Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Far be it for me to suggest that you might only share a portion of my wide-ranging interests, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that there’s a few of you who’ve arrived on these shores a little bummed out to find whatever it is you’ve found. You might not drink beer. You might hate books, and all printed matter, and ideas of any kind. You might be looking for some free mp3s. My politics may repel you. The only thing you care about in this world may in fact be beer.

I’ve got some ways to make this site whatever it is you want it to be. Let me reiterate how to manage this experience so it becomes yours:

1. Look to your right. See those labels? The Hedonist Jive has been customized for your tastes. You only want to read beer reviews? Click on "beer". Want music blather only? Why, there's a category called "Music" just for you. Are my watery-eyed life memories something you feel you need to read? Click on "Memories". And so on.

2. Follow me on Twitter. I always post links to each post here, links that you can ignore or follow at your pleasure. I’m @jayhinman.

3. Get this blog into Google Reader. It’s the easiest way to follow all sorts of blogs, and then it’s easy to follow (or not follow) on an RSS reader on your phone as well (I use Mobile RSS on iPhone).

Hopefully that’s helpful at some level and can reduce the shock of seeing a cheese review where you expected a full-LP download, or vice-versa.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Just in the past few weeks I've received not one but two emails requesting that I re-post some songs I'd put up on my old blog Detailed Twang way back in 2007. Turns out that not everything's available with a click or two on the internet. Perhaps, with this post, everything now is. I'm talking of course of the legendary 1982 issue of TAKE IT! fanzine and the flexidisc that came with it - the one featuring here-only tracks by THE FLESH EATERS, THE MEAT PUPPETS and TEX & THE HORSEHEADS.

I'll go ahead and re-post what I wrote back then - tracks are available for download at the bottom. And I promise I will scan this entire magazine at some point and put it up on this blog

Other than my copies of FORCED EXPOSURE, the one 1980s fanzine I intend to take to the grave with me is the 1982 issue of TAKE IT! magazine, with CHRIS D. and the FLESH EATERS on the cover & nothing but quality on the inside. The magazine perfectly captured the rock n roll zeitgeist of the post-punk, mid-hardcore era, with heavy attention to outstanding bands like The Flesh Eaters, Half Japanese, The Fall etc. & great reviews & columns by the likes of Byron Coley and Don Howland, along with publisher Michael Koenig. It emanated from Florida (!), and this is the only copy I've ever seen or owned.

This is a magazine that on at least two occassions arrived with a "flexidisc" inside, as was fairly popular at the time. This particular flexi is a marvel. It features one of the most crazed tracks ever recorded by TEX & THE HORSEHEADS, with Jeffrey Lee Pierce on guitar. It contains an incredible MEAT PUPPETS track, "Teenager(s)", which features the greatest opening two seconds in the history of music, and which perfectly positions the band between their berzerk-core debut album and their country-fried masterpiece "Meat Puppets II". Finally, a live FLESH EATERS track from the height of their powers, apparently when they shared the stage with DIE KREUZEN on their quote-unquote "Toolin' for Beaver" tour. All copyright 1982. I've taken the Tex & the Flesh Eaters tracks directly from the flexi, but you get the Meat Puppets one from the CD reissue of "Meat Puppets II" (with loads of extra tracks), because - believe it or not - it sounds better. Enjoy!

Play Tex & The Horseheads, "Got Love If You Want It"

Download MEAT PUPPETS - "Teenager(s)"
Download THE FLESH EATERS - "River of Fever (live 1982)"

Friday, February 18, 2011


Last year I reviewed a very good documentary film about the Kuchar brothers, who are sub-underground filmmakers inhabiting a world so far off most filmgoers’ radars that they’re mainly revered for their complete and unbridled creative freedom, which they license with gusto – sometimes unwatchably so. When I was at my deepest into underground music, particularly at the dawn of the 90s, I found a lot of kindred spirits hanging out in this wild world of 16mm and Super-8 film. Our scenes crossed paths on many occasions in San Francisco. Sometimes bands would do their sets before weirdo films, sometimes weirdo films would play before bands, sometimes weirdo films would actually be screened on the band, and so on. I went to quite a few of these events at places like Artists’ Television Access, Klub Kommotion, The Chameleon - and later, Media Arts Center during my two years in Seattle. Due to a longtime friendship with filmmaker Danny Plotnick, I even “starred” in his great 1999 underground film “SWINGERS' SERENADE”, which you can view in its 24-minute entirety right here.

