Archive for May, 2007

Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue

May 27th, 2007 2 comments

Earlier last week I made a bit of a road trip to see a few Morrissey shows, one of those shows was in Kansas City. I have a few very good friends in that town, and every time I go there can be assured of at least two things – that I’ll be in impeccable company, and that I will eat very well.

This last trip was no exception. I’ve known my pal Kevin since 1991 – we met at Mizzou, and have been friends since. Kev is from KC and I can always count on him to expose me to a local eatery that leaves me wondering: “Could this get any better?” Kansas City is the absolute and utterly undisputed epicenter of the barbecue universe – many places try to emulate it, but fail miserably. I was in a bbq place in Florida that had just recently opened a few years ago, and the owner was walking around asking people how they liked everything. He was pretty confident in his product, and asked me if I’d had better – I told him I’ve been to Kansas City, and he said “well, that’s a completely different deal – they invented barbecue.”

Kev asked me if I’d ever been to Arthur Bryant’s, a bbq establishment in Kansas City that’s been clogging peoples arteries since the 1920’s, and I said no. He went on to explain that the line outside this establishment goes out the door and around the building, especially when the Cardinals are in town for inter-league play. On the way to AB, Kev was painting a beautiful picture of what we were about to consume: “My favorite is the pork and beef combo sandwich. It’s an insane amount of meat – enough for two or three meals, served between two little pieces of bread. The bread doesn’t stand a chance.” He then went on to extol the virtues of Arthur Bryant’s original sauce: “The original sauce in my opinion is a very acquired taste – Scott (another very good pal from KC with an unexplainable and insatiable ketchup fetish) doesn’t like it as it’s not similar enough to ketchup. The sauce is difficult to explain – it’s not spicy, and not sweet either.”

Kev went out on a bit of a limb taking me to Arthur Bryant’s – he’s taken me to other KC barbecue places in the past, and he always tells me that the place we’re going is good – but this time, he said this was his favorite KC barbecue joint. That doesn’t sound like a very big deal, but it places an incredible amount of pressure on Kevin – if the establishment isn’t up to snuff, it will reflect personally on him.

We finally get there – two fat guys getting out of a MINI was a quite funny sight indeed, and we walked in. The smell was absolutely perfect – smoked meat and sauce. The entry was lined with photos of famous people who’ve gone in to clog their arteries – from celebrities to presidents. Kev ordered his usual, I got a rack of ribs and a pound of smoked beef. We sit down at the table and Kev looks a little nervous. As he explains the different sauces (original, rich & spicy, sweet heat) he again warns me that the original sauce is an acquired taste, and very tepidly watches me as I take the first bite of smoked beef doused in the original sauce. With one bite, I tell Kev that the taste has been acquired. Kev makes a big exhale, and all is well. It was the best bbq combo I’d ever had – the sauce tailed off wonderfully, like a good wine. The beef was just about perfect, with lots of smoke flavor. According to AB’s website, they use a combination of Hickory and Oak, and the brick smoker is in full view of patrons which is a nice touch. If you’re ever in KC I’d highly recommend it, I give the place 5 stars.

It was a great night – consuming large quantities of smoked meat with my pal Kevin, and a Morrissey show. With all that food sitting in my stomach the all night drive back to Chicago after the Moz show was a bit difficult, but at least I wasn’t hungry. I’ll hopefully be exposing Kev to some Chicago pizza in much the same way this summer to pay him back for the KC bbq experience.

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There is no such, thing in life as normal

May 24th, 2007 No comments


Camera phone image of Morrissey at the Pageant in STL

The title of the post is a refrain from song by Morrissey titled “The Youngest Was The Most Loved” from his current album Ringleader of the Tormentors. A brilliant song, and Moz features a children’s choir for the refrain which I find quite fitting. The line also seems to fit what I did for the past two days.

