Sunday, July 22, 2012

Brooklyn, Brooklyn, take me in

I'm on summer vacation! Here is my view while writing, from the lovely home (deep in the ILC) of H&R:

I've so far dined on delicious steamed crabs, laughed so hard my stomach hurt, and seen two concerts. The Lower Dens at the Rock and Roll Hotel in D.C. ("voted the worst-sounding small venue!") played a loud, atmospheric show to the nearly-home-town crowd. Their closing song included a guest who stationed himself front and center on stage and performed yoga, which was something I'd never seen at a show before. He was certainly limber!

Last night I saw part of the Xponential fest in Camden (second-most-dangerous city in the U.S., and they just laid off half the police force!) which was a lot of fun. Philadelphia-based Dr. Dog was the first band on the night's bill, and also playing to a nearly-home-town audience. Second up were the Avett Brothers, whose incredible energy spilled out into the crowd. Seth's voice was sounding a bit ragged, but he still gave it his all. As their set ended I wished they could play another hour or two, but there was still one more band left to play.

I didn't actually mind, because that band was Wilco. As headliners they got a whopping extra fifteen minutes over the other bands. As expected for a short festival set, most of the setlist was culled from the major crowd-pleasers played on a regular basis. They did play "She's A Jar," however, which was a welcome surprise. I could listen to "Laminated Cat" any night of the week, and "Box Full of Letters" also sounded particularly sweet on Saturday. A late-night cheese steak in downtown Philly was the capper on the evening.

In a few hours I'm off to Brooklyn. I'll see more friends, see some more music ... and then we are headed north.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

C is for Cookie

C is for cookie, and this may not be a book cover, but it still follows the pattern. What are Cookie's other favorite songs? Maybe he had a secret soft spot for love ballads, or calypso. Or hair bands. In college, when we lived in the dorms together, my friend Anya and I listened to "Me Lost Me Cookie At the Disco" all the time. It was a great song to get psyched up for going out. (Which may give you more insight into our personalities than I had intended.) It was also good for a study break. Or any time, really. A quick YouTube search turned up a video featuring Cookie Monster in a glittery bow tie and bracelets, at the disco, with female Muppet backup singers. Check it out!

In 2006, at our second basement show, Mart played "C is for Cookie" for a friend's young son. He added a few lyrics, including "B is for bookie." Gotta give it a little Jersey style. The night also featured covers of Burt and Ernie songs, as well as SpongeBob SquarePants. I have a recording of the set (which did also feature plenty of songs not specially aimed at toddlers) and it remains one of my favorite things to listen to.

I sold Girl Scout cookies as a little girl. Chocolate Chippers (recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, ca. 1960) were my favorite thing to bake with my mom. It was 107 degrees here yesterday, so baking cookies isn't high on my list of things to do at the moment, but in autumn and winter they're the best. As a child I owned Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys & Girls, and read it over and over with something close to obsession. I also loved my mother's series of Southern Living cookbooks, and the desserts volume had some great recipes. (More specifically, great-looking photos, because that's what I really cared about.) I was particularly fixated on the orange-lime cookies, which were absolutely enchanting to my five-year-old self. They were half green and half orange! How much cooler could they be? The recipe involved grating oranges and limes for their zest, and my mom was definitely not into it, but I bugged her enough that she eventually relented. I brought them to kindergarten as a treat (birthday or scheduled snack, I no longer recall), and I remember the other kids being as enamored as I was.

Tomorrow I head to a minor league baseball stadium in Illinois. Hopefully, it will not be hot enough to bake cookies on the ground.