The W is a new, swank hotel in Dallas that strives for all the glitz and glam of west coast chic. I'd have to say it pulls it off pretty well. Or maybe it was just all the pretty people gathered in one hotel emanating their pretty energy on to every thing. Either way, the evening was fun. And I ain't just talking about the free booze and food.
Speaking of food, my co-worker and I had a sample meal at the hotel's restaurant, Craft. Now, I hear that this is a great place for food. Maybe for vegetables it is, but we found the sirloin a little too hand-and-hand with the garlic and the beef short ribs coming up short in taste. After washing out our grease-filled mouths with as much free Voss water as possible, we were rewarded with the most delicious part of the evening: warm beignets with chocolate dipping sauce.
Ok, I'm going to stop sounding like Daily Candy here and get on with what you really want to read about: celebrity spotting.
I didn't need any LSD to be totally mesmerized by this light display.
At the top of the hotel is Ghostbar, which has an outdoor patio that kind of overlooks downtown Dallas. Mainly though, you're looking at a highway. Now, don't get me wrong, it's a nice highway, what with all that concrete and those orange-looking lights and those cars driving on it. I mean, damn, what a fine looking highway!
To the drinkers out there: I'm not sure if it was just last night or if it will be like this always, but the bartenders at Ghostbar were not free pouring; they were actually measuring out the amount of alcohol in my vodka & soda. However, the W's Living Room bar downstairs free poured all night, and my liver thanks you today.
One last thing about the hotel: the pool. I'm thinking not too many people will be swimming in it because it's about the size of four bathtubs. Okay, maybe five if you place them end to end. There's more room for people to lay out than there is to swim. But like most upper crust places in Dallas, the W's pool area is more about style over substance.
W Dallas - Victory has three years to entertain and pamper the jet set crowd and the born-into-money clientele before the cosmopolitan Mandarin Oriental Hotel opens right next door. You know, Dallas really can't have enough luxury hotels with sexy highway views.
After all the recent video talk with Eric, I came across the following footage (which will also serve as my Song of the Day).
Let's see, they have all the requirements of a standard video--smoke, shady lighting, band members present--but there's just something odd about the whole thing I can't put my finger on. Oh wait, it's the interpretive dancing!
I really hope the Cure got paid a lot to do that show. At least the older lady in the performance was cool.
Ok, so did I create a firestorm or what? No, probably not, but I'm going to pretend I did for dramatic purposes.
Several of you readers have weighed in, and I thank you. And to that one person who no longer believes I'm her soulmate because of sweet tea, well . . . um...yeah.
For anyone that doesn't know the difference between simply putting sugar in your iced tea and putting sugar in it while the tea is still hot, .tif has graciously provided an answer in the previous blog's comment section. I'll repeat it here for you:
"Sugar doesn't disolve in cold liquid and sweet tea is meant to be (and should be) served ice cold. Especially on hot summer days. Sugar melts only into hot liquids. So to make sweet tea properly you must add the sugar to the tea right after brewing. Otherwise if you do it yourself, you end up with sugar just sitting at the bottom of you glass since restaurants serve it cold with ice. And of course Sweet N Low, Splenda, Equal, and etc melt in cold liquid but they just don't taste the same as sugar."
(By the way, it's .tif's birthday today; please wish her a well one.)
Here are some recipes for making your own sweet tea.
As some of my friends know, I love sweet tea. And for many months, I've been thinking of starting a Web site that catalogues where one can purchase sweet tea in restaurants and which establishments have the best sweet tea.
Also, there will be a Wall of Shame for places that you feel should carry sweet tea and don't (I'm looking at you Babe's Chicken Dinner House in Carrollton).
Specifically, I'm searching for Dallas/Denton/Fort Worth establishments, but I'm open to resturants that are nationwide with at least one location in the metroplex.
This is where you come in. I need your suggestions and ratings. Please leave me a comment of where the sweet tea is and how you rate it (one star=bad; five stars=a gift from the sweet tea god). If you run another blog, please let your readers know of this project. The more that participate, the better the ratings will be.
