Tag Archives: tom waits

#MondayMixtape – Oh Brave New Wegmans-Accessible World

a boy and his ice cream. a love story.
a boy and his ice cream. a love story.

I want to first apologize for the long, unannounced hiatus I’ve taken from writing these last two weeks. I’ve become overly distracted of late, and I know I need to be better. I’ve definitely found myself thinking of fun ideas and new material for the blog, but the next thing I know, I’m wandering around the new Wegmans supermarket that opened up just down the street from the apartment, and everything else seems to take a back seat. It may be half the size of its sister locations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get lost in it.

Certainly doing one’s weekly errands is important, but there’re other much less important things that end up eating my time. Time that I could otherwise be using on writing and exploring. It’s a constant struggle. But I press on.

And I digress.

But yeah. Wegmans. It’s kind of great. If you’ve never been to one before, let me break it down for you in the simplest terms I can think of. It’s a large, New York-based supermarket that is known for its wide selection of goods, obsessively competitive prices, wonderfully friendly staff, and equally wide and impressive selection of prepared foods. And they boast the sort of following that’s usually reserved for just boy bands or Oprah: the announcement of an opening within 100 miles of your town will send devotees racing to clear their calendars for the entire week of its inaugural operations, and when the big day arrives the parking lot and all major traffic arteries will be clogged with pilgrims from the world over yearning to– if nothing else– walk its long, cavernous, yet uncannily warm and well-stocked aisles.

That said, my personal experience with The Wegs, as it’s affectionately called by its adoring supporters in the 20 to 30something demographic, is limited at best. They opened a few locations in the DC area only after I moved up to Boston, and although this isn’t the first on to open in Massachusetts (that blessed honor goes to the town of Northborough, MA), it’s the first one that I’d actually make any plans to visit regularly since it’s much closer. As in it’s just down the road. As in I can walk to it from apartment. As in it’s maybe 5 minutes roundtrip at a leisurely pace on foot. As in nanner, nanner, boo boo.

And now, after joining the teeming masses yesterday to get a sense of the place and then returning today for my first official grocery run, I have to say that while there’s no denying the appeal of the place- it’s overwhelming. It’s a full sensory overload kind of experience, and in many ways that’s all right (cheese! bread! bagels! bialys!); but in other ways it’s exhausting (they make fruit-flavored bialys? Look at all the different kinds of bread! Ten types of Camembert? What’s with the electric train over the dairy case?).

It’s all lovely, magical, and beautifully laid out for you. But sometimes, don’t you just want some good ol’ black beans and rice, and not this French-imported, bourbon-soaked, twice-baked, thrice-refried edamame-type beans with the short-grain, naturally-blanched, humanely-treated basmati rice?

Where have all the good [read: simple] beans gone?

Okay, maybe it’s not quite like that, but you get it: when you’ve been sent to the market for a hunk of regular, ol’ brie, and you find yourself in the cheese aisle trying to discern the difference between Buttery, Creamy, Buttery and Creamy, Earthy, and Rich varieties… you wonder if maybe we’ve gone a bit too far with our segmentation of dairy products.

But of course, in many ways it’s the freedom to choose and explore that makes our lives so rich and colorful to begin with. So here are five songs that seem to typify our current relationship with the food and food providers we depend on to sustain us from day to day.

Some of them playfully sing about how detached we’ve become in our understanding of the processes that bring these products to us, whether by prioritizing, even sardonically, the loss of the food over the loss of life due to the perils of its movement around the world (“30,000 Pounds of Bananas”) or by forgetting about the people and processes  entirely (“Peaches”). Then there are the odes to excess. Songs that sing the wonders and delights of the instant gratification that comes from a good chocolatey substance. Even as “Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk” concedes that there’s (probably) more to life than those things that supply us that quick fix, the devil on the other shoulder (“Chocolate Jesus”) smiles wryly and reminds you that there couldn’t possibly be anything better (“only a Chocolate Jesus / Can satisfy my soul”).

