Tag Archives: memoir

Grizzly Bear, Fillmore 6.21.09

I’ve started writing something about Grizzly Bear in this window six or so times now.  I’m vacillating.  “Grizzly Bear played at truly great show last night.”  “I’ve seen Grizzly Bear play many, many times.”  “I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen Grizzly Bear if I were asked.”  I’m wondering what the value is of lauding these people publicly.  Music writing.  Such a load.  This isn’t a story about Grizzly Bear.  It’s a story about me.

21hayes

Pre-show at Absinthe.  Above, the “21 Hayes.”

Nouveau Carrè

the “Nouveau Carré”

loading in

loading in

sign

soundcheck2

Soundcheck

takingflight

Bear gets ready to take flight in response to something Simon said

taylor

Taylor watches

dan

Dan in the mist

grizzly bear

At this point I left to eat some Vietnamese food in the Mission with some very nice, very well-educated people.  In spite of my desire to honor Edward Droste’s love of Pho, I at the clay pot fish.  I can’t help it.  I just love it.

the show

I’m pretty sure this picture was taken during Lullaby, one of my all-time favorite Grizzly Bear songs.  When I watched the show (from the middle-middle where the sound is the best), and actually when I watch almost any Grizzly Bear show, I can’t help but get emotional.  While I’d love to be able to avoid sarcasm, I can’t help but add that this sentiment of mine surely isn’t unique judging by the crowd last night.  But I (again, like many others) feel like that emotion is mine only, and completely unique.  What is it about pop music that does this to us?  I’m sure if Timothy White (one of the greatest music writers of my time, I must say, since it doesn’t seem to say it anywhere else) were here, he could write much more eloquently on the subject.

But, in full disclosure (finally, though it must be somewhat obvious), I know these guys.  I “grew up” with them.  I watched them play Zebulon (seated, all jazz-like) in what? ’03? ’04?  Over the years, Grizzly Bear has become less a band and more a soundtrack for me (and us all?  and all music pop music is soundtrack?).  Each song denotes a different age, separation, or season.  The identification is intense, as are the memories.  Walking through Greenpoint in the snow, pining for lost carefree days in New York City, and finally realizing it’s not mine anymore.  I’m all grown up, for now.  But in a good way.

And so is Grizzly Bear.  These four, once a loose collection of three master instrumentalists and one vocal boss aren’t playing around any more, but they aren’t taking themselves too seriously either.  They are all constantly moving and stretching different ways; more rock, more psych, less self-obsessed, more self-disciplined, less noise, more sound, less harmony, more vocals.  And, slightly more rarely than when I was a New Yorker, I get to ride alongside of it all.  Being there; remembering when I was in Argentina, that I met someone who fixed it, that it’s my existential crisis–imagining myself on a ranch in the Rockies asking myself what now?  And that it’s my folk revival, that I see the unexpectedly lonely image of two dories.

Maybe that’s it.  That’s the beauty.  And if Grizzly Bear does all that, for me, and apparently so many others, who can find fault?

edward

all grown up now

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Fanzine Publishes Parks on Strawberry

In the late summer of 2005 I met Casey McKinney, a quietly bruised character at Maxfield’s coffee house on Dolores in San Francisco.  We drove up to Muir Woods in a 1990 325i and stood in the fog and talked about my moving to the Bay Area and his potential escape to Europe and possibly New York City.  I wasn’t sure what to think.  But McKinney did it, and in doing so created the Fanzine; an everything and everyman culture magazine, which allows, or rather encourages, longer form writing that blurs the boundaries of fiction/non-fiction and every other genre encapsulation to which we might confine prose.

Today on the Fanzine, McKinney published a piece of writing that perfectly fits the bill of the Fanzine’s mission.  In “Strawberry Jamming: Darryl’s Dodger Days, Memories of a Young Fan,” Richard Parks laces together the narrative of Darryl Strawberry’s self-destruction with urban malaise and tragedy of Los Angeles in the early 1990’s, all told (both) through the large innocent eyes of a nine-year-old fan and a 20-something’s hindsight.

It would behoove you to read it, in toto.  You can let me know what you think.

darryl

Image from dingedcorners.com

Like all great arts organizations, the Fanzine is struggling right now.  You can help by sponsoring them.  Click here for more information.

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Valentine’s Day

When I a little girl I LOVED Valentine’s Day; not because I dreamt of a knight-in-shining-armor or had a hope chest (neither of these are true), but because it is a totally mundane Hallmark holiday that my gifted and generous mother made magical by infusing it with the appropriate amount of paganism and Victorian tradition.  

Valentine’s Day morning meant a special breakfast.  It usually consisted of Swedish pancakes (my mother didn’t make any other kind) with powdered sugar and lingonberry jam.  There was always beautiful fresh fruit too, often strawberries and whipped cream (by hand, not something that comes out of a nozzle).  The table was specially set and varied from year to year.  Lace table cloths would have been removed from linen drawers the night before and ironed.  White and gold china was used.  Perhaps there was red silk underneath the antique lace one year.  Each place setting had a handmade Valentine (sometimes more than one if we had spent the preceding week crafting together).  And this was all usually around six AM, before we had to put on our uniforms (with a red sweater, or maybe a pink bow in my hair to denote the holiday) and go to school. 

