Bush, butts, bombs, blood. Your blood, my blood, our blood, theirs. All in a flood. Bushful flood of moaning and groaning. And if your mood is wrong, you are wrong and you'll just have to swallow a Cheney, this little metal pill that will make you think twice before you ever dare think again. End all now. Why not? So what? Miles to go before I Davis. Sivad Selim. Put her in reverse, then let the clutch out. You'll have fun. 'nuf this? Evah Ll'uoy.
Be patient out there in the desert. Don't touch your thing or hers. It might explode. There are terrorists everywhere. In her brain, on her lips, behind her smile. A smile is not a smile, a kiss is not a kiss. Beware. She is a bomb in bed. Have sex and die.
If you can't say fuck, you can't say fuck the government.—Lennie Bruce
Keep that word around. Also try a prayer. These are desperate times. Semit. The Bushman is all aflame in the desert. Bushman speaks in tongues in a language no one knows. Surprise? Who wants one? Surprise your eyes by taking off your clothes and facing the mirror. Mirror, mirror, what is this thing? Does it sting, does it sing, does it have a name, what's it game? And who pinned it on my donkey? Why so bare? Please don't stare. And does the Bushman have one too? An illiterate prick? Bushman, BM, Be 'em. The mind breaks down under the weight of such nonsense. Forgive us all!
If you can't say fuck, you can't say fuck the government.—Lennie Bruce
I get a kick out of the French Connection logo, Fcuk. Does the man who kills for oil & democracy? I doubt it. Moist glistening eyes in a Rushmore Rock of a Dead Head, a lower-case Visionary (visionary) who ought to be doing time for the divisions of his visions. Instead others do forever time now.
But enough on world leaders who aren't. It's the season to be Chet Baker's Star Eyes ... it's the season to be Stan Getz' Falling in Love ... it's the season to be Thelonious Monk's Nutty ... it's the season to be a good loser and a great lover ... it's your last chance to be that which you never will and never could be, buster!... it's it's ... it's time to stop this bush bop belly ache of who & how we are not am too are not well maybe because it doesn't matter anywhohow out in the meadows where my mind thinks it roams by a cool stream with crimson columbines & moss-covered rocks because I have not fully left that place where time seeps slowly and the mail you get doesn't matter even though you drink it like a glass of wine and does she still think of me I think not but do I really know her or do you ...
There are other B words. Like Bronx, as in the Bronx Cocktail, a nice little East Coast whore with the potential to become a real Lady; and Brad, as in Noble comma Brad, one very fine portrait artist from Missouri. Those are nice Bs, good Bs, the A-Okay ones. Maybe they are Christmas and New Years too. Let's ponder that while keeping this short. Trohs!
Me, Rapper 2Bjolly. That's the thing. Gniht. Let's do the dance. There's plenty of time to turn ourselves in, to take the pill or be one. Steady, Ydadts.
All lies. I'm not buying those Bs.
It's no secret. Enrico's is my favorite bar. It's part cocktail lab, part human lab, living history and an ongoing story. The cocktail-lab part is simple to understand. It has the best bartenders in the city.
Now I stopped by the other day with the Bronx cocktail on my mind for some reason. Sometimes I think about cocktails. Maybe that is a bad sign. Dab Igsn. I'm not sure. Not unsure either. Thomas Waugh, the bartender, has also been thinking about the Bronx. But he takes it further than I do. He dreams about cocktails, then writes down recipes for modifying them when he wakes up in the morning. Writers do the same thing with story ideas. If you don't write it down immediately, you forget it. Thomas had in fact been dreaming about the Negroni, which he attributes to having drunk one just before going to bed. He showed me a slip of paper with his "dream" on it. I'm a Negroni guy myself. Nothing stimulates the appetite like that drink. If you are a little hungry before you have a Negroni, you are a lot hungry after you have one. If you are not hungry at all before a Negroni, after you have one you are at least thinking a snack might be nice.
But now we were having a serious conversation about the Bronx. I had seen a beautiful looking version of the Bronx in a book called The Art of the Cocktail by Philip Collins. Problem is: when I made one, it didn't taste as good as it looked in the book. It was more like a weak Negroni. It didn't make you hungry or horny or anything. Still I had hopes for this B drink. Anything that looked that good, I reasoned, ought to taste good with a few tweaks to the recipe.
