Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I assure you, I’m still plowing ahead with trying to listen to every single record in my collection. I’m also plowing ahead with trying to sell a lot of records in my collection. The GF has officially sold her townhome so now the clock is ticking on us finding a new place to live. We’ve put in several offers only to see them blown out of the fucking water by insane people who apparently have, like…millions of dollars in cash just laying around that they can throw at houses in emerging (read: rapidly gentrifying) parts of Los Angeles. If you don’t already follow me on Instagram, I’ve been and will continue to be posting various items from my record collection that I’m offering for sale. So if you consider yourself collector scum like I do, you’ll want to keep an eye on my daily posts.
In other news, there really isn’t a lot of news to report. We’ve still been mostly cooking our meals at home and ordering out maybe once a week. It’s usually pizza when we ordered out. I think once recently we did Northern Cafe for dumplings, and another time we did Bossa Nova because we were randomly craving pao de quejio. Oh, we did sushi once, too.
We’ll always make exceptions for Vespertine, though. They changed up their menu again recently so we decided to place an order on Saturday night. We once again opted for one cocktail each from their menu, and then paired our meal with a bottle of wine that was Vespertine related. Oh, and we got the dog a dog treat as a supplement to the meal (yes, that’s an option they give you). She enjoyed it, and then when right back to begging for whatever was on our plates.
What follows is a breakdown of the meal, in my usual manner, which includes poorly-worded and misremembered impressions of the meal. We crushed the cocktails and the bottle of wine fairly quickly, which left me a little buzzed. The dog treat, by the way, is technically part of the “Destroyer Marketplace,” and is made using organic rolled oats, ripe bananas, and organic peanut butter. I asked Theo for her tasting notes but she cocked her head to the side and looked at me as if to say, “You know I’m a dog right? You fucking idiot?”
Point taken. I’m sure it was delicious.
VESPERTINE | MIDSUMMER
Caramelized Lettuce Gratin (Smoked Onion, Nichol’s Ranch Sunny Hen Egg). This is annoying because WordPress doesn’t allow me to post two photos side-by-side and center them on the same line. So, here I am writing about the lettuce dish in a way that totally ruins the flow of the post. Organic freckled romaine was baked with smoked onion and serrano chilies. I particularly enjoyed the onion, which was properly smoky in the best way. I could have eaten two servings, but considering how full I was after meal that contained almost zero traces of meat…maybe I couldn’t have eaten two servings? I’m going to have to try my hand at making this someday, since I usually bring gratin-type dishes to potlucks and Thanksgiving dinners. Surely it can’t be too complicated, right? I’m probably a good enough chef to replicate this on my own. Oh, who am I kidding. I ruin almost every dish I make and I could never replicate this.
Whole Celeriac Baked In An Aromatic Salt Crust (Black Truffle Roasted Chicken Jus). Guys, I fucked this one up. This course required some labor on my part, so I forgot to take a picture of it “before.” I had to steal a picture from the restaurant’s Instagram account to make up for it. Celeriac is a unique variety of celery that produces a large, edible root. They wrap it in a salt dough and bake it for five hours until tender. You have to crack and remove the salt dough (you’re not supposed to eat it). Then you have to remove the celeriac skin (like orange skin) and discard it (you’re not supposed to eat it). What you’re left with is basically…like, a baked potato dish. Cut into pieces, cover in either the chicken jus or the vegan-friendly jus, add a dollop of crème fraîche, a sprinkle of chives and a touch of chrispy shallots. Voila! Pretty good! The presenation was bonkers but the flavors itself were…okay.
And that’s it! I’ve got nothing else to say! I hope you enjoyed reading this review. I hope if you’re in Los Angeles you consider ordering from Vespertine because during these confusing and weird and trying times they are still making world-class meals that are far more accessible than a reservation to dine-in used to be. Obviously I hope they can return to their intended format sooner rather than later, but believe me as long as I can keep enjoying chef’s food, I’m going to keep ordering these meals.
Of course the same week I start a bold new “feature” on this website, our process of selling-and-buying a house heats up and demands my attention. It seems like for the past ten years or so every time I’ve attempted to forge a new path towards daily updates, something stymies my progress almost immediately. It used to be doomed relationships destroying my fragile psyche and rendering me passionless. I guess in a way a relationship is still managing to succeed at that, only now it’s like…good healthy adult relationship stuff keeping me preoccupied and eating away at free time to write. Maybe I should pivot to less-frequent posts with more meat? It’s worth contemplating.
As you’ve probably noticed by the title of this post, I haven’t made as much progress as I would have liked in regards to listening to my entire record collection. Granted my collection numbers in the thousands, but who would have thought it would take me [checks notes…] six days to listen to half of the letter “A.” Tomorrow once the puppy has been dropped off at school I should be able to start on the letter “B.”
I’ve been selling records, though. Of those 2000+ titles, I’ve officially parted with 24 of them. Some were even featured in the last post, and a few more will be mentioned in this one even though they’ve already fled the coop. Oh, I should probably mention if you arrived here from Instagram or something…I’m selling off a large chunk of my record collection.
The only way I can think of to determine whether or not I can live without an album in my collection…is to listen to every single one of them. As someone who likes to needlessly complicate his own life, certainly the most obtuse, difficult-to-complete plan I can come up with is how I should proceed. Right?