With all the hullabaloo around Valentine’s day from the couples (he better get the right reservation!) and singles (damn all the coupled people!) I miss the good old days of sugary breakfasts and familial love.  It was romantic, just not in a sexy way.  To celebrate Valentine’s Day here are some gorgeous images of antique and vintage Valentines and some tips for making your own sugary breakfast. Enjoy!

valentine1

While I wasn’t one for knight-in-shining-armor I did have a thing for a nice, big pink sash.  Love it! Source

valentine2The sailboat! The garlands of forget-me-nots!  Source

valentine3

detail:

valentine31

Unbelievable.  So gorgeous.  Really worth clicking on the link to see more details.  The ribbon alone! Source

valentine4

The gesturing hand is so Victorian. And the dove with the envelope! The purple and white lilacs really put me over the top on this one.  Source

The Swedish pancake mix that was always on hand in our pantry:

swedish-pancake-mix

Lunds and lingonberry jam can be found at specialty grocers or online here.

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Good Food

I recently discovered Orangette, a food blog by Molly Wizenberg.  Wizenberg melds food writing, journaling, and memoir, the way so many great food writers do, and posts beautifully composed photographs to boot.  Someone got wise to her skills before me, because she got a book deal out of it.  A Homemade Life, Wizenberg’s food memoir, will be released on March 3, 2009 (by Simon & Schuster, natch).

9781416551058

In addition to being a fun blog, Orangette has an amazing recipe index and the most thorough and thoughtful “About/FAQ” section I’ve ever come across (including Wizenberg’s musing on photography, the practice of blogging, and an eater’s guide to Seattle).

In addition, Wizenberg writes a monthly food column for Bon Appétit magazine called “Cooking Life.”  

Enjoy.

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Japanese New Year with Peko-Peko

My father has a fascination with Japan that is ongoing.  When I was around the age of six it was at a peak.  He would take me to Little Tokyo in L.A. to buy obscene amounts of origami paper and instruction books.  Then we would eat a Japanese lunch and drive back to Hollywood.  I was a very accomplished origamist and quickly became a little Japanophile myself.  I read Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes, mourned Hiroshima, and eagerly awaited my father’s return from trips to Japan with his arms full of Japanese silks and Geisha dolls.

geisha

During those years my father would take me and my family to his Japanese friends’ homes in Los Angeles for Japanese New Year, celebrated on January 1.  The Japanese New Year feast is composed of foods referred to as osechi.  My father would tell me that if I ate everything and was very polite and respectful that he would take me with him on one of his trips to Japan.  I was not a fearful eater and ate many different types of foods from a young age, but swallowing some of the more foreign elements of osechi (bitter orange or bitter melon, roes of various sorts) was a feat even for me.  

Years went by, and my father continued to travel to Japan from time to time, but tickets were expensive, my prep school schedule was demanding, and despite all my good eating of osechi, the trip to Japan never materialized.  

Two years ago I went to Belize and got engaged.  The engagement was long coming, and we weren’t going to wait.  The marriage would take place within six months.

When I got back to the Bay Area my parents were there waiting to greet my new fiance and me.  My father greeted me with two business class tickets to Tokyo for him and me.  It was August, so no Japanese New Year in Japan, but it would do.  

This year my husband and I are celebrating Japanese New Year with Peko-Peko, the fledging catering company from Chez Panisse alum Sylvan Mishima Brackett.  Our bento will include Crab Namasu: Vinegared daikon and carrot with steamed Dungeness crab, Misozuke Beef Tataki: Miso-cured grassfed tenderloin, Datemaki: Sweet rolled omelet with Riverdog Farm eggs and local rockcod for wisdom in the New Year, Yuzu Pickled Turnips, Kuromame: Sweetened black soybeans for health in the New Year, Chikuzen-Ni: Local taro, carrot, potato, and shitake with lotus root and Mary’s organic chicken, Kombu-Maki: Sardines rolled Hokkaido kombu for happiness in the New Year, and Black Cod Teriyaki: Marinated and grilled Bolinas black cod.  

osechi-flier

We are lucky to have relished Brackett’s creations before (click here for that menu).  The fried eggplant was sweet and tender and the summer tomatoes offered the perfect clean refreshment.  My mouth is watering just imagining the flavors our oseshi bento will offer.

I’m hoping this beautiful gastronomic experience will set the tone for my eating for all of 2009.  And as if that weren’t enough, A Rockridge Life is desperate to see Peko-Peko expand: how about a storefront on College Avenue?  Pretty please?  

kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu (今年もよろしくお願いします) 

I hope for your favour again in the coming year

Click here for more information on Brackett and Peko-Peko.

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