Jack Stevenson was a big man about town in his way during this period, particularly the early half. He was and is an undisputed expert on “cult film”, which is a term that Stevenson dissects and attempts to define at length in his book “LAND OF A THOUSAND BALCONIES”, which came out in 2003 and which I just finished reading this month. The book has probably become something of a cult object itself, but I’m sure you can find it online somehow. Stevenson used to program absurd film nights across town in some of the aforementioned clubs and bars; a typical night might have, say, an Ed Wood film and “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”, or more likely, something even more lowbrow and unheard-of. Around this time I subscribed to FILM THREAT magazine, which deified the underground filmmakers Jon Moritsugu (cool local filmmaker whom I used to talk to at Reckless Records every week), Gregg Araki, Craig Baldwin, Bruce LaBruce, Nick Zedd and their ilk. Jack Stevenson, though I don’t necessarily remember him writing for the magazine, just seemed to be omnipresent in and around that scene.

This book is a collection of essays chronicling Stevenson’s love of underground/cult film, with many detours into his personal experiences trying to screen his collection all over the world. Most were expressly written for this book, so it all hangs together very well. I found the sections about his attempts to get his prints in front of the people, usually a rock and roll audience, the most funny & revealing. There are forays into Boston, San Francisco, Copenhagen and beyond. There’s a terrific essay about San Francisco’s once-porno theater THE STRAND and other long-gone Market Street icons, as well as deep meditations on Technicolor, Christmas cult movies, “ham”, Maria Montez, San Francisco oddball film house “The Werepad”, John Waters, Russ Meyer and more.

The book is (obviously) something you can dip into and out of pretty easily – I say obviously because I bought it new in 2003 and finished it eight years later, after recovering it from a box during our latest move. I probably appreciate it primarily because I totally revere archivists like Stevenson, people who take neglected corners of sub-culture ephemera, particularly pre-digital corners, and do whatever it takes to put them in front of new audiences, all while ensuring that they’ll have a legacy that outlasts the physical film stock itself. He’s done that through his film collection and screenings, sure, but this book is a great literary addition to the limited canon explaining just how one went about being a lover of underground cult film in those strange years immediately prior to the internet.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


The smartest thing I’ve ever done – well, the smartest car audio thing I’ve ever done – was to drop $125 on a car stereo about two years ago that included a plug to hook my iPhone into. That doesn’t sound like much, you say? Well that’s likely because you don’t (yet) have an iPhone or that anachronistic, so-last-decade totemistic “iPod”. If you did have one of these Apple fetish objects, you’d know that once you can power one of these things and their nearly unlimited music/podcast-carrying potential via the mere battery in your car, the one that already comes with the car, your life changes. Changes. For the better, I might add.

Now I am consuming audiobooks at a feverish pace, and moreover, I am well-versed in the available world of podcasts for Apple devices. I set a pretty high bar when it comes to my personal entertainment, so rest assured that anything recommended in this “Hedonist Jive Guide To Podcasts” has been vetted and thoroughly researched for entertainment or enlightenment value. Granted, you’ll need to share my tastes in many regards for this list to be of any meaning or value to you – but I reckon you’re on my blog this very moment, so you're already making a statement of some kind about your high degree of sophistication and worldliness. Let’s proceed, shall we?

THIS AMERICAN LIFE – I’m starting with the easy one, the one everyone listens to already either on NPR or via its weekly podcast. I don’t miss a one of them, but it wasn’t always this way for me. Full write-up on this show’s wonders and my journey toward them, by me, is right here.

