Mosswood Meltdown: Redd Kross and the B-52s

So they have these things called Space Bars. They are legal in SF, especially if you join a church. Well, someone I know joined the Church of Joe. But of course, I would never, because someday someone looking to hire me might read this blog. And it would only have been because everyone was staring at me grinning, and I felt a dare, which I can’t resist.

So, my brother took off, and we went and sat under a shady tree until Redd Kross came on. We were at the front of the stage, next to Martin and the Linda Lindas who were slamming there. Eloisa is a force in the slam pit. She would grab some guy and literally throw them at me. Other than a Neurotica song, a 90s hit and Pretty Please Me, Redd Kross did songs from their new album. They wore matching paint-splattered outfits which somehow managed to look cool and not 80s at all. But Steve was still rocking his cult leader vibe whereas Jeff was reminding me of Dave Vanian and Roy Orbison.

and what was this???

Steve did a good Robin Zander, “This…next…song…is …the..first..song…on…our NEW album!” Then I noticed Jeff and Steve kept looking at me, and I was like, “Why does Steve keep looking at me?” I mean, I do know them, so it wouldn’t be CRAZY, and most musicians tend to look into cameras and I had my phone out. But I started wondering if maybe the Space Bar that I definitely did not eat was making me paranoid, so I retreated to the shade again. But later I looked at my pictures and I AM NOT CRAZY.

I went back to the shade, and a woman offered me a big orange camping chair she had brought. They always looked uncomfortable, but if you sit kind of sideways, you can cozy up like a baby with your head on the edge. Everything was OK as long as I was in the Orange Chair. Then the B-52s started playing, and the people behind me were like, “Oh my God! They sound sooo good! I love this song!!!” ironically making it impossible for me to hear and enjoy the awesome voices and songs.

So, were I the type to do this, I would have taken another half square of chocolate and beelined for the sound booth, where the sound is always the best. Then I waded into the crowd until it resisted. There was a man with a giant fan annoying everybody, but I asked him to go THWAP! like they do at the drag clubs. He went THWAP! and it made us both so happy we were instant friends. In fact, EVERYBODY was my friend. We were one big undulating mass of music and good vibes while the back of my neck was fanned with cool air. The harmonies of the B-52s were angelic and the projections on the screen behind them were super psychedelic.

I was afraid of taking too many videos because I didn’t want to burn up my battery and have no way of getting an Uber back to the hotel, because I had no idea where Bob was in this undulating mass of 10,000 or more. So this next video is a short clip. I headed for the exit and heard my name. There was Bob, back under the shade tree. And there was the Orange Chair. Bob asked me if I wanted to stay for the encore, and the lady said I could sit in the Orange Chair again, so I curled up in the big orange womb and listened to Rock Lobster.

The B-52s were incomparable. I’m so happy I got to see them again before they retire. I saw them in 1982 at the US Festival.

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Mosswood Meltdown: Pansy Division

The park for Mosswood was much bigger than I expected. There was a row of food booths, but we had been stuffing ourselves before hitting the event. there were shops, lots of records and band T-shirts. We met the guy from Hollywood Book and Poster, who will be opening down the street from us. One booth was cutting bangs for donations to the World Central Kitchen, one of my main charities, so I just got side-swept bangs.

My hairdresser with cool tattoos

We also ran into Martin and a few of the Linda Lindas. martin had saved a shirt for Bob commemorating the Linda Lindas opening for the Rolling Stones. Yes, you heard that right – the Rolling Stones!!!

I met a lot of cool-looking people.

I have always loved Pansy Division, a band at the forefront of Queercore, though their press says they were the first punks to be so unabashedly gay….hello, Glen Meadmore anyone? Anyways, in 1991 guitarist/singer Jon Ginoli and soon joined by bassist/vocalist Chris Freeman started the band in San Francisco, (although Chris now lives in Silver Lake, because when I drive past him I scream, “Woooooo Pansy Division!!!” at him. They put out an album a year for six years then opened for Green Day on tour, which must have been so weird.

