I was asked to host a rum tasting for a customer’s birthday. At first I tried to convince them to taste whiskey, but they were pretty much set on rum. Fine, I like it all. But I had to educate myself on the island spirit. Ranging from light, dark, gold, flavored, spiced, and premium, Rum is, in truth, a kindred spirit to our own small island, Unalaska. Separated by the breadth of the Pacific ocean from our Caribbean brothers and sisters, we are an outpost of weird and wild weather and hard-working men and women. Whence one rocky mass of mountain and beach jutting out of the blue-green waters, so another, even so removed from similar climate, the lifestyle of the island dwellers can be derived of one culture – from water, life.
One of the few creative-ish things I still force myself to make time for is the radio show I have been doing for about 5 years, Beard Radio, on KUCB, the local public radio station on the tiny island I live on in Alaska. Every Friday night for the last 250 or so weeks (give or take a few trips off island) at 10pm (replay Monday at 8pm) Beard Radio has attempted to strike a balance between the music that I love and what I think people want to hear. Let me be the first to say that I don’t have a huge audience, but as anyone who ever saw Pump Up The Volume knows, when it comes to radio, someone somewhere is listening. Hopefully it’s the people that the music connects to somehow. More than likely it’s people at work who have no other options.
So ubiquitous is the Bald Eagle in Unalaska, they are referred to as pigeons. As they are generally non-harmful to humans their awesome stature can be taken for granted when these large raptors get up close and personal. Especially large females who are looking for food for their eaglets. Larger than my four-year and two-year-old kids by a wide margin, this one landed on my porch and decided to hang out or an hour or so, giving us quite a show in the interim (she shat all over my deck). She was right in front of my door, so it was a bit of a process to open the door without her hissing and spitting acid-blood in my eyes (I’m not an ornithologist so I don’t know that they don’t do this…). When I made it out the door and we were finally face to face, she either ran out of fecal matter or decided my kids were too big for her to take alone, so she spun and took off. Luckily I had my slo-mo finger on fast-forward and managed to capture it.
“In the Perfected Mahayana – everything, every speck of dust even, can be seen as conditioned arising. Thus even in a hair there are innumerable golden lions.”- Tractate of the Golden Lion — Fazang
My friend Tomohiro once asked me why I was living in Japan, “You not married, don’t have girlfriend, not getting paid shit-ton cash like finance assholes, have no real prospects, kind of smell bad…so why you come to Japan…for the sushi?”
“Tomo, I’m seeking satori…duh.”
“You drink too much beer for satori. Even you run bar you drink all the profit, so why you wanna be Buddhist?”
Actually I get this question a lot. Japanese people are curious about an outsider’s views on what makes Japan attractive. Occasionally whomever it is I’m talking to continues the conversation with another whopper of a mystical/metaphysical/meaning-of-life type of question like, “Can you use chopsticks?” or “Wow, you sure are good at using chopsticks!”
I nod imbecilically and smile, saying, “Chinese food everywhere in America!” while adding, “Oscar Wilde said that when given a choice between going to heaven and attending a lecture on heaven, an American would attend the lecture. Because quoting Oscar Wilde to people, especially in Japanese, gets awkward quickly, the subject changes rather quickly as well.
Portuguese Food Road Trip
Days 3-4-5 – South of Lisbon, Portugal
I sort of specialize in border crossing, even triple border point. One of the highlights of my career in border-crossing was between Hungary and Slovakia, in a rented car. Epic. The one on foot at the triple border point between Slovakia, Ukraine and Poland still gives me the shivers. The one here and now was quite good, as it is a tiny tiny border, basically crossing a bridge. No custom station. Just a bridge and a guy with goats. Some goats had their legs hindered by rope, for, you see, “these buggers like to escape, especially this smelly one”, that was the old shepherd guy speaking, in a mixture of French (a little), Spanish (some) and Portuguese (a lot). And yes, it did smell like goat, even from inside the car.
Spanish Food Road Trip – The Good The Bad The Ugly
Day 1-2 – Driving through Spain, not Portugal yet, so not the fastest way to get there, but still rushing, go figure…So the whole idea about the first part of the trip is to get to the south of Portugal as fast as possible. Then go up slowly and then get to France via Bilbao or so, then rush back. Therefore (and this is funny, you’ll see), I’m going to go north of Madrid via Contreras, which is a very very very small and lost village close by Barbadillo del Mercado, already far away from it all… You see, it’s to go to a fake cemetery. You don’t see? Alright, first things first, a recollection on how we got there, where we slept and, of course, what we ate.
Above is the tentative itinerary now (after chatting with Tiffany and my ladyfriend), although I need to have The Mom’s take on it but the general direction is there. I’d like to maximize time in Portugal so i’ll probably rush the part in Spain or at least try to. Here is the general direction of the itinerary:
Iberian Road Trip Preamble
- Wine (Tiffany has a contact for me to get close to the production)
- The good the bad and the ugly
- Craft beer (if i can, not as many as in other parts of europe of course)
- Tiffany in Lisboa
- The ocean shore
- Actual balls (because “les rognons” are not actual balls, they are kidneys basically, and i do love rognons)
- Maybe some dancing/music because the ladyfriend would kill me if i do not see/shoot some
- Porto! (with the port wine of course)
- Gugenheim in Bilbao
- Sausage in Toulouse with some cassoulet if we are not dead by too much food by then!
- and more… and possibly not what is mentioned ahah…madness.
“Dove” immediately marches through your ears, into your brain, releasing that oh-so-coveted, smile-inducing, music-generated dopamine…calling on fond associations of some of the upbeat tracks Phoenix put out in years past.
— The Music Ninja
Pillar Point – Marble Mouth
Scott Reitherman was planning to record the second Pillar Point album at home in Seattle, when he received an unexpected invitation — extended backstage in Phoenix after opening for of Montreal — to cut it at Kevin Barnes’ home studio in Athens, Georgia. Barnes said of the music, “I love how hooky/funky/dancey the songs are. As a complete work, the album transports me into a glamorous milieu. It makes me wanna dress in drag and go to a blue collar bar. Ha ha.”
“I couldn’t believe it to be honest,” says Reitherman. “I was overwhelmed; we’re halfway through the tour and I’m already having the time of my life.”