November 6, 2017

Way, way back in the day, like in the 1990s, if you wanted to tell everyone you ate waffles for breakfast, you couldn’t just go on the Internet and tweet it out. There was only one way to do it. You had to go outside and scream at the top of your lungs, ‘I ate waffles for breakfast!’ That’s why so many people ended up in institutions. They seemed crazy, but when you think about it, they were just ahead of their time.

-Ellen DeGeneres

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Birthday Excursion Part Deux – Sir Duke (Baltimore)

After the heavenly experience of Insomnia Cookies, my friends and I walked the square searching for any place that served food at 10 PM. Bars of Baltimore: please don’t stop serving food at 10 PM. Continue serving food until the bar closes. You’ll get more people in.

We found ourselves back at the hotel’s basement bar. Basement bar at a haunted hotel? Totally not creepy. There was one older fella drying up some glasses with a cloth. He looked lonely considering the place was completely empty. There was something eerie about the place. I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was like an old school movie meets horror film meets lighthearted fun. Does that make sense? The bartender was nice enough to smile for the picture at least. 🙂 Too bad he didn’t have food.

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He recommended that we tried the restaurant next door. We walked in, relieved it was only ten feet away from the hotel. Stomachs growled in frustration when the hostess told us the kitchen had closed. She did, however, provide us with a recommendation: Sir Duke Bar & Liquor Store. It was not on the main square but on the side streets, about a block or two away from us. It was a bar and a liquor store. A part of me didn’t feel like walking in the 40-degree weather but it was my birthday and wasn’t going to stop then.

I ordered a grilled cheese with french fries. My friend ordered Breakfast Poutine for the three of us to try. I’ve had poutine only once in my life and that was at a French party/class assignment at St. Ed’s. The poutine was amazing. The gravy sorta stayed with your breath but totally worth it.

The grilled cheese was also good. It was cheesy, the tomato was fresh and the fries (more fries!) were crispy. What I liked most about it was the fact it was warm enough to heat up my body and protect myself from the chill that came through the door.

The three of us had grown happy with a pinch of homesick when we saw the Tito’s tins used as a receipt holder. We asked the waitress if she knew what Tito’s was and of course she did. We explained we were from Austin and she immediately replied “I love Austin!”. She tried remembering the sparkling water all the hipsters drank (Topo Chico) and says it’s her tradition to drink a bottle of Topo when she goes down to ATX. It’s funny to hear someone say they love Austin, let alone visit. After living in ATX for 11 years and seeing it when it was still sorta in sleepy town mode, you tend to forget it has become such a tourist destination. Nothing wrong with ATX being a tourist destination…just don’t move there (there are plans for a major I-35 overhaul so just warning you).

We headed back to the hotel with leftovers. On our way back we found a couple homeless teenagers outside a closed boutique sitting on a bench. I gave them my leftover sandwich, keeping my oatmeal cookie. My friend took a few steps before turning around and giving them his cookie. The guilt got to me when I saw another couple of teenagers near a lamp post. I gave them my cookie, feeling both bad that I didn’t get a chance to experience the oatmeal cookie, but happy to know I didn’t think of my stomach for once.

It was a great last night in Baltimore. A wonderful adventure full of unexpected people and events. Definitely a birthday I will not forget.

Sir Duke Bar & Liquor Store is located in Fell’s Point at 701 S Bond St., Baltimore, MD 21231

Poetry Games: The Cure

First: Happy Friday!

Today’s turning out to be a real crappy day, as you can tell by today’s Quote of the Day post. I heard “Friday I’m in Love” on the radio just now. It’s my silly sign that things will be okay. Haven’t done a “The Cure” poem yet, so this should be fun. 🙂

 

It’s Friday and on

“Friday I’m in Love”.

 

It’s “A Strange Day”

to be in “A Forest”

wandering through the “Purple Haze”.

Wish you were “Close to Me”

again so I’m not trapped

in my memories with

these “Pictures of You”.

Alas, you are

“Jumping Someone Else’s Train”

“In-between Days”

Watching a “Strange Attraction” at a

“Freakshow”

 

Quick!