John Waters went so super pornographic in his intro I am just providing the link here.

WATCH JOHN WATERS INTRODUCE PANSY DIVISION

They played one of my favorite songs, which is both funny and tragic, about a friend who had AIDS. I guess life is often both funny and tragic. I like the line, “Denny’s dramatic, he’s kind of dark. He ain’t nothin’ like the restaurant.” But then the sad part:

He’s got “HIV Positive” tattooed in black
In 6 inch letters on his back

Says “I want them to see
What they’ve done to me”
Denny

 

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Mosswood Meltdown: Exciting Breakfast and Lunch Saturday

There are so many amazing international restaurants in Oakland now. We got takeout for breakfast from the Koffee Pot. It was a little hole in the wall that could be easily overlooked. It is owned by a nice Vietnamese family who kept most of the original recipes. I ordered one of my favorites, the Loco Moco and splurged on a Vietnamese coffee. Loco Moco is all about the gravy and theirs was perfection. The dish is rounded out by a beef patty and rice. They even included a bonus slice of Spam. Bob ordered a basic breakfast sandwich and said it was out standing.

We met my brother and nephew for lunch at Teni East Kitchen. I was so excited about the Burmese food from  Bib Gourmand Chef/owner Tiyo Shibabaw, I forgot to take pictures – me! Can you imagine?  But the employees said I could use photos off of their website. So, although I am pretty strict about using my own photos, they are really nice ones. Thank you, Teni East Kitchen! For four of us I ordered:

ROTI WITH DIP (v) fresh fluffy bread with curry dip

I became obsessed with roti in Toronto, where they roll it around fillings like a burrito. Malaysian places in LA serve it with delicious curry dips. Teni’s kicked ass.

PEA SHOOT SALAD Teni Signature salad (available vegetarian) (gf) This is my photo…LOVE pea shoots!!!

COCONUT BAY LEAF SHRIMP (gf) coconut with bay leaf, garlic & spices

Coconut shrimp curry is photographed at Teni East Kitchen in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. The restaurant serves Burmese cuisine with a California twist. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

CRISPY SPICY CATFISH (gf) fresh catfish fillet with tamarind balachung chili oil. You know how I feel about catfish. This was served in strips, like fish and chips. It came with a spicy chili oil. If I lived in Oakland I would go there every week.

GINGER TURMERIC CHICKEN OR SHRIMP (gf) ginger turmeric chicken or shrimp w/mushrooms & marble potatoes. All in all, it was amazing, and if you are headed that way, I can’t recommend these two places enough.

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Mosswood Meltdown San Francisco: Horn’s BBQ

Photo by Russell Thompson

If you ask around for the best BBQ in Oakland, the answer is inevitably Horn’s. Recipient of a well-deserved Michelin Bib Gourmand award, what started as a pop-up has found a new home. The interior is very simple but very hipster, with a full bar (But no Bloody Marys…what’s up with that?).

Matt Horn grew up helping with his grandmother’s BBQ, and when this Inglewood local caught BBQ fever in his early 20s, he discovered you couldn’t have an open fire there. So, he headed up to Fresno where he perfected his technique. He calls his ‘que West Coast style, but it’s heavily influenced by Texas. He started out selling at Farmers Markets, then pop-ups before going brick and mortar.

Our flight into Oakland was delayed, so by the time we arrived to meet my brother and nephew at Horns they had already ordered the plate in the photo above as a sampler. The brisket, which is cooked up to 18 hours, was heavenly, but the sausage was way too hot for me. It didn’t seem to bother anyone else, so I guess I’m just a wimp.

