Music

Musical Yoga

El Dorado Bound

Lately I’ve posted quite a bit about Sleet, a musical collaboration I’m very proud to be involved in. I’d say that we don’t rehearse often, but we don’t really seem to think of our private time together as rehearsal. We record every time we get together, and it’s always something new. – Our rehearsals are more like sessions. I’d say that we don’t appear often, and you should agree with that since we do not. I’d go on to say that we seem to have begun hitting more of “Thee Sweet Spot” in recent sessions, and that the music I’m playing with these gentlemen now was what I had always intended for the live version of my previous avant garde band cenozoik, except that there’s a bit more Sun Ra and King Crimson (and sometimes Fela Kuti) than cenozoik ever thought to peruse.

This is a good thing.

While I breathe forward with hangry breath at our next “potential” date in September, I feel compelled to share the music with you while saying how perfectly thrilled I am to contribute bass frequencies to the pre-existing brilliance of Tony Patti, Bill Morris and Thomas Sleet, the core members of Sleet.

Why don’t you just buy a download at the Sleet Bandcamp page?

You will forward our art and get a lot of music for your jukebox money. The most recent recording available here is a year old, and it’s the only one with me on it, but all of these recordings are avant garde jazz-rock gold. I hope we make something more recent available for download soon, as we’re finally starting to sound like we know each other. This recording below happened a few days ago, and I think it’s a good display of our various individual disorders.

Try not to crap the pants.

      FictionDontNeedNoFriends(fact)

 

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Music

Early 70’s Skateboarding Music

I’m finally making progress with the song referred to in the previous post.  I only recorded the first half of the chorus because everyone came home and my voice is loud and I mustn’t upset anyone. This is a production memo that only goes halfway through the first chorus. With the lead guitar passage I’m planning for the bridge, it’s shaping up to be at least an 8-minute song. That’s a lot of ludicrously self-indulgent rock-n-roll music for your jukebox money, says Shitwülf. I am not responsible for anything that happens to you as the result of listening to this audio through Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.

      Automatic - Shitwülf
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Music

On The Subject of Rock and Roll

A lot of studio upgrades have happened here in the last few years, and I’ve almost figured out how to sound like a biker band in a shitkicker desert roadhouse, circa 1972. That is essentially the aim of my rock and roll recording project, Shitwülf. The vocals here are just a sketch, and the media uses temporary working titles. When I’m plotting vocal melodies, I do this thing where I pretend I have a mouthful of cold mashed potatoes and raw eggs. That way I can’t be held accountable for anything sung in service of sketching melody, which, in this case, is nothing aside from the line, “But the light that you shine is the light that I see when you open the door.”

      Automatic - Shitwülf

After listening to that for 36 hours, I added a sweeping overture on the front end (to be referred to later with a re-imagined alto guitar line), trimmed a bit from the intro, re-mixed and re-mastered. Aside from the rearrangement, addition of effects on vocals, and obsessive-compulsive EQ polishing, I’ve compressed the living crap out of it so that it will sound tits on a cellphone.

      Peripatetic - Shitwülf

That second mix is what mastering engineers might refer to as a rectangular waveform, which means that all of the dynamic nuance of the song has been inflated with electronic helium so that a consistent volume can be perceived from beginning to end, and no one actually has to consciously listen to the music to enjoy it. The second mix is a bit more balanced and consistently louder, but probably does not sound good if you’re listening through decent speakers or headphones, or listening at all. Are you even reading this?

I’ll continue to share production notes with you here.

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Music

War Accordion

waraccordion

      War Accordion

This is the part of the movie where Kevin Costner is hiding behind the hill with the Lakota Sioux. The White Man is down in the gully, unaware that he is being watched. Lakota braves fire up their war accordions, and Kevin Costner leads a charge of unkempt natives down into the gully to butcher The White Man. A bloodbath ensues, and The White Man is decimated squarely. The Lakota braves put down their war accordions and walk away in peace with Kevin Costner after the killing is done.

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Food and Drink

And The Juice Of The Rutabaga For Me

rutabaga

It was an oh-what-the-hell kind of morning a few days ago when I picked up a rutabaga in the produce section. I seldom begin to think about rutabagas until autumn, when lusty root vegetable mashes are a thing of the season, but climate change has my clock off by a few months and I had it in my head that this particular rutabaga was destined for just such a mash. Or maybe I’d shred it, fry it up as a hash. You don’t really need to do much to a rutabaga to get your money’s worth. They’re cheap.

This morning I spied the homely root on the table and decided to peel it, suspecting that a peeled rutabaga would inspire me to cook sooner than would one of the unpeeled variety. As I whacked away at the thin coating of wax and skin, a proud vegetal mist began to waft about me, sweet like the morning dew on a forgotten meadow near an old family farm. Had I ever eaten raw rutabaga? It smells like a kohlrabi, and I’ve eaten plenty of those raw. What could the harm be? Would it give me awful gas, as I secretly wished?

I embarked on a fact finding mission.

A wafer of the cruciferous culprit was carved off, popped into the mouth and given a good grind, back between the molars. Rutabagas probably wish they were crisp like glamorous celery, but it’s more of a dull crunch they wear, like an old carrot with a hangover. I said aloud to no one, “Oh, well.”  And just as I was about to boil water to perform the usual rutabaga rite, a bright, clear wave of earthy sweetness crashed over my tongue, fading into a peppery twang that faintly resembled the character of a good radish. The sweetness lingered, and it dawned on me that I should juice the unfortunate ground dweller with some carrot, celery and ginger.

That is precisely what occurred next.