I see some of you over there giggling. Damn it, I'm serious. Sweet tea is serious business, especially here in Texas. And for those that think you can just put sugar in your plain tea to make it sweet...you just don't know the real pleasure of sweet tea properly made. You may as well be a Republican in my book if you think table sugar packets are going to make your plain tea sweet. You probably hate America, too.
The Sweet Tea List (on going and with my ratings...please feel free to let me know if your rating of these are different; I'll average the scores)
One of my favorite things about the recent Man Man show was that they looked like a band on stage. I love when bands put some thought into how they will present themselves to the public while performing. Nothing turns me off more than a band that has every member dressing differently (unless of course it's animal costumes). It just reeks of laziness and unprofessionalism in my opinion.
In the case of Man Man, they all wore white. No, they didn't wear the same excact outfits, but they did all wear some version of white (e.g., t-shirt, button-down shirt, etc.). To me, it showed unity in their objective to entertain the audience.
Eric and I recently had a debate about looking like a band on stage. From my recollection (and he can correct me if I'm incorrect), he believes that band members should dress how they want to on stage with no preconceived objective. I, however, have no problem with preconceived objectives.
Take the Beatles for instance; they all dressed the same on stage. Even before their suit-and-tie days, they all wore leather jackets. They looked like a band. They looked like a unit. They looked like a group of people sharing a common interest.
Let me back up here for bit and state that I don't agree with manatory school dress codes or for all of society to have to wear the same things. What I'm expressing is that bands are ultimately entertainers, and when they're out entertaining, dressing up for the part makes them look a whole lot more professional to me.
Eric said on the same day we had our debate that he was a musician and not an entertainer. I disagree; one can be both at the same time. Once a musician steps out of the practice space and performs in front an audience, he or she is now considered an entertainer.
And the entertaining part of a live show is one of my favorite things about music. I think back to some of the best shows I've ever witnessed (Les Savy Fav, the Faint), and they're the best because they visually stimulated me. The music was great, and the live show was the icing on the cake. And one common thing these bands had? You guessed it, they looked like a band on stage. Whether it was indie-chic tight t-shirts/white belt or all gothic-black they looked like musical gangs ready to conquer the audience.
Fair Park is one of my favorite Dallas locations. Mainly, it's because of a few bars in the area. However, across the street from the wonderful Meridian Room sits The Women's Museum, an equally remarkable venue, or so I hear. Every time I walk from the Meridian Room to the Fallout Lounge, I see it looking at me, wondering when I'm going to visit it. I try not to look it in the eye, because I'm ashamed of myself for not yet taking a walk through one of Dallas' top attractions.
The Women's Museum: An Institute for the Future is a Smithsonian affiliate and is the United States' only comprehensive women's history museum. Opening in 2000, the museum chronicles the lives of more than 3,000 U.S. women using interactive exhibits to explore their contributions throughout U.S. history, and to examine the similarities and differences among women's lives across time. The museum offers educational and enrichment programs, group tours and school tours.
The museum is located at 3800 Parry Avenue in Fair Park. Currently through Sept. 10, the museum will host a special exhibit: Women Photographers at National Geographic.
And the 2006 Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role goes to
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
This is not whining, because yes, the Mavs missed a lot of shots that they normally should have made. I admit that, and it's ultimately what did them in. However, and it's a big however, if the refs had been more consistent in their calls, the Mavs would have had a more fair chance at screwing up their run for the championship.
The NBA is the most thuggish organization in the United States. It makes the Mob look like People Helping People.
For video evidence of ghost fouls and questionable calls, visit here.
Sure, there were some terrible calls by the referees, and sure there were some last minute miscommunications, but in the end, if the Mavericks hadn't kept blowing their leads, they wouldn't have been in this situation to begin with.
Still, I have complete confidence that the Mavericks will win tomorrow night, here in Dallas, here where the Heat have not won a game since 2002. And then they'll win on Thursday, and I will attend the parade.
