Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Choir Boys loving Idaho

Andrew Pask and Jeff Kaiser at Craters of the Moon National Park, photo by Craig Green

Andrew Pask and I are having a great time in Idaho. (Barring this three day bout of flu that I've had...still trying to kick it.)

After being picked up from the airport by my friend, musician, and director of the Boise Experimental Music Festival, Krispen Hartung, we had a lovely evening with a very special Belgian ale blind taste test. Absolutely fantastic. Four rounds, three beers each round (no we weren't drinking all, just tasting!) consummately hosted by Krispen's wife, Charissa, who put together a wonderful experience complete with notes and reviews of "professional" tasters that were read afterwards. Our friend and musician Rainer Straschill from Munich was also there. Some very interesting surprises, no time right now, but if someone pressures me, I will post the list.

Up Wednesday and had the lovely four hour drive to Idaho Falls. A gorgeous drive. Our host for this leg, Craig Green, had arranged for a GREAT gig at The Art Museum of Idaho. I gave a lecture on improvised music and computers in the afternoon, and then we performed in the evening (first set by Craig and Krispen), followed by a Question and Answer session. I've had some "rough" experiences with Q and A's before, but this audience was great, diving in with interesting and challenging questions, quoting the likes of Emily Dickinson about music (!) and asking for a response, inquiring about all aspects from inspirations to technology...delightful.

We went the back way to Boise on Thursday morning, so I could visit my beloved Craters of the Moon National Park, then on to the opening gig for the festival. Performers tonight were, Bob Sterling, Ted Killian, Gretchen Jude, Craig Green and Krispen Hartung. More later...

Craig Green at Craters of the Moon

The sky....somewhere near Sun Valley...

Krispen Hartung and Craig Green performing at The Art Museum of Idaho

Krispen, Charissa, Andrew

Rainer Straschill

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Choir Boys on the road...

Andrew Pask and I (The Choir Boys) are hitting the road yet again, this time to play in Idaho Falls and Boise, Idaho. Should be a lovely trip, such a beautiful time of the year in a beautiful part of the country. Last year at this time I had such a fantastic visit. I'm actually looking forward to the four hour drive each way between IF and Boise. Besides the lovely terrain, it is always great to spend time with Andrew.

Here's the information for this time around:

In addition to the gigs, I'll be giving a lecture on technology and improvisation at The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho in Idaho Falls.

I like what it says about our show in the events page, "This concert is not for everyone..."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A New Churchill...

Our Beloved Winston "No I don't look like Hitchcock" Churchill

As the news states, a "Churchill" is a size of cigar. Now it is a brand name...

But I really think I just wanted to post the cool photo by Philippe Halsman of Alfred Hitchcock (1962).

Cigar maker Davidoff launches new 'Winston Churchill' range

GENEVA (AFP) — Iconic British wartime leader Winston Churchill will have two cigars to his name after Swiss manufacturer Oettinger Davidoff said Thursday it is launching a new brand bearing his moniker.

The Churchill family has given the Basel-based company exclusive rights to produce, market and distribute cigars, cigarillos and smoking items with the "Winston Churchill" brand, company boss Reto Cina said in a statement.

In common cigar parlance however, a "Churchill" is a Cuban Havana cigar measuring 178 mm by 18.65 mm.

Oettinger Davidoff has not produced any Havana cigars since a dispute with Cuban manufacturers in the late 1980s.

The company said its new range of Churchills would use tobacco grown on plantations in the Dominican Republic, Peru, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

Winston Churchill was British prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.

He was famous for his defiance of the Nazis following the fall of France in 1940, his stirring oratory and trademark cigar and "V for victory" sign.

In 2002, a BBC poll with more than one million votes saw him voted the Greatest Briton of all time.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

This Week's Cigars and Thesis Cigars

If the themes for my thesis had to come from cigars, the cigar company 5 Vegas would have them down (Keith sent me this link):

The 5 Vegas Series 'A' Mega-Sampler includes:
5 - 5 Vegas Series 'A' Artisan (5" x 52)
5 - 5 Vegas Series 'A' Archetype (6" x 50)
5 - 5 Vegas Series 'A' Alpha (6" x 52)
5 - 5 Vegas Series 'A' Apostle (7" x 50)

"Covered in a lovely Costa Rican wrapper, this savory handmade combines a 4-year-old recipe of bold long-fillers from three different countries. The result is downright sublime. A robust series of toasty, earthy flavors paired with rich coffee undertones and a touch of cocoa greet the palate, resulting in a toothy grin and wide eyes. A subtle hint of spice is unmistakable, while the Spanish cedar sleeves add a nice woody component to an already complex bouquet. Medium to full-bodied and loaded with flavory goodness."

I've never had one, but the names resonate with me.

