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

Archive for the ‘Tales from a Strange Land’ Category

Red, White and Green

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Never, ever be ashamed of who you are.

Happy 4th of July, everyone.

June Bug

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Today is the 6th anniverary of my time living in Ocean Beach. It’s very foggy, and a little cold – not unlike what my home town of Half Moon Bay, up north, is like for much of the year. But this fog, “June Gloom” as we call it, does not last long here in OB. It lasts, for, well, June.

I sort of complain about June Gloom a little, but the bottom line is: I have always loved it here, even before I lived here, and I loved it more when I moved here. And now I seriously don’t want to leave OB. Sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet about moving somewhere more urban, because I really and truly love cities like Paris and New York and San Francisco – I love the little villages in these big cities, and I definitely love that you can get anything you could ever want or need there (though, with the internet, is that really such a biggie anymore? I mean, you can order practically anything on the internet now. Anything.) And I miss good public transportation, and reasonable taxicabs.

But in the end, I don’t want to leave this place, this little village I’ve made my home. Let’s face it – this urban girl has moved somewhere so low-key that many of the residents don’t bother to put on shoes when they go out. Which totally freaks me out, but I love it anyway.

Ocean Beach has changed a lot since I moved here. Six years ago, there was no Vine. Now, there are a few upscalesque bars where just six years ago, you couldn’t find a decent wine by the glass anywhere. For me, this is great – for lots of old-school residents, this is the Anti-Christ. But there is also a new tattoo place on Newport Ave. which goes to show you, the roots are still there.

It’s hard to explain, if you have never been here, the funky surfer fish taco vibe that permeates the neighborhood, and harder to explain the feeling of complete satisfaction I get walking home from the Vine, in summer with a pink sky above the palm trees, or in winter Orion blinking over dark streets and lawns that still have summer flowers. But let me tell you – everything is velvet here. Velvet with a beautiful edge.

Six years ago I checked into an empty room. Now, my life is totally full. I have a lot to be thankful for, so thank you, Ocean Beach, for giving it to me.

Tales from a Lazy Room

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

I am in St. Augustine, Florida and it is hot. It must be a gazillion degrees in the summer here. This is the oldest continually inhabited city in the United States, and it is a pretty cute, but also extremely touristy, town. Basically I wanted to come here for a couple of days and not do anything, so that is what I am doing – not anything. Except walking around, reading, and sleeping. And drinking wine, of course, though so far I have not had too much good to eat. In fact I have mainly bad meals here, including one that I would have to say was the worst thing I have eaten since I was in another tourist land – Honfleur, in Normandy, France.

More about that later. I am staying at a cool, funky hostel with private rooms called the Pirate Haus. My room has one big bed and four bunks. The owner, Conrad, is a really cool guy who offers up wine, grappa and cognac, and last night we watched the City of Lost Children in the living room. They also have Bravo, so I get to watch Top Chef tonight! Unless someone else beats me to the remote.

I don’t really care about going out too much here – I like sitting on the roof deck (it sounds a lot more glamorous than it is, but it is perfect for me at this moment) with a glass of wine and a book, totally alone but with the sounds and smells of the other guests cooking on the other side of the kitchen window.

I feel comfortable at the Pirate Haus. I would definitely come back here, and could even bring friends since there are five beds in the room. At night it cools down and I open the window in my room all the way and listen to music on my little speakers. The night air here is sultry.

Tomorrow I head to Savannah for the Big Slowtrav Gathering, where I will see a bunch of my friends, and see another new place. I will try to check in from there.

Last Stop This Town

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I’ll write more about my last couple of days in DC but for now, this is hella cool.

I love E.

Behind the Blue Door

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Sometimes, when I travel, a city’s charm and vibe hit me right away, and I immediately love it. Othertimes, it takes some days to unravel the layers that make a place great. Madrid and Venice were “right away” ones. Barcelona and Florence were “takes some days” ones. I think the cities that take more time are almost more interesting in the end, because I am always waiting for that moment when it all makes sense, and I like that feeling of waiting. And I like exploring.