MIKE AND TOM EAT SNACKS – Only 4 episodes in, and this is already my second favorite podcast. Of all time? Maybe. Michael Ian Black is one of the finest comedians currently mining the comedic genre, and has been for some time. He and an equally funny fellow previously unknown to me named Tom Cavanaugh host a new weekly program centered around a snack foodstuff that they’re both trying again, often for the first time since childhood. Episodes have included riffs on Cheetos, Keebler Fudge Stripes, Slim Jims and so on. If I had just read that description, and you’d written it, I probably wouldn’t download this thing, so you’ll have to trust me that the snack portion of each show is extremely funny, and everything else is even better. I am in awe sometimes of how quick-witted, well-timed and verbose certain comedians can be, and these guys are among the best I’ve ever encountered.

DAN CARLIN’S HARDCORE HISTORYDan Carlin is a former TV reporter and radio talk-show host who has fully embraced this new medium and made it his own. While his “centrist” political podcast Common Sense is also recommended with some slight reservations (it’s a little overwrought at times, and like all centrists, a little mushy when it comes to solutions to some of our more plaguesome problems), HARDCORE HISTORY is recommended with full honors. This amateur but exceptionally well-studied historian brings a rich & detailed perspective and gripping narrative to historical events like WWII’s Eastern Front, the fall of Rome, the Punic Wars and much more. Way better than a college history class, and there’s no follow-up essay required.

FREEDARKO PRESENTS: THE DISCIPLES OF CLYDE – Pro basketball’s only my second favorite sport, way behind baseball, but I’ve noticed that there are some hilarious and sharp people out there who’ve made the NBA their unrivaled passion, and talk about it with style and panache. Take the collective known as FREEDARKO. They’ve got two excellent books on hoops out now, both required reading, and their podcast is pretty great as well. Imagine the smartest, nerdiest Jews you know knowing more about the NBA than any other topic, and imagine them having the ability to riff about NBA arcana for well over an hour each show. Would you listen to that? I sure do.

WTF WITH MARC MARON – Comedian Marc Maron’s podcast is one of iTunes’ most popular, and I’ll admit it’s a little hit and miss with me. Sometimes it depends on his guest, whom have ranged recently from Henry Rollins to Patton Oswalt to Sarah Silverman to Tom Scharpling. Most are comedians like Maron, and what’s usually funny is how often these 40-minute interviews end up being psychotherapy sessions for Maron himself. He’s a very admittedly messed-up individual who’s “always all up in his head”, and I can’t count the number of interviews that begin with him making an apology to his guest for some long-ago slight. It’s worth downloading a few episodes to at least see if you can hang with it.

CATO DAILY PODCAST – Here’s where the figurative off switch flips for dozens (a dozen?) of Hedonist Jive readers. This is a daily short podcast on the issues of the day by the libertarian Cato Institute. I listen to it religiously, because there’s nothing like being preached to when you’re already converted.

THE SOUND OF YOUNG AMERICA – Another hit or miss, guest-dependent entertainment podcast, though I’ll admit I’ve warmed to host Jesse Thorn over the years. This show is also on NPR a few times a week, distributed by Public Radio International, and the podcast version also has things not on the radio version – like expletives. Interviews are short, tight and usually quite funny, and Thorn does a great job prepping for his guests, who are most often comedians or comic writers, but who can also varyingly be authors, actors or candlestick makers. It shows no signs of slowing down and continues to attract some real first-rate emerging or established talent.

THE NEW YORKER OUT LOUD – A 15-minute episode of out loud is like a little sprinkle to throw on top of one of these other, longer podcasts, and I usually find it well worth downloading each week. It usually takes a story in that week’s issue of the New Yorker and interviews the author in more detail than the story was able to go into. While it’s certainly a promotional podcast for the magazine, it never comes off that way. I actually have not bought an issue of the magazine for two years, and yet I listen to this almost every week. So there you go.

BASEBALL TODAY/NBA TODAY – Finally, these two ESPN podcasts are for limited audiences, with the limitation being your absurd reverence for blather and minutia connected to the professional sports of baseball and basketball. Baseball Today comes out every weekday during the season (6 weeks! 6 weeks away!), and is hosted by Eric Karabell and Seth Everett, who, after a rocky start, are actually an awesome team together. No one knows more about the MLB – not even me. Even they don’t know as much about baseball as Ryan Russillo does about the NBA. NBA Today comes over thrice a week, is about a half hour a pop, and gives even people (again, like me) who don’t watch enough live hoops all the crutching they need to catch up and stay informed. Because it’s so, so important that we stay informed about millionaires playing a children’s playground game, isn’t it?

