Monday, August 30, 2010


I’ve been collecting notes on a number of stellar beverages over the past six weeks that I thought important to share with you. Let this dewy-eyed remembrance of recently-consumed beers serve as a consumer guide of sorts – a helpful shorthand look at those ales you should be going full-on gonzo to acquire an experience with, as well as a cautionary tale of several to avoid (or ignore). Let’s take it from the top, as it were.


BROOKLYN BREWING “SORACHI ACE” – An absolutely brilliant-tasting saison, as good as it gets and then some. SORACHI ACE is an amazingly dry and cloudy ale, which ratchets down the normal yeast and hops in your typical garden-variety saison, and adds a really rich, lemony zest to the whole thing. You smell this thing for miles – and then even better, you get to taste it. A masterpiece completely deserving of the word. 10/10.

NEBRASKA BREWING “HOP GOD - RESERVE SERIES, AGED IN FRENCH OAK CHARDONNAY BARRELS"” – This was a landmark beer for me. A year ago I wrote a post claiming I’d (probably) never buy a beer that cost more than $20. Whilst in New York, with all the good feeling and money-wasting extravagance such a visit inspires, I dropped the hammer on this one at the urging of a friend. $23. I actually put it back after it was rung up, then said awwhatthehell. And confound it, it was actually that good. A Belgian IPA with tripel-like spiciness – yum. A musty yeast smell gives way to grapefruit tang, and the “unmistakable flavor” of Chardonnay barrel – which this reserve version of HOP GOD was aged in. 10% ABV, 101 IBU, and one of the strongest, most special, and most truly barrel-aged beers I’ve ever had. 9.5/10.

PRETTY THINGS “FIELD MOUSE’S FAREWELL” – Here’s another of my new favorite brewers, who knocked me cold with their excellent BABY TREE not long ago. This rustic golden ale has barley, oats, wheat and rye making the magic happen, and yes, “rustic” is the operative word. A deep golden ale that these Massachusetts-based yankees make you feel was transported from the cobblestoned streets of Brussels about five minutes ago. 9/10.


BARON BREWING – “THREE SKULLS BLOOD ORANGE WIT” – Oh yeah. A really drinkable witbier I had in a Seattle restaurant last week after being told “you’ll like this if you like BLUE MOON”. I actually kinda do like Blue Moon, and I like this a lot better. Yellow/orange pour, thick luscious mouthfeel, with rich blood orange taste and a little grapefruit. More fruit beer than wit. Really drinkable and something I pray to YHWH I’ll get more of someday. 8.5/10.


STONE/VICTORY/DOGFISH HEAD – “SAISON DU BUFF” – It smells of yeast. It tastes of yeast. Hey, I’ll bet there’s even yeast in the beer. This collaboration saison between two giants and one near-giant is quite delicious. They say it has “parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme”. Ouch – you almost lost me there. It’s not all that evident, but there is a marked spiciness. Foamy, carbonated, and when it was gone I pronounced it a 7.5/10.

THE BRUERY - “TRADE WINDS TRIPEL” – Because j’adore THE BRUERY, and hold them to a very high standard, this came off as something of a disappointment, while still being quite good. This Belgian tripel is less dry and more fruity than I’m used to. Citrusy orange, yeasty of course, and a little sweet. Just not a Bruery-style knockout. 7/10.

NAPA SMITH “BONFIRE” – This sat in my “beer fridge” for so long I finally had to crack it open because I was beginning to feel sorry for the brewer. It’s a nice imperial porter, weighing in at 8%. Creamy coffee and chocolate taste, a little more coffee than cocoa. Thin body, nice smell and very slight alcohol burn. A decided step below The Abyss, Black Butte XXII etc. but they should still be proud they got it this good. 7/10.


21ST AMENDMENT – “WIT CIN’D” – A cinnamon witbier? Well all right. A spicy, fresh, 6% ABV wheat ale with thick mouthfeel and high carbonation. Drinkable and interesting. Like a lot of 21A’s beers it’s “good enough”, but seems like they should be aiming a little bit higher than that, don’t you think? 6.5/10.

DESCHUTES BREWING - “HOP IN THE DARK” – I want to take a point off my score simply because of the trumped-up PR term “Cascadian dark ale” – barf! – that some Oregonians want to apply to any IPA that’s black in color. This wasn’t all that bad for a dark IPA, just somewhat thinner and less flavorful than I’d expected from a heavyweight like Deschutes. 6/10.


