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

Archive for April, 2006

The Hazy Eye of God

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

Reader: Where have you been? Where? WHERE?

Blogger: Uh, on the road. Like, nowhere new.

Reader: But WHY OH WHY have you not been blogging?

Blogger: Uh, well, um, like there was no computer.

Reader: Oh.

Blogger: But I saw some preteen softball tryouts and stuff.

Reader: OK.

Blogger: Yeah, in my hometown and I was with my best friend from high school and it was her daughter in the tryouts.

Reader: Fascinating.

Blogger: It was sort of weird because I had to watch what I was saying around her kids.

Reader: Yeah, like what? What could you not say?

Blogger: Well, stuff like – remember when we were in high school and we used to crawl in that cement mixer over there and take bong hits?

Reader: I can see how that would be sort of weird for your friend.

Blogger: Weird for me too because as soon as I saw that cement mixer all I could think about was how smoky it was in there.

Reader: What else?

Blogger: Oh well. You know. It is always kind of weird to go back to your hometown. There are two people who know way too much about you and the rest don’t remember you.

Reader: This isn’t very good. This is boring.

Blogger: Yeah? Well fuck you, I am tired.

Reader: Yo. Calm down. There is a light at the opening of the cement mixer.

Blogger: Really? No more Travelodges? No more Days Inns?

Reader: Yep, you are almost there, and you will get a treat.

Blogger: The only treats I want are my own bed and a case of St. Amant Tempranillo.

Reader: The bed you will get. Maybe I can get together with the other readers on the Tempranillo.

Blogger: About time I got something out of this deal.

Reader: OK then! See you in a couple of days.

Blogger: Whatever.

April Showers

Friday, April 14th, 2006

Today there was a storm here at the beach in San Diego. I walked home from the Vine at around eight, and the light over the ocean was the color of turquoise. The palm trees were blowing, and the air was warm and smelled of fish and sulphur, but in a good way. How I love living here. I leave the crowd at the bar, one kind of heaven, and step out into warm salt, another kind of heaven. Anyway.

I have been spending a lot of time at the Vine recently. I can’t help it. It’s so awesome there, sort of like a family with Brian, Hannah and baby Emma and Bob & Margaret, and the regulars like Andy and Keith who I knew before but now are like extensions on either side of me half the time. Seriously, sometimes I go there thinking I will just stay an hour, just to get out of the house, but then the great divide opens and I fall into the black hole. I am not complaining – I love it. I love that there is this remarkable new gathering place right down the street and I love that I am a part of it. Now when I think about moving away I am like, how can I? How could I move away from the Vine?

Crazy, I know.

So, last night, uh, at THE VINE, I hooked up with this guy Tyler who had burned me a copy of his recording of Spoon’s show at Canes. I found his recording on archive.org and I wrote to him, begging him to burn it for me. Long story short and a few months later we met last night and he handed over said disk, in return for two bottles of wine that he probably didn’t expect but hey, gratitude knows no bounds, at least with me. Mark was there, and after just a few minutes, we all realized that Tyler was standing RIGHT BEHIND ME at that show. The reason we all remember is, we were all there, waiting patiently though American Music Club’s set, and right before Spoon came on these two big frat dudes came up and barrelled their way right in front of Tyler. And I was like, “dude, push your way in front of those dudes (dickheads.)” Tyler was really mellow and he did not want to push. I would have pushed, also kicked them and pulled out their hair, because I was on a mission that night, but whateves. In the long run we all remember each other, which is weird, and he was recording the fucking show right behind me, and I now have that show playing in my living room. Which is also weird. Also hella cool.

So now, listening to that night that I was part of, being like, three feet away from those tiny speakers hidden inside of a beanie, worn by some kid that I had no idea that I would ever meet, I am suddenly stricken with a new bout of the Spoon disease. Meaning I can’t stop listening, meaning there is no world besides the world that Britt Daniel sings in. It is all encompassing, and a wonderful place to be – obsessed. Obsession is the key to enlightenment. Seriously, it is better than sex. I am in love with listening. That, and bathing in Taleggio cheese sauce.

So. Listen to some of the songs that Tyler has got there on archive.org. In a perfect world, you would listen to the whole show, but if you decide to choose just a few tunes, check out Small Stakes (high energy Spoon at their finest) then Vittorio D (one of the best ballads ever and this live version has a one of those Britt playing with his guitar moments that I adore) followed by They Never Got You (totally, completely brilliant, especially live.) I am in total awe. To be in love, and to have a song go on and on, like They Never Got You does… well. It doesn’t get much better than that. I know I was in a complete and total heaven that night, all wrapped up in Britt and the music. Now I have a record of it. Thanks Tyler.

