fifty.

wilco loves you

My friend Sarah just posted one of these on Facebook, and I decided to not wait until I was invited to jump in (sticking with my usual practice of posting FB memes here, because I try to never pass up a decent blog post these days). If you want to join in, feel free to post your list in my comments, on your own blog, on Facebook, wherever — just let me know, because I want to see your list.

Sarah specified just a few rules: 1) Be sure to note your first concert. 2) Bands you’ve seen as openers or as part of festivals count, but try to come up with 50 headliners first. 3) Don’t worry about what order these are in — a stream-of-consciousness list is fine. And I’ll add one more: 4) Any additional notes you want to add are encouraged.

EDIT: I’m having way too much fun with this, and I’ll probably continue to add notes for a while.

1. Grateful Dead (the band I’ve seen the most, at 40-something shows)

2. Phish (First time should have been at The Dugout in Athens in 1991. First time instead turned out to be a year later at the Newport in Columbus.)

3. moe.

4. Blues Traveler

5. Spin Doctors (They were the biggest of the three likely Grateful Dead replacements [Phish and Blues Traveler were the others] in the early 1990s, and they were easily the worst band of the bunch. Saw them again years later during some festival on Walnut Street and they looked like they absolutely hated being there.)

6. Yonder Mountain String Band

7. Railroad Earth

8. Infamous Stringdusters

9. Sting

10. Steve Winwood

11. The Rolling Stones (In Richfield Coliseum [Tattoo You tour], at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville [Steel Wheels tour] and in Ohio Stadium in Columbus [Bridges to Babylon tour].)

12. Bob Dylan

13. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

14. Kiss (Headliner of my first show, in Cincy’s Riverfront Arena, just a few weeks before The Who’s disaster there.)

15. Judas Priest (Opened for Kiss in Cincinnati. Still the loudest thing I’ve ever heard.)

16. Eric Burdon Band (At what is now the Newport in Columbus. He didn’t start until about two hours late, testing my patience of my father, who took junior high-aged Juan and me to the show on a school night; the back of his tour shirts read “Fuck me, I thought he was dead,” testing the patience of pretty much all the adults in my life.)

17. Little Feat

18. B.B. King

19. The Fabulous Thunderbirds

20. Stevie Ray Vaughan (A co-headlining tour with No. 21 Jeff Beck, at Louisville Gardens while I was in the Army. I’d be hard pressed to recall a show with better guitarists. And I was lucky to see Stevie Ray when I did; he was killed in a helicopter crash not long after.)

21. Jeff Beck

22. The Allman Brothers Band

23. Greg Allman Band

24. Gov’t Mule

25. Widespread Panic

26. Jimmy Buffett (A fun thing — sneaking oranges loaded with vodka in to Blossom Music Center.)

27. Pink Floyd

28. Living Colour

29. Wilco (Should be higher on the list, as I continue to maintain they’re the best live band out there today.)

30. Tweedy

31. Black Crowes

32. