Holiday Troubles

It’s been a while, I know.  What can I say?  The holidays, some last minute print orders, and a huge monkey wrench in my plans have made updating the blog a bit cumbersome.  I hope that current events in my life will make you realize how nice the past few days have been for you.
We (Jen- The Wife) have a really great friend: A Delta Pilot.  He gives us buddy passes for trips here and there.  Occasionally we get lucky and get to sit first class.  That one time I came back from Japan was especially memorable.  I was loaned a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones while sipping on champagne with my feet up at 35,000ft.  The endless cadre of libations put forth was enough to make me feel like I had just come home from a good night out my sophomore year in college; and that was only the first few hours!  I thought, “Man, it doesn’t get any better that this,” and it never really has.  The other morning may have been the ultimate opposite in the annals of the buddy pass system.
Awake at 3:00AM, I shower and make a quick bite to eat.  I don’t know why.  I’m not really hungry.  It’s just something to do to pass the time until the cab comes.  Load up and off we go.  We arrive at SFO around 4:15AM and head towards the sliding doors to wait in line with, jeez, a hundred of our closest friends.  We are greeted by a Delta attendant who asks us where we are going.  “We’re flying stand-by to Orlando via Atlanta,” I say.  “No chance you’ll make it today.  Everything is backed up from the storm on the east coast.  Maybe in two days you could get lucky,” he states emotionlessly with barely any eye contact.  “Next!” he barks.
Jen’s jaw dropped.  I just nodded.  I had almost been expecting this.  Things have just been too easy in the past.  Slowly I turn my head.  I have just enough time to look out the window and watch the cabby drive away.  Standing morosely off to the side and looking at people with secure tickets, I scowl.  Then I heard the same heartbreaking sentence again.  An older couple from Atlanta was informed of the same situation, and we both stumbled together, down-trodden and beaten, to the unopened food court to grab a few booths. 
With unbent optimism, Jen tried in vain every possible avenue to secure seats.  But it was all for not.  Since Reagan International and JFK were closed, all passengers were being re-routed to Atlanta through any combination of paths available.  Sleep deprived and knowing our chances for getting out in the next few days were becoming slimmer by the minute, we chose to do what I had avoided for so long.  And now it was to bite me in the ass with a vengeance:  Purchasing tickets. 
A few “good” deals were found on Priceline, considering our flight was peak holiday travel time and in a few days.  But for some reason the system avoided purchasing our tickets, stating that, “Airline prices and availability fluctuate frequently.”  Each time I tried to purchase a ticket, I was denied, re-directed to the possible remaining flight options (now with a higher price), and denied again.  Three tries later and I fled to Expedia, where we secured tickets for the stately sum of $630 a piece.  Ah, round trip to FL in high season. Such a deal at 250% more than the regular fare! 
Accepting my position (bent over), Jen and I packed it in and returned home.  For the rest of the day, I felt horrible – like I had been drinking all night before.  My head was in the strangest place, and I can say that I’ve officially had a Virgin Mary hangover.  Hey man, I’m quoting that one! 
My stupidity for attempting to fly stand-by during the holidays should be a lesson for all.  Don’t. 
And so I hope my failed attempt at saving a few hundred bucks makes you feel a bit better.
Happy Holidays!
See you down the road.
-Santa
     
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Righteous Babe

About a month has passed since I fled the warm shores of California to document Gaby Moreno and company on an east coast tour. Pursuing their dreams of becoming well paid and well loved musicians, the road hasn’t been easy, but I can tell you they are on their way.  It’s in the air.  I can feel it!

And grasshopper, who better to help you than one of the most successful DIY musicians out there?  Ani Difranco.  Why? Because she tears it up.  Her band tears it up.  And since they were so generous helping me help others, I thought I would put together a little homage as an indebted soul and new convert.  

What do I mean when I say a DIY musician?  Of course she plays her own instruments and belts out lyrics with her voice.  When I say DIY, I am speaking more in terms of producing and distributing her own music. Retaining control of her rights to everything while simultaneously having total control from start to finish.  She’s an artist centered producer as well, and I can only hope that she signs Gaby.  (Sending telekinetic messages…)

If only it were like that for everyone.  But it ain’t!  The industry is riddled with pot holes and shady characters alike.  Just watch E Hollywood True Stories, and it’s not hard to see there are some soulless heart-sucking bastards lurking in the shadows.