Yahweh Or The Highway is an album with at least some sentimental value you to me. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2007 I didn’t bring a single record from my collection with me. It was assumed I was only going to stay here for about six months (unless I found a job), at which point I’d be returning to NJ. Obviously I ended up staying out here for good, and I’ve been able to bring a lot of records back with me when I travel back east. But for a while, I had nothing. Early in my first month or two in LA, I found myself sitting on a couch in a Silver Lake apartment with my friends Nick and Lauren. We were probably hanging out before going to Spaceland or The Tomorrow Show or something. I was quite stoned. And Lauren, I think, put on Yahweh Or The Highway. As I was sitting there, lost in thought, wondering of LA was indeed my new home…I could hear “Ejaculation is a waste of valuable resources” over and over again and it was the dumbest, funniest possible soundtrack to this existential moment I was having. I’ll never forget that. Rough Day At The Orifice, I think, I found at the old record store that was on Sunset in Echo Park when I lived across the street from the lake. What was it called again? Sea Level? I’m pretty sure that’s where I found it. Eventually I brought Yahweh back to LA with me and married the pair on my record shelves. Now I’m ready to part with them both.
The funny thing about the Archers Of Loaf records in my collection: I own these two, and don’t even own a copy of Icky Mettle, which is my favorite Loaf record. I’m pretty sure I bought All The Nations Airports first when Ian told me I needed it. The original pressing of that album is actually a picture disc, which means it doesn’t really sound all that great. When I started collecting records one of my mantras (whether known or unknown) was that if I owned one record by an artist, I was obligated to buy any others I came across. So when I saw Vee Vee at one of the Academy locations (probably Brooklyn, I went to that one more often back in my post-college days) I had to grab it. I haven’t listened to that album in years, but when I sat down to listen to it this week I was surprised how much I liked it. I actually prefer it to All The Nations Airpots even though I am more familiar with the latter. Either way, I’m ready to get rid of them both. I don’t think I need them anymore.
Many years ago now, the store bought this insane Italian prog collection filled with tens of thousands of dollars worth of obscure records. And some of the only records that were in my price range at the time were by Area. We had a copy of Arbeit Macht Frei with the rare cardboard gun cut-out insert that we sold for something like $150 at the time, so the copy without the insert was only $50. Caution Radiation Area was half that, so I picked them both up. The prospect of saying “check out my mint-condition Italian prog records” was probably more exciting to me than the music at the time, but I’ve since bought more and more records on the Italian Cramps label because of how much I grew to love these. And, it turns out, even without the gun insert Arbeit Macht Frei has become more collectible. The last copy we sold with the gun insert was $500, and without the insert was $375. So…I might like the music, but at that price I’m happy to part with my copy. Caution is still like a $30-$40 record, and I’m ok letting it go as well.
On Ian’s last trip to Los Angeles we spent one night over at Vacation Vinyl chatting with Mark and loading Ian up with obscure black metal records. At the time I was only interested in filling out my Isis and Cave In collections, but Ian was diving deep into albums by bands like Volahn, Trapped Within Burning Machinery, Bosse-De-Nage, Bohren & Der Club Of Gore, and Arizmenda. At the time I had no fucking clue what he and Mark were geeking out about. Over the course of the next few weeks, I made a bunch of trips back to Vacation because I got to hear all those records and decided I needed them too. Arizmenda was the hardest one to track down. I ended up seeing it on a mail-order list from some store in like, Kansas City? I remember I had to buy it from a store I’d never heard of, and they called it “mint / mint” and I didn’t trust them, but for $40 I was willing to take the risk. I’ve listened to it once since purchasing it, and it’s the exact type of record I will probably be content to sell, and don’t need in my physical collection. It’s a cool as hell black metal record with an insane handmade lyric booklet…I just think another collector might appreciate it more.
I spent years trying to track down Ash records on vinyl. I found a pretty clean copy of 1977 at Amoeba and then upgraded to an almost-perfect copy some time later. Live At The Wireless is much harder to find, and for a record that honestly isn’t that expensive it’s fucking impossible to find in mint condition. This one was described as mint by the seller who listed it on eBay, but it’s closer to VG condition. Oh well. The disc is really clean but the cover is basically soft and fuzzy around the edges. I’m more proud of the fact that I own this than I do 1977, and considering how long I had to spend buying and upgrading my Ash records…I’m not sure I’m ready to part with them yet. Also, I don’t think they’re rare enough to be worth that much.
This used to be one of my favorite finds at Amoeba when I would shop there regularly in my early LA days. When I didn’t have a job I thought I could pay rent by buying and flipping vinyl online. Amoeba had this weird gap in their vision when it came to certain albums, and they’d put records in their bins like this one for $4.99 when I could get $50 or more for them. I think at one point I had three copies of this album. I sent one to Ian, kept one for myself, and sold one. I forgot how much I liked this record when I listened to it the other day. I much prefer it to Ekranoplan and When Sweet Sleep Returned, the other two albums of theirs I own. I’ll probably end up selling these, but this one will be tough to part with.