I went up to the bar to order (then they holler your name from the kitchen when it’s ready). I had to order the burnt ends and greens, Bob’s favorites, beans, and mac and cheese for my sister-in-law. I also ordered corn bread and the banana pudding Matt’s wife Nina makes, of course.  Usually with cornbread it is either Marie Callendars-style cake, or dry, crumbly cast iron skillet style. Horn’s cornbread was big and fluffy, like the cake style, but had the flavor of skillet corn bread. It was a nice break between the intensely flavored meats and sides. They were so big we split them in half, so we had lots of leftovers.  The banana pudding could have used more bananas, and more time for the Nilla wafers to soften, but the pudding was delicious. Where I jumped the shark was ordering more brisket, which we could not even eat.

Service was friendly and they checked in on us. 10/10 I would go back tomorrow if I weren’t still full 7 hours after lunch. We checked into our hotel and immediately had a nap.

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Mosswood Meltdown Oakland, Here we Come

The Mosswood Meltdown was formerly called Burgerama, until Burger Records had a Me Too moment. Nonetheless, it’s back with the same diverse, punk rock, queer lineup and host John Waters. We usually couldn’t really afford it, but this year was B-52s, Redd Kross, The Mummies and Big Freedia. I was disappointed that they posted the lineup but they didn’t post the schedule until a week before, so my flight was booked. I would have taken Monday off. The park itself is in an iffy neighborhood but we got a nice hotel called Kissell’s Uptown Oakland about a mile away.

I liked their flag, making everyone feel welcome.

The beds were SO comfortable, I could have lounged around in them all day.

Tripping around Oakland

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New Orleans: Galatoires

Galatoire’s is one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans. It’s very fancy, so it wasn’t the kind of place I would cry in. In spite of barely drinking for years, as soon as I sat down, I ordered a Milk Punch.

Since it was so crowded, without even looking at the menu, I also ordered the Grand Goute for us to share. It is a trio of cold appetizers that usually comes with shrimp, but there was some problem bringing the shrimp in off the boats while we were there, so they substituted a fried oyster brochette, crawfish remoulade and crawfish with a mustardy sauce. When Russell gestured to the plate and said, “This was a good idea,” I felt strangely validated. He and Greg had taught me almost everything I know about fine dining, and Russell is a world-class orderer who always gets the exact right amount of food for the table, never too much, never too little.

But this was a weird meal, and Russell started ordering bottles of wine. I can’t even imagine how much they must have cost. As I always have to, I explained again that I don’t like wine. When pressed, I will admit that I only like champagne. I didn’t mean for him to order a bottle of champagne.

Monette must not have been very hungry because she just ordered turtle soup…a local specialty.

Bob and Russell both ordered fish – drum?

I was pleased that we were outside California so I could order my favorite splurge…seared foie gras. And for anyone who has a problem, I’ll say this, “I’d rather be a foie gras goose than a Foster Farms chicken any day.” I also ordered Eggs Sardou, because you just have to. It is an egg with hollandaise over an artichoke heart and spinach.

When we left, I couldn’t finish the champagne in my glass, and neither could Bob. He wasn’t a jerk about it, but Russell totally lost his mind. But we are on medications we aren’t supposed to drink with and had already pushed it. In retrospect, I should have finished the champagne. For Russell. While we were there, a second line band came in. I stood up and started twirling my napkin. There was such a sense of bonhomie, I realized that’s what I needed. Music and people. I said, “Let’s do the wedding.”

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New Orleans: Greg (This is sad, but I can’t avoid it. You still can)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My eldest brother Greg and I always had a special relationship; maybe because He was the oldest and I was the youngest. He taught me a lot about the world, proper manners in different Asian restaurants, how to not “bruise” champagne and a lot of Toastmaster stuff. he was smart and funny and generous if a little intense at times. He stuck by me when no one else did.

He had been suffering from Hydrocephalus for a long time before getting diagnosed, then spent the last 5 years of his life in nursing homes. I had medical POA and sat up with him in the hospital during surgeries, celebrated even minor holidays with him and was basically his emotional support animal. The week before this trip to New Orleans he was in the hospital on a breathing machine with pneumonia and the doctors didn’t expect him to make it. They took him off the ventilator and he was fine. I saw him Saturday in the hospital and he was looking good and talking and everything.