(Oh, and I think it's really funny how Southwest Airlines is one of the sponsers of the NBA Championship, and both teams play in American Airlines named venues...you know because of that whole Wright Amendment thing.)
Ever wonder what Avery Johnson is writing on his clipboard during the timeout huddles? Here's last night's clipboard.
When I was in Wales, I had a nice chat with John (one of the guides) about music. He told me that his 12-year-old grandson listens to nothing but classic rock, specifically Led Zeppelin. His fellow pre-teen friends were also into the band, as well as other classic rock staples Cream, the Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix. John, while pleased with what they were listening to, thought it was kind of strange that these younger people were more into songs from his generation than any of the new bands.
"Why would kids born in the Nineties turn to timeworn guitar anthems?," asks reporter Brian Hiatt. "For all of the vibrant rock recorded in the past ten years -- from pop punk to neogarage to dance rock -- no new, dominant sound has emerged since grunge in the early Nineties. 'I can't think of a record recently that blew people's minds,' says Jeff Peretz, a Manhattan producer and guitar teacher. 'And there aren't really any guitar heroes around anymore. Kids don't come in and say, ''I want to play like John Mayer.''"
In 2004, Edna Gunderson wrote in this USA Todayarticle: "Jamie [14 years old] is not alone in his obsession with the sounds of the '60s and '70s. Though difficult to quantify, the trend of youngsters craving oldies seems to be gaining momentum. Kids are snatching up Beatles and Led Zeppelin discs, flocking to ZZ Top and Steve Miller concerts, researching the troubled histories of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Black Sabbath and scouring their parents' record collections for Jimi Hendrix licks and Allman Brothers Band jams."
What does this devouring of classic rock by teenagers say about today's rock music? Does it say something larger about our culture? Or is just a quirky teenage rebellion trend? Maybe teenagers are pushing back against what mainstream radio and bloggers say is cool.
Or maybe it's as Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis said in the Rolling Stone article: "It's called classic rock for a reason--it's classic. It's just really great music."
I think it's time for me to let you know about my friend's musical project. But as usual, I'm just going to cut and paste from a site that has already something written about them. Why? One, because I'm lazy and pressed for time, and two, because whomever wrote the piece already did a good job.
"The Cabinet of Natural Curiosities is an American folk music group known for its experimental use of field recordings, Native American-influenced percussion, and storytelling lyrics. Initially just an umbrella for the quiet, lo-fi recordings of singer-guitarist Jasmine Dreame Wagner, the New York City-based Cabinet fleshed out into a real band in 2005, adding brothers Ryan Martin on guitar and former Beauty Shop member Joe Martin on percussion. While the group primarily performs Wagner's compositions, recent recordings have included pieces by the latter Martin and improvisation.
"Though the Cabinet of Natural Curiosities remains a mysterious enterprise at best - a quick survey of their Web site reveals neither a band photo nor any biographical information - the group has developed a modest following. Given the lack of real information available about the band, many fans point to the group's use of unusual instruments, such as alto recorders and Inuit hand drums, as part of their allure. An early touring press release found the band themselves highlighting this:
"The Cabinet of Natural Curiosities performs experimental folk chants and effects-laden instrumentals. The collective weaves ghost stories and historical ballads through a patchwork of field recordings, classical guitar, alto recorder, bells and tribal percussion.
"The group has also won fans through their erratic, oftentimes chaotic live shows, which have ranged from Nick Cave-style chamber folk concerts with auxiliary members (including a violinist and a pianist) to elemental noise rock outings featuring only Wagner and Joe Martin. While critics have sometimes been put off by the Cabinet's live inconsistency, those who enjoy the band generally view the group's live shows as unpredictable and, as a result, exciting. Apparently aware of this, the band released a number of improvised tracks from a late-November 2005 concert on their website in December of 2005.
