Tell him JB sent you!

Something that isn’t mentioned around the holidays as much as shopping for bargains and end-of-year “best of” lists is that you run into strange conversations with relatives during Xmas. Ours began when a cousin of mine who despises George Bush said that she’d prefer a white person to be President of this here US of A rather than a person of any other color. This apparently included me, when I asked, kind of horrified and certainly puzzled. The discussion of course then meandered to race, colonialism, illogic, and head shaking, and ended, like most holiday conversations should — in laughter.

But enough. Xmas is a day to celebrate and I’d like to celebrate one death in particular: the passing of not the alleged son of God, but of the Godfather of Soul, who died for sure on December 25, 2006. And what better way to celebrate and tie back in to the strange discussion than to listen to a classic Xmas choon that beats the little Drummer Boy by a good foot. On Boxnet, Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto.

Happy Holidays. Enjoy the snow.

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Oh the Places You’ll Eat! (In PDX)

Portland has a reputation for having restaurateurs who take the idea of utilizing organic and locally grown produce seriously.  Since living in Mexico, where tomatoes and beef really had fierce flavor, I’ve missed eating dishes where the quality of the ingredients mattered.  So far, so good.  I’ll be updating this post with reviews of places I’ve dined as they come along.  Perhaps the best sign is that since returning to the US, I’ve eaten at Wendy’s just once, and amazingly, have managed to avoid McDonald’s.  Continue reading

If On Winter’s Night a Traveler

It came to me today that I’ve been traveling for almost 8 years now. Part of the reason for living and working abroad in the first place was to search for a city that would be home. That city that would capture my heart and envelop me like a Portland mist or a Pittsburgh summer night. It would have authentic restaurants, independent films and music. Its residents would speak more than one language. You would constantly want to be looking up and around in wonder, only to find that wonder itself was actually calming. You would want to close your eyes in the middle of the sidewalk to give your other senses a workout. Continue reading

My Ever Changing Moods

For years there was a music video I thought I’d see only once and never see again. In 1986 at the Original Hot Dog Shop in Pittsburgh, better known as “The O”, I was upstairs enjoying some of the world’s best fresh-cut french fries with gravy and cheese. The O had invested, unwisely as it turns out, in a video jukebox machine. This thing, unlike the old fashioned jukeboxes you find at Waffle Houses all over the South that are guaranteed to have “Midnight to Train to Georgia” as a selection was full of obscure and random songs. Looking back, the video jukebox was probably a testing ground for obscure and random bands that the record labels weren’t quite sure would make it in the US. That night I looked up to see a montage video of the Woodentops with frontman Rolo McGinty singing Give It Time. Maybe it was the hat he wore (I bought one like it about 4 years later) or the epaulets, but I couldn’t get the song out of my head and luckily I saw the name of the group before it faded into video oblivion. Continue reading