I love, love, love it. From Vittorio D:

I took a river and the river was long
I want you to stay course I want you to go
I took a river and the river was long and goes on

I will never go. I am a junkie.

Tales from a Tasty Land

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

OK. Here’s some stuff on Venice.

As I mentioned before, there are new wine bars all over town. On Salizzada San Canciano in Cannaregio, there are three – yes, THREE – all within a two and a half foot distance from each other. The one I liked best is Un Mondo di Vino (A World of Wine) at #5984. Great staff, good wines by the glass, and some really interesting cichetti like mussels topped with tomato sauce, or marinated salmon. The cichetti were heavy on vegetables and all looked very fresh. There was a constant stream of locals in and out both times I was there. Three bars in one busy calle? Awesome. A destination, even if you are not headed to Fondamenta Nove or the Miracoli church. “Which Nero d’ Avola?” The girl asked us one afternoon. Which means there is more than one on the board. Which is really cool.

Another cool new find was brought to my attention by the watercolorist Italo Chiarion. In the tiny, uber busy Campiello Corner there is a wine bar called Mai Tardi that is run by the couple who used to own Ostaria Boccadoro. The Campiello is a thoroughfare between Rialto and both the train station and the S.S. Giovanni & Paolo area – a crossroads – and the two bars there were never anything special. Until now! Mai Tardi seems unassuming from the outside, but I really like Donatella and Enrico, the couple who own it. Enrico has completed his Italian Sommelier program and he has some really good, interesting wines on his list, plus a good house wine. They offer flights and a weekly bottle special (when I was there, a 1999 Amarone for 35 Euro.) The bar itself is tiny, but the outdoor tables are perfect for hanging out and watching the constant stream of locals and tourists on their way wherever. The awning outside says “Enobar.” Cannaregio 5600, in the Campiello just past Salizzada San Grisostomo (coming from Rialto.)

There is a huge, new and fairly upscale bar and restaurant called Dogana on top of the Billa supermarket on Strada Nova. I went up and checked it out but did not stay to drink anything. It looks like it will be pretty popular when warm weather comes. Drinks and cocktails are pricey, but wine by the glass is reasonable enough. It is super close to La Cantina Wine Bar and we all know where my loyalties lie. But, will be interesting to watch. The entrance is just to the left of the supermarket, near Campo San Felice and the bar is open until 1:30 A.M.

My friend Amelia, who owns Corte 1321, the most awesome B & B in Venice, set us all up for a couple of dinners at the Circolo La Buona Forchetta down the street from her B & B. Both nights, we sat down and chef/owner Marinella Iop proceeded to send out course after course – some traditional, some eclectic. We had an avocado and tomato salad topped some roulades of smoked salmon and goat cheese, perfectly cooked schie (tiny shrimp) with hot, bubbling polenta right out of the pot, shrimp with onions and vinegar… the best thing I ate there was this incredible soup – a clear broth with slices of fresh asparagus and prawns and small chunks of parmesan cheese, and an occasional blast of cayenne. On the soup night, we were too full to eat a secondo, so Marinella sent out three different salads, then cheese and fruit, then cookies. So much for being full. The house wine is OK. San Polo 1295 (near San Aponal). You must reserve. 339-650-2086 (and she doesn’t speak English so break that phrase book out.)

All of us ate one night at Al Garanghelo – first Jonathan, Colleen and Colleen’s friend Ruth did, then me, Bob and Margaret. When we walked in we didn’t realize that the table we were waiting for was occupied by friends, so that was kind of cool. Anyhow this is a really low-key, traditional osteria near the fish market. The owner is very friendly, and also likes a bit of wine himself as far as I can tell. We all ate well and very cheaply here. Awesome lasagna (almost tasted like it had chorizo in it, the meat sauce was so rich) and the pasta with shrimp and hot pepper flakes was something I would not have thought of but was really tasty. For the secondi Jonathan thought his Fegato all Veneziana (liver with onions) was excellent, even if the accompanying polenta was a bit boring (we all got spoiled at the Circolo) and the fried calamari was also good, though I was awfully full by the time it came around. House wine was good, and the price unbelievable – about 20 Euro per person for way more food than we could comfortably eat. Of course we ate it anyway. Calle dei Botteri 1570 in San Polo. There aren’t many tables… but there is a really long bar, always a plus in my book. You might want to reserve. 041-721721. Their website is straight out of 1994.