Let me know what your favorite podcasts are in the comments, please. It is in fact possible that I missed a good one or two.


This is one of those “suitcase beers” we talk about in this forum from time to time: a beer I purposefully dropped major coin on while traveling. and tucked between yesterday’s socks and jeans in a suitcase to bring home from a work-related excursion. I found the “GUAVA GROVE” from Florida’s newly-celebrated CIGAR CITY BREWING at the Whole Foods Beer Room in New York City. If you haven’t been to this store and you’ve found yourself in NYC the past two years – shame on you. It not only has a wide selection of rare micros and deep catalogs of the East Coast’s major craft brewers, but there are at least 4 taps from which you can partake in this liquid nirvana. Even at, oh I don’t know, 3pm – if you want to.

Anyway, CIGAR CITY GUAVA GROVE arrived in my suitcase with a fair bit of hype attached to it. It has been categorized as a saison or farmhouse ale, which I suppose I can get behind in a stretch. I’d go with “funky, yeasty sour fruit ale” and invite a new category if I could. It’s tangy. Incredibly tangy. A Belgian-style tropical fruit ale, heavied up on the grapefruit flavor, and the guava as well, I’d imagine. Very caramel/creamy and pouring a deliciously thick dark orange. It’s a flavor I will definitely remember to the end of my dying days, and well worth the double digits you’ll be spending to throw it in your bag. 8/10.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Folks, there's an axiom I've become unfortunately privy to as I've aged. Back in my late teens and 20s, this axiom went something like this - bad hangovers, even awful ones, could be laughed off, because the previous evening's festivities could be said to have been "worth it". Yet now the axiom has been mercilessly flipped. It's hard for me to imagine a hangover that would make whatever amount of beer I'd had the night before worth it. Hangovers (I'm talking bad ones, not the I'm-a-little-bit-sleepy ones I still indulge in from time to time) are never worth it. I actively avoid them. I'll dis-invite myself from an evening of revelry if needed, or volunteer to drive, or do whatever it takes to not have that queasy, head-throbbin', I'm-pretty-sure-I'll never-drink-again feeling. Last time I felt that way was after the 2009 Pacific Coast Brewing Holiday Beerfest, the one I documented here. I banned myself from all beer festivals after that - and for 14 months, I truly and sanctimoniously stuck to my guns.

Friday night, the opening night of SAN FRANCISCO BEER WEEK, was my test. 35 brewers were on hand to pour their wares, many of whom brought "barrel-aged", "rare" and "collaboration" treats to mark the occasion. I just wasn't gonna miss out on that. Thus, a test. I needed to prove to myself that I could do this thing, try some amazing specialty ales from across California, and still bounce out of bed the next morning ready to seize the day. I'm happy to report that the evening, and the subsequent Saturday, was a smashing success. I've now got my festival game face on again. The secret? Well, there are a few secrets I've learned:

1. There's nothing wrong with pouring out a mediocre beer - just don't do it in front of the brewer;
2. Drink plenty of water every half hour or so;
3. Eat a big pulled pork sandwich;
4. Follow that up with a burrito at LA CORNETA near the Glen Park BART station afterward

You do all those things and, like me, you'll be a festival warrior and a big hit with the family the next morning ("Daddy, I thought you were going to be in bed all day and ignoring us like last time"). The festival, which was held at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, happened to coincide with some of the most incredible February weather ever recorded, and thus it was short-sleeves under the stars and lots of good vibes, happy people and beer flowing all night long.

Though the crowd definitely was heavily beer-dorkified, including the usual contingent of trivia-spouting, bearded, t-shirt wearin' aficionados looking to run elbows with their brewing superheroes, there was also a large smattering of (young, attractive) women, couples on dates and grizzled beer-loving old-timers. Here's a story that sets the tenor for our craft beer-loving times: I was talking with some friends and another couple, and we noticed the pitch of the crowd behind us growing in volume, and whirled around to find a crush of humanity around one individual, with tons of cameras and iPhones being held aloft to snap a picture with this deity. We were quite intrigued. I just read that morning that a bunch a A-listers from Hollywood were in town to film all weekend, folks like Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and so on. Would be pretty cool if one of them deigned to "beer down" with the common people. So I volunteered to navigate the crush to see who it was. I get over there, and - oh, whatever - it was Vinnie from Russian River Brewing. Seriously. I've seen people act this way around Snoop Dogg, or the baseball player Randy Johnson when I've seen them in public, but....the Russian River guy? Wow.