The MINI and I have just returned from a rather epic 1100 mile journey through the midwest, to catch three Morrissey shows in one week. The first show was quite easy and didn’t involve driving, a simple 3 stop ride from home on the blue line to the Auditorium Theater here in Chicago.. I already had plans to see the Tuesday night show at the Pageant in STL the following week with Brendan and Dougie, and I figured if I was going that far why not check out the KC show on Wednesday night at the very cool and newly remodeled Uptown Theater in Midtown. It would also give me an excuse to attend the show with my very good pal and equally big Moz fan Kevin, and consume some world famous KC barbecue as well. KC (as it never does) did not disappoint. I also got to stop in Columbia, Mo. on the way to KC, and it was good to be back there as well for a bit.

Three very different cities, and three very different crowds. Chicago’s crowd was the largest and most diverse, and the venue was a monster. KC and STL are much more comparable cities in terms of population and venue size, but they seem a bit different in how the crowd behaved. In Chicago I was in the lower balcony, in STL and KC we were on the floor close to the stage. It was Morrissey’s 48th birthday the night of the STL show, and he got a rise out of the crowd by singing to himself “I’ve come to wish me an unhappy birthday” as well as getting quite a few gifts from people at the show.

The KC show seemed a bit more lively and intense, and this might have been due to the fact that the Uptown Theater’s standing area in front of the stage is 5-6 times larger than the area in front of the stage at the Pageant. I also got the sense that the people in KC were a bit less reserved and provincial – an observation I’ve seen before in comparing the two cities, which is why I find KC so refreshing. Quite a few less Trixies and Chads in KC as compared to STL, Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood of course being the indigenous home of the Trixie and the Chad. Morrissey seemed to have more of a connection to the STL crowd though, and that combined with a smaller venue and the fact that it was his birthday made it an amazing show in its own right. There was a great deal of interaction at all three shows, with Moz shaking quite a few hands during songs and making lots of gestures and eye contact. There was of course the obligatory throwing of the shirt at all three shows – in STL the fans wrestled for one of the shirts for what seemed like a half hour, some of them only to come away with a tiny shred of what used to be a very sweaty armani shirt.

The set list from the STL and KC shows was very similar – it was very cool to hear “Please Please Please let me get what I want this time” as the first encore at the Chicago and STL shows, but maybe Morrissey sensed the KC crowd was a bit more rowdy, and chose “The last of the Famous International Playboys” which was probably a better fit for that show. I would have loved to hear “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” as it’s one of my favorites from The Smiths but that was probably the only want in an otherwise amazing three nights.

Moz is a complete showman. He worked his ass off at all three shows I attended, and the band was completely into everything they played. There were no lulls whatsoever, and it was a pleasure to see the 48 year old Morrissey still enjoying life (as only he can enjoy it). The set list from the KC show:

The Queen Is Dead / First Of The Gang To Die / The Youngest Was The Most Loved / In The Future When All’s Well / You Have Killed Me / Disappointed / Panic / Let Me Kiss You / I Just Want To See The Boy Happy / The National Front Disco / I Will See You In Far Off Places / All You Need Is Me / Girlfriend In A Coma / Everyday Is Like Sunday / The Boy With The Thorn In His Side / Irish Blood, English Heart / At Last I Am Born / I’ve Changed My Plea To Guilty / Life Is A Pigsty / How Soon Is Now? // The Last Of The Famous International Playboys / You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side

The hard part was getting in the MINI after the show in KC, and driving back to Chicago. I took the northern route through Iowa as I thought the traffic would be a bit lighter, and it was cool to have the top down looking at the stars in a state with not very many lights or buildings – until it started raining.  I’ll have a word about my pal Kevin as well as a detailed review of Arthur Bryant’s bbq in a later post as they deserve an entry of their own.

A few more camera phone images:

Moz in KC

Moz in STL

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Steve Jobs as Dubya

May 22nd, 2007 No comments

Quite funny, from madtv. Click on the pic to watch.