I visited him Monday before leaving Tuesday for New Orleans. I was shocked at how quickly he had deteriorated but we had a wedding renewal planned and I could see him when I came back and show him the pictures.

Thursday morning, the day of the ceremony scheduled for 5, my other brother Russell showed up unannounced at my hotel, which was very out of character for him. He and Bob went off to have a private conversation, which was also weird. All Russell had to say was “The nursing home called…” and he choked up and I started crying. I moved from the bar to a couch so people wouldn’t see me crying, then up to my room.

What were we going to do? We had invited 16 people to travel down to New Orleans with us, but I was broken. Finally, I said, “Well, we have to eat…there’s a place across the street…”

Russell said, “If we’re going to eat, we are going to Galatoire’s” so I washed my face and we walked the block over…

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New Orleans: Deanies

Frank and Barbara Chifici founded Deanie’s Seafood Market and Restaurant, which is now run by their kids. The family included farmers, cooks, and purveyors. They have three different locations, but our hotel was right across the street from the French Quarter location. We tried to go there on the first night, but there was a 40-minute wait. You would think that they were Irish, not Sicilian, because you are greeted with a bowl of potatoes. I was excited for their stuffed crab, one of my favorite ad hoc sandwich fillings.

Our timing was good because it was Happy Hour and apps were half off. Luckily my cousin Maureen joined us, because there was A LOT of food. Deep-fried artichokes were addictive.

We started by ordering crab dip, though in this photo you can see we left it standing since I knew it would stay hot the longest.

Also, bacon-wrapped shrimp, though it was a bit salty for me.

I went back another night for a solo steak dinner when Bob didn’t want to go out. It may be strange to order steak at a seafood restaurant, but I had eaten SO MUCH seafood by that time.

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New Orleans Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Wednesday morning we ordered room service, which was OK, but just OK in a food city like New Orleans. We met up with Anne, who has been my best friend since our teen years, and her husband Ed, who I’ve known almost as long. We decided to check out the Aquarium of the Americas, now called the Audubon Aquarium.

They used to have a lot of different sharks, but Katrina wiped out a lot of them. They still have the amazing albino alligator and lots of other good stuff.

They still have the big aviary but no bald eagle anymore.

Jellyfish!

And a big aquarium with a walk-thru tunnel. You can also pay extra to snorkel in it.

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/gjOTTnabi-4

We walked along the Mississippi and listened to the crazy calliope music from the paddleboat. It runs on steam so it’s hard to control the tuning and it drives locals along the water crazy.

We walked along Decatur to eat at Coop’s. Here are some sights along the way. But I forgot they close on Wednesday so we ate at a bland cafe in the French Market.

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New Orleans 2024: Acme

Tuesday night Bob and I headed out to Iberville to hit Acme, and immediately everything reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Acme and Felix’s face each other and are both Oyster joints with creole food. There is a Pat vs. Mike’s level rivalry. I used to like Felix’s because they had an amazing stuffed crab po’boy. When we were looking for a place to get married, we made a reservation to see the upstairs balcony. When the woman found out why we were there she was furious with us, like we were taking up her time, and I mean, we had made a reservation. So, we sat down to eat instead, and I found out they didn’t have the po’boy anymore, so I ordered plain ole stuffed crab. Well, that lady wouldn’t let me have any bread with my meal because she knew I wanted a sandwich! And no way was I going to get what I wanted on her watch. Now, that’s in the past, but this time around we stopped in for a snack and I ordered a shrimp cocktail. It arrived HOT. HOT and SALTY. And with raggedy edges. So, no more Felix’s for us. It’s Acme all the way, except for their fish which is swai instead of catfish.

You can run into a second line just about anywhere in the French Quarter, and it doesn’t have to be a wedding or a funeral. We passed this one on the way to dinner at Acme, only a block away. We had a seat at the darkened bar since there is always a long line for tables.

Which is fine, because then you can watch them shuck oysters and enjoy a little patter.