Of course this was the one record I played the other day that the girlfriend enjoyed. She said, “It sounds like something I’d listen to!” to which I immediately responded “Then I’m selling it.” I don’t even think I waited for her to finish speaking before saying that. Truth is, I’ll probably end up selling both this and the new Astronoid album. They’re on Spotify. I’ve got the downloads in my Bandcamp collection. Am I going to listen to the vinyl or is it going to take up space that I could devote to something with more sentimental value? It seems dumb to be selling records I’ve bought within the past five years because their appreciation potential as collectibles is still unknown. Alas, what the fuck is the world going to even look like in the next five years? The entire market for vinyl could crash, and then I’m just left with worthless piles of wax. Not that Astronoid is worthless or anything. I love this record. It’s just…well…why else would I be selling my records if I didn’t think this collectible vinyl ride is coming to an end soon? The rare ones are never going to be as valuable as baseball cards. I have a chance to use this money to buy a fucking house. I’d be dumb not to take that opportunity.
We used to hear this line all the time at the store from people selling their record collections: “You can’t take ’em with you when you die.”
One of the more exciting tables at the WFMU Record Fair used to be the Tropicalia in Furs table. Every year I would seek out “perfect” copies of records by Jorge Ben, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Os Mutantes…and every year I’d either fail to find copies that were clean enough for my liking or balk at the prices. Eventually I just gave up worrying about prices and bought the damned records. And now I’ve sold them all. These two are gone, along with the Caetano record. I think the only Brazilian record I still own at this point is the Wanda Sa record Vagamente. I’ve owned and upgraded copies of Africa Brasil a few times through the years. I’m pretty sure my “top copy” was a combination of a record from Japan with a cover from another copy I bought at WFMU. Forca Bruta was always the album I liked most of Ben’s. Africa Brasil has that killer opening track, but Forca Bruta slays from start to finish. I wound up with a disc that was in VG+ condition and a cover that was close to VG+. In terms of Brazilian records, VG+ might as well be mint. My buddy bought those records and I hope they’re bringing him as much joy as they used to bring me!
That’s it for tonight. I’ll post more tomorrow. If you see anything that interests you, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m open for business.
As I mentioned the other day, I’m giving some serious thought to selling off a huge chunk of my record collection. Like, up to 90% of it. I’ve sold…three records to friends within the last week for $300. So if I keep up that pace I’ll have $200,000 by the end of the month, right? Unfortunately, that’s not how this process works. That’s not even close to how it works.
First of all, there are many records with which I cannot part. I don’t want to sell records I inherited from my mom, for example. I don’t think she’d appreciate that, and also I kind of dig the fact that she was a ’60s rock hippie chick with good taste. I don’t know when that switch flipped and she gave up on the Beatles and the Stones and the Byrds and started listening to Peter Allen and showtunes…but her first-pressing, stunningly mint Beatles records are not going anywhere right now. Secondly, there are a lot of records I have that are not on Spotify so I would have no other way to enjoy them. Walter Wegmuller’s Tarot is not on Spotify. Also, it was my most-wanted, most-sought-after album for over a decade…I don’t think I could part with it just yet. And one last consideration…my favorite bands. Am I ready to part with the entire Spiritualized discography? Harvey Milk? Marissa Nadler? What about the Smashing Pumpkins?
I think I can part with those records. Especially with how expensive Mellon Collie has gotten.
The only way I can think of to determine whether or not I can live without an album in my collection…is to listen to every single one of them. As someone who likes to needlessly complicate his own life, certainly the most obtuse, difficult-to-complete plan I can come up with is how I should proceed. Right?
Let’s get started.
I have somewhere between 75 and 85 records in the “A” section of my collection. No, I don’t have to listen to every single one of them to see if they’re worth keeping. AC/DC for example. I love ’em, but they’re all on Spotify if I ever want to hear them. I’m definitely going to be selling my 1980 original US pressing of Back In Black, and my 1981 reissue of Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Should you want either one, shoot me a message.
Yes, this is how I”m going to proceed here and on Instagram. Prepare to be bombarded with posts about stuff being for sale or not for sale.
The first record I came to that I struggled with was Acetone’s I Guess I Would. It’s not on Spotify, so I pulled the record off the shelf to give it a listen. As I did, I remembered how it came into Rockaway years ago still-sealed, and we priced it at $9.99. I waited until it was on sale and then bought it for half-off. I took it home, filed it away without opening it…and then re-sold it to Rockaway a short while later when I realized I never opened it. Then some time later it got marked down again, to $2.99 so I re-bought it. I opened it and listened to it a couple times, but it’s pretty much unplayed. Two of the corners are a little pushed, but it’s still got its original shrink wrap on it. As much as I enjoyed listening to it, I looked it up online and it seems to sell for about $75-$100 now. I have the MP3s on my hard drive, so I’m going to sell it.
Sorry Acid Mothers Temple, I don’t need you in my collection at this point. And I don’t need your contribution to that 7″ split 45 series of Hawkwind covers that came out a bunch of years ago, Sonic Attack. AMT and White Hills were on one split, Mudhoney and Mugstar another, and Bardo Pond & Kinski were on the third one. I’ll list those as a set on eBay eventually. Which I guess means I’m not keeping my entire White Hills discography in tact…ugh. This is going to turn into some weird butterfly effect thing where because I sell one White Hills 7″ I’m going to end up selling everything I own by them, aren’t I? If anyone wants La Novia, make an offer.
Ryan Adams is a tough one. Heartbreaker was one of the albums that helped me through the lonely part of my college years, so I have a closer connection to it. Cold Roses I only bought because I saw him perform “Let It Ride” on Letterman while I was stoned out of my mind and decided that I needed it. I can part with that one, but I can’t part with Heartbreaker. It’s funny, he and Mandy Moore came into the shop one night shortly before closing so that he could buy some collectible punk 45s and I seriously did not recognize either of them. He was super friendly and chatty, and didn’t come off like the creep he apparently is. Speaking of which, I know he got #MeToo’d for sexual misconduct, but I went to Google for an exact why/how just now and came across this article, published 8 hours ago. Weird coincidence. Maybe I should sell that original copy of Heartbreaker after all.