ELYSIAN “THE IMMORTAL” IPA – Don’t know what it is about ELYSIAN BREWING in Seattle, but I just do not like their beer. Every one of these well-distributed ales that I try falls well below the midpoint for the style, including with this IPA that I see everywhere. Malty, piney hops, and so little in the way of zest or character that it tastes like sloppy homebrew that I’d make. And I don’t even brew. 5/10.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


This compilation is a companion piece to two similar comps that I put up on my old DETAILED TWANG blog - #1 is here, #2 is here – and also a compliment to my review of Eric Davidson’s “WE NEVER LEARN” book that I posted a couple of weeks ago. In fact it was reading that book that gave me the proverbial gumption to roast & rip this thing for you. There is just so much garage punk treasure from this era that it’d be a shame to just have it sit in boxes at my house, and yeah, most of it’s totally out of print and lost to time. This compilation contains such savers of civilization as THE CHEATER SLICKS (cover heroes), THE GORIES, SUPERCHARGER, THE NIGHTS AND DAYS and CLAW HAMMER, each captured in the rose-colored bloom of their snarling youth.

All tracks are circa 1990-1993; all come from 45s. Every track rules, and you can quote me on that. (Except maybe for the Blues Explosion stuff, which did not date well). If you want to make a CD out of this, it all fits.

Track listing
2. FIREWORKS – She’s a Tornado
3. CLAW HAMMER – Sick Fish Belly Up
5. GAUNT – Jim Motherf*cker
7. GORIES – Give Me Some Money
8. OBLIVIANS – Jim Cole
9. DOO RAG – Swampwater Mop Down
12. BUNNYBRAINS – On The Floor Again
13. INHALANTS – Kolchak, The Night Stalker
14. HONEYMOON KILLERS – Vanna White, Goddess of Love
17. BLUE – King F*ggot Man
18. GORIES – To Find Out
19. SUPERCHARGER – Want It Bad
20. FIREWORKS – Untrue
21. OBLIVIANS – No Reason To Live
23. DOO RAG – Engine Bread
24. BASSHOLES – 98 Degrees in the Shade
25. INHALANTS – Middle Ages
26. GORIES – You Don’t Love Me
27. CHEATER SLICKS – This Life of Mine
28. SUPERSUCKERS – Caliente
29. HONEYMOON KILLERS – You Can’t Do That
30. CLAW HAMMER – Moonlight on Vermont

Download TWIST AND BURN, VOLUME 3 (this is a .zip file)

Monday, August 23, 2010


One of my earliest political memories is of something nebulous and complicated that was going on when I was 6 years old called “Watergate”. In August 1974, I remember being shushed as my extended family gathered around a TV in my Aunt Adele’s living room to watch President Richard Nixon give his resignation speech. I had hippie uncles on both sides of my family who made underhanded comments about the President and his lies and his war; I had conservative parents who not only voted for Nixon, but actively worked to re-elect him in 1972. So though I am barely able to remember it, we were living right smack in the middle of “NIXONLAND”, right there in our own family.

I knew I was eventually going to be reading Rick Perlstein’s 750-page nonfiction history of Richard Nixon and the times he presided over & helped to stoke/flame, from the moment this book hit the bestseller lists and I found out about it. Perlstein wrote my favorite book I read all of last year, and one of the best pieces of history I’ve ever read: “BEFORE THE STORM: BARRY GOLDWATER & THE UNMAKING OF THE AMERICAN CONSENSUS”. You can read my review of that book by clicking here. This book picks up more or less where that one left off, after a few chapters about Nixon’s childhood and rise to power – his Vice-Presidency under Eisenhower, his loss to Kennedy for the presidency in 1960, and his premature exit from politics soon thereafter (the famous “you won’t have Nixon to kick around any longer”). More importantly, these early chapters are not a rote recitation of biography, but set up the dichotomy that Nixon exploited time and again his entire career: the resentment felt by the common, “left-behind” everyman and everywoman at the gains made by the pointed-headed liberal intellectual types, who brushed away the turmoil of the 60s that was tearing up cities, neighborhoods and families with a condescending sweep of hand (or phrase). The common folk were presciently dubbed The Silent Majority by Nixon and his people, and this phrase captured the mood of the US electorate like no other before or since. I might add that no politician as inherently unlikeable (or as hideously paranoid and self-loathing) as Richard Nixon has done so much with so little since then as well.

