Nurse the Hate: Post Holiday Blues
Well, it's over. The post holiday blues can now commence. Here in our spot on the planet we have a four month slog through the grey frozen tundra until even the possibility of brighter days. It's at this point in the year (for every year since 1986) that I wonder why I'm not wearing my throwback powder blue Chargers jersey, Green Flash IPA in hand, screaming "SHOW ME YOUR THUNDERBOLT!" at some beachfront bar in the greater San Diego area. But like a stubborn head cold, I hang on here in America's bleakest little corner.
I woke up this morning with a pale blueish glow of what passes for morning, and the sound of the wind rattling the brittle trees around the back yard. It would have been refreshing to turn on one of the local pathetic weekend newscasts and hear "It's going to be testicle shattering cold and windy as fuck out there", but I think there was mention of it being "brisk". The plus side of grim weather is I do stay inside, build a fire, and power through a mind boggling amount of books and CDs. While listening to Lou Reed's wildly underrated "New Sensations", I laughed my way through "To Hellholes and Back" by Chuck Thompson. Chuck is a different kind of travel writer that has the kind of burning cynicism and irritated attitude I hone right in on. This book is about his trips to four of the biggest Hellholes on the planet, those being the Congo, India, Mexico City and Disney World. His plan is to see if these black sheep destinations live up to their negative media hype, and see what's actually going on in the Heart of Darkness if you will. I like the fact he reports back with warts and all true stories, and injects his opinions all over the place. If you liked my Tour Diary stuff, this is right up your alley. I think it's $15 on Amazon.
The four CD "The Band: A Musical History" is one of the best career retrospectives I have ever seen. Housed in a well written hard cover book giving you the basic context of the music inside, this collection caused me to re-address my opinion of The Band as "overrated hippies that had two good CDs" in the 60s. This is a really impressive batch of songs in both performance and writing. True, some of the post 1968 stuff has that overblown 70s production fat on it, but great songs still shine through. If you are into the Drive By Truckers, you should probably know this catalogue front and back as a real point of comparison for what is possible in that songwriting vein.
As I absorbed all that, I read Phillip Roth's "Everyman". Need a big dose of regret, loss, and mortality? Here's your book. It's a quick read that is still a "serious" novel. This would be a good book to read while listening to Lou Reed's "Magic and Loss" for a real wrist slashing good time. To counter that, I knocked out Jim Harrison's "The Summer He Didn't Die", a collection of three short novellas (or long short stories?). "The Summer He Didn't Die" was easily my favorite of the three stories. Harrison writes great stories about main characters that are probably considered "losers" by most of society, but always manage to gain little victories as they continue to get ground down by modern life. Also a well known gourmand (or maybe it's more accurate to say he really likes to eat and drink), Harrison's writing always leave me hungry and eager for good wine. It seems like every 5 pages or so, he writes in a mouth watering description of some meal or another, and the wines they're drinking. That led me to the cellar to get at some good bottles.
The 1997 Silver Oak Alexander Valley is drinking very well right now. The familiar vanilla and coconut nose and silky currant body are all there in spades. The 1986 Ch Palmer didn't have as much backbone as I was expecting, but the fruit was still there. Earthy with an undercurrent of cedar, it tasted like it was supposed to... The 2007 Sinister Hand by Owen Roe was a little top heavy on the fruit, and left me wishing I had ordered a Spanish or Southern French grenache instead. Ultimately I abandoned it for some nondescript Argentine cab I liked better. Maybe it was my mood, but this seemed overpriced.
It's going to be another long cold winter, but at least we head into this one without the fear of the economic sky falling. Like the groundhog, I will stay here in my bunker, ready to emerge when Spring has arrived. But unlike that horrible disease infested rodent, I have to good sense to stock pile good wine, and enough to read. If I get a few winners this weekend, maybe I'll even buy that Doug Sahm box set too...
Alert: If you read this on Saturday Jan 2nd, you should probably take some $$$ and put it on Valpo against Wisconsin-Green Bay today. I don't know what Rahmon Fletcher looks like, but I do know he's WGB's leading scorer, and he just twisted his knee and re aggravated an MCL injury. All the pregame talk is on Fletcher trying to get ready for the all important Butler game. With Fletcher out, now Wisc-Green Bay has to run a couple freshman out there, and it doesn't sound like the kids are "ready". Also toss into the mix that the home team traditionally wins this game, and I love Valpo with the 9 points.