Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hollywood Syba and Other Stories

The only thing better than Hollywood Syba is my new favorite food, Taquitos:

They remind me of the Taco Time deep-fried crisp burritos, and I must find out how to make these. I am hoping some humble soul in Durham could request them for the new Coop...pleeeeeese? My favorite is the above chipotle flavor. Notice how chipotle is all the rage for the last few years? What happened to jalapeno?

Along this same cuisine theme, here I showcased a little Vlacho Nacho with some Weston-made guac and black bean hummous, the latter mixed with Soy Chorizo (a delicious addition & available in many mainstream groceries).

Though not quite Bento, you might note this dish is an attempt at a face with bucked teeth. Disregard the chipped plate.

Last blog we left off leaving Portland. Spent a few days in Forest Hills, Oregon, screening the documentary at Pacific University for the Students for Environmental Awareness group. The organizer Tina did an awesome job of promoting as evidenced by this lifesiized poster announcing the event.

Imagine a little man standing below, the size of a brick.

Rob also helped promote, complete with his Herbivore “Vegetarianism is Environmentalism” shirt.

While in the Pacific Northwest, which seemed like forever, I kept reminding myself to take a picture of the grey to showcase one of the reasons I left. It's sort of hard to capture on camera, but I think this sufficiently represents day to day life for months and months...

And this is around noon. Needless to write, I was very happy when we landed near Redding to find this odd, shimmering thing, perhaps an alien aircraft:

My vitamin D immediately tripled.

Syba has not relented in her quest for front seat privledges. I tried to block her with my sweater, but this was no match for Syba's focus and determination.

Back in Eugene, Oregon, we played at Luckey's Cigar Club with the fun and fellow-off-kilter Launchpad. They had all sorts of toys and instruments and of course were space creatures.

As was their set, the accompaying set list(s) were elaborate:

We played too (photo taken by Launchpad).

Closing the night were Cymbaline:

After we left the show Weston continued to have stalling issues. He stalled in an intersection where three men were kind enough to push him so Rob could pop the clutch. Thanks, men.

Rob and I eat pretty well on the road as you might guess from reading this blog. Every morning we have breakfast, usually oat-flour pancakes with banannas and/or apple, topped with flax seed meal, agave, and earth balance butter. But sometimes we'll scramble. Usually weekends when we don't have to be anywhere right away in the am.

Here is some breakfast scramble I made, with Shirle's smoked Paprika sprinkeld on top. Food is sort of naked now without this spice:

In Medford, we played at Johnny B's, a 50's inspired bar run by the friendly Johnny.

Sharing the bill was Elly Swift:

Elly was one of those songwriters that pulls you in with a story mixed perfectly in halves: one part reflective sadness, and another of fun. It seems very few performers can visibly pull in an audience on the strength of their voice/songs alone, but she did this. Listen to "Ode to the Workin' Man" and "Noodle." The music is not new, meaning, she evokes someone from an earlier era. Ghosts, maybe.

We also enjoyed Absinthe Rose who played and kindly set up the show. I thought of alerting the copyright office in Durham when I saw they had a saw player as well as a washboard.

We arrived to Redding California on a Sunday, and promptly went NY Times-searching. The Sunday edition is like a present (Book Review! Magazine! Style! News!) so when the local Barnes and Noble reported they only carry one Sunday edition, and of course that had been sold, we felt like we found coal in our stockings. Luckily Starbucks Claus nearby had several copies.

We found a local park pictured here, where we read and played with the Bear for a few hours before our show.

Our all-ages show that night was at a newer venue called the Downtown Eatery. The dedicated man who books shows does all he can to make this place a destination. In addition to bringing bands in he hosts movie and other themed nights. He's awesome.

That night we played with Seattle's Iji, catchy, fun, engaging:

who also guest-starred in Boston's very excellent Math, the Band:

Math the Band set up in the middle of everything and people danced all around them. One audience member drove 60 miles to see them. He's dancing in the picture here, to the left of Iji's bassist.

We also got a new fan.

Kolbiter was the local band who kindly hosted the show with their introspective songfullness.

On inauguration day, Rob and I were at a reststop in between Ashland, OR, and Redding, California. We went backwards to screen my film for the Active Social Skeptics (yes, ASS) at the University of Southern Oregon.

Fortunately we were able to hear the ceremony on the radio 1940's style. Though I felt sad to miss seeing what was described (ex: Obama's daughters 'skipping' up to the stage) I felt a tremendous relief and a feeling I can only describe like a washing. Hope is pictorally rendered here in Mt. Shasta, as seen from Weston while we listened:

After the screening, we headed back to California for our next show at the Stud Bar. On the way, some birds reminded us that traveling by Weston is a pretty boring compared to this:

We arrived in San Francisco to play the show that Vroom kindly set up for us via the Midtown Dickens! Thank you Vroom! Thank you Midtown Dickens!

