the new bars, because they are MANY. The days of the fifty cent ombra are over – it is all about the three Euro glasses of Soave, now. Good in a way, but bad in a way. Bad for the Venetians, for sure.

It is weird to be here, mostly because it feels like I have never left. Even with all these new trendy wine bars. It is like I had a long sleep, and woke up to more mirrors and neon.

Sunday we went to Ravenna to look at all the mosaics. I loved the town and the mosaics – well, I cannot even describe how colorful and visually striking they are. I want to run out and buy a bunch of books about Ravenna and the lives of Justinian and Theodora now. We had a good meal there and ate so much we were forced to drink some grappa after to feel better. Cool little road trip, and now I have a lot of work to do.

Last night I hooked up with my friend David (he works at the Wine House in L.A.) and some of his friends and we did another pub crawl, but this one was four bars and an insane amount of wine. But this is what I love about Venice – there is no driving, and for some reason you never feel too bad the next day. Jonathan from slowtalk arrived from London and I hooked up with him and Colleen for a really late pizza. Diavolo con radicchio. YUM.

Tonight we are doing the five star lounge tour – Colleen hooked up this idea. Meeting Jonathan at Harry’s Bar, then taking the private launch out to the bar at the Cipriani, then on to the Danieli and the Gritti. Yikes! It is 4:15 and I gotta get home to put my Armani on (yeah right). Well at least make myself a little more presentable.

Time is moving way too fast, but it always does, in Venice.

The Gondolier’s Call

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Last night, walking home from The Vine, a plane flew over and once again I got to thinking about noise. My life is full of noise here. The wild parrots are back after their winter wherever. Every morning they scream and yell at each other in the most obnoxious manner possible. I feel tremendous guilt whenever I have to kill a spider, but I want to annihilate those parrots. OB is under the flight path, so we start hearing jets very early, and the jets go all day long. My next door neighbor starts clomping around like an elephant about 6:00 A.M. and my other neighbor walks by my bedroom window in heels every morning at 5:30. This is the reason I am always up at 6:30 A.M. It sucks.

So, since I am leaving for Venice tomorrow, I started thinking about Venice noise. Life starts early there, too. Maybe not quite AS early, but early. It’ll be very quiet, then the garbage men, who come every day, will ring every bell in every apartment until someone buzzes them it. The shopkeepers will start to raise the inpenetrable metal gates that guard every window, every door through the night. A thousand espresso machines start whirring. Then the heels start up and down the calli, and the Ciaoing begins. Somehow, it is better to wake up this way.

On this trip Colleen and I are staying in Campo San Apostoli. It’s a campo I know well, and I can see every nook and cranny in my mind right now, while sitting halfway across the world with a bunch of parrots screeching outside my window. Campo San Apostoli is not a great campo for hanging out in, like Campo Santa Margherita or Campo San Giacomo dell Orio. It is a thoroughfare for the hordes that come every day to the train station and the car park and make their way to Piazza San Marco. The hordes walk right past the campo without ever seeing it. Some people stop at the little cafe there, and I like that cafe, except for the guy who runs it is kind of nasty. I call him Little Hitler. Inside the cafe, there is a guy who works making the sandwiches and coffee, and if you are lucky he will wait on you. He is tall and skinny and pimply, almost German looking, and I use to have a little crush on him. I call him Punk Rock Boy. Little Hitler’s sounds are generally yelling at tourists who sit down at his tables with cones of gelato they bought on Strada Nova. The sounds of Punk Rock Boy are sweet and mostly in my imagination.

There is a pizzeria in Campo San Apostoli, but I never ate there – only tourists do. Why eat there when two of the best pizzerias are tucked behind the campo, less than a minute’s walk away? There is a tiny hardware store with walls stacked floor to ceiling with whatever you could possibly need for the repair of your 500 year old house. There is a photography shop, a pet shop, and an alimentari. There are a gazillion dogs yapping and kids playing. There is a lot of graffiti. But if you don’t look left coming from the train station, you won’t see, or hear, any of this. You’ll only see the sottoportego that leads you into the tourist heart of Venice, only hear the gondolier’s call. Gondola… gondola….

Night Life

Thursday, March 16th, 2006

I dreamed about music all night. In the middle of the night, Thom Yorke talked to me for a long time. I woke up right after, thinking I needed to turn on the light and write down everything he said to me. But I didn’t and then it was all gone. I do remember he wanted to talk, and he said some really cool stuff. He did not shift in his seat and look away like in the Rosanna Arquette documentary “All We Are Saying”. She couldn’t hide her awe and it seemed to make him uncomfortable. In my dream, I was not acting like an idiot, which is what I probably would do in real life – I would be just like Rosanna. In my dream it was all cool. (“All We Are Saying” is a really good documentary, by the way. Check it out.)