This book is important for the generations of us who came of age after the 1968 and 1972 elections, who have a hard time understanding – what with all we’ve been spoon-fed our entire lives about the glories of 60s protest, the Civil Rights struggle, the liberation of women etc. – how Richard Nixon, of all people, won such convincing elections in those two years. More so than in his Goldwater book, Perlstein shows his political hand pretty clearly in this one. He (mostly) appears to detest Nixon, while at times expressing admiration (of a sort) for his tactics. It mostly comes down to Vietnam, which Perlstein details, atrocity by atrocity, lie by lie, until it’s hard not to get pretty worked up by the whole thing. It’s an equal-opportunity sort of takedown of the 1960s' main players. When the book seems like it’s going to bury Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon for their many cover-ups and mistakes on Vietnam, it shifts focus abruptly, and buries the Tom Haydens, the Black Panthers, the Hubert Humphreys just as effectively. Hypocrisy, grandstanding, and bullying tactics get equal savaging in this book, which makes it pretty fun to read – since so many of these people seem like utter cartoons forty years later.

The inner machinations of elections have never been as fascinating as they are here. The American system of government looks like a fragile African military junta as times, when one considers the power wielded by men like Richard M Daley in Chicago, or the ways in which Nixon’s “dirty tricks” committees found quasi-legal methods to undercut their opponents en route to his landslide victory in ’72. I didn’t know much about how or why McGovern was anointed at the savior of the Democratic Party that year, but now I understand how the left-wing half of the electorate felt the burning need to “go for broke” in the wake of a catastrophic Vietnam war. Also, Perlstein does a good job recounting Nixon’s despicable kowtowing to Labor in the name of more votes, which unleashed “wage and price controls” on American business, one of the worst ideas of any era, and one which made the 70s easily the worst decade in recent American economic history.

There is one bit of Perlstein journalistic shorthand that may very well drive one crazy. I’m so used to it now, after reading these two giant books, that I’ve made my peace with it – but it’s the only detraction from two otherwise nearly-perfect books. Perlstein, whenever he wishes to capture the feverish or crazed mood of America in a given moment in time, recites several paragraphs-long snapshots in time that are supposed to make us feel the rising dread and terror on the back of our necks. Here’s an example of how it works (making this one up, but it’s 99% like ones you’ll encounter throughout the book):

While Nixon continued his law-and-order barnstorming through America’s heartland, America itself was on fire. A riot broke out in Peoria, Illinois when a black man was stopped by a cop. A construction worker in Brooklyn was heard to say, “Let’s shoot all the n*ggers”. Students were burning draft cards in Ohio. In San Francisco, the Weather Underground blew up a storage shed behind a police station. George Wallace was lecturing an audience in Alabama that contained at least 5 known Klansmen. A mysterious 4am fire in Chicago at a Labor Union office. Abbie Hoffman, on TV, telling people to kill their parents. Behind the scenes, Richard Nixon was laughing.

That sort of thing. OK, that’s my parody version, but when you read the book – and I whole-heartedly suggest you invest the time – you’ll see what I mean. The book is a totally immersive plunge into the American mindset of 1964-1972, and I won’t look at that time the same way again after the experience. It’s that good, and that all-encompassing. Perlstein has the gift of being able to make the seemingly mundane pace-quickening, and despite my kidding above, does a great job capturing real snippets from the American zeitgeist to capture the mood. The United States has never been torn asunder the way it was during these tumultuous years, and never has it had a politician so good at exploiting the divisions for his own advantage. When Nixon is finally brought down, at the end – as you knew he would be – the curtain abruptly closes without a whole lot of detail on Watergate and the resignation, leaving one to wonder what Perlstein’s next move might be. The Ford era (ha!)? The Church commission, the CIA hearings, the backlash election of Jimmy Carter, followed by the rise of Reagan? Now we’re talking. I’ll spend another 750 small-type pages and many, many weeks devouring that one.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Well, let’s be technically accurate. I could have toured the DESCHUTES BREWING facility in Bend, Oregon – I drove right by during touring hours. But then I would have had to look at kettles and tanks and lackeys mashing the wort, when all I really care about is drinking the product. You scientist/brewing types who dig that sort of thing – well, bless ya. You make my hobby/vice what it is. But no, I went to the “DESCHUTES BREWERY & PUBLIC HOUSE”, which was the original home of the brewery in 1988 and is now a restaurant and pub. It was something that was an absolute must on our vacation to Bend, and my wife and son were kind enough to accompany me as I got busy with their beer.

Had I been left to my own devices, I would have done some real damage here. In the late 90s, their BLACK BUTTE PORTER was one of my go-to beers, along with MIRROR POND PALE ALE. Now, as then, those are their flagships, but they’re still a very renown brewer among beer dorks thanks to limited, seasonal, high-alcohol masterpieces like THE ABYSS and MIRROR MIRROR. My friend Erica, who lived in Bend during her formative years, told me that the pub was the place to try all their “experimental” beers that they were considering for wider distribution – and so it was in 2010 as well. I had to hit them up for a sampler; here’s what I tried:
  • SAISON DE LA BLONDE – Excellent, classic saison.7.5/10.
  • HOP TRIAL STRONG ALE – No real recollection on what this was, I’m afraid, but I scored it a 7.5/10.
  • TROPISH BRUIN – A fruity, Belgian brown ale that uses the tamarind fruit. I’m guessing this doesn’t make it into bottles anytime soon. 6/10.
  • BLACK BUTTE XXII – Wow. This new version of their amped-up Black Butte Porter (last year’s was, naturally, BLACK BUTTE XXI) is going to whup some serious tail. I absolutely loved this rich, creamy, intense imperial porter. 9.5/10.
  • BELGIAN IPA – 7/10.
  • MCAYELAH SCOTCH ALE – Way too sweet, definitely an experiment that maybe shouldn’t have even made it this far. 5/10.
Keep an eye out for that BLACK BUTTE XXII because it’s going to knock your socks off your ass. And if you’re in Bend anytime soon, this is one of 7 breweries within the city limits, and easily (and deservedly) the most popular. Go there, and tell them the ‘Jive sent you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


No, this is not a rehash of why North Korea’s the most terrifying totalitarian nightmare-state since Stalin’s Soviet Union – though it is a topic I’m perversely interested in, since we’ll all likely witness the eruption (and hopefully the liberation) of the North Korean people within our lifetimes. It will be a major event, full of grim revelations that will blow the lid off the most tightly-controlled society of our time. I recently read BR Myers’ North Korea book “THE CLEANEST RACE”, which attempts to understand juche and racial theory, and why The State acts as it does, and how it chooses to willingly portray itself to the outside world. The book is OK – I can’t say I fully recommend it, if only because it’s more of a polemic that I found it hard to learn from. Yet I, and probably all of us, want to know more about the lost, only-sometimes-lamented people of North Korea and the horrific deprivations they suffer on a daily basis.

These two recent podcasts, both very short, are helpful. One comes from the NEW YORKER OUT LOUD podcast, and it’s an interview with Barbara Demick, who wrote a book high on my must-read list called “NOTHING TO ENVY: REAL LIVES IN NORTH KOREA”. In this podcast she recounts her interviews with refugees who slipped across the Chinese border, and the lives they chose to leave back home. The other is from the Cato Institute, and it’s a bit of a polemic itself, about a hideous, punitive currency devaluation that was undertaken by the regime last November that’s having catastrophic effects on the long-suffering people of the DPRK. I listened to them back to back earlier this week, and thought they were devastating enough to share them with you today.

Listen to The New Yorker Out Loud – Barbara Demick on North Korean Refugees

Listen to The Cato Daily Podcast – A Fresh North Korean Tragedy

Download The New Yorker Out Loud – Barbara Demick on North Korean Refugees
Download The Cato Daily Podcast – A Fresh North Korean Tragedy

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I made you a mix CD that compiles a great deal of the outstanding musical compositions being created by young people today. Believe it or not, we’re still paying attention. It’s not difficult – finding the good stuff only requires a Google Reader subscription to the best music blogs, as well as some occasional searching through The Hype Machine to find out what bands you’ve read about actually sound like. Throw in the odd iTunes download, and blam – you’ve got 26 killer tracks that represent the finest in up-and-coming “modern music” that creative youth are playing for their peers at record hops and dance parties all over the world.

But seriously folks. This is a compilation I made myself out of new-ish 45s and downloads, and I thought you might want to hear it. It’s got a more “pop” bent than any of the previous 17 new-stuff comps I’ve made myself over the past few years, which is in keeping with the gradual but unmistaken mellowing of my musical taste that now favors buoyant garagy-pop music over snarling, guns-blazing punk and noise. Especially when the ladies are singin’. Which is not to say this stuff’s everyone’s bag – my guess is it’s a little too sub-underground and fuzzy for most folks who come to our blog for the beer blather – but who knows, you might find a new favorite band if you’re ready to free your music-lovin’ mind.