It’s like I was telling Bob & Margaret the other night, over some really great pizzas and quite a few glasses of wine, that I hadn’t quite crossed the threshold of understanding the essence of DC yet. I was still waiting for the epiphany, that moment when everything becomes awesome. Now, it is all about the epiphany. They keep asking me if it has happened yet.

Two days ago, I went to the National Portrait Gallery and Museum of American Art, and walked around Chinatown, and met some Slowtrav Peeps at Dino. I had this thought that I could go to TWO museums in one day, and voila, there are two museums in one building, and it was massive and took many hours and I did not even see everything there. It was a really great day and I managed to pack a lot in and also realized that one would need many months, if not years, to see all this stuff.

Yesterday the housecleaner came so I had to get out of here at 8:30, even before the museums opened. I went to Union Station and ate a corn muffin and watched all the commuters. That station is so cool. Yet, the epiphany eluded me.

I headed down to the National Gallery of Art and got there right when they opened. I was there for FOUR HOURS and I did not even make it through the whole thing – not even close. I was totally blown away – they have an incredible collection of Renaissance art there, not only from Italy but also Germany and the Netherlands and I love all that stuff. I was especially touched by the painting “Adoration of the Shepards” by Giorgione. The colors, the landscape, the torn clothing of the shepards… it’s a remarkable piece. And nobody was even looking at it, they were all in the room with Leonardo’s Ginevra.

So I guess at this point I was very close, because it dawned on me that if you lived in DC, you could go to the Natonal Gallery every day, even just to look at one painting. You could go in and look at a German painting with detailed depictions of life 500 years ago, for an hour or two, whenever you want. Because it is free!

After that I met up with Bob & Margaret and we walked up to Georgetown and had some oysters and welsh rarebit at the tavern where JFK proposed to Jackie O. But we wanted some better wine, so I looked in my DK book and found a wine bar in Georgetown called “Bistrot Lepic.” We had to walk up a hill, and I will admit I am very sore from all this walking, but the call of wine kept me/us going, to what seemed to be out of Georgetown, even. When we got to the bar, there was a blue door and a Parisian street sign. I wondered if they went to Paris and stole it, because it looked pretty damn real.

In the door, up those stairs, was where I finally had my epiphany.


Bistrot Lepic is AWESOME. If I lived in DC, I would want to go there all the time. THAT is where people should get proposed to. It’s a room that envelops you, with mood music, what looked to be comfy wicker chairs (we sat at the bar, which was very, very comfy, so I am assuming the chairs were the same) and gold curtains that moved in the breeze. In the back, there was a long table to seat twenty with cherry trees outside. We drank Burgundies (both white and red) and Rhones, and the sweet Bartendress Lucia poured us a little taste of a really good Languedoc. We ate country pate with an Armagnac soaked prune in the middle. I totally fell in love with the place. I am totally in love with it. We needed bread for our pasta dinner at home, so Lucia sent us out with an long loaf of French bread. She rocks.

Any city that could have such a cool wine bar, is, in my mind, a great city. There it is – the epiphany. Long in coming but now that it is here I plan to make the most of it.

Today we are off to the Cherry Blossom festival and more wandering, and tonight we are going to see EELS at a synagogue. Bob read my blog entry about this show and he is giving me a little bit of shit about the “movie” but I keep telling him that he will love it, especially because he is a scientist. As for me, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see E again…



Thursday, March 27th, 2008

I have visited lots of cities in the U.S. but for some reason, never Washington D.C. – until now. My friends Bob & Margaret moved here last fall, and I love, love, love their house which is in the Cleveland Park area. They have a cool porch and a fantastic, overgrown, crazy looking park across the street.

Right now the park is devoid of greenery and I desperately want to be here when it erupts into Spring. But, with only five days I don’t think that will happen.