I love Radiohead. Passionately. In the documentary Thom says everyone thinks they are weird. I don’t think they are weird, I think they are geniuses who make music to live in.

Radiohead is touring this summer. I am already obsessing about where my seats will be. I’ve just found what I wrote about the last show I saw, in September 2003…

“I was disappointed with Friday nights show at the Hollywood Bowl – our seats were way too far away to see anything, and while there were a couple of great moments (Creep, Fake Plastic Trees) I left feeling there was no way anything could ever compare with the show I saw in Verona in May of 2001.

Was I ever wrong. Sunday at Coors was so mind blowing… we got there and our seats were five rows back from the pit, so we were only about 30 feet from the stage. This was the closest I have ever been and it was great to see Ed making faces and playing with the crowd, to see Jonny move around playing what seemed like a gazillion instruments, to see Colin at all (he is always hiding in the back.) Sometimes the five of them seemed so tuned to each other… it was a very, very special night.

Part of the reason I came away from the Hollywood Bowl disappointed was that many of my favorites weren’t played, but at Coors it was like my dream set list. After 2 +2 = 5, Sit Down Stand Up, and Where I End and You Begin, they played Lucky which I desperately wanted to hear. It was slow, lush. Fantastic. Then into an immense Myxomatosis, it was LOUD and intense. Cool green lighting on this one. I’ll fast forward – Kid A, Sail to the Moon, Talk Show Host, Paranoid Android… then, finally, JUST. I thought I would die. After three shows without hearing it I was always hoping. But nothing could have prepared me for this moment. This is why bands with three guitars rule. It just about ripped my head off, I almost passed out. The pit is going crazy at this point. Then a sweet and beautiful No Surprises, and a slammin’ Go to Sleep where I was really, really happy I could see Jonny with his crazy guitar solo at the end (my favorite moment of HTTT I think.) Scatterbrain and You and Whose Army (got to see Thom’s mugging at the Hollywood show too, because of the screens – pretty funny.) Idioteque got everyone going again. The Gloaming next, and then There There (mi dio – the DRUMMING) and then the first set was done. The first encore opened with Pyramid Song, and I love this song so much I want it played at my funeral. This is Thom at his finest, he just reaches in and grabs your heart and clutches it. National Anthem and Punchdrunk at a Wedding next, then How to Disappear Completely (another breathtaking moment). For the final encore, Karma Police and I was thinking, could they have been better? No. The only thing I wish is that they wouldn’t always end with Everything in it’s Right Place, because then you know it is going to end.

All of them were clapping for us, too. They loved us. It was a great night.”

I can’t wait. I really and truly can’t wait. I am just scared now that they will come when I am in Spain.

Elbow is coming to Hollywood, three days after I get back from Venice. I don’t have any control over this stuff – the ticket is bought and the hotel room booked. That is going to be a great show.

Slow down, don’t move too fast.

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

Ok, now I have something to write about.

As I begin to plan, REALLY plan, me & mom’s Spain trip, I am having a hard time not Slow Traveling. In other words, I am trying to do too much.

As it is on paper now, we are flying into Santiago de Compostela for a few days, then down to Pontevedra in Galicia for two nights. On to the parador in Vilalba (because that place looks hella cool) for one night, then to Leon for one night, then to Laguardia in La Rioja for three. THEN to San Sebastian for three or four nights and one in Bilbao before our flight to Clive and Sue’s place in the Sierra de Grazalema.

It’s too much. I know it, you know it, there is no way we can cover this much ground. It basically amounts to crossing the entire northern coast of Spain in a two week period.

So, I guess I am pondering the idea of dropping San Sebastian, and instead, taking it alot slower from Pontevedra to Laguardia, stopping off here and there to smell the Picos de Europas. But then the thought of the tapas scene in San Sebastian…

I don’t know what to do. But I have to say that, I am so happy I won the week at Clive and Sue’s, because part of their deal is, they do EVERYTHING. Pick you up at the airport, drive you around, cook for you… being the worst kind of anal planner, this is beyond relief.

Eek, a Mouth

Monday, March 13th, 2006

OK, OK, I know I have to write something… something, anything… ack I don’t have anything to write about. I have been eating the same thing every day. At night I read or I go to The Vine. Since I got home, this is what it’s all been about. Oh, and I got stiffed on the lottery again. Oh well. Fuckers.

I did do something exciting today. I booked airline tickets from Bilbao to Jerez for my Fall Spain trip. I fear I am a little too excited about getting back to Spain, since it is six months away, and already this year is going by kind of fast. I will be 41 on Saturday. Forty fucking one! How the hell did that happen? And if I am too excited about Spain then the six months in between will fly too fast. But, I guess that will happen anyway. As you can see, I really don’t have anything to write about. I need a dream about Britt Daniel to wake me up.