Quit being “The Perfect Boy”

for once in your life and

meet me at “10:15 Saturday Night”

on “Fascination Street” by the

“Hanging Gardens.”

If we make it in time,

we can catch “The Lovecats”

perform their “Lovesong”.

 

We’ll laugh and party

for old time’s sake

and it’ll be “Just Like Heaven”.

We’ll stay up ’til morning

before we part ways.

You’ll start crying like mad

and I’ll stop you and say

“Boys Don’t Cry”!

We’ll take “The Walk”

to the train station.

You’ll hum my “lullaby”

and promise we’ll

meet again

soon.

Spontaneous Outings

It’s never fun when your original social outing plans get cancelled. But that also opens up a whole day to be spontaneous and explore new things. My best friend Siddiqi and I did just that.

We started first off picking up a vinyl player in the Hyde Park area for Siddiqi’s friend whose birthday is tomorrow. Next came the grand adventure at Half Price Books on North Lamar for 50% off day. Sold two overflowing bags of books for $24.50 (a major success) and got a couple CDs for close to $14.00. Siddiqi found two vinyls of Russian classical music for wayyyyy less than that.

We had lunch at MezzeMe in the Triangle. MezzeMe is a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant (I was overdressed for Peace Bakery). Siddiqi got a braised lamb (it’s halal btdubs) pita wrap with spicy tabouli and hummus. I got a Crazy Grain rice bowl with braised lamb, roasted eggplant, hummus, and sprinkled with parsley and feta cheese. It was pretty good. The braised lamb was spot-on. The hummus was amazing too and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like hummus. There was nothing really grand about the rice and the roasted eggplant had too much vinegar. If you get a pita wrap with the lamb, hummus, parsley and feta, it’d be a pretty damn good pita wrap.

Lunch at MezzeMe
He seems to be liking his deconstructed pita wrap.

MezzeMe is located on 4700 Guadalupe Street, #9, Austin, TX 78751.

Our next stop was Goodwill on Peyton Gin near 183. This is the only Goodwill in the Austin area that has a computer store. We browsed through the general area, finding old microwaves and a couple Sony cassette players. We then caroused to the computer store. I am not a computer nerd. I am far from it. I call the Motherboard a flat plate that pricks your fingers. You would think I would be bored as Siddiqi looked for power supplies and cables for a computer he’s building. Actually, I was not. Computer parts are like one big puzzle game with colors and boxes and shapes and weird foreign pieces. During the hour or so we were there I found a cool BG camera that takes lomography for $5.00. Held onto that for dear life. Also found an old Apple keyboard for $12.95. It’s got the USB cord and the traditional clicking sound and everything. The staff was super friendly and helpful (Siddiqi said it was because I’m a girl who was pretty dressed up and girls are rare finds in that part of the store). The supervisor of the computer store knew quite a bit about cameras and helped me look for more film cameras. His mannerisms reminded me of Doc from Back to the Future. Probably my most favorite part of the day. Who knew?

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Our next stop was Tours Les Jours, a Korean-French bakery in a small Korean plaza on North Lamar in Central Austin. Siddiqi was craving bubble tea and I was craving anything cold (100 degree burning sun is not fun without a cold drink).  He’s never been to TLJ and it was super close to Goodwill. I got blueberry cream cheese bread and a cold chocolate roll. Unfortunately, they ran out of tapioca for the bubble tea. 😦 We weren’t going to give up though! We went to the interwebs and found a place nearby called Snow Monster. We jumped into his Subura and drove off to this 4.6 star place.

Tous Les Jours is located at 6808 N Lamar Blvd B-115, Austin, TX 78752.

Snow Monster is a “build your own shaved ice” joint on Lamar and Braker. It’s relatively new, opened in 2014 by two Taiwanese UT Alumni. Snow Ice is, according to Snow Monster’s website, fruit extracts and fresh milk made into blocks and shaved finely to create flakes. You can add your own toppings, including fresh fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. You can also use soy milk if you are dairy free. It gives the same fluffiness as whole milk. I got vanilla snow ice with a side of strawberries and chocolate chips, topped with  condensed milk. Siddiqi finally got his bubble tea and according to him, it was delicious.

Snow Monster is located at 11220 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753.