Now the classic formula calls for 2 oz. of gin, 1/2 oz. of orange juice, 1/2 oz. of dry Vermouth, and 1/2 oz. of sweet Vermouth. Not a bad combination but a little pale tasting to a seasoned Negroni drinker. One could say that it was just lacking the Campari and put in a shot, but that would be a cop-out. I felt there was a drink there, distinct from the Negroni and satisfying on its own terms. Thomas was of the same mind. We shared a vision, not of conquest, but of perfecting something for people of peace to enjoy.
Having said that, I must admit, however, that Thomas is a little frightening when he goes to work. Warlike? No. But he is fast. Bottles seem to sail through the air in formation, jiggers do what jiggers do, dumping measured amounts madly into mixers, and shakers shake like the San Andreas fault on doomsday. He has the look of the mad scientist, a kind of Dr. Strangelove in the bar. But no worries. He is not plotting your destruction like some in this world; he is plotting your pleasure.
But enough nonsense. Sense and nonsense must be kept in balance, just like sex and nosex, xeson & xes. Here is the reformulation he came up with: 2 oz. Plymouth gin, 3/4 oz. Bianco Vermouth substituted for the sweet Vermouth, 3/4 oz. dry Vermouth, couple wild dashes of orange bitters, and fresh-squeezed orange juice, garnished with a long strip of orange peel. He shook vigorously to produce a nice icy texture in the glass, somewhat suggestive of an orange slush. The result was very "drinkable," an odd word to some for describing a cocktail but if you know alcoholic beverages, then you understand what it means: easy to drink and enjoyable.
One note: The color was a little different than that shown in the classic photograph of the drink, more pale, less orange. Thomas explained that because the oranges they had at the moment were not that good, he had almost doubled the amount of fresh squeeze. They must have been deficient in color as well as taste because, as I said, the result was somewhat pale. Nevertheless, it passed the taste test.
Thomas suggested that I might want to try a version made by bartender Todd Smith at Cortez, so later in the evening I paid Cortez a visit. It is located at 550 Geary Street, and since this was a Friday evening I found the bar pretty damn crowded. Friday kind of people, young, loud. I'm sure their parents like them, anyway. Thomas had described Todd as a big guy with a shaved head. No problem spotting big guys with shaved heads. He reminded me a little of Dave Nepove, Mr. Moquito and Shaved Bar Head at Enrico's.
"You must be Todd," I said. "You are big and your head is shaved," I was tempted to add but didn't.
"Todd, indeed," said Todd.
Suddenly I felt like the bar was about to be blown up by terrorist, but only gave Todd a strange look.
"I think we can do business," I said.
"Business we can do, indeed," said Todd. "But what kind of business, if I may ask?," said the Big Shaved Head.
"Any," I said.
"Then any it is," said he. "Shall we proceed?"
"Are you armed?" I asked.
"Not at the moment," he said. "Should I be?"
"Not necessarily," I answered in a quiet voice, scanning the bar for any sign of enemy troops....
But I digress. I'm not presidential, or even vice-presidential, enough for that. You need high office to talk total nonsense or nonsex. And that is both above and below me, sir.
Todd, in fact, had the Bronx on the specialty list. When I mentioned that his Bronx had been recommended by a fellow citizen, and no terrorist, mind you, he immediately went to work on it. He even smiled. While he mixed and poured and cut a strip of orange at the other end of the bar, I glanced around at the colored globe lights in the dining room of Cortez, which is thoroughly modern and new. The place was packed with a crowd of young folks, as I said before. Surely their parents think well of them. Now the dining room spoke to me of good service, fine food, and a fist-full of money, which is hard to argue against; but my personal taste is for the small restaurant of European decor, preferably in Europe, but you can't have it all always, or the indefinable ambiance of Enrico's with its laissez-faire attitude and live jazz and nearby strip joints. That's definitely the way to die, not by lethal injection, but maybe you have not given death much thought recently.
While sitting at the bar, two young guys sat down next to me, ordered gin and tonics and talked about business. What a fcuking drag. Drug drag and draw swords, sir. There'll be none of that talk here. I mentally farted but they did not go away. Now I saw Todd shaking a shaker vigorously, a little longer than Thomas had, it seamed. I'm a hard shaker myself. Shaker and a Maker. Make her love me but she won't. I like a drink that you can almost skate on. A dangerous Winter drink into which you could fall into and drown. Some people, however, think this is deplorable, that it "bruises" the gin, the vodka, the whatever. Fine. Think this if you want. I'm not into trying to control what you think. I have enough trouble controlling my own thoughts. Thoughts are like the little people; they don't stay down. Abuse them, and you have a rebellion on your hands. They are not fond of cake ...