Here is Rob in front of the Stud Bar with a man who called himself Flava-Flav.

He also said he'd watch Weston for us. The folks at the Stud Bar were super-kind to us and the bartender even had an older Westfalia. We played with Pinched Nerve:

That night we camped in Berkeley as we'd be leafleting there the following day. We found a Whole Foods and even vegan cupcakes there. I did not take a picture of them, thankfully, as they were not worthy of vegan cupcakedom. I think they mixed in whole wheat flour into the frosting. Or make that Buckwheat flour. The opposite of light and fluffy.

In San Jose we played at Streetlight Records with Serenity Now, who were kind to let us on their bill last minute. I don't think the show went very well for BB. In fact, it went poorly. The mic levels were uneven, we were sloppy, and i was cranky. But the woman who runs this store was very, very nice and there are many finds here, record-wise.

Later that night we made up for this poor display of BB and performed at the Caravan Lounge downtown, which I hear is like the Cheers of San Jose. We played with the fun Black Acacias, as well as two other bands. Here are three of the Black Acacias:

I really liked them. Great bass rice noodling and guitar surprises with drum fillings. Plus the singer took off his clothes at the end (well, one layer) which I tried to capture for you all but my batteries died.

Three of the four Black Acacias also came to my screening in San Francisco! They are on my happy good list forever now.

Just like my family in San Jose.

We stayed with my mom's sister and her spouse, two of our favorite people anywhere. The above pic includes my cousin and his family, too. Syba loved it there and helped keep watch with their dog, Molly.

We left for a few days to screen the film in San Luis Obispo at Cal Poly with the Hellenic Society. Here I am performing the intro, which is very unlike BB's intro:

And with a couple of members of the Hellenic Society, or as I call them, my Fellow Greeks!

My friend Joe calls me a Greek supremacist, which I'm not sure is possible since I'm only 1/2 Greek. But it's a really bold-roast half, if it were coffee.

An audience member kindly covered the screening here: Vegan Soapbox. This is an awesome blog with a lot 'o relevant updates.

Next we headed to Bakersfield. In pursuit of wireless in Bakersfield, I walked a few miles to the public library. This is the first library system I have encountered without wifi (actually, the Forest Grove library did not have wifi either, but this was mitigated by the City's free wifi accessable from the library).

Crestfallen, I asked the librarian where I might find wifi. She recommended Long John Silvers, apologetically, based on a sign on their door advertising “Free Wifi.”

I couldn't even remember what Long Johns Silvers was. A steakhouse? In any case, I walked the few miles back to the supposed location and only found a strip mall. I inquired at three locations about wifi, and finally walked into a Verizon Wireless outlet. Thought they might know where local wifi spots were. Course they don't, silly me, they are there to sell things. Like a handy wireless card which I could buy and have wifi “all the time!” and “anywhere!”What Verizon Man (VM) didn't understand was I don't want to have wifi all the time. If I'm camping, I want to be camping. I want a reason not to work all of the time.

So after VM offered a two-year contract and discount on the purchase of the card thingy (all in about 5 seconds) I said, “I don't want access everywhere.” He paused. “Well, this can give you wifi anywhere!” I repeated my disdain for anywhere. "Oh, you want freedom,” he said. Ding ding, ding! Ding! Ding! I was then rendered useless to him, as freedom is not for sale. He had no idea where wifi was.

Why repeat this story of toil and turbulance? I'm curious if YOU want to be available all the time, whether this is by cell phone, wireless, beeper (do people still have beepers?), satellite, or, of course, the ever popular facimalle.

To your humble Binge, this availability is akin to walking around with your screen saver on until someone presses your space bar. Just shut me the &*^% down.

I screened the film at California State, Bakersfield the next day, for the Philosophy Club.

I can't begin to tell you how happy I am to have met the leader of this club, who was very thoughtful. She made delicious stuffed mushrooms for the event complete with two fillings, even – one pesto, the other a walnut-sage-stuffing kinda wonderment.

Happily she and some club members went out with us that night and also made it out to our show the next day:

We played with a local band at the Silver Fox Bar. I'm kicking myself right now (ouch) but for the life of me cannot recall their name, and thus only have this picture:

This lack of memory is not speaking to the band, they were awesome and nice. It was even the bassist's birthday and we led/conducted a song. It is more a reflection of their being added last-last minute and my juggling booking, screenings, shows, and promotions.