I was going to keep my Agalloch records until Ian informed me about how one of the dudes made antisemitic comments and that’s a no-go around here. It’s the reason I sold my Burzum records, so I’d be a hypocrite if I hung onto these. If you want either Ashes Against The Grain or The Mantle or Pale Folklore, by all means reach out. I’ll probably post here that you align with antisemites and ask that you never speak to me again once the transaction is complete…but I’ll still take your money. By the way if you haven’t already noticed the links I’m sharing are to the exact pressings I have for sale.
I was really riding the wave of Foxglove and Digitalis when I moved to Los Angeles, but somehow Ilyas Ahmed was off my radar. I saw him perform at Echio Curio the opening night of the Bottling Smoke festival. Then I went out and bought as many of his albums as I could find. I ended up tracking down beautiful copies of The Vertigo Of Dawn, and Between Two Skies / Towards The Night, and With Endless Fire. The latter is on Spotify so I definitely don’t need that one. I listened to all three albums and, honestly…I think I’m okay parting with them now. They served their purpose for 2007 Evan, but 2020 Evan is in a different place.
I can’t sell Aix Em Klemm, it was a gift from Ian I think. Right? This and the Amen Dunes album on Sacred Bones from a couple years ago, I think? I think it’s kind of funny he went all the way to Japan to buy me a record that Kranky probably had for sale on their website for $10, but I’ll take it. This is the kind of shit I would probably keep anyway because it’s a perfect record to have on in the background while I’m writing. It’s not like some of these other records that sound like I’m getting the shit kicked out of my in a wind tunnel. But more on that later.
I don’t think I can part with my Alcest records because I got them signed by Neige and whoever was in his touring band when they stopped by Vacation Vinyl a few years ago. I mean…they’re on Spotify so I could probably part with them, but it’d take a sweet offer because they’re autographed. I guess I’d listen if someone wanted to make an offer on either Les Voyages De L’ame or Le Secret.
Here’s a perfect example of a record I no longer care to own. Aluk Todolo isn’t bad or anything…but, like…why? Why do I need this? I don’t. I listened to it while I was working the other day and only got through one side before I realized I was disinterested and actively ignoring it. It still has the old Aquarius Records price sticker on its resealable sleeve with info sticker! Please, take Finsternis off my hands.
I probably won’t keep any Will Oldham-related vinyl except for maybe I See A Darkness, but I’m torn about selling anything Jason Molina-related at this point. I especially won’t get rid of the Songs: Ohia catalog, but there are at least two Magnolia Electric Co. albums that Jason gave me when I visited him in 2006, with handwritten notes and stuff, so those aren’t going anywhere. But…I don’t know if I need this one. I listened to it twice (it’s one-sided) and…two of the songs are written by Jason but they’re not his best work. I think…I think I can let it go. If you’re a Molina or Oldham completist and you don’t own Amalgamated Sons Of Rest you should. It’s not for me anymore.
I don’t know what the deal is with Frozen In Amber, but it took me like five years to find and this is the best condition example I came up with. It was released by Elfenblut in the UK in 1996, and has never received the reissue treatment. I think the combination of it being released during the post-vinyl CD heyday and the fat that Brits treat their records like shit means there probably aren’t many perfect copies of it in circulation. The inner sleeve is basically sandpaper so I put it in a nicer sleeve, but even so it plays with some background noise. It’s a shame, because it looks nice. Maybe if you have one of those VPI machines you could work some magic on it, but…I don’t need it anymore. I’ve got the MP3s.
I own the complete AmAnSet discography, but I don’t think I’m going to part with it. Actually, I bought Promise Of Love when it was brand new and never opened it. So, if you want a perfect copy of that album and are willing to pay the “still sealed” price, I’ll sell you that one. Oh, and after one last listen, I don’t need this EP of theirs either.
See guys, I was into Amen Dunes before it was cool. I got DIA new from Aquarius right when it came out because I think it was one of their records of the week and I pretty much trusted them implicitly with their recommendations. Alas, I like the newer records better. I think I’ve listened to it twice so it’s basically new. Still has the shrink wrap on it and everything, as you can see from the photo. Make an offer.
Sorry, Arab On Radar. You no longer touch me the same way you once did. Even if I had many a chuckle listening to “Semen On The Mount” this morning, I’m pretty sure I can survive with just the MP3s of these records. “Ejaculation is a waste of valuable resources,” you say? Well…why don’t one of you send me some of your own valuable resources (that means money — please don’t send me any semen) and I’ll be happy to supply you with two lovely Arab On Radar albums. Rough Day At The Orifice and/or Yahweh Or The Highway.
And that’s it for today! I’ll try to post a few of these a week as I work my way through the alphabet. To complicate matters we’re trying to move in the next couple months so I’m definitely itching to part with my records sooner rather than later. If I know you and if you live in Los Angeles and you want to buy a huge chunk at once for straight cash, by all means call me. And know that your money is going to a good cause — my soon-to-be mortgage.