You're probably wondering about the beer I tried. Yeah, let's talk about that. There were some whoppers. My only goal was to make sure I tried the debut of ALMANAC BEER CO.'s "Summer 2010 Blackberry Ale", which wasn't simply the debut of this beer but of this brewery, which happens to be helmed by my pal Damian Fagan. This evening was their coming-out party, and this barrel-aged fruit beer, a Belgian golden ale with some saison characteristics, was excellent, and was completely gone before the halfway point of the night. I decided, given the circumstances, the crush of humanity and the inability for careful critical consideration, that I'd rate everything with a plus, two pluses or no plusses at all. Here's the rundown:

  • "BREWER'S GUILD IMPERIAL COMMON" - a collaborative, high-ABV common beer between multiple San Francisco-based brewers (21A, Speakeasy, Social Kitchen etc.) that blew me - and apparently me alone, judging from the comments of the friends - away. It's pictured at the top of the post.
  • DEVIL'S CANYON - "BOURBON-BARREL AGED SCOTCH ALE" - From Belmont, CA. No bottles, no brewpub. A definite up-n-comer.
  • SIERRA NEVADA - "2x4" (a blend of two Belgian-style ales)
  • RUSSIAN RIVER - "SUPPLICATION" (they were pouring right out of the corked-and-caged bottles, tons of 'em)
NO PLUSSES (which doesn't necessarily mean bad)
  • LAGUNITAS - "SAN FRANCISCO FUSION" (brewed for SF Beer Week)
  • DRAKE'S BREWING - "HOP SALAD" - (not nearly as good as it used to be, at least not tonight)
So we're off to a good start for SF Beer Week, a series of events I've barely participated in before due to reasons aforementioned. Tonight's an "up and coming brewers" event that I'll be very much in attendance for. Report and ranking shall be forthcoming.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I figure you’re an important person in a hurry; so am I – so – wheeee – let’s take a brief glimpse at a set of beers that Hedonist Jive encountered over the last six weeks & see what we make of ‘em, OK? You’ll notice that we chose pretty well these past few weeks, as almost everything I was lucky enough to imbibe landing in the upper two quartiles. We’re pretty tough graders around here, too. Let’s meet the beers of mid-Q1, and find out just what in tarnation is going on with them.


FIFTY FIFTY BREWING – “RED IS THE NEW BLACK IPA” – This Truckee, CA brewer is so far ahead of the curve that they’re not only already done with black IPAs, an annoying trend most brewers are just picking up on, they’ve created my favorite drink of 2011 so far. I know it’s bothersome when beer reviewers rave about something you can only get on draft at a tiny brewery hundreds or thousands of miles from your home – but hey, would ya rather I keep this information to myself? Who knows, maybe your travels will take you to the mountain town of Truckee before you know it. If it happens, do whatever you need to do to taste this incredibly balanced and spicy IPA. There are few beers that make the mouth water just from thought alone – this is one of them. A hoppy crimson magical blend that we’re gonna call a 10/10.

THE BRUERY – “COTON” – Certainly one of the most intensely boozy ales I’ve ever consumed, tipping the scales at 14% of its volume in alcohol – and yet another spectacular triumph from The Bruery. Exceptionally balanced “old ale”, perfect for dessert, redolent as it is in sweet caramel, brown sugar and dried fruit. Had heard that some folks didn’t like this one too much, but there’s really nothing I can find fault with in this near-perfect elixir. 9/10.

SOUTHERN TIER – “HEAVY WEIZEN” – It has been well over two years since I had my first wonderful bottle of this, and I still have yet to try or even find another “imperial hefeweizen”. It I had, it almost certainly would be a pale shadow of this beauty. A full-bodied, creamy, sweet and hot 8% ABV hefeweizen – something truly unique and special, and just as amazing as it was in 2008. 9/10.