Not new, but new for me: Vini da Gigio. I was totally blown away by this place. I think I need to preface this by saying that when I lived in Venice, I had a very small budget, so pricier places were out of my league, and even when I go back now I tend to go for places like Al Garanghelo. The crazy thing is, Vini da Gigio is not that expensive and when I lived there I could have treated myself once in a while. Oh well, live and learn. Anyhow. Bob, Margaret and I ate here because Nan said we had to. Thanks god for Nan! I will never forget the meal we had. We started with a basic antipasto of grilled vegatables that was perfect in it’s simplicity and prepared us for the next course. We split two primi between the three of us – gnocchi with pesto and shrimp, and ravioli stuffed with arugula and cheese and topped a Taleggio cheese sauce. Those ravioli – mi dio. They were like little ethereal puffs of goodness. I would like to write about them in sexual terms, but I don’t want to offend anybody. Plus the sauce was so awesome that I wanted to bathe in it. We all had a secondo – fegato alla veneziana for me, lamb for Margaret, and duck for Bob. All three were winners, especially Margaret’s – ever had deep fried lamb? Well, it is pretty damned good. We also had a bottle of Brunello which drove the price of the meal up – but all this stuff, including a 65 Euro bottle of wine plus a 10 Euro mezzo of Soave, cost only 169 Euro. Pretty amazing. House wine was way reasonable. I’m a believer. Cannaregio 3628, off the Strada Nova and again, near Campo San Felice. You must reserve at 041-528-5140.

We found a really cool little bar after eating at La Zucca one night. The best thing about the bar is the comfy seating area in an adjoining room. There aren’t too many bars open late in Santa Croce, so if you find yourself wandering around after a meal at La Zucca or Il Refolo check it out: Sweet Revenge, Santa Croce 1539 on the Calle delle Tentor that heads back to San Polo – not the Calle delle Tentor that La Zucca is on. They serve up a nice sized grappa and are open until 1:00 A.M.

That’s enough for now. Gotta eat.

The Possibility of the Impossible

Sunday, April 9th, 2006

First things first. While reading this entry, about last night’s Elbow show at the Avalon in Hollywood, you might think about listening to the band’s awesome set on KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic. Better yet, read this later, and watch the set, first.

Sometimes I don’t take very good care of myself. Just home from Italy for two days and I take off for Hollywood because I had to see this show. So, 250 miles, half a bottle of wine, and three Absolute Mandarin and sodas later, I am feeling a little tired. Tired, but still tingly because that show was oh, so worth it.

I have loved this band since their first record came out in 2000. They’ve got two other records now, and all three are great. I saw them open for Doves in 2002 (the show where I, uh, lost a chunk of my eardrums) but they haven’t been here in a while. And definitely not as a headliner.

I love Guy Garvey’s voice. He looks like a big burly blue collar worker but he has the voice of an angel. Only, I don’t think he is an angel – there are a lot of references to unangelic behavior, in the lyrics, and onstage.

To be totally honest, it’s kind of hot.

Anyway, me and Teachick had plans to hang out before the show, and then she decided to COME to the show. Which was awesome. We ate some Thai food first, then got to the Avalon right before the opener. I was shocked that the room was so empty. But it was good for us because we got a spot on a little raised platform to the left of the floor. This is where I stood with several dozen people when I saw Spoon there (pre-Britt obsession, otherwise I would have been on the rail.) Also on the platform is a little seating area, and a wall that seperates the tables from the standers. The tables were taken up by six or seven fratesque looking dudes. Curious, I thought, that they would be at a Elbow show. They looked more like the Dave Matthews type.

L.A.’s own Earlimart opened. I have one of their records, and like it. But onstage they kind of sucked. But, opening acts are never given much of a chance, so I am not going to hold it against them. One of the frat boys was heckling them pretty bad. I thought we were in for it with these guys.

But then, before Elbow came on, I heard one of the guys talking about Sigur Ros. SIGUR FUCKING ROS. I was shocked. I tugged on his sleeve. “Did you see the Sigur Ros show here last summer?” I asked him. “Sigur Ros played HERE?” He asked. He was pretty blown away. “We are from Vegas,” he said. Then, to his friends: “DUDES. She saw Sigur Ros HERE.” They were all appropriately envious that I saw Sigur Ros in such an intimate venue.