It has come to my attention recently that this here website has run afoul of one of our wonderful American tech giants. The Facebook/Instagram corporation (or some worker drone therein) has decided that Swan Fungus is either malicious, spam, or some other nasty word for “harmful to the community.” As such, I am no longer allowed to post links to this site on those platforms. I find it more than a little bit ironic that Facebook still allows Swan Fungus to have a group/fan page on their site — and I receive plenty of notifications asking me to pay Facebook to promote/boost my page — but I am not allowed to use that page to actually link to my website. It’s baffling. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s so far beyond baffling it is infuriating. It must have happened recently, as all of my “Stay At Home: Day __” posts have been removed. Maybe they thought I was spamming my own fan page? Whatever the case may be, there’s no such thing as technical support on Facebook so I can’t get the situation rectified. I’ve deleted the Facebook page. I’d delete my personal profile as well but I need it for work purposes, which is super annoying. I’ll probably delete my @swanfungus Instagram page as well, because what’s the point in having it if I can’t steer people here?
You know what else sucks?! I’m heavily considering selling my record collection and I was going to use both platforms to advertise it. We’re going to be moving within the next couple months and I’m so sick and tired of moving my collection I just don’t think I want to deal with it anymore. More importantly, I think…the fun of acquiring records has lost its joy. I’ve stopped buying new releases. I’ve stopped caring when something that looks comes across my desk. Even before “Safer At Home,” the last time I walked through a record store was probably in 2019. At this point the only reason I’d keep collecting would be to buy new albums from artists I like. Most of the insane prog/kraut/psych records I still covet are well out of my price range. I don’t even read my daily Discogs digest to see if people are selling those records. What does that all say? Before quarantine I was using Spotify at work and in the car. I wasn’t spinning many records at home unless it was newly acquired. I think I’d be just as happy in my new house building a Sonos system in multiple rooms and using a computer/server to play whatever albums aren’t currently available on Spotify. There’s a small chance I’ll keep a handful of my favorites. Things I cannot part with. My mom’s original Beatles records. Maybe my Spiritualized records, and one-offs here and there. But…like, I don’t listen to my Walter Wegmuller Tarot box. I’ve only ever listened to one side of the first Explosions In The Sky records I got from their drummer after interviewing them in college. They’re too rare and precious to actually enjoy.
My plan, then…is to work through the process of selling my collection here. Before I get rid of it I want to try to listen to every record I own one last time. I’ll skip shit like AC/DC that I’ve heard millions of times already and long ago gave up on caring about. So…every day I’ll post here what I’ve listened to, some thoughts about the album and its place in my collection and in my life…and then you guys are welcome to contact me if you want to buy anything. Make sense?
If you think you can talk me out of this, by all means, shoot me an email or a text or whatever and try your best.
When we last checked in with Chef Jordan Kahn and his team at Veserptine, I was enjoying a magnificent birthday dinner. The “theme” that night was Southern Cooking, and you can read all about it here. We were so blown away by the experience and menu that first go-round, we decided to make a second reservation when the next “theme” was revealed. An e-mail from Tock informed us when reservations were available. It described this latest menu as “The French Laundry.”
Vespertine honors one of the most important and influential restaurants in history. With the express permission of Chef Thomas Keller himself, I have chosen to create a tasting menu featuring specific dishes I learned from my time working alongside Chef Keller. This collection of recipes hold a special meaning to me, for within each, lies a personal lesson or story recounted from small moments of imparted wisdom, which was always the case when working with Chef.
Um. Yes, please. Although I’ve never been to Yountville to enjoy a meal at The French Laundry, it is near the top of my culinary bucket list. I’ve read enough and seen enough food shows/documentaries to know some of the signature dishes, and wondered if they would be included in the Vespertine experience. I tried not to read any reviews (and refused to let friends whose reservations predated ours share their thoughts). I wanted the meal to follow the same criteria as my birthday meal, where everything came as a surprise. Or, as much of a surprise as can be allowed when part of the experience involves reading the instructions for proper coursing and potential re-heating/storing of dishes before consumption.
The pickup process as Vespertine was really easy. Although LA has opened up more businesses recently and streets and neighborhoods are more crowded than they’ve been in months, the Sunday evening drive over to Culver City was quiet. There was only one other car in the parking lot, and our food was brought to us within minutes by a mask and glove-clad crew member. Upon returning home, we refrigerated whatever needed to be served cold before beginning our meal.
I think today is technically… like…the last day of the “Safer At Home” order. Press conferences are scheduled tomorrow where the mayor is likely to allow restaurant reopenings. As far as I can tell, retail stores are already allowed to be open. I find this slightly discomforting because California set a record for new cases just today. Los Angeles saw a record high for our 7-day rolling average of new cases just 2 days ago. Hospitalizations and deaths were down a bit recently but…I don’t know guys. I don’t have a great feeling about this. As much as I’d love to go out to restaurants and breweries again, I don’t think I’m going to be doing that any time soon. We’re okay with delivery once or twice a week and cooking the rest of our meals. It’s gotten us through the past 70 days and can likely help us safely navigate through many more.
I have to apologize for my lack of posts for the past two weeks. We experienced something of a life change last Sunday and most of my time and energy have been devoted to it. There has been nothing in my life except for work, and outside of work there has only been…well, why don’t I let the pictures explain:
This is Theodora T. Dogg (the “T.” stands for “the”). We call her Theo for short. She’s a miniature Australian Shepherd and she’s about 10 weeks old and weighs 3.4 pounds. I am hyperfocused on her well-being because she’s basically a baby. With baby dogs come baby dog issues, like chewing everything in sight, peeing and pooping all over the house, and generally creating an impossible atmosphere in which to get anything productive done. When you leave her alone for too long she’ll start tearing up carpet or digging under furniture for something to eat. When this happens she ceases to be Theo and transforms into “Destructo,” Theo’s evil doppelganger. She’s pretty much crate-trained by now, and no longer cries at night when we put her to sleep. Unfortunately, she has a 10-week-old’s bladder and requires trips to the potty (aka the designated part of the living room where we have potty pads) every two hours or so. We can stretch this overnight to 3 or 4 hours. So for the past two weeks I’ve been waking up routinely in the middle of the night to let her out of her crate so she can pee. You should see my sleep stats for the past 14 nights. Abysmal. My coffee intake has increased drastically each morning, and my beer intake has increased each evening. In fact, I’m going to go crack a beer right now, because before I know it…it’s going to be time to make dinner, exhaust the pup, and (eventually) turn off the screens for the night and try to relax.
Hey, Y’all. It’s Thursday, and I’ve long since finished working for the day, so I figured I’d post that mixtape I’ve been promising for a while now. There isn’t too much new to report. I made burgers on Tuesday night, one of which turned out well and one of which didn’t. I’m not sure what exactly went wrong since I cooked them at the same time on the same burner. My only guess is that in my attempt to make two 8-ounce patties, one ended up a little thicker than the other. It left the tiniest bit of rare (even for my liking, and I like steaks cooked rare-plus) while the second one was a perfect medium-rare. I topped each one with a slice of American cheese, a couple of slices of tomato, and a bit of ketchup. Just the way God intended, right?
Last night we ordered Dave’s Hot Chicken and watched the finale of Suvivor while Zoom-ing with friends. I was so excited to eat my slider combo that I didn’t even stop to take a picture before devouring it. My sincerest apologies.
Tonight I’m apparently making filet mignon with roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Which means I should probably skip right to the mixtape because it is nearly 6 pm and I’m going to have to start cooking soon.
Working from home has given me opportunities to either revisit or pay closer attention to albums I’m not really intimate with, and it’s paying off greatly in terms of my personal enjoyment. I listened to Gnidrolog’s Lady Lake this morning and realized that the ‘A’ side of the album is an absolute masterpiece — even with the prog flute solos on the first track. The vocalist is like a perfect mash-up of Tim Buckley and Geddy Lee, and the band is the proper amount of heavy/psych/prog to make the horns and flute work. Check out that tune for sure if you’ve never heard any Gnidrolog. As for the rest of the tape, it is comprised mostly of songs I’ve heard in the past week or two while sitting in the kitchen trying to get things done. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll recognize a lot of these from album covers I’ve posted recently. Enjoy — let me know what you think. And, as always, stay healthy and stay safe.
I can’t believe I’m closing in on two months without work, travel, or seeing friends on a regular basis. In some ways, it feels like this “Safer At Home” ordinance has stretched for an obscenely long period of time, but it also doesn’t feel like it’s been two months. I suppose both of those can be attributed to the daily routines I’ve instituted since March 17th (or was it the 18th). I’ve done my best to keep a daily schedule so as not to treat this like a vacation. I wake up around the same time every day, eat lunch around the same time every day, go for walks either at lunch or before dinner, and try not to stay up too late — although I’ve been slipping up with that lately. I have some friends who are up until 4 am every morning playing video games or drinking. I’m usually in bed between midnight or 1 am. For the past two weeks, I’ve fit a small amount of work into my daily schedule, which is probably why I’ve found less time to blog this month. I also try not to post on the weekends because…well, it’s the weekend.
When I last wrote I was gearing up to watch the penultimate episode of Survivor with friends over Zoom. We ordered pizza from a local place I haven’t tried before, Vito’s Pizza in West Hollywood. It made Eater’s list of the 22 essential pizzerias in Los Angeles, which isn’t saying much when you come from New Jersey (like me) and generally like to shit all over this city’s pizza offerings. It was pretty good, although I think in the future we’ll stick to Prime for NY-style slices or Hollywood Pies for Chicago-style. The west side sure does boast less intriguing options than the east side. Remember the First Annual East Los Angeles Pizza-Off I organized back in the day? There were so many options!
The rest of the week involved watching Band Of Brothers and making dinner. One night I made ground beef tacos with flour tortillas, tomato, onion, crumbled cotija, avocado, and hot sauce. Another night I think we just heated up Porto’s potato balls and made a small salad. I’ve been making way more breakfast sandwiches as well:
We have frozen bagels leftover from my birthday that I’m doing my best to plow through in order to free up space in the freezer. Yeah, that’s it. I’m freeing up space in the freezer. It’s not that I’m obsessed with bagels and would eat them at every meal if I could. Especially when topped with cheddar and bacon and avocado.
The most exotic I’ve gotten with cooking lately was probably last night’s attempt at Brazilian coconut milk chicken. That dish involved rubbing chicken breast with a mixture of cumin, coriander, cayenne, turmeric, salt, and pepper. While it’s cooking in a skillet, in another pan you sautee onion, tomato, jalapeno, garlic, and ginger before adding in coconut milk and reducing. Combine with the chicken and serve over rice. I didn’t take a picture because it was not much to look at. It tasted fine if a bit underseasoned. I think the coconut milk dominated all the other flavors, so maybe if I made it again I’d use heavy cream instead. Like how I make my Italian sausage sauce. I don’t know what’s for dinner tonight, but I’ve convinced the GF to let me order Dave’s Hot Chicken tomorrow for the Survivor finale. Maybe I’ll make burgers tonight? We’ve got all the ingredients and I haven’t had one since the ones I made April 24th:
The weekend came and went without much to report. On Friday, though, I had to venture out and run several errands. I swung by “work” to say “Hi” to a co-worker. I had to pick up a prescription from Costco, which was an absolute shit-show. No social distancing, herding people like cattle into the tightest confines in the store, a huge bottleneck at the exit because they’re still checking people’s receipts on the way out the door (!!!). It was ridiculous. I was told over the phone that I could skip the line to get inside and go straight to the pharmacy, but when I tried that I was told I couldn’t. I told the door guy that I had just gotten off the phone, and when he refused me entry I called “Bullshit” and started to walk away. Thankfully another employee overheard and let me inside. Once there, I was horrified by what I saw. Even with a mask on, I felt unsafe. Foot traffic in every location, carts and bodies blocking aisles and walkways, it looked like every cashier lane was open so there was no distancing happening…if every Costco in the country looks like the one in Los Feliz did on Friday, I fear “opening” cities is going to be a complete disaster. After that, I dropped by a buddy’s apartment to throw a gift up to his 2nd story balcony while we chatted on the phone. That’s how social distancing should be done. None of this “We’ll walk in the park but a couple of feet from one another” bullshit. Just throw things on people’s porches or balconies, wave, and leave.
We had a Zoom happy hour with some friends on Saturday night. We mostly got buzzed on various libations and talked about TV and pets and stuff. It was one of the more relaxing Zooms I’ve had lately.
On Sunday we decided to venture out for a respectable, socially-distanced drive. After going for a long walk in the neighborhood we called Andrew’s Cheese Shop in Santa Monica to place an order. Andrew hand-delivered us some cheese and bread and beer very early in this “Safer At Home” period, so we wanted to continue to support his business however we could. This time we opted for curbside pickup. We then decided to take a scenic route to Santa Monica, driving north before coming back down the coast. We listened to podcasts and gawked at all the cars lined up along the beach (which is closed…so I don’t know what all the people were doing…sitting in their cars?). We took surface streets back as well to lengthen the amount of time we had to enjoy our freedom. Then we made a cheese plate and met up with friends for Zoom pub trivia:
I know I keep saying this and then not fulfilling my promises…but tomorrow I swear I’ll try to compile a new mixtape for you.
We’re still here, and still kicking. Apologies for not writing sooner. I’ve picked up a little work this week, and actually left the house yesterday for a bit (!!!) so my schedule is out of whack. What was going on when I last posted? Did I make beef bourguignon? That was a good meal that lasted several days. It was a surprisingly busy weekend, even though we originally had very little planned. On Friday night we played some games over Zoom with friends of the GF (I think we just had paninis for dinner). On Saturday we had some errands to run, including stops downtown to load up on wine and beer. We played more games with friends of mine (because we’re equal opportunity social butterflies), and my sister on Saturday evening. On Sunday I think I had four different Zoom meetings scheduled, but I only made it to two of them. Or was it one of them? No. I remember now. I had an early afternoon/evening meeting with co-workers and then virtual trivia night with Shaun and Amanda and some of their friends. King Trivia has shifted from pub trivia to Zoom/Twitch trivia lately, so we’ve been drinking on Sunday nights while we try our hardest not to cheat from the comfort of our respective couches.
Monday was exciting because I didn’t have to cook dinner! The GF made eggplant parm, which was a welcome and delicious change from the norm. I had some work to do during the day, and at night — over dinner — started watching Band Of Brothers on HBO. I’m surprised I haven’t seen that before. I like war films and documentaries. I guess it was something I figured I would get around to someday, and not being able to leave the house much has created a perfect opportunity. As previously stated, I left the house yesterday for about an hour to drop off the project I spent Monday working on. I toyed with the idea of staying out longer and driving around the city but ended up heading straight home. Apparently lots of people have been driving to the beach to photograph bioluminescence in the water? We thought about taking that drive last night but ended up staying inside. I’m kind of glad we didn’t go to the beach, the news this morning said it’s been super crowded the past couple nights.
Today I put in about 4 hours of work while simultaneously catching up on the Last Dance documentary on ESPN and taking care of some things around the house. We had a ceiling leak a couple of nights ago so my work station in the kitchen has become a staging area for items we needed to remove from the cabinets to keep them from getting dirty water all over them. The leak required a plumber to come into the house to fix it, which was absolutely terrifying. I wore a mask and stayed in the guest room for the duration of his visit, while the GF basically followed him around to make sure he wasn’t sneezing or coughing on anything. As far as I could tell, he was very professional and wore a mask at all times except for when he was in the upstairs bathroom alone trying to see if there was a toilet issue somehow related to the leak. There wasn’t, thankfully. It was just a random pinhole-sized hole in a clean water pipe. Once it has dried out we’ll have to bring in a contractor to fix that mess, which I’m sure will cause me even more anxiety. As long as I can plug my Playstation into the guest room TV I should be able to survive.