"Following a slew of self-released EPs and a couple well-received 2005 appearances at Ladyfest San Diego and New York's CMJ Music Marathon, the Cabinet of Natural Curiosities signed with Perhaps Transparent, an independent record label based in New Jersey. Their first LP for the label, tentatively titled Vineland, is set for a summer 2006 release."
I've known Jasmine for a few years now since my friend, Stephen, played in her band, The Panic. She's a very talented writer (published in such places as The Indiana Review, The Seattle Review, The North American Review and The Columbia Review), and she will enter the MFA program at the University of Montana this fall. I'm not sure what this means for the band, but I'm sure they will find a way to continue making music.
Do Dallas: The Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Yesterday, I took a short, orientation tour of Dallas for an upcoming conference that my company is hosting. It was fun to play tourist in my home city. In the process of learning about some new attractions and some future developments, I thought about how some people are unaware of all the wonderful sights and fun things there are to do in Dallas. This city is truly one of the best in the United States, and I'd like to show you (visitor and citizen alike) how you can love this city as much as I do.
For the time being, I'm going to stick with only Dallas. And I won't run this every day. And I may have contributors. And you may just want to thank me when it's all over.
The Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection Who doesn't like hands, especially bronze hands? Adrian Flatt loved them. Loved them so much that he has collected more than 100 bronze hands, some of them belonging to famous people such as Walt Disney, Walt Whitman, Walter Hendl, and other celebrities not named Walt.
The Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection is on display at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas in the George W. Truett Memorial Hospital lobby at 3500 Gaston Avenue. The display is open and free to the public 24-hours a day, so when you've finished drinking at the bars in Deep Ellum and you haven't seen enough hands asking you for money, you can visit this place. Baylor Hospital is across the street from the Metro Diner, too. Get the 2x4 special. It's fulfilling.
Guys, why haven't you told me about Jerry Jackson, the Flash animator? I'm so disappointed in all you. I would hope that my friends (especially the ones with a great sense of humor) would clue me in sometimes to the funnies out there on the Internets.
I found Jerry Jackson on my own. Without your help. Thank you.
From Wikipedia: "Jerry Jackson is a Flash animator affiliated with David Firth of fat-pie.com (best known for his Salad Fingers Flash series). Jerry, who is likely no more than 14 years old, has completed nine Flash cartoons to date. Each cartoon centers on his life, some experience he's encountered or his views on global issues such as war and racism. The characters and backgrounds are crudely drawn and the stories or messages contained within each Flash are often convoluted, filled with misspelled words ("gud pupul" for "good pupil") and Internet slang (lolzords, lollylops, wtf, ur weird m8), and are occasionally highly disturbing, making it fairly obvious that Jerry Jackson himself is fictional and likely an alter-ego of Firth or one of his animator friends."
Here are a couple of cartoons for your pleasure.
"Ben My Dog"
"The Races We Have"
Tomorrow, I'm starting a new series on this blog: "Do Dallas." Can you feel the excitement? Oh feel it; it feels good.
Awhile ago, when she had a blog that talked about more than basketball (not that that's a bad thing, but you got my email WD), Wee Demon posted a link to a site where you listed all the things you're sick of. I forget what Web site it was, so I'm going to post my latest fed-up with items. Why? Because it's cool to be negative and full of angst (once again, for my slow readers, click here).
Things I'm sick of (as of 12 June 2006) Be Your Own Pet: Thurston Moore must be having a midlife crisis where he thinks signing a third-rate punk band with a nubile-blonde-Lolita type of singer will give him the fountain of youth. Seriously, some publicist somewhere is jerking off with all the money he or she is receiving from pushing this band down the throat of every magazine and blog reader. Which leads me to my next topic.
Music blogs: Yes, I like them because I can find new music easily and I like the writing (see here, here, here, and here). But seriously, the way some music blogs operate, you'd think we lived in England. Eric recently commented on the state of music blogs, and whereas I agree with him that blogs are akin to fanzines on one level, I disagree with him on a whole other level. Most fanzines would come out very rarely, so a reader had time to soak in a new band that was praised. However, a lot of music blogs today are only about what's new new new! It's the ultimate rat race to the top of who can discover the next cool act. And it's kind of pathetic.