Yesterday, on my own, I must have walked about fifteen miles (and, unfortunately, I am totally feeling that today – in my calves, my hips, pretty much everywhere.) I got off the subway at the Mall along with about five hundred school kids and their chaparones and parents. Thankfully, the Mall is pretty enormous. I wanted to go to the American History Museum, but it is closed for renovations or something. So I just walked, to the Washington Monument, all the war monuments, the Lincoln monument. Everything looked really close on the map! The sun was out, and it was very warm, and if there is one thing I have learned in my travels it is: If the sun is out, utilize it. So I kept walking. And another thing, I couldn’t get that image of Twyla Tharp’s dancers writhing in front of the Washington Monument in the film version of “Hair” out of my mind, or the lyrics to the song they were dancing to:

Prisoners in Niggertown
It’s a dirty little war
Three Five Zero Zero
Take weapons up and begin to kill
Watch the long long armies drifting home

I’m not trying to make any kind of statement here, except that I am the kind of person who can’t get lyrics out of their head.

In all my reading about this city I have come to be pretty interested in Pierre L’Enfant, the architect who laid out the plans for this city – basically, he had this grand plan to design a European style city in a swamp. I think he was kind of a pain and he eventually got fired, but this vision, and how it actually worked out, is very intriguing to me. So, I decided to go check out L’Enfant Plaza, which I was sure would be a really cool square with cafes and restaurants around it. Not. They need to make it grander, to reflect L’Enfant’s contribution to this city. It’s a 1970’s business park.

I got on the subway there and headed to the Eastern Market, because I love markets, and this one was pretty cool but not in the original building because I guess that one had a fire and they are restoring it (I think I need more current guidebooks.) Instead they have the market across the street in a big tent. Lots of butchers, cheese shop, etc. but it was freaking hot in there and it is only March.

On the way, this couple sat down next to me and when we got to the stop before Eastern Market, they asked each other “is this L’Enfant?” So I said, are you going to L’Enfant station? ‘Cause that’s the other way. They looked at me like I was trying to put one over on them. I repeated it. You are going the wrong way. I just came from there. They got out their map. So much for trying to be helpful. Keep going then, homies.

After the market, I walked and walked… through the Capitol Hill area which has some really cute houses, and a nice vibe, then to the Library of Congress and to Union Station. Union Station is awesome! I love old train stations, and this one has all kinds of shops and restaurants. I stopped at one and had a glass of wine and half an avocado with crab on top. It was just OK, but I really like it in there.

Now I was pretty tired of walking so I took the metro to Dupont Circle and, uh, walked around. Toyed with the idea of going to a bar that my friend Sue recommended called the Fox and Hounds, but arriving there it looked like more of a nighttime place so I kept walking and eventually came back to Cleveland Park and a nice glass of Pinot on the porch.

Last night we ate at the famous Dino and it was really, really good… fantastic fried artichokes, some killer halibut, great pasta with wild boar sauce.. Dean himself told us what to eat and it was all spot on. Had some good Nebbiolos, too.

Woke up to rain, and it looks pretty wet, so I’m off to the National Gallery of Art.

A New Blog – Eddie’s in Thailand

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

My friend Eddie just set out on a 3 month adventure in Thailand. I would be jealous, but since he is blogging about it, I’ll live. Check it out:

Discovering Thailand

I didn’t start traveling overseas until I was 33 years old and I always go to Europe. I need to check out some other places, like Thailand and Indonesia.

And Eddie – if you read this – thank you for the picture of Paris, and can’t wait to check out pictures from this trip!

Google Nutz

Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

I know I’ve been absent… I have a hundred reasonable reasons, I swear.

I have big plans though, it’s either write in this blog or get rid of it. And I guess I have a lot of readers I didn’t know I had (thanks for letting me know, Judy.)

But for now, I just have to let you all in on some of last months Google Searches that Lead Here, because some of them are too funny.