CLOWN SHOES BREWING – “HOPPY FEET” – I’d been wanting to drink a beer from CLOWN SHOES BREWING just on name alone, a name which strikes me as only slightly less ludicrous than “Ska Brewing”. This first one I’ve downed from them is a stone-cold winner. Hoppy Feet is a black IPA with an overwhelming foamy head. Hoppy, and with a malty caramel taste to beat the proverbial band. Best non-yellow/orange IPA I think I’ve ever had. 8.5/10.


BROUWERIJ VAN HONSEBROUCK – “BACCHUS” – Bought this Flanders red ale completely blind, with no information going in, and came out of ingesting it a happier and overall much better person. It’s a chewy amber-brown sour ale, with a heavy maltiness and tastes of cherries and woodiness. Absolutely delicious. 8/10.

EL TORO BREWING – “WHISKEY CHIP STOUT” – Well how about this one. The brewer that everyone from the 1990s knows as “those guys who make Poppy Jasper” are still kicking, and have brewed the best beer I’ve had from them. Check this out – it’s a whiskey stout that has less than 6% alcohol, and yet retains virtually all the flavor of a big barrel-aged stout. You sacrifice some body to get it to taste this good, but none of the flavor at all. Well played! 8/10.

SIERRA NEVADA – “ESTATE HOMEGROWN WET HOP ALE” – Ever eaten out the inside of a hop cone? Neither have I, but this might be what that’d be like if said activity could be made to be pleasurable. Very smooth, absolutely bursting with hops and pine resin. Totally refreshing and challenging at the same time - what a fresh hop ale should taste like. 8/10.

MISSION BREWERY – “SHIPWRECKED DOUBLE IPA” – Really impressive piney, resiney, big IPA from San Diego. The backbone is totally rocking on this thing, with the hops, large and up front as they are, still taking a sit-down compared to the big juicy malts. This is a nice fine and definitely worth dropping a few (not many) clams on. 7.5/10.

EL TORO BREWING – “EXTRA HOPPY CITRA POPPY” – The “citra” hop is hot hot hot this past year, and EL TORO are riding the lightning with this amber ale/pale ale combo that has a sharp bite. I dig it. They nailed it from many angles – maltiness, smoothness, fruit-forwardness and refreshingness. I reckon I need to pay more attention to this brewer’s tap-only stuff. 7.5/10.

STONE BREWING – “VERTICAL EPIC 10-10-10” – Careful readers may recall we tried (and failed) to review a draft version of this “controversial” curveball beer here. This time we enjoyed a bottled version, and thought it was great. Imagine a Belgian IPA crossed with a really yeasty champagne, and you’re getting sorta close. White grapes, hops and things that come out of barrels. All good. 7.5/10.

SIERRA NEVADA – “GLISSADE” – I can’t remember the last time I asked the barkeep for a maibock, but this was on draft at a restaurant we visited in Truckee, CA and I couldn’t keep ignoring it as I had been the past x number of months. It’s very much a “spring ale” with faint hints of pilsner malts, light and very fruity and crisp. Done really well, and something I’d drink 100 times over Sierra Nevada’s standard-issue pale ale. 7.5/10.

THE BRUERY – “HUMULUS SESSION ALE” – A 4.5% “session” ale from THE BRUERY, a superb brewer who generally brews big or not at all. And not a surprise, but this pale ale is really, really good. Super grainy and quite bitter, with radiant hops and loads of flavor. Drink six, and walk out feeling like you’ve only had three. 7/10.

ANCHOR BREWERY – “OLD FOGHORN” – It has been so long since I had one of these I wanted to see how it held up in this new decade. Well, I’d say. It’s a “lighter”, more approachable barleywine, creamy and with a distinct toffee flavor holding things in really nice balance. 7/10.


