A Wolf at the Door

Time for a little Music Friday. David McDuff, whose wine geekdom is perhaps only exceeded by his music geekdom, recently recapped Meeting People is Easy, a 1999 documentary filmed during Radiohead’s sprawling worldwide tour in support of OK Computer. I don’t really go in for these types of films (really, why bother after this one?), but I do love Radiohead. David rightly points to the disconnect and alienation in Meeting People is Easy which, no matter how successfully or not it’s portrayed here, is certainly a recurring theme with Radiohead’s music, something they really tackle in Kid A and Amnesiac.

Here’s a stop-motion fan video (quite good too) that I found via At Ease Web. The song is ‘Wolf at the Door’, taken from Hail to the Thief.

And here’s a video for a more recent song, ‘Weird Fishes/Arpeggi’. More disconnect, yadda yadda, but I’m really posting this because it’s got some great San Francisco footage. Look, there’s the Pork Store! And Amoeba! Then there’s a trip to Japan to, well, attend a Radiohead concert.

Radiohead vs. Portishead

Easily one of the best albums released so far this year, Portishead’s Third seamlessly melds hard, gritty tension with the sweetest of melodies. One song in particular–“The Rip”–is perhaps just a wee bit sweeter than the rest, and it’s certainly one of the most catchy tracks on the record. Catchy enough, it seems, to have become a favorite sound check tune for another British -head band, Radiohead.

Anyway, here’s an intimate video of Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood playing an acoustic version of “The Rip” in some living room or hotel, presumably somewhere on tour. Enjoy!

Bad California Pizza, Killer LA Taco Trucks and Parasite Wine Writers

Golden Gate from Marin Headlands

(Above: The Golden Gate Bridge and entrance to San Francisco Bay as seen from the Marin Headlands.)

I snapped this picture about a year ago during a long ride on a day much like this past Saturday–no big container ships this time, although my friend and I did see a beautifully restored B-17 Flying Fortress soaring over the SF Bay (turns out it was on tour; info about this particular plane can be found here).

I love riding in the Marin Headlands, easily one of the best cures for the doldrums I can think of. Now, if only I had a helmet-mounted video camera, I’d record the fantastic downhill that’s the reward for reaching the summit. But wait, someone beat me to it. Oh well, have a look–it’s a great ride.

Anyway, I had every intention of posting all these links on Friday but an afternoon of glorious sunshine–and a call from a friend saying he was holding down the end of a picnic table in the beer garden at Zeitgeist–convinced me that I had better things to do with my time than sit in front of a computer screen.

Mario Batali thinks California pizza sucks

And you know, he’s about 90% right. I’d rank Pizzaiolo, Pizzeria Delfina, A16, Arinell’s, Tony’s and Mozza (Batali’s LA restaurant in partnership with Joe Bastianich and Nancy Silverton) as serious counterpoints to his argument as outlined in Wired’s homage to New York pizza. Still the piece is a fun read although what it’s doing in a tech-culture magazine is beyond me. Oh wait, now I get it.

I love taco trucks!

If you’re not already reading Jonathan Gold’s award-winning food writing for the LA Weekly, then I suggest starting out with this wonderful article on hunting down the best taco trucks in Los Angeles (and therefore arguably the best taco trucks in the world–where else would the car and Latino cultures mash up so perfectly?).

Taco trucks are dear to me, and while I’ve got a my favorites here in San Francisco, I urge you to hit the comments section with your favorite taco truck in the Bay Area (and beyond).

Meanwhile, I’ll be in LA later in May for the Wine & Spirits Hot Picks event, and in my downtime I plan on seeking a few of these trucks out.

Those Pesky Wine Writers

Like many in the wine world, I took the widely circulated report of remarks made recently by Jancis Robinson with a hulking grain of salt. Actually, make that a salty, puckering Muscadet. Anyway, two interesting comments here from Ray Isle at Food & Wine (go here) and Jim Gordon at Wine Enthusiast (go here).

OMG–it’s Prince covering Radiohead!!!!!

Forgive me this internet indulgence, but I just had to share. During the encore to what was apparently a kick-ass set at this past weekend’s Coachella festival, Prince played Radiohead’s song “Creep”. Well-worth a listen/watch (although the sound quality kinda sucks, sorry. Bootleg video and all If this doesn’t work, try searching on You Tube before it gets taken down)

Fuso Aereo + Vino = Equilibro (or I *Heart* Firenze)

I should’ve taken the blue pill…

After a long, long day traveling–delays, canceled flights, and being stuck next to a very stinky fellow passenger for 11 hours–I decided to hit the town.

Apart from a few streets around the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio, Florence is refreshingly free of tourists these days. There are some advantages to winter travel, if you don’t mind the cold of course. But back to Florence. Man, this place is filled with memories! I studied here in college (at least I got credit for being here) and so every alleyway and vista brings up a flood of emotion and reflective thought. So with that in mind, I opted for memory-overload and climbed the 414 steps to the top of the Duomo’s campanile, or bell tower.

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The massive dome on Florence’s cathedral was completed in 1436; designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, it’s one of the marvels of Renaissance Italy. It’s also huge, easily dwarfing all buildings in the area. Note the shadow of the campanile falling across the dome.

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Looking southish over Florence, with the Bargello on the left and Palazzo Vecchio to the right. High in the background to the left is the Piazza Michelangelo, where I saw an epic Radiohead concert in 2003, the first time I’d been back to Florence since studying there in the late 90s.

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That’s the church of San Lorenzo in the foreground and the big domed building tacked onto the end is the Medici family tomb. The large building you can see with the metal roof is Florence’s outstanding Mercato Centrale. A must stop on any visit!

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A view of Palazzo Vecchio from inside the campanile.

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Looking down the inside of the campanile from about half way up.

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I grew up near Oxnard, California. How funny to find the city’s name graffitied on the campanile (I believe I took this exact photo while I was studying in Florence oh so long ago).

After climbing down from the tower and indulging an awesome gelato at Perché Non, I headed over to the Zanobini wine shop near the Mercato Centrale. Starting in the afternoon, well, anytime they want to I guess, Mario and Simone Zanobini receive customers directly at their small bar and pour glasses of their own Chianti Classico, as well as other Tuscan wines. Mario suggested that I stay for a few glasses to trying to dodge the fuso aereo (Italian for jet lag).

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The small wine bar at Zanobini is filled nightly with regulars rasping away in their fiorentino accents (bascially drop the “c” from any word and you’ve got it; ‘Coca-Cola’ becomes ‘Oha-Ola’, etc.). This evening there was a lot of talk about the upcoming Italian elections in the spring, as well as a controversial proposal for a new tram line in the center of Florence.

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Besides a lovely selection of wine, Zanobini has a wall of amari from Italy and beyond. Damn, I wish I’d brought a stryofoam wine shipper on this trip!