2005: Turning Over a New Aleve

The Birth of Saturn? The Rings of Venus?2005 creeps slowly out of bed deep in the shadow of the night before, and late in the afternoon. Near as I can place it this means that the earth did indeed swing around the sun as planned, once again about eleven minutes and fifteen seconds shy of six hours over the 365-day mark since we were here last time. The baton was passed without a hitch, the runner did not stumble, harmonics did not converge, and if this is January 1st then that tender grey moany tattered thing in my head must be my brain.

Perhaps if I’m nice to it, it will stop smacking me.

A year is what we bring to it, as well as what others fling at us while we’re trying to get shit done. This past one was a strange dance of fickle steps forward and long slides back. We lost Scott Muni and John Peel. The grim death count following the Indian Ocean earthquake mounts even higher than the toll after the 1991 cyclone in Bangladesh (which claimed 138,000 people). The government promised it wouldn’t come in our mouth, with predictable results. Still and all, 2004 was a very good year, as they all manage to be. And I’m glad to see it go.

By 11:oo p.m. we Pepper three are tucked down stageside at the Slipper Room for our Second Annual Traditional New Year’s Eve Burlesque Instigation. Once is a fluke, twice a tradition in Ritalin City. I’m not able to continue the ceremonial Wearing of the Leather Pants this year because it’s ridiculously warm out — earlier in the afternoon I walked up to the gym without a coat at all, a patent absurdity in a proper New York December. This is too bad, because the leather pants traditionally attract kissy drunken girls on New Year’s Eve, and I could use a kissy girl right now. But Miss Saturn is up on stage when I come in, which is always a good sign, and I get to kiss her hello, which is not quite the same but I am not complaining.

Scotty the Blue Bunny hosts the shebang, and if you don’t know him you’ll need to imagine a large, rather hirsute man dressed in — you’re way ahead of me — a blue bunny suit. A blue Spandex bunny suit, with clear wedgie high heels that cry out to be stocked with goldfish. There’s not much that Scotty won’t say with a microphone in hand; at one point he calls out to a tentative blonde in the audience, “Hey, honey, do you do anal?” Startled, she looks stricken, and nods. “Great, do you have a boyfriend?” She nods again. There are a couple of jokes at work here, and she can’t seem to pick which one she likes best, or dislikes least. She wilts a bit, in a sudden flush of Too Much Information. I picture her wearing a little cheery name tag: “Hello! I Do Anal!”

Visit our Sort-of-Safe-for-Work New Year’s Eve Photo Gallery

Midnight is a packed process, flush with cell phones, the air practically shimmering with all of the text messages dithering back and forth. There’s 3 and 2 and 1 and the happy roar of a calendar turning over. Down in front we’ve missed our champagne toast, and as I wallow back to the bar to correct this oversight the bartender is laying out new rules. “NO martinis. No martinis for at least 15 minutes. Look around you, man, it’s midnight, everyone wants a drink, I can’t do those now.” An airborne noisemaker hits me on the forehead. Scrunched next to me at the bar, Miss Delirium Tremens is winsomely dressed as Baby 2005. You wouldn’t think a diaper could be a sultry garment, but I guess it’s not so much the swaddling as what’s being swaddled. DT confides that someone is becoming intimate with her leg. It’s not me, or I don’t think it’s me. It’s hard to be sure.

I haul the drinks back to our seats. Think Fitzcarraldo here. The dancers, including a lovely blue-wigged Miss Liberty whom I’ve not seen before, are frolicking like a women’s volleyball team. Note to self: Find team captain. Propose pasties as regulation uniform for future bouts. Get percentage. Make millions. Miss Saturn is buck naked Botticelli-stylee, in a comely PG-13 Birth of Venus pose. I’ve already kissed her once tonight, but I am overwhelmed by the moment and must have another go. Two thoughts flicker by in the din:

  1. This is my New Year’s resolution: to kiss Miss Saturn wherever possible in 2005.
  2. Tonight is is the first time I have ever kissed a naked girl in public. I like it.

Act Two comes and goes: Miss Saturn is wonderful as ever dancing rings in her hula hoops, clad in shiny gold and beaming. (Pierre has terrific atmospheric available-light pictures of her in the New Year’s Gallery, along with the other dancers. By “Sort-of-Safe-for-Work” we mean that there is no outright nudity, but you’re going to have a hard time explaining what this has to do with the company clock if they catch you. Outright nudity is covered up by little furry things and the occasional arm.) Delirium is classy and slinky, a glimpse into a time when twenties roared and a good hat counted for something. Except with more piercings, and the occasional tattoo.