Everything here was released in the last two years, and over 90% within the past 1-4 months. There are other acts that The Hedonist Jive heartily endorses who are not represented here – Yellow Fever and White Mystery are two that spring to mind – and hopefully me sharing a song or two from these folks doesn’t raise anyone’s dander. Download this .zip file, zap it over into iTunes, and/or burn a 60-minute CD of it and lemme know what you think.

Track Listing

3. HARLEM – Someday Soon
4. DUM DUM GIRLS – Pay For Me
5. TEENANGER – Big Spirit Payback
6. VERONICA FALLS – Beachy Head
7. TY SEGALL – Caesar
8. BEST COAST – Far Away
9. MIND SPIDERS – Worlds Destroyed
10. WETDOG – Trehorne Beach Song
11. WOUNDED LION – Creatures In The Cave
12. SLOW ANIMAL – Saturday Mourning
13. THE SPLINTERS – Blood On My Hands
14. BASS DRUM OF DEATH – Get Found
15. AIAS – La Truita
16. THE MANTLES – Cascades
17. THE ETTES – No Home
18. HARLEM – Spray Paint
19. VERONICA FALLS – Stephen
20. TY SEGALL – Swag
21. EAT SKULL – Don’t Leave Me On The Speaker
22. DUM DUM GIRLS – Brite Futures
23. UNNATURAL HELPERS – Sunshine/Pretty Girls
24. BAKE SALE – Meanwhile
25. GERMAN MEASELS – Wild Weekend
26. WETDOG – Womens’ Final

Download THE HEDONIST JIVE GUIDE TO MODERN MUSIC, 2010 (this is a .zip file)

Monday, August 16, 2010


Just returned from 8 nights in Oregon and Xtreme Northern California and that's why it's been a little quiet around here of late. We traveled up to Bend, Oregon in search of sun, and got a ton of it - and also decided in short order that Bend's easily one of the most beautiful towns in the US, with tons to do outside, great food, zero crime, clean livin'- and yeah: the largest concentration of breweries per capita in the United States. Seven - seven for a town of 80,000. One of them you've heard of - DESCHUTES BREWING - and I'll be reporting on my experiences there later. I did a lot of other beer exploration on this jaunt, and figured you'd be wanting a "scene report" right about now. Onward!

STANDING STONE AMBER - Leading off with this one simply because it's the best photo I snapped....and the final beer I enjoyed on the trip. Moreover, it broke a streak of five IPA's in a row. We stopped at this longtime (1996) brewery in Ashland for dinner, and not only was the food fantastic (I had the tempeh stir-fry after 7 nights of burgers, pizza and whatnot), so was this seemingly simply amber ale. Fresh-tasting beyond belief, with light caramel malts and a faint heavy fruit taste. Easily one of the best ambers I've had in a long time. 8/10.

CASCADE LAKES IPA - This brewery was a mere 3 miles from where we were staying in Bend. Their IPA is a great pine bomb, really hoppy and carbonated, with loads of bitter aftertaste and tongue-buzzing going on. They didn't label it a "double" (it is 90 IBUs) but that's sure what it felt like. Loved it. 8/10.

LAURELWOOD WORKHORSE INDIA PALE ALE - Whoa, really bitter, one that actually took some getting used to. Chalky (in a good way), cloudy, piney and way-strong. This is a Portland brewer and I picked up a bomber of this at a hippie grocery store in Bend for $3.99. Totally got "groovin'" with it after it harshed my mellow a little at first. 7.5/10.

10 BARREL S1NIST0R BLACK ALE - Apparently 10 BARREL are the newest of Bend's 7 breweries, and they make a fairly decent "black ale". Not quite a porter; malty and light and easy to drink, with a distant whiff of the cocoa plant. 6.5/10.

SILVER MOON HOP KNOB - Read something about this being an "English IPA" or a "light IPA" - no friggin' way. Sure, it’s “only” 40 IBUs and 5.7% alcohol, but it tastes way stronger on both counts. Creamy, with light citrus taste dominating over the malts. A really good bitter IPA from another small Bend brewer. 7/10.