I ordered Boo Fries, fries with a little debris – the drippings from roast beef. I don’t know if they invented them, as I have seen them other places but I like the name Boo Fries, so that is what OI always call them.

We also split a fantastic shrimp po’boy

and some char-grilled oysters, topped with Parmesan cheese, grilled, and set on fire – maybe with Herbsaint? A perfect welcome to The Big Easy.

Da Kulture Brass band was rockin!!!!!!!

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New Orleans Vow Renewal, Hyatt Centric

It has been 20 years since we got married in New Orleans. We are back for a vow renewal. Galatoires has purchased the balcony where we got married and wanted over 4k for an event. So, we are holding the ceremony at Dat Dog which has a gorgeous balcony and is letting us do it for the price of hot dogs! (Photo from their website)

We arrived Tuesday night and checked into Hyatt Centric, It’s the same place we stayed at during our wedding when it was called Chateau Sonesta, The whole place has had a fancy makeover, and our room is big and clean.

Service is awesome. I asked for a quiet room. They asked me if I wanted to be facing Bourbon Street or the pool. I said I didn’t want to be facin NUTHIN. And they delivered. We were facing a private lobby that only two rooms use. The quietest hotel room of my life.

The hotel used to be the D.H. Holmes Department store, where Ignatius J. Reilly’s mother is shopping while the protagonist of the story waits out front, and ends up causing a ruckus as The Confederacy of Dunces opens:

Outside the D. H. Holmes department store on Canal Street in New Orleans, Ignatius J. Reilly stands amid the crowds beneath the clocktower, eating chips and surveying the outfits of the people around him. He sees that many of the people wear expensive or fashionable clothes and takes this as a sign of their moral and spiritual bankruptcy. He himself is dressed comfortably—in a flannel jacket, baggy pants, and large hunting cap with ear flaps—and regards this as the ideal outfit for a sensible and intellectual person.

The lobby and bar were nice.

The carpets were oysters. The bellperson said very few people notice that. There is a Redfish attached to the hotel, but you couldn’t call down and order and come pick it up. You had to go down to the restaurant to order and wait for your food, which was annoying when you are all cozy in bed so we didn;t eat there.

There were also very trippy pictures across from the elevators.

 

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The Trouble with Swai

My only problem with Acme in New Orleans is that they stopped serving catfish and started serving swai instead, as have many spots around New Orleans (In LA they often use it for fish and chips). You will notice on some menus around town they just say “fried fish” now, because it’s swai. Sorry to do this to you when you are looking for an appetizing food blog, but I have a thing about swai.

I have posted a separate article about Acme but I wanted to talk about this fish. Here is some info from Healthline.

Swai [that are raised on freshwater farms in Viet Nam] don’t have particularly healthy diets. They’re typically fed rice bran, soy, canola and fish by-products. The soy and canola products are commonly genetically modified, which is a controversial practice. 

The effect of swai fish farms on the ecosystem is a major concern. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program lists swai as a fish that should be avoided, as some swai fish farms generate waste products that are illegally dumped into rivers. The improper disposal of wastewater is especially concerning because swai fish farms use a lot of chemical agents, including disinfectants, anti-parasitic drugs and antibiotics. [Some] research has shown mercury levels in swai that are above the World Health Organization’s recommended limit in 50% of the samples tested. 

When swai and other fish are grown on crowded fish farms, the risk of infectious diseases in the fish increases. In one study, 70–80% of swai samples exported to Poland, Germany and Ukraine were contaminated with Vibrio bacteria, a microbe commonly involved in shellfish food poisoning in people. Some of the same antibiotics [given to the fish] are also used to treat human infections. If they’re overused and the bacteria become resistant to them, it could leave people without effective treatments for certain diseases. Seriously, find out exactly what fish you are eating.