Since my own fact finding missions tend to include a bit of reading from unbiased, dispassionate sources, I managed to unearth some terrific tidbits concerning the rutabaga. As it turns out, those of you who would never think to consume the peppery root will never benefit from its tendency to bestow better digestive health, a bolstered immune system, enhanced metabolic function, and lower blood pressure. And, if preventing certain types of cancer or lowering your cholesterol aren’t on your to-do list, then, by all means, continue to abstain from rutabaga. These crazy earthen globes of goodness support cellular and enzymatic function, build strong bones, and can somehow even help you lose weight. Therefore when you juice it, you get all of the above in a concentrated format, plus a lot of raw, unprocessed vegetable sugar for a short term energy burst. As a bonus you’ll receive not a squeak more than one second’s worth of awfully rich, warm gas, about three minutes after you drink it. Thankfully, that’s also around the time when the calories from the sugar kick in, so you’ll have plenty of energy to deny the whole affair and vacate the area.

You don’t want to go too heavy on the rutabaga in a juice blend. I juiced half of one with nearly two pounds (one kilogram) of carrots, four ribs of celery and a knuckle of ginger, and I think that ratio was almost pushing things too far in the flavor department. I still drank it all. I’m more interested in all of those wonderful little miracles of biochemistry happening in my body than I am worried about the wild, sweet, earthy taste overpowering the mostly concealed sensibility of my palate. It’s more of a token slap than a willful right hook you’ll get from the flavor of raw rutabaga juice. Still, though, sometimes getting punched in the face can be good for you, as I will gleefully and knowingly attest.

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Clams
Food and Drink

Open Letter to a Clam Fisherman

Dear Mr. LaVecchia,

In all my many travels around this magnificent planet, I have never been gripped by a pleasure more profound than a good clam. I have also never revealed this secret fetish to anyone before, but now I’m telling you. You must certainly be wondering why.

It all began last Wednesday afternoon during a visit with my grandmother, a woman of firm convictions and precise notions of quality. We were watching the episode of Bonanza in which an alcoholic traveling medicine salesman is on the run from his grim past as a surgeon in England. Oh, how we laughed! The role of the fugitive Professor Poppy was played by the incomparable Michael Rennie, who also played the space alien Klaatu in the 1951 science fiction classic, The Day The Earth Stood Still. Anyway, Hoss Cartwright became friends with Professor Poppy after buying a remedy for his sore foot, and, well, you can just imagine what happened next.

Shortly after Bonanza came to a satisfying conclusion, it was time for my visit with Gammy to end as well. Now, there is a curious ritual she performs every time I’m about to leave her home, but it doesn’t involve candles and incense. No, sir. Just as I am about to walk out the door, she begins pulling food from her refrigerator and cupboard, and putting it into a paper grocery bag, which is within a plastic one. There is a call-and-response routine that we go through, wherein she recites the entire inventory of her kitchen from memory. After each item, I say either, “Okay, I guess I could use that,” or “Ehhh, I’m not really into that so much”, and it’s always the latter when she offers me ham. Half an hour later, the litany comes to a close and a second reinforced grocery bag has filled up with toilet paper, trash bags and aspirin.

Sometimes it is in receiving that we give.

On this occasion last week, just after I kissed her goodbye and was about to walk out the door a second time, Gammy grabbed my wrist with that eagle’s claw grip of hers and cooed sweet as Kool-Aid, “Wait, here, honey. I just remembered something.”

While the blood was returning to my hand, she pulled from her pantry a sturdy little red gift bag – the kind with the adorable rope handles knotted into the top – and thrust it in my direction. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “I want you to take these clams.”

And I did.

Cape May Chopped Clams

When I got home, I peered into the little party bag to find no fewer than eight cans of your Cape May chopped clams resting within. I’d never heard of the Cape May brand before, so I immediately began doing some research into your company. What I found at your website has kept me smiling for the last week. After reading about your family’s long tradition of hand shucked, sustainably harvested, wild Atlantic clams, I knew I was sitting on eight cans of America. I’m sure my readers will agree with that assessment when they visit your website. And I hope they’ll give you their business.

People just don’t care about clams like they did in the good old days, but the few of us who still do carry a torch for Nature’s underwater lunchboxes surely appreciate the level of quality and environmental stewardship your family packs into every can of Cape May products. I have enclosed a recipe for the Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce that I just finished eating prior to writing this emotional letter, and you are absolutely welcome to pass it along or publish it on your website with your other recipes.  Let me just say this: Your Cape May chopped clams are sensational. Because of you and your product, I’m not going to hide my love anymore. From this moment on, I am out of the clam closet.

You will notice that my recipe below calls for Cape May chopped clams. That was not a mistake. Your clams have changed the world of spaghetti. Thank you and your family for the many years of hand shucking in the Great Northeast USA. May the mighty sea god Neptune smile on your endeavors so that you will harvest eternal fortune from the briny blue Atlantic, and may he strike down your enemies with his salty, wet fist.

Humbly,
John J. Goddard

Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce

1 lb cooked spaghetti (8 oz. dry)
2 6.5 oz cans Cape May chopped clams
3 oz diced bacon
½ an onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp chopped oregano
6 oz canned tomato filets
1 fresh Roma tomato, diced
2 tbsp cold butter
olive oil

  1. Heat a wide skillet, pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom.
  2. Add bacon, onions, garlic and oregano. Saute until bacon browns.
  3. Drain clams. Deglaze skillet with clam juice. Reduce liquid by half.
  4. Add all tomatoes, simmer until fresh tomato has softened.
  5. Incorporate cold butter into the sauce. Add chopped clams.
  6. Pour sauce over pasta, stir and coat completely.

Serve with cracked pepper. Yields four reasonable portions, or two unreasonable portions.

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