I am looking forward to getting back to Venice, too, though my eating schedule doesn’t allow for quite enough pizza. What an exciting life I lead. Someone, anyone, send me a friggen topic to write about because the river’s run dry. But not circumcision because I don’t know anything about that.


The Faint Test

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

I’m home now. It’s taking me some time to recover. I feel like I have been traveling non-stop for months. Well, I guess I have. Now I can rest, but only for a little while. The next time I go, it will be back to Italy, and that doesn’t suck. It is really hard to believe that it has been a year exactly since I landed in Palermo.

This trip won’t be like that one. That one was five weeks long and it was all play. This one is two weeks long and involves major hardships like eating and drinking and leading people on pub crawls around Venice. It sucks, I know, but someone has to do it.

I think I can, at this point, go just about anywhere and have a good time. I am serious. I have some really bad qualities but one good one that I do have is, I can go anywhere, I never shy away from it, and I always find something, at least one thing, to like. Like Oklahoma. Everyone disses on it, but it’s pretty there. Indian Country. Lots of lakes, lots of sky. I went to the bathroom at a truck stop and some of the diner tables had plaques that read “reserved for truckers.” Imagine a place where a trucker has priority. I, for one, think that is hella cool. The highways are long and there is no one on them. On my way to a winery in Haskell, I passed through living ghost towns. So many broken down, boarded up houses, but people still live in these towns. There were bars in structures made out of some kind of thin metal. Budweiser is cheap, and I didn’t see even one cop. You can buy a house for sixty-five thousand dollars and there is no smell of coffee, only lawlessness.

I visited my old friend Prentiss in Muscogee, and then we went to Tulsa, where we rented a little hotel studio with a kitchen and I cooked for Prentiss and his boyfriend Rob and his friends from Tulsa, Mark and Mark. On a tiny stove in a tiny room, we had an eight-foot table, candles, flowers, tons of wine, my IPod, Mark’s CD player, opera, Sigur Ros, Macaroni and Cheese, Italian Sausage that I bought in the Italian town of Krebs, and a lot of laughter. Then we went to Mark Michael’s where he played the piano and it was really, truly beautiful. The other Mark took us around in his car the next day, to see Tulsa. On a Sunday, no one out. Killer art deco skyscrapers.

Then home. I’ll admit, I am weary. But also in love, really in love, with Cat Power’s new record The Greatest. I LOVE it. I lost my very favorite close to my heart Black Fly sunglasses that I had for 10 years on this trip, but listening to Cat Power I can kind of get over it. Kind of. Listen to the sample of “Love and Communication.” The strings on that one song are enough to slay me with happiness.

Tales from a Brown Land

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

When I was 23 years old, I lived in a little apartment on Nob Hill that was directly above a real estate office. I’ll admit it right here and now – I was obnoxious. I didn’t have any regard for the guy downstairs and used to play my music really loud during business hours. The real estate guy used to have to call me and ask me to turn it down all the time. He most likely hated me.

One day, I was obsessed with a high tempo New Order song. I can’t remember the name of it but on that particular day I played it over and over, and then I put it on my answering machine, so that whenever anyone called they would just hear about 20 seconds of this song, really loud. So, I was playing the song, super loud, and then I jumped in the shower. I came out to this loud banging on my door. It was the real estate guy, and his face was all red, and he was so pissed off and angry that he could barely speak. He sort of just spit noises at me. He was sick of listening to the same New Order song, played loudly over and over, and then when he called to complain, what did he hear? The same fucking song! I practically gave the guy a heart attack.

This is what it is like for me, driving through Texas. It’s hot, it’s dusty, and it’s always a three hour drive. No matter where you are going, it will take three hours. Have you ever wondered if there is a corner of the country where there is no Starbucks? I have the answer – yes, and that corner is Bryan, Texas. I searched in vain for way too long and finally bought a cup of caramel colored hot water at a donut shop. I never thought I could want Starbucks so bad. We are spoiled rotten in the other 49 states.

I’m in Dallas now. It’s hot, it’s dusty, and there is a lot of traffic. But my hotel also has a computer and decent coffee so that is a plus. My ex-husband Sean and his wife Christi live here, so I went to their place last night. One good thing about Dallas – you can buy a huge house for the same price as a trailer home in Escondido would cost back in Cali. They have one room with only a BAR in it! It’s totally awesome. Plus they have the cutest, smartest little kid. She is only three but she looks, and acts like five. She told me her favorite color is pink so I was like, so you can get pink hair, like me! Then she changed her mind. “My favorite color is actually brown,” she said.

Me and Sean and Christi sat outside until way too late, talking. They told me how in the summer, it never ever cools down, not even at night, and then you get into a pool and it is the same temperature as the air. So there is no relief, like the real estate guy and the New Order song.

Sigur Ros and Austin seem a million miles away. We waited around for two hours after the show and I got a poptarticus shirt signed by the band. Soon I will be in Oklahoma. I wonder if there is a Starbucks there?