But, Butt, Butter not go too far with that.
Now Todd places the drink in front of me. Indeed, it is a fine looking drink properly garnished with a thick strip of the orange hanging over the side of the glass like a hook, the rest curled up inside as though about to take a nap. It is more orange in color than Thomas's, though not dark orange. You know Dark Orange, don't you? Yes I have those days too. Too much orange is a big mistake, either in your drink or you life. Too much orange and the drink or your life or both becomes just orange juice, something more like a screw driver and a bad liver. Fcuk that. But, Butt, Butter I give it the taste test, which I do, and Todd's Bronx passes nicely. It in fact has more orange flavor but does not overwhelm. Those runny fluids are full of the little ice shavings I like to skate on; it is As I Like It and The Two Gentlemen of Verona would too.
I got some self control and complimented Todd on the drink, mentioning that it was Thomas at Enrico's who said I should give his version a try. He smiled appreciatively. I think he even said, "Thom's a good bartender." Something like that. And well he should. It's the plain truth and not a lie. No bushiness here. Both are members of the San Francisco Bartenders Guild, which promotes the craft of making "quality cocktails." I can and do drink to that.
On Saturday I had an invitation to an art opening for painter Brad Noble. He is a young artist from Missouri whose work is on display at the Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary Street. I decided to behave myself and go sober. Would they recognize me?
I had seen a few of Brad's pieces at Weinstein before and they had struck me as quite good. Now I got to see a lot of them hung in the beautiful upstairs gallery on the corner of Geary and Powell overlooking Union Square. At Christmas time there is no nicer location. The tree was lit up in the square and the stores looked like bright glittering packages. For those with money, nothing can be more exciting.
Now the piece that had caught my attention earlier at Weinstein was of a young man stretched out in a bath tub, clearly exhausted (left: The Bath of Crimson Summer by Brad Noble, by permission). At one end of the tub is his head with a wash cloth draped over his forehead and eyes; at the other end his feet stick out, still with shoes on. Why so tired? Or why so young and tired? And what about all those eerie lights outside the windows? Brad's paintings always beg questions. What also struck me about this piece is how beautifully it is executed. It is like a piece by one of those "Old Masters," who just don't seem to go away.
His specialty is portraits and scenes of people, each with a story or question in back of it.
"I like to leave open questions," says Brad.
"So do I," I say.
"But I leave more open questions than you do," he says getting a little huffy.
"No you don't," I said even huffier.
Okay, let's hold right there. What he did say was: "I like to leave open questions." I should have asked, "What's an open question" but didn't. He then pointed out to me the background of a work called Beyond the Fence. In the yard in front of the fence are two women in a strange struggle, one holding an umbrella, the other almost bowed to the ground while a dog on a leash looks on. The dog looks muscular and horny. There are enough questions right here but beyond the fence maybe provides the answer to what is going on. It is an old board fence and beyond it, and seen indistinctly through it, are houses lit up and maybe a car with it's lights on. So what is it all about? You don't really know but you can easily imagine things. The climax of tensions in a community down to the level of two sisters struggling in the grass in their backyard? That is what I see. But what brought it about? And what the hell is going on over the fence?
He also has his fleshy portraits of women such as Rosebud and Roseblood and a self-portrait that seems to be of a very different person than the one you meet, who is affable and gregarious. The self portrait is like one of Jack Nicholson on a bipolar day. He looks like a cold-blooded killer. Not at all the Brad Noble I met. The point? Brad does not shy away one bit from the deeper moods and the strong emotions. Take a look at Urban Brawl, where three young men, bare to the waist, are fighting, one on the ground, the other two delivering hard punches. I asked if this one came from the imagination or a real experience. Real life, he said, and I refrained from asking, "What's that?" He's from Missouri and there you see stuff like that. The hot weather brings it out. Texas is like that too, I understand. Makes you want to beat people up.
Anyway, I don't want to talk this guy to death. With art, you just need to go see it and decide if it does anything for you. One thing I guarantee, however, you won't be bored with this guy.
Did I mention his sexy charming wife who is a fabric designer? She was there dressed in a beautiful red thing. Nice bubs too. I guess I can say that. It's a B word and much nicer than the others. But boy, would I love to get some quality time with that babe. (Hey, fcuk it, I mean quality, as in a long conversation.)
But think Brad & Bronx & put a smile on your face. Defy those Bad Bs.