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Zero Emissions Vehicle

May 19th, 2007 No comments


I’ve been a car enthusiast for as long as I can remember, but lately my enthusiasm for the automobile has been waning quite a bit. Fuel at over $4 a gallon combined with sitting in city traffic doesn’t make driving quite as much fun anymore. Sure, the MINI with the top down on an open road or track is quite cool, but moments like that don’t happen all that often in the city.

I’ve been biking myself and the girls around Chicago quite a bit lately in the bike trailer, and they love it. Chicago has quite a few bike lanes which make getting around pretty easy. Chicago is also pretty flat, which makes pulling a bike trailer around with two kids much more conducive. The trailer/stroller is a Chariot Cougar 2, which has an independent adjustable suspension so the girls don’t get thrown about if we happen to hit a pothole.

Premium fuel here in the city is over $4 a gallon, so I’ve saved quite a bit of cash by biking about. I don’t think I’ve driven in nearly two weeks, as we either take the bike trailer, walk, or take the El. Thursday the girls and I rode to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which is about a 15 minute ride. I can lock the bike when I get there, and in about a half a minute the trailer converts back to a stroller. The bike is much quicker than driving, as I regularly fly by all the gridlocked cars burning fuel just sitting there. This rig is much greener than a prius, much cheaper to buy and run, and is much more fun to operate as well. Acceleration is on par with an economy hybrid (at least up to 15mph or so), and there aren’t any nasty batteries to replace and dispose of when they wear out. Co2 is a non-issue, and overall emissions are extremely low as the only output is methane – the level of course depending on how much mexican I had before the ride. Downtown and the loop is a little over 10 minutes away on the bike, the Zoo, lakeshore or Wrigley is about 15.

My mom and dad used to ride me around Chicago in a seat on the back of a Schwinn Suburban, and I remember how cool it felt to ride to the zoo or down the lakeshore bike trail on the back of the seat – so perhaps that’s why this form of transport seems completely normal to me.

A few more pics of the rig –



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Crosstown Classic

May 18th, 2007 2 comments


A pic I took today at the Cubs/Sox series opener

The weather is getting really nice around here, and when that happens the ivy at Wrigley starts getting green. I biked over to Wrigley for the Cubs/Sox game today – the Cubbies won 6-3. It’s a rather insane rivalry, much more heated than the Cubs and the Cardinals, as it’s the northside vs. the southside. It has a bit of a Chelsea/Arsenal feel to it. Only two cities in the country can host a rivalry like this, and this is the only one that doesn’t require a trip to a different borough. There were quite a few drunk guys in the stands, and quite a few people using lots of colorful metaphors and coming very close to beating the hell out of each other. The Sox fans have their own version of “nice arch” – they just show the Cub fans the World Series patch on their sleeve. All we’ve got is Eamus Catuli, and AC036198.

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The Zimmers

May 17th, 2007 No comments

The Zimmers are a British geriatric pop ensemble. They’re a 40 member group with an average age of 78. I hope if I make it to this age I can be doing something like this, as it would sure beat sitting about watching 45 year old episodes of The Office.

It brings me to a query – when my generation finally makes it into nursing homes, will people come by to play live covers of Radiohead songs while our wheelchairs fill the dining room?

Click on the pic below for a video of The Zimmer’s first release, a brilliant cover of “My Generation” by The Who.

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May 17th, 2007 No comments

The girls and I went to the home depot a few days ago to get some flowers for the deck, and Ellesse wanted to ride in the cart with the flowers she picked – I snapped a pic with the phone.


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Morrissey at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago

May 15th, 2007 No comments

Brilliant show tonight. I saw Morrissey when he was in town for a show at the Aragon last year, and when the new tour dates were released with a Chicago date, I had to go. The place was completely full – the AT is a 4k seat theater, and it’s more of a classical/opera/play venue than it is a rock hall – it seemed a bit too indulgent for this sort of thing. After the first few songs Morrissey said: “Welcome to the lovely auditorium. I promise, nothing will go wrong.” He seemed to be speaking to the auditorium staff. He came out on stage in a suit, which was a nice touch that seemed to fit the space – though it didn’t stay on long.