LONG TRAIL BREWING – “CENTENNIAL RED” – This is a special anniversary beer from a Vermont brewer whose wares I’ve enjoyed before. It’s a hoppy Red ale, nearly 8% in alcohol and quite malty. Has the faint whiff of distant yeasts and spices of unknown origin. Suffers a bit from a thin body, and alas, does not really pack the hoppy punch nor flavor I've come to expect from these imperial red ales of 2010-2011. 6.5/10.

MOONLIGHT BREWING – “WINTER TIPPLE” – Enjoyed this “winter” beer as February temperatures were pushing into the low 80s in San Francisco and the rest of the country was dying beneath snowstorms and extreme weather events. I didn’t like 2010’s version quite the way I have past vintages. It’s a pretty straightforward winter warmer – light, caramel-dependent and barely carbonated. Moonlight, a superstar brewer, have far more stellar creations than this one. 6.5/10.

LOST ABBEY – “DELIVERANCE” – Thankfully only sold in a little thirteen-ouncer owing to its 12.5% alcohol content, “Deliverance” is a blend of the brewery’s “Serpent’s Stout” and a brandy-barrel aged “The Angel’s Share”. Both of those beers are knockouts; this one not so much. No doubt you taste the brandy in a big way, along with chocolate, caramel and a little too much syrup. It wasn’t a bad experience, but the price-to-quality ratio was a little too skewed for me to give this any more than a 6/10.

ISLAND BREWING – “AVOCADO HONEY ALE” – This one’s been retired and put out to pasture, and maybe not a moment too soon. It’s pretty much what it sounds like, and to be fair, this Carpenteria, CA brewer almost pull it off. Avocado is light, and honey is more the story here, and it’s a very fruity and frothy and a little bit daffy. Three people tried it, no one especially liked it and we collectively bestowed it with a 5/10.


FIFTY FIFTY BREWING – “BART (Barrel Aged Really Tasty)” – Sort of sad to have to bookend this set of reviews with two FIFTY FIFTY beers, but this one’s truly as bad as the other one is good. It’s a blend of their barleywine and their overrated imperial stout (the one that sells for $23+, even at the brewery itself). Overly sweet and hot, it’s truly a mess that evokes all your worst fears that come when you imagine a haphazard blending of two uncomplimentary beers. 4/10.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


There’s a new-ish set of compilation CDs devoted to lost 50s-60s-70s novelty records called “TWISTED TALES FROM THE VINYL WASTELANDS”, put out by a label called NO HIT that appears to specialize in this sort of shenanigans. Truth be told, a lot of what they compile wasn’t considered a “novelty” at the time, but appears as mirthful to the 21st century modern man because of our refined, ironic distance from our generational forbears. I was only moderately interested in these collections when I first heard about them, until TWISTED TALES VOLUME 4 – “HIPPIE IN A BLUNDER” came out. Whoa, now here we go. An entire 33-song collection of anti-hippie songs, almost all of which were recorded in earnest and with extreme fear and loathing of the hippie threat. I needed to get involved with this CD – fast.

Is “HIPPIE IN A BLUNDER” something you’ll listen to repeatedly? I doubt that you shall. Yet you’re going to want to hear this collection of Southern-fried hippie panic at least a few times. There was a genuine backlash to our the youthful uprising going on across America in the late 60s, and as surely as it manifested itself in the Goldwater and Nixon presidential campaigns, it also showed up in country music. This collection includes multiple pro-Vietnam war anthems, like the outstanding “Ballad of Two Brothers” by Autry Inman, or another corker called “Hanoi Jane” by Leon Rausch. The southerners looked at my San Francisco brethren with a mixture of humor and disgust, and many of these songs express a contempt that’s hard to imagine in current times.

That said, LSD and “the evil dope” were pretty scary to the quote-unquote establishment at the time, and “Twisted Tales, Volume 4” includes plenty of histrionic warnings against those as well. I am hoping you’ll do what you need to to secure this longhaired platter.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I’m old enough to have been dazzled by the advent of cable television when it first came around, and proud enough to call myself one of its early paying customers (well, my dad was). Around 1977 or so we visited some family members in Southern California, and they subscribed to two of the brand-new “movie channels” that were just hitting the market around that time – ON TV and the Z CHANNEL (the latter of which was legendary among Los Angeles film buffs, and immortalized in this excellent documentary). A visit to a family friend in Morgan Hill, CA that same year introduced me to HBO. I looked at the printed guides they had sitting around their respective houses, and I was amazed. Keep in mind that until this time there were only two ways for the common man or woman to watch a film: in the theaters, or in the rare instances when it played later on network TV (ABC, CBS, NBC) or a UHF station. The former would severely censor the films and cut them up to insert ads; usually the latter would only show old black and white films, or “creature feature” late-night monster movies. Neither ever showed the sort of raw, personal, director-centric 1970s films that were then making waves across the entertainment industry – “Chinatown”, “Klute”, “A Woman Under The Influence” and so on.