New Year’s Eve ends in the wee hours, as these things always do, on familiar ground at d.b.a., where a couple of pints of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and a glass of N’Ice Chouffe seal the deal with a few sharp mallet blows to the skull. I’m home before sunup, and the first few bleary waking bites at 2005 are, shall we say, not pretty. Let’s leave it at that. I’ll need a few days’ quiet to settle into this new-click-on-the-odometer notion.

Previously Peppered on New Year’s:

Posted in About Last Night |

The Geophysics of the Tsunami

The BBC has an excellent “animated guide” about the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. (It’s a 200k Flash slide show.)

Posted in General Musings |

Guy Walks into a Taberna…

So, did you hear the one about the two est centers that merged, and became a sumus …?

Posted in General Musings |

Another Happy Hint from the Front

Tip #41: Where possible, do not buy a drink for your friend Renee at the Rooftop Bar in the Hotel Gansevoort, even if it is her birthday celebration. If she really wanted a drink, she wouldn’t be in a place where one (1) insouciantly lame vodka tonic and one (1) glass of champagne run twenty-nine dollars ($29) on your credit card. Remember that bellowing “How much???” in mixed company is generally frowned upon.

Tip #41(a): While kicking yourself later about the twenty-nine-clam beverages, you might as well leave a great big tip for the bartender at d.b.a. — it’s a much better value, and as you reckon at the time, the piggy bank is already broken for the night. This balances your cash karma a bit. Besides, she’s wearing the leather pants with the lace-up front.

Posted in About Last Night |

News and the World

Yesterday morning I woke to the terrible news of the Asian earthquake with a startled personal jolt: on December 21st my brother Ethan left New York in a frenzy of packing and blurted “sorry-can’t-no-time” phone calls for Colombo in Sri Lanka, where he has been setting up house with his fiancée VSOJ.

I think I knew, in that way we have, that he was all right (and I’m going to skip the suspense: he’s fine, and so is she). I didn’t open my eyes to the news with any onrushing sense of dread or the sinking feeling you get when you try instinctively to persuade yourself that it’s all going to be OK, when you know it won’t be. Worried yes — of course that. The miracle of email offered up a quick note from the two of them, safe and sound in Laos and with no idea, yet, of the magnitude of the thing. Later, as the size and scope began to sink in, they wrote more:

Although five days ago VSOJ was on the southern Sri Lankan beaches where the devastation was the worst (not far from Galle) and we live in the Colombo zones where the flooding is very bad, we are both actually right now in Laos. VSOJ flew to Bangkok to meet me there four days ago and we have long planned to spend ten days here in the inland regions of Southeast Asia. Yes, we are far from any open water. However, we are very, very concerned …

It makes our local spatter of snow and cold seem rustic and tiny. As I write now, CNN is reporting 23,000 dead, with 10,000 casualties in Sri Lanka and 2,000 dead in the Tamil Tiger territory to the northeast; it is the hardest hit of the zones so far, and the devastation is hard to contemplate.

Posted in General Musings |

Second Verse, Same as the First

Peace on the third planet, good will to lifeforms

For the last handful of years (like sands through the hourglass) we’ve made holiday cards featuring our local non-sectarian alien as mascot to the religion of your choice. This season we took a break: this was a year that turned in place more than moving forward, and our image from 2003 is still pertinent enough these twelve months down the line.

We at Pepper of the Earth hope you are healthy, wealthy, in the company of family and friends, and near a fine beverage that quenches your thirsts. As we said last year, the best of holidays to you, and thanks for reading. Click on the card image above for our history of past alienations. Drive safe, eat well, drink merrily, and sleep hard.

Posted in General Musings |

The Hills are Alive with a Mound of Boar Ribs

Let's go all the wayFrom the comments to yesterday’s posting, I see I am not alone in my idle-hands thoughts about putting things in Keira Knightley‘s mouth. And here I thought I was the only one. Next you’ll be telling me I’m not the only one who gets all exercised about Rosanna Arquette. Oh yeah? Well, I saw her first.

After yesterday’s wade in the bad dregs of content-writing, today let me point you, mutatis mutandis, to an upside: via Caren Lissner, here’s Lobstergirl‘s terrific Y2K review of The Sound of Music. It’s a great piece, notable not only for the phrase “fulsome dirndls” but also for this spectacular sentence summing up her affection for the film:

It reinforces everything I hold dear: large singing families, marionnettes, Austrian nationalism, and Christopher Plummer in that snug-fitting suit.

Yes, yes. And more. Read it, at leisure (it’s short) and for pleasure. Fulsome dirndls. Wish I’d said that. Sooner or later, I probably will.

I realize that Captain Von Trapp is just a little man inside my TV and he won’t be stepping out into my living room so I can eat strudel off his stomach, but I swallow my sobs on that one and try to face reality.