But back to the good people in the industry!  In addition to Ms. Difranco, two other finely talented musicians encompass the current trio. The very soulful and thoughtful Mr. Todd Sickafoose.  Damn I love that name.  Well, of course the first name is golden.  But Sickafoose.  That’s just gravy.  I digress… The New Yorker lists Todd as, “Ani Difranco’s secret weapon,” and The San Francisco Chronicle goes on to say that Todd is, “A captivating improviser, imaginative composer, and master of collaboration.”  


I can attest.  He walks baselines with ease and weaves diversity in every song.

Next up is the rhythm itself, Mr. Andrew Borger.  He’s kind of the quiet ninja.  Super friendly and flaunting a perfect grin on many occasions, he expertly dissects and fuses together a cornucopia of sounds.

His clangs, screeches, crescendos, pots and pans, and twangs and bangs elevate one’s listening experience from witness to participant.  More than once I found my hand smacking an imaginary symbol splash.  The woman in the next row was not pleased.

Short and sweet, but there you have it.  Great people helping out great people.  I’m just saying… It’s so refreshing to have an established artist help an aspiring one reach success.  Thanks for helping my friends realize their dreams!

And it’s working:  Good news for Gaby- they were just invited back for a longer tour starting in late January!  I see dreams being fulfilled.

My only regret?  I didn’t get the T-Shirt that read, “Ani Fucking Difranco.”

See you down the road.

-Todd

Cuesa Cocktailery

I don’t much like driving into the city.  It stresses me out.  Parking, traffic, pedestrians, and crazies are just a few of the things I have to worry about.  But when cocktails and sustainability get involved, well, that’s just a worthwhile cause.  So I fired up the Suby and got going.
Hosting the event at Ferry Building #1, the market where they sell fresh and local produce, Cuesa invited some of the best barkeeps and food engineers around to demonstrate their prowess with local ingredients and hotplates.  What came about was delicious goodness, whether it was in a slightly viscous or solid state.
Entering hungry, niblets surrounded me from all sides; the night was to be cornucopia of varying flavors.  I immediately headed for the Tacolicious stand where fresh cod ceviche was being plated up.  My oh my, I have gone to heaven!  On to the fresh waffles with chicken livers with spicy persimmon relish and Yuzu.  And finally to finish it off, I gulped down a few Spanish style tortilla de patatas.  My gut satiated for the time, I was looking for the main event.
Time to hit up a few drinks.  Looking around on this cold and blustery night, each beverage was seasonal.  Whether it was a persimmon, apple, or pear, you weren’t going to find a strawberry in the house.  Something that Cuesa preaches.
First on the list was a pure rum from Brasil.  Cachaça (rum) mixed with local fruits and spices warmed up my insides and got the rhythm going.  Walter, the SF Area Manger, informed me that the cane fields used to produce Cachaça are never burned.  That would leave a smoky flavor on the sugar.  Secondly, all of the cane is hand cut; another important step in keeping the cane in good shape before processing. I couldn’t argue with the process.  The taste was balanced very nicely.
I then moved to a delicious tequila mixed with pomegranate juice and eggs whites gingerly hugging the surface.  Next came the most interesting and amazing jello shot I have ever had the pleasure of placing on my palate.  I know I know… your imagination immediately takes you back to that night in Cabo where you made several poor choices after woofing down crap vodka jigglers.
Trust me, this is not Julio’s mother’s jello shot.  Scott, you are a mad genius and you’re right.  When life gives you lemons, make lemonade…lemonade that makes you feel damn good!
I was feeling it a bit.  They’re sneaky like that.  After a few more bites of food, I moseyed off to test a few more drinks here and there.  And as the clock wound down, just like that the event was finished and we packed it in.  I gotta say, I just love hanging out with food and drink people.
All they want is to stoke you out and see that smile on your face.  Thanks to all who were kind with their time and explanations.
See you down the road.
-Todd