It was a grand day full of spontaneous productivity and amazing food. The clouds came in and the wind picked up so it was perfect timing to head on home. Pretty excited to go back to Sno-Mo and the computer store. Hopefully I can come up with a glossary of computer-to-my mind’s version terms of computer parts soon.

“Tribute to Eric Theriot” Painting by Ramstedt

This beautiful painting before you is a touching tribute to artist Ramstedt’s friend, Eric Theirot.

Eric Theirot was born in Austin, Texas on New Year’s Day, 1995. He lived in Austin for 16 years before moving to North Carolina with his parents and three siblings. He graduated high school and went to the Univeristy of North Carolina – Charlotte. He graduated this past May with Honors, majoring in Computer Science. Two days after his graduation, he passed in a tragic car accident. Eric is a loved son, brother friend, and young man, whose bright future was cut short.

As mentioned earlier, Ramstedt created a lovely and touching piece of work to dedicate his friend’s life. The colors are vibrate and it is easy to tell they were a pair of great friends.

Ramstedt will be selling prints of the piece to help raise money for Eric’s family. You can message him on Facebook, or call him at +1 (512) 983-7860.

Please also help support the Theirot family by donating to their GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/erictheriot). Their goal is to reach $20,000 to help pay for medical expenses, funeral expenses, etc.

Rest In Peace Eric Theirot.

Curtis Ramstedt

Curtis Ramstedt, local ATX artist and founder of Esplosivoism, is at it again! For those of you who don’t know Ramstedt or Esplosivoism, you are in for a treat as the two go hand in hand. Esplosivoism, in my mind, is taking a pound of Salvador Dali with a couple gallons of modern psychedelic strokes, a pinch of political statements and a whole lot of bold style. For a concrete definition from the founder himself, please read:

“Esplosivoism I describe as [the] pragmatic marraige between the modern and the classical. I use modern techniques such as emphasis on shape and bright color. I do have the same birthday as Henri Matisse [December 31st], but I also use philosophy, symbolism and Renaissance-esque themes like classical art.”

Ramstedt is taking the ATX by storm, even been recently featured in Gorrie’s Perspective.

(For my ol’ Your Way With Words followers, you may know this man by a different name with a different art skill: Curtis Des Marias, the poet. Remember “I, Sisyphus”? How about that villanelle, “Pour Ma Jolie”?)

***

The quirky man with a crazy sense of fashion and art has revealed his latest painting, “Catholica Scientiam”, one of the biggest projects he has undertaken. I at first thought it was multiple canvases that he cut up and glued together but boy was I wayyyyyyyy off. It’s a build-able canvas that makes a statement between Catholicism and science.

The cover. (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

I feel like I’m in 1970s galactic disco with a bunch of floating grapes (this is why I’m the writer/math in the group and not the art curator hahaha).

The right inside flap. (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

I feel like I’m on the border of three different dimensional wormhole portals. The contrast between the left and the right is quite significant. I wonder if he meant to put the creative side on the left and the logical, black/white side on the right to match the personalities of left-handed and right-handed people. I asked him and he had this to say:

“[It’s a] relation between culture and economic systems and human rights and scientific progress.”

Yep, I’m off. But that’s the joy of art. You can interpret it any way you like.

The inside (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

When you open it, the relation is made much more clear. Though I still feel like I’m in a fancy palace with naked pregnant lady that is being observed by a bunch of scientists.

***

Curtis Ramstedt is an interesting guy. He’s come a long way from his start in 2013. He is inspired by things in his life and, according to Ramstedt, the random “thoughts [he has] at the day…[his] brain never shuts off.”

“Jazz Party” – Ramstedt

Fun little fact: the girl in the paining is moi. Yes, moi. Back in 2014, Ramstedt was looking for something to paint and I told him to paint a jazz party. That was one of the last conversations we had for almost two and a half years (aka my “disappearing act”, a story for another day), so I didn’t get to see the painting until we reconnected in March. A few weeks later, I bought the painting. Don’t go criticizing or judging on vanity. You’d do the same. 😉

***

Want to see his art in person? You can check it out at the Kasbah Moroccan Lounge in West Campus.