Besides “Britt Daniel Girlfriend” and “Britt Daniel Gay” (he’s not gay, I can assure you – either that or he puts up a mighty good front):

photo of what a walmart cashier looks like
what makes life exciting
stars with hairy backs
naked english couples
c. k. dexter haven and tracy lord deserve each other
shoelicking slave
still a virgin losers nerds
rick steves penis

I guess it was the last one that prompted me to post this – why on earth would anyone care?

Battle of the Monkeys

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

I can’t believe I haven’t written about Top Chef at all, during their third season. Last night was part one of the finale and next week, it’ll be over until season four.

Believe me, I still watch it every week. But for some reason it is not the same.

Season three has been watchable enough, but just not, well, newsworthy. Everyone gets along, almost all of the chefs had their one or two days in the sun. It’s all a bit bland though. I miss the crazy peeps on season one like Stephen and Dave. I even miss Mikey from season two.

Anyhow, even with the boringness of the third season, where I don’t really even care WHO wins, I still watch and in the long run I guess I want Dave Levitsky to win. Or Hung, or Casey. Any of them. I am totally rooting for the winner, whoever it is!

I am continually blown away by the bloggers at Amuse Biatch. Faced with a blank screen, they come up with brilliance. Brava.

OK then, I’ll shut up. Now check this out.

A Pont in Every Storm

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

It is about seven in the evening on our last night in Normandy; I’m drinking red wine and Colleen is drinking cider – her first and last. The past two days we covered a lot of ground, and I have fallen in love with Normandy.

Colleen summed it up this morning when I was searching for the right word to compare Normandy to the Loire Valley. Normandy is more dramatic. It seems like a different France here and I am completely enthralled. If I were to pick three words for Paris they would be: worldly, hip, exotic. For the Loire: restful, green, majestic. My three words for Normandy: raw, rugged, swarthy. But I can’t stop at just three words so let me just add stark white, deep blue, storybook pretty, war damage ugly, drunken, sated, and sad, all at the same time.

Yesterday we drove south on the coast, playing connect the towns until we reached the D-Day beaches. Yeah, that is one word I forgot above – HISTORY. Sitting on a bunker on a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach, eating cheese and drinking wine, it was impossible for me to imagine June 6, 1944 when 14,000 Americans died there – and this was only the first day. I simply could not make it happen in my mind, and I am usually pretty good at imagining horrible things. It is just TOO horrible to think about and this was only one of the beaches… we also went to the American cemetary, a quiet, manicured place on the cliffs overlooking the beach, with row after row of evenly spaced crosses, all in perfect symmetry.

And every French town seems to have it’s memorial to those it lost in both the Great War and World War II. So sad.

So after the beaches we went to Bayeux to see the Bayeux tapestry – a thousand year old strip of cloth telling the tale, through embroidery comic book style, of William the Conquerer’s journey to England where he was crowned king of England. The Normans kicked some ass back in the day, let me tell you.

Today we drove in the opposite direction, north to the seaside towns of Fecamp and Etratat. The cliffs are straight up and down there, and the beaches have plum sized, smooth rocks there, not sand. We went to where they make Benedictine and had a crappy lunch.

I guess if there is one place we have not been very successful in Normandy is the food; but we have been in some pretty touristy towns. The best thing we ate was last night when we got take out from a kebab place here in Honfleur and brought it back to the cottage to eat with a bottle of Cab Franc I picked up in Chinon. Oh well – next time.

And there WILL be a next time. I want to come back here in the winter, when the season is over, when the waves are crashing and storms are coming in off the North Sea, when everything, from the cliffs to the beach stones to the sky and sea, is gray. Someday I will walk that boardwalk at Etratat with no sight of any other person. It’s that kind of place, where you want it to yourself. Paris is not like this. Not to me anyway.

Tomorrow we will be in Senlis, Saturday Paris, for the Techno Parade. Sunday I will be home.