The Silver Fox Bar establishment was recommended by the journalist N.L. Belardes, who kindly interviewed us about our tour ( He even sent our press release out to the local tv stations who covered the events, and recommended we include TV in our press blitzes. (Our first round of TV releases landed us a spot on AM Arizona, which aired on 2/9 in front of 2 million viewers, I think. Pictures next blog!).

Rob and I left that night to head back to San Jose. Weston had still been acting up and stalling. I had to push, run, then jump into him while Rob popped the clutch then held down the accelerator to ensure he did not stall. A couple of men walked by asking, 'why do you have her doing that?' referring to the pushing and helped push the van. Apparently they did not know I was the arm-wrestling champion in a small village of Greece (when I was 12).

On our way back to San Jose from Bakersfield we encountered a source of both an odor that permeates Bakersfield (the Bakersfield Smell, or BS) and my veganism.

Back in 2002 we eloped and took a 6 month 'we got married and let's take a trip' trip, flying overseas to travel through Europe and visit family in Greece, then returning to my family in Toronto, then Rob's family in Connecticut, and bought an '88 Suburu stationwagon (with power windows!) for $500.

We drove Subey across the states, visiting family, toward Seattle. We took the Southern route and even had a song: “We are traveling across the states, in our Suburu, '88, the Southern route we'll go! We'll sleep in our car (that'll get us far!), the Southern route we'll go...” I will not clutter your minds with the rest of the song, but we did include something about driving with expired temporary plates and camping.

The name/idea for Beloved Binge was also then born in Los Angeles, the perfect hospital for excess and consumptatude. On I-5 driving toward San Jose, Rob and I came upon the smell and sight of the Harris Ranch, a feed lot for cows who become beef. Unfortunately the scene has not changed since 2002 when we passed by. I took some pictures this time around as well:

It's hard to capture here the sheer number of cows on stretches of land, black and brown spots as far as you can see. It is overwhelming. At the time I saw it, I realized the cost of our choices to make meat and dairy such a large main part of our diets. They were here, left, abandoned, awaiting the hellish transport and slaughter. Nothing to graze upon – just mud. (Of course their pitiful condition allows them to be outdoors at this stage unlike chickens and pigs crammed in sheds then in cages or crates.)

It broke my heart back in 2002, so I began to look into the dairy and egg industries. After reading about how animals are raised, transported, and slaughtered, I had no choice but to stop eating these products eventually.

Finally we made it back to San Jose. We were lucky to catch my aunts' practice. They are in this awesome outfit called BAGAL (Bay Area Gays & Lesbians). There is a joy and discovery that permeates their playing. They're a whole lot of fun.

I especially love that they made their own version of “Here Comes Santa Claus” (see right).

Here Comes Santa BAGAL, indeed!

The next day I screened my film at San Francisco State.

I screend the film for the Student Dietetic Association as well as the Institute for Civil and Community Engagement, in a huge auditorium within the (related?) Cesar Chavez center.

As a bonus I met the person who runs screenings and shows in another part of the center, and she had some very helpful information about distribution and the business in general. She's also a former member of AC/DShe and current member of the reunited Gutter Sluts (don't Google that unless you want some interesting results). In addition to that she's a film producer.

The screening at Stanford was a lot of fun since there was wonderfully delicious dishes of free vegan food upon food. Dessert was tirimisu.

My aunts came to this screening! The audience was very lively and I'd like to use them for a laugh track for other versions. I am theorizing that folks loosen up more when they are seated around tables, particularly in a comfortable food/meal setting. The Stanford AR group was kind to host and arrange this event somewhat later-minute.

I still need to download pictures from UC Berkeley's screening, our show in LA, the TV show, screening and snow storm in Prescott, and our show in Phoenix. Next time.

For now, I leave you with the most beautiful song in the world that I discovered the other day when I was listening to my Bon Iver channel on Pandora. The artist is Joseph Arthur. I just downloaded and bought the EP it is on, Could We Survive. The song is "King of the Pavement." You can hear it here:

For some reason, when listening to this song, everything is better than OK.


Anonymous said...

I love Syba pushing thru the sweater! Great reading of your travels - Durham misses you!

Aguavino said...

Hey El-- Great trip update (I've been eagerly awaiting!) This is one of your best blogs (tho I shamefully admit I have not read every single one!) It sounds like you are still having a blast. I wish I were there with you, but your summaries and accompanying photos capture your events so well, that I don't even have to be.

I love all the Syba shots! Noah is jealous....



N.L. Belardes said...

I was glad to help out! You guys are sexy!! - Nick, FaceBakersfield

Sequoya said...

Thanks for the update, I love reading these blogs! They're so candid and interesting. I can't wait to check out all the links and see you two again in April.


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