This weeks smokes (last Thursday) were a Gurkha Castle Hall Churchill and a Joya De Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Machito. The Castle Hall was a bit of a dissapointment, the tip crumbled on clipping (yes, it was well kept in my humidor) and from its first draw there was a strong metallic taste, somewhat like chemical fertilizer or, buddha forbid, insecticide. After the taste continued, I had to put it down. Not a great smoke for a cigar rated 90 by Steve at They are a great source of cigars and supplies, but don't trust that guy's reviews, he gave my desert island cigar (Artur Fuente Hemingway) an 86. He probably smokes so much he dulled his sense of taste. Except for the fact that we agree on the next cigar, the Joya De Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Machito. I've smoked several different sizes of this cigar, and due to the strength, the smaller Machito is perfect for me. Not a desert island smoke, but a delicious, full-bodied one. Almost erased the Castle Hall from my memory. Peppery start, woody, robust. I nubbed this one:

Monday, May 05, 2008

All about priorities when the big one is dropped...

I hate to say it, I can relate.


British planners feared tea shortage after nuclear attack

LONDON (AFP) — Never mind the radiation: British contingency planners worried there would be a dramatic shortage of tea in the aftermath of a nuclear attack, recently declassified documents showed Monday.

The shortfall of the staple British beverage would be "very serious" if the country were to come under attack with atomic and hydrogen bombs, said according to a memo drafted between 1954 and 1956.

"The tea position would be very serious with a loss of 75 percent of stocks and substantial delays in imports and with no system of rationing it would be wrong to consider that even one ounce (28 grams) per head per week could be ensured," it said.

"No satisfactory solution has yet been found."

Another memo, written in April 1955, warned: "The advent of thermo-nuclear weapons ... has presented us with a new and much more difficult set of food defence problems."

The contingency planning documents listed a number of issues for discussion including arrangements to ensure stockpiles of food and the availability of bread, milk, meat, oils and fats, and tea and sugar.

The memos were among a number of documents released by the National Archives.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

May 1968 and...Tea?

A business that was attacked following the May 1968 revolution has released a tea to commemorate the historical event, "The tea, flavoured with lemon zest and rose petals, is packaged in a metal tin emblazoned with the image of a student with a raised fist." It is depressing/sinister, yet delightfully absurd, how revolution is turned into a commodity. But a revolutionary tea flavored with "lemon zest and rose petals"??? That is just wrong. You can read the whole news story at the bottom of this post.

Here is a partial list of slogans from the revolution, shared with me by my fellow Critical Studies/Experimental Practices student, Matt McGarvey. Some of these will be printed on the tea cannisters:

Freedom is the crime that contains all crimes. It is our ultimate weapon.

No forbidding allowed.

Down with journalists and those who cater to them.

Long live communication, down with telecommunication.

“The cause of all wars, riots and injustices is the existence of property.”
(St. Augustine)

Burn commodities.

Whoever speaks of love destroys love.

The young make love, the old make obscene gestures.

Zelda, I love you! Down with work!

Revolutionary women are more beautiful.

Embrace your love without dropping your guard.

If God existed it would be necessary to abolish him.

When examined, answer with questions.

Professors, you are as senile as your culture, your modernism
is nothing but the modernization of the police.

Terminate the university.

Arise, ye wretched of the university.

Those who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring
to everyday reality have a corpse in their mouth.

You are hollow.

The passion of destruction is a creative joy.


To which Fauchon would add: "Steep my tea!"


"You too can steep!"


May 1968 tea: A French revolution in retail

Published: April 29, 2008, 00:00

Paris: The times are changing in Paris, where a luxury foodstore is offering a "May 68" brand of tea to commemorate riots 40 years ago in which anti-capitalist students hurled cobblestones at police.

"Tea with a flavour of revolution", says the chic Fauchon in a statement announcing the launch of the collector item.

The tea, flavoured with lemon zest and rose petals, is packaged in a metal tin emblazoned with the image of a student with a raised fist and slogans from the riots such as It is forbidden to forbid and Poetry is in the street. The cost is 15 euros ($23.5) for 100 grams of tea.

All things related to the 1968 riots are fashionable in France in the build-up to the 40th anniversary, and the media is awash with programming on the student uprising.

There is a certain irony in Fauchon's decision to endorse the spirit of May 1968 with its commemorative tea.

The flagship Fauchon store in central Paris was attacked in May 1970, when the 1968 riots were still reverberating through French society, by a commando of Maoists who looted foie gras and other fine foods to redistribute them to the poor.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A great day in La Jolla

Feels like Christmas, only at 75 degrees. So, I guess it feels like Christmas always does in So Cal.

But here is why: After being backordered (on the first day of release!) I finally received my copy of George Lewis's book on the AACM, A Power Stronger Than Itself. Run out and buy or order this book. Just skimming through it is a wonder. More later after I've read it.

BUT, in the meantime, Read an article on George Lewis and the AACM in the New York Times by clicking here.

And, it came at the same time as a new gift of cigars from my friend and pfMENTUM co-founder, Keith McMullen.

(1) Legend Series - Rocky Patel
(2) Gurkha Legend Torpedo
(3) Edge Lite Toro
(4) Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet Fundadore
(5) Gran Habano 3 Siglos Torpedo
(6) Gran Habano Corojo Blend #5 Pyramid
(7) "Original" Cuban Belicoso

A great day.