Then he told me that it was his friend’s bachelor party, and instead of having a party with strippers or whatever, all those guys drove from Vegas, to see Elbow. I was shocked, also impressed. Lesson learned, never judge a book by it’s cover. Also, homie’s fiancee is one lucky person.

Finally, Elbow comes on, and it was pretty much a perfect show. Moments of breathtaking beauty, then walls of sound that could slam you on the ground. The frat boys were enthralled, and I could barely keep still, I was so into it. Teachick wants to buy all the records, now. The crowd was small, but happy and respectful. I am starting to change my mind about L.A. show-goers, at least the ones that go to shows where the band doesn’t have a hit on the radio or a song on a television show. I love the Avalon – the room is beautiful, and the acoustics are good. Plus their bartenders seem to be mixing a stronger drink. All this and Elbow, too. Life is perfect, except for the hangovers.

So I have one heartfelt plea – Elbow, please come to San Diego and play the Casbah!

Today I made it home in one hour and thirty five minutes. This is almost impossible as any Southern Californian will tell you. Also, it cost me $40 to fill my tank today. Also, I got the mega number in the lottery. But no other numbers, sadly. Otherwise I would be on a plane to San Francisco to see Elbow again tonight.

The Inner Tube

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

In this world we live in it is easy to move between two continents quite quickly, so quickly that one day you can be eating pasta and saying grazie and the next, eating tacos and trying NOT to say grazie because, face it, homegirl, you aren’t in Italy anymore and saying grazie is just going to come off as pretentious, or weird. Never mind that your brain hasn’t caught up with your body quite yet.

Hurtling through space in a tube is weird. Every time I do it, I sort of cover myself in an emotional lip balm, telling myself this is what I have to do, in order to get over, in order to get back. But let’s face it, a day, or a day and a half, or two days, in transit via air is a bizarre way to spend your time, no matter how glamorous or appealing the destination might be. You spend this time in silence with a people you are already suspicious of in the boarding line (are they going to sit next to me? Keep me up all night? Maybe blow up the plane? Will I live through this?) and the workers of the flight, who are always saying hello, thank you, danke, arrivederci or whatever on boarding or departing, but who don’t really have that exact same embracing attitude for the other nine hours of the flight (at least not in coach.) Not to say that they aren’t nice. I probably don’t ask, so I shouldn’t expect.

Sometimes, flying over Greenland or wherever, I wish it was a hundred years ago and I was on a ship going to Europe. The ship would take a week to cross the Atlantic, and it wouldn’t be a tube full of bad smells. But the reality is, I could easily be in coach on a ship (third class) and that would kind of suck. It probably wouldn’t be like all those fun cool peasants dancing on Titanic – it would be a slovenly rat infested pit of hell. On an airline, the classes of service are only differentiated by the airline attendants announcement not to cross over into Business class. But the people in Business have mostly upgraded from coach, or their companies paid for the ticket. The bounderies are pretty loose, these days. I like that the class barrier has almost completely been broken down, unless maybe you are traveling on the Orient Express or something.

But still, in coach, I put myself in a mode that is: just get though it for the next eighteen hours. And then I do and I am home and it is good and like it never happened, but I have also seen some movies I never would have seen, a few that I might remember, a few that I can’t today, even though I flew just yesterday. Valium, red wine, that slow hum. Moving into the unconscience while remaining sort of conscience. That, is flying.

My Last Day

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

It is my last day. I have that sad feeling in my stomach. I do not know when I will be able to come back, so I don’t want to go.

It is almost noon on a perfect, clear day, and I am alone for the first time in days. I want to sit outside in Campo San Giacomo dell Orio and drink Prosecco, then go and eat a pizza. Or, I want to hit all my favorite bars one last time for a tramezzino here, a cichetto or two there…. how can you beat sitting outside in Venice, on a day like this? If I could only make the sad feeling go away.

It is always good to get home to Ocean Beach though, and I know that Bob and Margaret and I are going to drive Brian crazy every day at The Vine, talking about everything we ate and drank. Like the rucola ravioli with Taleggio sauce at Vini da Gigio or the pumpkin flan at La Zucca. Or the Refosco we had at the Maitardi bar when we got stuck in there for hours because of rain.

Every time I come here, I give another piece of myself to Venice, and Venice gives another piece of herself to me. There is something so comforting in knowing her well, but then, not knowing her at all, because she is always changing, but also staying the same. Does that make any sense?

So, onward, to the first glass of Soave, and the last sixteen hours. Tomorrow I will be home.