And then, to tie it all together, there’s Weird Al’s early 2000s gem and tribute to life in fast food lane “Trapped in the Drive Thru.” I’m a firm believer that parodies can oft be more spot-on in terms of subject matter and overall tone than the original, and this one does just that. It cuts to the core of every man’s desires and reminds you that some days, you really just can’t help yourself. Some days all you want– all you really need–  is a thin, juicy burger-like substance with all the trimmings (just hope to Ronald McDonald they don’t skimp you on the onions).

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#FridayFinds: Crowdsourcing 2.0, Female Folk-Rockers, and West Coast Chamber Pop

Up and Coming Folk-Rock Coolgal Sarah Dooley
photo courtesy of sarahdooley.com

It’s been a good week. Birds are singing in the trees, Sunsets are getting more golden by the day, and temperatures have been agreeably, consistently springy in nature. Perfect for excellent adventures in the outdoors, long, rambling walks around parks, and spur-of-the-moment exploration and discovery. Here are the three things I found that added just the right extra dose of summer sun into the overall ambience of the week.

1. It’s the Jelly that Holds the Internet Together

And that jelly is crowdsourcing. Some questions you can Google and some questions you can ask your friends and mere acquaintances on Facebook. No doubt you’ve seen an awful lot of silly questions pop up over time: what shirt to wear, what movie to go see, or perhaps what albums make for an excellent road trip (what silly person does does that?). That’s all well and good, but what if you want to ask your question your way and get some quick, mostly-accurate answers?

Enter Jelly, a new crowdsourcing app launched by cofounder of Twitter Biz Stone. It allows you to ask questions and gain answers and consensus from other users on the internet using your connections on various social media platforms. Simply open the app, ask a question, and wait for the responses to pour in. You’re encouraged, of course, to answer questions as well as ask them, and it’s neat to see the range of questions people are asking. It’s a cool concept and a fun way to learn about things you didn’t even know you had questions about.

So far I’ve used it to get some ideas on where to see free shows in Boston and how to infuse more female folk rock into my playlists. Which brings me to…

2. Artist to Watch: Sarah Dooley

Another point for the internet and the wondrous ways it introduces us to cool new things. She’s midwest born and Columbia University educated, but the sonic product is otherworldly. It’s a sound that’s Regina Spektor vocals and instrumentation over Leonard Cohenesque / Tom Waitsian storytelling. They’re lovely, whimsical melodies and stories that at once disarm you and then hit you in the gut with a two-punch count of driving drums and sarcastic wit– and that’s just in the first 30 seconds of the first and title track of her debut Stupid Things that was released earlier this spring. The whole album moves that way like some beautiful, undiscovered broadway show, so it’s no surprise she studied theatre and playwriting at school. Achingly honest story lines brought to life. That’s the gift she brings.

Speaking of magnificent story telling meant for the stage…

3. Have you heard of… Ages and Ages?

Last weekend I saw Lake Street Dive at the Royale in downtown Boston. Naturally they did not disappoint, playing a fantastic hour-and-a-half-long set of selections from their two current full length records and one or two additional even newer tunes (both of which will be available in participating stores on a limited edition 7″ record during next weekend’s Record Store Day festivities). But the tip of the hat for me goes to the opening band, Ages and Ages, a six-piece folk-rock outfit from good old Portland, Oregon. Tremendously talented and endlessly entertaining. Trying to guess just which piece of equipment Ms. Sarah Riddle was going to choose was entertaining enough, but that’s only the beginning. They back it up with fantastic vocals and story lines on top of enthusiastic and exultant chamber rock. By now it’s obvious that I’m a sucker for good stories and well-placed harmonies and these guys deliver both and more. Check’em out ASAP.

What are you guys listening to these days? What’s on your recent playlists?

Hope all’s well with you guys. Have a great weekend.