Tonight we have a Zoom meeting with the regular Wednesday night Survivor crew. To be honest, I’m way more excited about having just ordered some pizza than I am excited to watch a two-hour episode of Survivor. Tomorrow I believe the plan is for me to return to my regular dinner prep duties, but I’ve enjoyed this brief respite from the kitchen. We’ve got more produce coming tomorrow, and plenty of meat left in the freezer, so I’ll be cooking up some tasty dishes this weekend. I think we have a few more Zooms scheduled for the next several days. I’m not all that excited to get back to going to bars and restaurants with friends (at least until we have better therapies and maybe a vaccine?), but I have to say, Zooms are fucking exhausting. Maybe it’s my lack of empathy for other people or general dispassion (is that a word?) for face-to-face conversations, but I find them to be atrocious for the most part. I can do it while watching a TV show or a movie but the ones where you just have to talk so tedious. My dad’s side of the family has a regular Zoom meeting on Tuesday evenings and I feel like I just sit there quietly while everyone else talks. Yesterday I got up to grab my laptop charger and when I returned the meeting had adjourned. I don’t think anyone even noticed I was still there. Oh well.
That’s about it for today. If work is slow tomorrow I’ll try to compile a new mixtape for you.
It’s been a week since my last post. I’m not dead, yet! This is good news. The bad news is, it has been a very boring week with little to report at the moment. The day after my birthday was basically a lost cause. We went for a short walk in the afternoon but neither of us had much of an appetite after Saturday’s epic dinner. We basically sat on the couch watching TV for the majority of the day. At night we joined a couple of friends for an online trivia game hosted by our usual pub trivia company. It seems counterintuitive to host a trivia night online because there is no way to stop people from cheating if they want to. We did not cheat, and as a result, we finished something absurd like 50th out of 60 teams. At least half the teams who submitted answers had perfect scores. In spite of the cheaters, we agreed to keep meeting for trivia night in the weeks ahead.
My night culminated with the series finale of Homeland, a show that I have “hate-watched” since its first season, and whose finale was just as atrocious as I assumed it would be.
Monday was an even lazier day than Sunday, as I somehow managed to barely take 5,000 steps according to my watch. This might be due to the fact that I spent a large chunk of time on my computer downloading free classes/lectures to watch while I’m unemployed. After a very brief walk (I think that was the day I was waiting on a package that needed to be forwarded to Ian?) I made my famous pasta with Italian sausage for dinner. Technically it’s not my famous pasta dish, but I’ve taken credit for it since moving to Los Angeles. As far as I know the recipe was created by my mom’s old college roommate. When I was in college (in PA, not VT) she used to make it for me every once in a while. I should post the recipe one day. I hear people enjoy that kind of thing on the Internet. I’ll be sure to type 10,000 words and insert 50 pictures of my beautiful house before I get to the actual recipe, as is the norm with most home chef’s blogs. Nevertheless, the pasta came out delicious.
On Tuesday we did a little better with getting outside and exercising. I think that was the night we decided to eat leftovers and watch the first two Die Hard movies, which someone in this house has — shockingly — never seen before. I, on the other hand, often describe Die Hard as the greatest Christmas movie ever made. And — when I was younger — I would argue that Die Hard 2 was the superior film compared to the original. Nowadays were I to say that I would get laughed out of a room. In fact, when the topic was raised on a Zoom call last night everyone except for me appeared to agree that not only was the original better but that Die Hard 2 is, in fact, a terrible film! Rather than take umbrage with the sentiment I kept my mouth shut.
On Wednesday I went on a morning 5K run before settling into my “office” (the kitchen table) to watch a lecture on entrepreneurship. Dinner that night was turkey and cheddar sandwiches on pretzel buns with potato chips. Then I had my weekly Zoom call for Survivor. The OG reality show is usually terrible, but this season has been surprisingly excellent.
Yesterday for breakfast I tried my hand at “Hawaiian breakfast sliders,” a take on the breakfast menu item made by Silver Lake Coffee I used to crush when I was hungover at work. They are incredibly easy to make. You cut four King’s Hawaiian rolls in half and toast them (or in my case skillet them with butter). Scramble three eggs. Cook two or three strips of bacon. Add cheddar cheese. Cut into quarters. Serve. It’s really not that hard. See:
Yesterday I watched another lecture online and did some light writing exercises before making dinner. Once again I broke out the slow cooker, this time to prepare beef bourguignon. I found a few recipes online and sort of cobbled together my own based on the elements of each that I liked the most. It started with chopped bacon and seared stew beef. Then I whisked together a sauce (in the same pan as the bacon and beef drippings/bits) that included chicken broth, red wine, soy sauce, tomato sauce, and flour. I added in chopped carrots, potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and thyme. Then I set my phasers to “stun” and let the slow cooker do its thing for a few hours. The results were good last night, but they were even better for lunch this afternoon. The sauce was too thin last night, but after sitting overnight in the fridge it was perfect. Here’s an early picture of the slow cooker working its magic.
Today has been a relatively quiet one. I went for a run this morning. Breakfast was yogurt and granola. Lunch was the aforementioned beef bourguignon leftovers. We just got some more groceries delivered so dinner will likely include some fresh veggies and maybe a sandwich with cold cuts, cheese, and avocado? Apparently tomorrow I’m getting eggplant parm for dinner, but I’ve been promised that no less than three times since our quarantine began, and the closest I’ve gotten to it is watching the GF throw out old, unused eggplants. I’ll post a picture if it actually happens.