It Isn’t Over ’til the Chubby Guy Sings

Surely, we live in interesting times. The California fires are a reminder that we may rent choice bits of this world, but we don’t own; and this morning’s radio reported that teams are out in Staten Island checking to see if a tornado touched down there overnight. Which would explain how those two parked cars got into the middle of the intersection, and where the aluminum siding went. Tornadoes in Staten Island? What next, tsunami in the Gowanus? Magma flow in Bensonhurst? Maybe this will be one of those frozen-Hudson winters. Like it used to do, when I was young. Grump, fret, grump.

Wildfires in CaliforniaWhen you can see the day’s news from orbit, it’s never a good sign. The current tally is 1,100 homes burned, along with half a million acres of land. “May you live in interesting times,” by the way, is almost certainly not an ancient Chinese curse, as is widely reported; it’s more likely a fake ancient Chinese curse. Calling all deconstructionists.

I don’t find a source to credit for this fires-from-space photo, but it made me say “Wow” and I’m using it anyway. It’s a sat shot, so I hope it’s from NASA (and therefore open to public use). When I got to the top level of the server it was hunkered on there was one of those nasty parking sites that changes your start page, force-downloads gnarly spyware (presumably the evil Xupiter), and pops up pop-up ads all over the place. Or tries to, anyway. Hell with ‘em.

Rehearsal for “The Good Faith” is hijacking my Gym Time™, and generally taking over what down hours are left after my heroic late-night exploits making Icewind Dale safe again for the fine people of Faerûn. But Saturday night, after an afternoon at the Great Jones rehearsal studio and then one of those really good naps, out it was to the Brooklyn (original) branch of the Waterfront Ale House (Est. 1989, “Home of Warm Beer, Lousy Food, Ugly Owner”) for a neighborhood night of Excellent Beer, Brilliant Food, and the company of Sam’s Friendly Employees. And a wonderful set of blues.

Saturday Night Sinful Delight: Smoked Duck Sausage with Pumpkin Polenta in a Cider Reduction (appetizer), with a Salmon Sandwich on Black Bread, Fennel Mayo and Red Onion on the side. OMG, as they say in the chat rooms. So much for Gym Time™.

The Good, the Bad, and the ChubbyIf you live in America outside of Brooklyn, you probably don’t know Popa Chubby. That ain’t right. Popa’s a big fella (must be all that Waterfront food) who is even bigger in Europe. Here, where our big-time music mostly looks like Barbie and sounds like limp toast, he hasn’t caught the public fancy. There’s a kind of guy who loves a certain kind of good time, and Popa Chubby is that kind of guy (he describes his upcoming album as “hell-raising, hard rockin’, guitaristic, blues-infused, politically inspired, American music,” which works for me but sells his music way short - kind of like describing Stevie Ray Vaughn’s stuff as “rootin tootin” and leaving it at that). Popa Chubby is guesting in with Dimitri’s Black Coffee Blues Band (ex Popa Chubby’s Black Coffee Blues Band), a regular good-time fixture at the late-night Waterfront. The set I heard went beautifully with smoked duck sausage, and might even have beat the eats.

Guitar tastes are like opinions, if you will - everyone’s got one, and they all stink. Not this one. Popa Chubby has gorgeous control of the instrument. He can stretch and bend and shred and hammer and trum and do all the fashionable gymnastics, but he doesn’t do them quite where or how you’d expect. Gracious on stage and generous with his bandmates, he makes a music that feels like conversation after you’ve done with the formalities and can start sharing stuff you really care about. Two songs in I’m all about the solos, not waiting for the (shared, tonight) vox to start again. By the time Popa crams a Hornpipe into 12-bar Americana blues and then deftly zips out, sprinting for ZZ Top territory but breaking for cover before you get him pinned down, I’m looking around wondering where the whole rest of the world is: they could be here for the price of a couple of bucks in the tip jar, stuffed with great food, warm with the Waterfront’s dependable, sturdy stock of good beer, drifting down blue blues rivers with Chubby and the rest of the Black Coffee Band.

But what am I thinking? I’m in Brooklyn. No one goes to Brooklyn. Do they?

About Linus

The man behind the curtain. But couldn't we get a nicer curtain?
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