TERMINAL GRAVITY IPA - Finally, the winner of the trip. TERMINAL GRAVITY brew out of Enterprise, OR, and this IPA popped up everywhere we went in Central Oregon. The kids obviously love it, and so do I. Big, bold fruit-forward IPA with medium hops. Nice “fermented” taste – a real beer lover’s beer that can also be relished by the hoi polloi. 8.5/10.

This is a wonderful town that’s worth a trip in & of itself, even if you’re teetotaling. Some of the most majestic scenery I’ve ever come across – Crater Lake, Mt. Bachelor, Skaggs Lake, whitewater rafting down the Deschutes River & more. And if you like white people, man, is Bend the town for you (this is something the locals are a little embarrassed about – easily the least diverse city I’ve ever been to). We’ve decided to make it part of our vacation rotation every couple of years, a decision made only in small part because of the breweries. I’ll tell you about the Deschutes Brewing visit next time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Most of us who get head-over-heels fanatical about rocknroll music typically see our fanaticism crest at a young-ish age, with the teenage and early 20s being a particular time of record-buying frenzy and live-show abandon. That’s how it worked for me anyway, and my glory period was roughly 1982-1995 or so, which bookended the years I turned 15 and 28. That’s when my 45rpm and LP collection was expensively crafted into the low four digits; when I thought nothing of going to a marginal, maybe-this-might-be-fun four-band bill on any given Tuesday night; and it also happened to be about 75% of the period covered in Eric Davidson’s total action-thwuper of a new book, “WE NEVER LEARN!”.

“WE NEVER LEARN” stitches together a topic that I really never thought anyone would care to tackle in a “literary” way – the garage punk heyday of the 1990s. This era is best represented (to me, anyway) by bands like THE GORIES, THE CHEATER SLICKS, SUPERCHARGER, THE OBLIVIANS and many other fine knuckle-draggers. We can all argue about how important this music was in the overall pantheon of rock & roll; about whether it represented a “reaction” to the mainstreaming of garage-based punk sounds or not; and about which bands are worthy of conversation in such a tome. Davidson, as the front-man of the NEW BOMB TURKS, a fine slashing combo in their own right who were certainly among the more popular of the garage punk bands, had a front-row look at many of the goings-on in this loosely-defined scene. I like his take on things because it’s not a “scene-y” sort of book; Davidson is obviously a music freak and record nerd first, and a glad-handing and back-slapping rock and roll frontman second. His mind was blown by Cleveland’s DEATH OF SAMANTHA, of all acts (though there was a short period around 1989 when I too professed them to be my “favorite band”), and that led him to go deeper into the more raw, 60s-influenced sounds coming from his home state of Ohio and across the US in the late 80s.

The book, through a series of interview and recollections with label heads, bands and even yours truly (look it up! I somehow made it in here four times, including a picture of my 90s fanzine Superdope), draws a sharp line in the sand, upon which one side stood the oft-mocked Beatle-boot-wearin’, shag-haircut-sportin’ 80s bands like The Fuzztones, The Unclaimed, The Miracle Workers etc. – bands that we used to call “60s punk” back then – and the new breed of raw, dirty and haphazard slop bands that came out in the late part of that decade – PUSSY GALORE, LAZY COWGIRLS and some of the better Sub Pop/Amphetamine Reptile label stuff. These new eye-openers tarted up their two- and three-chord action with a level of grime, reverb, or just all-out aggression that wasn’t seen on the other side of the line, and man, I took to it like white on rice, as did Davidson. His book adds another key element to what makes this music distinct from rote punk rock or noisy rock music – its sense of fun (or absurdity). Outside of perhaps the amazing Cheater Slicks – not a “fun” band most of the time, but still a little lyrically goofy on their best tracks like “Possession” and “I’m Grounded” – the bands recounted here were either musically or lyrically ungifted or tongue-in-cheek, with perhaps the best example (and obviously one of Davidson’s fave bands) being THE DWARVES.