Memoirs: This is another thing that's kind of pathetic. What's with fiction writers and poets releasing their memoirs after only publishing one book? Save your childhood trials and tribulations for later, after you've wowed me with your work and I actually want to know you better. The memoir has become the fallback crutch for those that lack creativity.
I think those three things will suffice for the moment.
Blogger has been a bitch today. Let's see if I can get this entry off without any mess ups.
Tonight, Dallas welcomes the NBA Finals to the city for the first time. And yes, I will be at a bar watching the game. Basketball fever has gripped the city. I'm bucking the trend and saying Mavs in five.
I received my first email from a band asking how to get a mention on my blog. Like I said before, I'm not going to pretend to be a MP3 music blog. If a band or artist catches my attention, then I'll write about them. Still, any bands that want to send me links or MP3s, feel free. You know where to reach me (it says Email!).
SATIN HOOKS is the aforementioned band. And yes, they're good enough to warrant some attention. Houston's Free Press named them "Best Rock Band." I'm not that familiar with the Houston rock scene, but I'm sure they're better then The Hunger.
"SATIN HOOKS deliver urgent punk rock futurism; catchy melodies; awkward rhythms that are danceable and propulsive," according to the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands 10 Web site. "Lyrics are that which spewed up out of the ground from a ruptured main that was once a dream. Live shows are songs tied together by sheets of sound, preachers speaking backward and spiking sine waves unfolding into moments of bliss and instantaneous orchestrations."
From that description, I'd guess they were a Denton band. Oh burn!
Ok, in all seriousness, from the few songs I've heard SATIN HOOKS offer nothing satiny; it's more coarse like wool shirts or pin-prickly pants. They're noisy; they do have those angular rhythms that are popular with the kids nowadays; and they do have beats you can dance to. More important, though, they have melody and energy. I've always been a sucker for a band that uses the bass as the key melody-driver in songs (e.g., Joy Division, the Smiths, the Cure, etc.). SATIN HOOKS sound nothing like those bands, by the way, but they do use the bass as more than a support for beefing up guitar chords. Their pretty much straight-ahead rock sound is quite refreshing to hear, what with all the banjo-driven, ambient Eno knock-offs and one-chord only songs dominating the Blogwaves these days.
Recommended if you like Bleach-era Nirvana and Sonic Youth.
I bet their live show is great. Now, if only they'd play Dallas.
For years, I've been telling anyone that would listen that Dallas is more important musically than Austin. Too many people are easily conned into thinking that Austin is the epicenter of all things involving Texas-based music. Sure, the city has some good (or bad, depending on whom you ask) music festivals, and yes, some quality artists made their name more widely-known via the Austin music scene (e.g. Willie Nelson and Spoon). Still, for historical significance, Dallas has always given Austin the smack-down.
Now, thanks to Robert Wilonsky at the Dallas Observer, you can learn the truth about Dallas' musical roots and its contributions to today's sounds. He includes MP3s with each notation, so grab yourself some Thunderbird and listen to some songs from a real capital of music.
These are the first sections. He will finish the musical history lesson next week.
Find out here how this guy is going to help me live forever.
The new Thom Yorke solo album sounds like a bunch of Radiohead outtakes. Usually, Radiohead outtakes are good (compared to a lot of other bands' outtakes), but I'm just getting tired of Radiohead's "sound"--that glitchy, electronic, let's-make-the-song-sound-kind-of-weird-so-that-it-shows-we're-artsy music. For a group that is know for pushing the envelope, the last couple of albums make it appear that the band has gotten really lazy, happy to be put in a niche, not unlike later Pink Floyd. I'm not saying that laziness is bad or that it's terrible to find one thing you're good at and keep doing it. I'm just saying that I find it boring. I'm sure I pissed off someone that doesn't understand the difference between opinion and fact.
For those interested in "shifts in naming conventions of popular music groups," please direct your attention to this document.