Like what you saw? Follow/Like Ramstedt on Facebook. Post about it on your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Make sure to use #ramstedt and #z&h when you share. 😀

Want to buy one of his pieces? Check out his website, http://ramstedt-art.com/. Please note he also does custom paintings.

Curtis Ramstedt. Once he’s in your life, no matter how hard you try to disappear, you can’t seem to get rid of him. He adds color to life with a stroke of a paintbrush…and a corny joke or two :).

 

Downtown Travels Mixtape Vol. 2 

It’s a such a beautiful day out here in ATX. Definite blast the car stereo weather. Therefore, time to share the second volume of the Downtowm Travels series! This time we have Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and the Avett Brothers in the mix.

This playlist is more along the lines of what I’m interested in. A sorta favorites list because I like the vibe, sound, lyrics, and all that good stuff. A few have a couple stories attached.

  1. Frank Sinatra – Fly Me to the Moon

Ah Frank Sinatra. I should really write a post on his great life. Note to self. Sinatra is first on the playlist because, well, Sinatra is the answer to everything (at least according to my friend Siddiqi and me.)

2. The Postal Service – Sleeping In

The opening lyrics is what gets me. “Last night I had the strangest dream / where everything was exactly how it seemed / where there was never any mystery / of who shot John F Kennedy”. It gets me thinking of a world where things are simple. No wars, no global climate problems, no conspiracy theories. It also gets me, the history nerd, thinking, “what would have happened if JFK lived out his full four year term? Would the 60s be the 60s with him around?” Sound the conspiracy music!

 

3. The Beatles – In My Life 

Once you hear the piano, you’ll understand.

 

4. The Avett Brothers – Another is Waiting

One of my favorite 21st century bands…actually make that all time bands period. The lyrics are fun. They are great live (no, I have yet to see them in person but watched enough Youtube videos to make this sound judgement). They are folksy and have a great piano player. They’ll even get ragtimey at times. Yep, gotta dedicate a post to them soon.

5. The Beatles – All My Loving

Funny story about this one. I once dared a friend, who has a rather terrible singing voice (not that mine is any better), to sing a song. No conditions or anything, just any song. He didn’t do it at the right second. Instead, he waited a good week, knocked on my door and started singing the Beatles. Silly me should have gotten it on video because it was pretty good (and hilarious!). Every time I hear this song, part of me will think there’s someone at the front door. That and the lyrics are just absolutely adorbs and soooooooo 1960s.

 

7. New Politics – Harlem

Because you just need a song to dance to.

 

8. Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear – Silent Movies

You know I am a fan of the soulful voices. Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear do not stray from this. Their raspy voices transport you to another world, another time. Did the mention the instrumentals are amazing?

 

9. Future Islands – A Dream of You And Me

For those days when you need a sorta more soothing approach. This song reminds me of those lazy spring days laying on the grass in front of Main Building at St. Ed’s where you are trying to study but are so focused by the beauty that surrounds you.

 

10. The Decemberists – 16 Military Wives

The Decemberists are great with lyrics. The instrumentals are simple, which is nice because it helps you focus on the storyline that is portrayed in the song. It’s political yet fun. It’s got a bit of a marching beat to it, much like the military marches.

 

11. Foster the People – Best Friend

I am originally from the Voldemort state (you know, that one big West Coast state that Texans do not like and wish would stay away from any inch of the Lone Star State in fear of completely screwing up the mellow/country/old school landscape), so it’s no surprise I would cheer for a band from my old stomping grounds. The song is catchy and when you hear them live like I did at SXSW a few years back, you can’t get rid of them no matter how hard you try. The lyrics, if you truly listen, have mixed meanings. I’ve taken it as drug addiction problems, writers block, and even the general concept of friends being there for each other no matter what the situation is.

 

12. SPEAK – Carrie

Another one of my favorite bands of all time. A friend introduced me to this Austin band about four years ago (yes, the same friend who sang the Beatles on my front porch on a dare). This song is from their 2011 album, I Believe in Everything. Regardless of whatever mood you are in you will dance to the beat of this song and fall in love with Troupe Gammage’s voice. Definite song of any summer for me.

 

Hope you enjoy. There will be more coming soon!

P.S did anyone catch the typo? 🙂