The channel guides for ON TV, HBO and Z CHANNEL listed film after film, domestic and foreign, playing at all hours of the day. Not all of these programmed 24/7 at the time, but it was a far cry from anything we were getting at home. I wasn’t quite a film buff yet, but I was about to be. We moved to San Jose the next year from Sacramento, and one of the first things we did was hook up to our local cable provider, GILL CABLE. Gill offered the ability for us to subscribe to HBO and another new network at the time, SHOWTIME, and later added something called THE MOVIE CHANNEL. My parents weren’t ready to spring for those, so we settled for an in-house movie channel provided by Gill that initially played one movie a night at 8pm, seven days a week: THE G CHANNEL. Starved for TV options in an age when my alternatives on any given night were “Donny & Marie”, “The Love Boat”, “Happy Days/Laverne & Shirley” (which we still always watched) and “Mork & Mindy”, I started watching anything and everything the G Channel put on. Combine its nightly riches with some great 1970s-style permissive parenting when it came to TV and movie viewing (thanks mom & dad!), and a film lover was thus born.

I’m sure this wasn’t the first film I saw on the G Channel, but it’s the one I remember the best – “IT’S ALIVE”. I was 11 years old, and almost certainly too young to see this bloody horror film, but I huddled up with my parents to watch this 1974 Larry Cohen film one night anyway. Those of you as old as I am may remember the film’s excellent tagline – “There’s only one thing wrong with the Davis baby – It’s Alive”. The film opens up with the birth of this demon seed baby in a hospital delivery room, and it immediately savagely claws and cuts the entire hospital staff to death, all filmed from the “baby’s” perspective. It freaked me the f*** out. Nightmares, visions, night terrors – the whole nine yards. But it did soften me for many horror film blows to come. The G Channel mixed up arthouse fare with ridiculous B movies, each always showing at 8pm, always showing by itself for one week only.

The Hinman family responded to this innovation in film delivery with gusto. If we didn’t watch films like “BARRY LYNDON”, “ANIMAL HOUSE” and Robert Altman’s “A WEDDING” together once a week, I at least always found the time to do so by myself. I’d watch anything. “The Spy Who Loved Me”, “Grease”, “The Last Waltz”, “A Lion In Winter”, “All That Jazz”, Woody Allen’s “Love and Death”, “The China Syndrome”, “Life of Brian”, “North Dallas Forty” – you name it. I particularly remember way more than one viewing of the awful disco-sploitation film “Thank God It’s Friday”, which came out a few months after disco was pretty much dead and buried. There was also a low-grade horror film called “Tourist Trap” that I watched multiple times one boring summer because it starred Tanya Roberts, who has recently come off the final season of “Charlie’s Angels” as the replacement Angel for one of the ones who’d quit. By this time The G Channel wasn’t just showing movies at 8pm anymore and had a schedule more like HBO’s, if not with HBO’s content breadth. They’d put up what they call a “slate” in the industry – an on-TV sign that would say something like “You’re watching the G Channel – next film at 4pm”, and I’d sit there and wait. And wait. My film addiction was formed in 1978-79, and I have the G Channel to thank.

Only people from the San Jose area got Gill Cable, and that area was quite a bit less than half the size it is now. So I searched online this week for relics from the G Channel and Gill Cable, and found almost nothing outside of some discussion board reminiscing. If anyone in the Hedonist Jive reading audience saved a printed, monthly G Channel Guide – well, I’d like to scan it for you and share it with the people. Please share your G Channel or early-days-of-cable-TV memories below while you’re at it.