And nothing did go wrong. In between Kirsteen Young’s opening (imagine Bjork, but even more angry – still a very cool sound through only a keyboard/sequencer and a drummer) and Morrissey a few influential videos were played on the stage – a performance by the New York Dolls (with the lovely Buster Poindexter) from German TV, a screen and wardrobe test from the film East of Eden starring James Dean (Morrissey is rather obsessed with Dean – and the screen test was more than a bit creepy as Dean just stood there and stared at the camera in different outfits with another actor), and a few other odd clips, including a wonderful video of “Ou Ca Ou Ca” by the French crooner/showman Sacha Distel and and one by a very Elvis-esque Vince Taylor. The stage backdrop was a huge double image of James Dean.

The sound was quite good – I was in the lower balcony, and there was very impressive bass that could be felt as well as heard, and the high frequencies were not too overdone. They had a huge bass drum as well as a giant gong, and these were miked pretty well. The band was much tighter than the last show at the Aragon, and Morrissey and his band were quite an interesting and irreverent contrast to the names around the stage which rather ornately listed people like Schuman, Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Rossini, Berlioz, Gluck, Beethoven, Gaunod and Verdi.

The set list was:

The Queen is Dead

First of the Gang to Die

The Youngest Was the Most Loved

You Have Killed Me



Let Me Kiss You

-band intro-

I Just Want to See the Boy Happy

I Will See You in Far-off Places

The National Front Disco

At Last I Am Born

Irish Blood, English Heart

All You Need is Me

I’ve Changed My Plea to Guilty

The Boy with the Thorn in His Side

Drive-In Saturday

Everyday is Like Sunday


Life is a Pigsty w/piano coda and Auld Lang Syne

How Soon is Now?


Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side

The first encore was a favorite of mine, and I enjoyed watching everyone sing along as if they’d finally found other people who could understand the desire to sing this song aloud. It was yet another one of those “I’m where I’m supposed to be” moments – I had one at the last Morrissey show I attended as well as a brilliant Badly Drawn Boy show not too long ago at the Metro here in Chicago. I love feelings like that – they seem to be more numerous of late for some reason.

Overall it was a great show – Moz got quite a rise out of the crowd when introducing the rest of the band as the bass player and drummer are from Chicago, as well as the requisite “I Will See You in Far-off Places” line of: “If George W. Bush, doesn’t kill you.” I look forward to seeing Morrissey in St. Louis next week when he plays a much smaller venue. Maybe I can get on stage….smile

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Jerry Falwell and The 700 Club’s Accu-Wrath Weather Forecast

May 15th, 2007 4 comments

In honor of Jerry Falwell’s recent passing, I thought I’d post Bill Maher (aka, Dallas Trinity) delivering the accu-wrath weather forecast in the opening skit from Real Time last week. Quite funny.

Falwell was the worst kind of hypocrite, one who hid behind the guise of christianity and regularly used its worst attrubutes of biblically based hatred, intolerance, and bigotry (among other things) to a true art form. He apparently knew his creator so intimately, that when asked to comment on the 9/11 disaster shortly after it happened, he (and fellow idiot Pat Robertson) claimed the United States had “insulted God and lost divine protection.” Hopefully he’s enjoying his theoretical heaven, a place where he can be himself, with other intolerant fundamentalists from the south.

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L.A. Times and L.A. Daily News photos, 1920-1990

May 14th, 2007 No comments

From the UCLA Library website:

“The UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections has selected and digitized 5,124 of the more than three million images contained in the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News photographic archives. The photographs chronicle the history and growth of Los Angeles from the 1920s to 1990.”

Another resource for old and archived photos. Searchable via keyword or subject. Cool.

There are so many amazing photographs here from a town that grew like an uncontrollable weed. So many subjects were covered, and it’s only 5,124 of more than three million images. Here’s a shot of a Southern California freeway from June 21, 1966, with different minimum speeds for different lanes. Imagine enforcing that.


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