As I devoured this book over 3 successive nights, I’ll be honest – I felt not only a little nostalgia but a hint of jealousy too. Thinking that this music that was so crucial to my own youth was too unimportant to the public at large, I never even considered that it might one day be captured in book form. I read this wishing I’d taken a stab at writing it myself – and I want to note that it’s NOT because there are wide deficiencies in Davidson’s account of it. Sure, I think I could come up with a better catch-all term than “gunk punk”, which is cringe-worthy but meaningless and harmless in the end. No, I’ve never heard the bands “The Candy Snatchers” nor “Nashville Pussy”, so their late-90s exploits probably wouldn’t have made my book. And I probably wouldn’t have defined the music as in any way a reaction to grunge mania, The Offspring, Green Day and whatnot – because bad or boring music then, as now, is exceptionally easy to ignore. My take is that these garage punk acts were more taking inspiration from each other and the sounds of the past than anything going on “above-ground”. Davidson does a great job recognizing the massive impact the BACK FROM THE GRAVE (60s punk) and KILLED BY DEATH (70s punk) compilations had on these guys, and that showed in his own band as well (my jaw hit the floor when I saw The New Bomb Turks perform “Job” by THE NUBS in Seattle in 1993).

“WE NEVER LEARN” provoked this twinge of jealously mostly because I feel like Davidson’s already captured the proverbial lightning in a bottle so well, and named all the names that needed to be named (save for Claw Hammer and Rob Vasquez &The Night Kings), that the book on the era and this music is very nearly closed already. If you “came of age” during this time, or have good tidings toward the music, you’ll absolutely find the book to be a stone-cold action thwuper, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


San Francisco. Where when we’re not taking our cable cars halfway to the stars, we’re downing boilermakers at the Mark Hopkins after work, or eating a big sourdough bread bowl of crab cioppino at our favorite restaurants on Fisherman’s Wharf. That’s the popularized version of San Francisco in the 1940s and 1950s, the era from which most of these postcards from my grandmother’s extensive collection came from. As told in our previous posts of Grandma’s Postcards (the first one is here; the second one is here), these all came to me when she passed away several years ago. I’ve culled my favorites and put them into categories, and this is the San Francisco batch. My grandmother lived the second half of her life in Berkeley and El Cerrito, California, just across the Bay from SF (“The City”). Here are a few idealized postcard snapshots that ended up in her treasure trove (click on them to enlarge):

Yes, selecting the crabs for a local's nightly hot meal - this is a big part of daily life in San Francisco, with our great masses of fresh-off-the-boat Italian immigrants greeting us every evening at Fisherman's Wharf, bringing their "old country fisherman" ways to the New World:

Beautiful shot of Union Square as it looked in the 1960s:

Whoa - watch out tourists, it's the "Crookedest Street in the World!!"

I checked for you - these guys haven't been taking reservations for at least 60 years:
These next two came to my Grandmother from the San Francisco Treasure Island World's Fair in 1939:

The most iconic image of San Francisco - it's still a pretty big deal for those of us who pay $6 to traverse it from time to time:

This is the newly-created Broadway Tunnel, taking locals into the sin and vice of North Beach and Chinatown:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I threw a mild – very mild – rebuke to the city of Portland, Oregon and their “Beervana” reputation a couple of posts ago, and as expected, I myself got rebuked. Good times. That tossed-off line wasn’t to put a pox on all of the Great State of Oregon, no sir – not when there’s NINKASI BREWING ’s awesome double IPA TRICERAHOPS heading down the I-5 from Eugene. And not when I’ve just booked the family for a vacation to Ashland and Bend, Oregon coming up, a replacement trip for Santa Barbara. Those of you on the California coast, you know what redonkulous weather we’re having this summer. I read that the summer average in Los Angeles this year is 66 degrees. Say what? Next week’s highs in Santa Barbara? 65 degrees, for what was supposed to be the quintessential beach/pool vacation. It’s time to head north, to the land of NINKASI beer and 85-degree head-scorching.

Just looking at this picture I snapped of TRICERAHOPS is making me ungodly thirsty. The beer showed up inexplicably at a Beverages & More store in Emeryville, CA, and I flat-out couldn’t believe my luck. I’d just read that week about how NINKASI BREWING were masters of the India Pale Ale arts, and here were two of them ready for purchase in Northern California (the other was TOTAL DOMINATION IPA, which I haven’t tried yet). And then they delivered, and then some. TRICERAHOPS is about as creamy as a hoppy beer gets, pouring a luscious and viscous orange/brown color and biting the heck out of the tongue with piney hops. Really juicy and strong, with a deep and rich malt body that gives some oomph to counteract the hops. Apparently it steps on the scales at 100 IBU’s, and as we discussed previously, that’s a lot of bittering action. Definitely up in the top tier of IPAs to be had, and it’s refreshing to know that there are new monsters to be discovered in that category every week if you choose to look for ‘em. 8.5/10.