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Copenhagen: Kimsooja Weaving the Light

There is a really cool underground museum in Copenhagen called Cisternerneme. This year’s exhibition is especially designed for the damp, stone cave atmosphere. South Korean artist Kimsooja uses diffraction grating on clear panels and lighting to surround the viewer with prismatic images that reflect on the surface of the water, creating a 3-dimensional world. Photos don’t do it justice. It’s very much an immersive experience.

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Copenhagen: Petersen’s

We were looking for lunch before hitting the underground museum and let the taxi driver suggest one of two touristy spots next to each other. It reminded me of a place for Oktoberfest, and indeed, they are called “gardens.” It’s all about red checkered tablecloths, picnic tables and flags.

“M.G. Petersen’s old family garden was started in 1858. The first licensee was the castle watchman at Frederiksberg Palace, Mads G. Petersen, who as a supplement to the pension received royal permission “to treat visitors to the palace gardens with boiling water, milk and cream, and in connection with this to serve coffee and sell bread portions”. Later, beer was allowed to be sold, but the military authorities point out “that beer may only be sold in bottles and not in bastions”.

Stegt flæsk (Danish: [ˈstekt ˈflesk]) is the “national dish of Denmark,” although a cabbie told us they just took a random vote; there is no tradition behind it. We ordered it anyways, along with an open-faced shrimp sandwich. The sandwich wasn;t as impressive as at G>L> Torv, but it was good nonetheless. We were served an enormous platter piled high with a chicharrónes-style pork belly and potatoes. The pork belly was delicious, but a little fried pork goes a long way, and I think this dish should be split between four people, not two.

“Stegt means ‘fried’ and flæsk means ‘strips of pork belly’. It is lightly salted but not smoked. Stegt flæsk is included in The Art of Danish Cooking by Nika Standen Hazelton and Scandinavian Cooking by Elizabeth Craig where the dish is translated as “bacon with parsley sauce”[5][6] Flæsk is also translated as ‘bacon’ in older language guides.[7] The main difference between bacon and flæsk is that flæsk is never sold smoked, and often not salted either. By contrast, anything marketed as ‘bacon’ in Denmark invariably will be both smoked and salted.”

​”With live music many weekdays and all weekends, dance floor for the dance-loving and playground for the youngest, M.G. Petersen’s Family Garden is a place for the whole family and ideal for fun and parties of all kinds; Birthday, christening, confirmation, summer party, company picnic – Easter, Pentecost, St. His and much more.”​

“For 5 generations, the Petersen family ran Haven, and it is worth noting that in all the years it was the girls in the family who had the license. In 1977, the Gardens were sold to the Sørensen family, who were licensees for 27 years. In 2005, the garden passed to Dan Holst, after which Joachim Hansen bought the garden in 2007.”

Atmospheric restaurant with traditional Danish food (petersensfamiliehave.dk)

 

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Copenhagen: “Sporvejen” The Burger Bar of the City

The burger bar of the city “Sporvejen” is a cute little diner opened in 1975. Two old city trams were disassembled and used to fashion the charming interior. But it was a gorgeous night when I visited, so the inside was empty and the patio was crammed. There were a lot of college-aged groups having a fun time. It was a great, comfy place with friendly service that made me feel at home in an unfamiliar city.

There is a certain element to “American”-style places that means “gigantic.” Kind of like we see Texas. I ordered a Diet Coke and my server asked what size. I said, “The biggest size.” Because in Europe you get tiny cups and keep having to ask for refills. He kept asking me, “Are you sure you want the BIG one?” After convincing him that was what I wanted, I saw the reason for the questions. A group next to me asked if they could take a picture. Don’t order beer in a boot unless you know what you’re doing.

Besides enormous sodas they serve draft beer, café latte and a cocoa-type rum drink called a Lumumba. There was a wide variety of burgers. Some were obvious, like “guacamole burger” and some less so, like Karryburger. My server explained them all and I settled on a curry burger. I wanted to try something different and he assured me it wasn’t too strong. He was right and it was one of the best damn burgers I’ve ever had, thick and juicy, and impossible to finish. The fries were thick steak fries and served hot.

 

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