Speaking of things that might go into Keira Knightley’s mouth, I swarmed in for dinner at the Waterfront Ale House last night. The Waterfront is a nexus of goodness and a frequent hang, conveniently located about 90 seconds at a slow crawl from Pepper Central. If you were to illustrate my life in some sort of graph, The Waterfront would fall pretty much opposite The Gym. On one side, life’s finest joys. On the other, the cross-trainer. Crime and Punishment. Sunrise and sunset. The grasshopper and the ant. Captain Kirk and General Chang. Mel Gibson, and a real director. The eternal dualities.

Sam Barbieri, Brooklyn’s finest publican, was there warming the season and keeping the custom happy, which is always great fun. Last month, in a blur of Thanksgiving welcome, Sam conjured bottles of 1997 Hürlimann Samichlaus and a 1994 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot to ensure that Pierre and I didn’t survive dinner intact. Last night the specials menu heartily featured BBQ Wild Boar Ribs. Let me say that again: Barbecue. Wild. Boar. Ribs.

Keira, sweetie, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Midway through the meal I’m slathered in sauce up to my elbows and I’ve got a special-effect slasher-pic mottle gobbed on my cheeks and beard. Like William Hurt in Altered States, I’m happily regressed to a state of natural anarchy: got my ribs, got my sauce, got my fermented grains, it’s all good. Sam leans over, beaming. “Wild enough for you?”

Things you should try at the Waterfront:

  • Anything that says “Wild Boar”
  • Anything that says “Barbecue”
  • A splash of Sam’s Serious Egg Nog
  • A shot of Sam’s Grandma’s Apple Pie vodka concoction
  • The various specialty Game Burgers – ostrich, buffalo, sometimes you’ll find a Kobe Beef burger in there as well
  • Sam’s homemade Hot Sauce, made from Upstate New York peppers — and especially the small-batch single-barrel hot sauce, conditioned in whisky casks

Vintage beers in Brooklyn:

Posted in About Last Night |

Thin but Trim, and Not Particularly Fat

Color Me KeiraIt’s my theory that Keira Knightley was put here on the Prime Material Plane to be properly appreciated, ideally by me. (Remind me later to explain why you stop existing when I take a nap: all of a piece, you see.) This kind of thinking often qualifies as “stalking,” but given the season I prefer to call it “being of good cheer.” It’s so much less messy that way.

A couple of weeks ago, then, it was perfectly natural to find me dandling through Keira’s bio at the All Movie Guide. Water runs down the hill, planets whip around the sun, money flows outward and pools in the East Village; and Linus reads Keira Knightley’s online bio every now and then. All as it should be.

I know not all writing is meant to spin the hours into dreams. Sometimes it’s just the fax, ma’am, and then you’re free to go. But can there ever be an excuse for the following as the start of a topic sentence?

“A slender but lean brunette beauty…”

As opposed to all those slender but tubby types you’ll see bulling through the streets of London. Someone needs a new publicist, I’m thinkin’.

Previously Peppered on Keira Knightley:

Posted in General Musings |

Can’t Make This Shit Up Dept.

or, Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?

Le Figaro reports that a French procureur, or district attorney, for the city of Bayonne is accused of using a stolen credit card from a female German colleague to pay for “feminine services” at a “pleasure spot” in Celle, Lower-Saxony.

They were in Celle to participate in the 5th Conference of Attorneys General organized by the Council of Europe. His specialty: Courtroom Ethics and Prosecutors’ Code of Conduct.

Posted in General Musings |

Keywords for Success

Because I don’t have enough DVD’s — hah! — I browse around the Net this morning boning up on a few important titles here and there, while debating half-heartedly whether it is sheer lunacy to venture outside into the “damn-it’s-cold” cold.

Bite Me! (“Big Bugs with Bad Attitudes!”) is apparently an uplifting inspirational tale:

When a hybrid strain of bio-engineered marijuana is delivered to a secluded strip club, it brings with it a monstrous army of insect creatures and a renegade U.S. federal agent with a big chip on his shoulder. Soon the stealthy, fist-sized bugs are busily engorging themselves on human blood, their bite effecting a particularly potent narcotic reaction in those attacked.

Keywords: insects, marijuana, mutant, stripper, bioengineering, club [place], drug-trade. Obviously a winner. Take note: it’s Questionable for Children.

And then there’s Decoys:

Matt Hastings’ science-fiction film Decoys concerns a freshman at college who discovers a pair of beautiful, sexually aggressive female students who are actually aliens sent to engage in sex with humans before they move in and overtake the human race. The young man takes it upon himself to save the world.

As well he might, yes, as well he might.

Posted in General Musings |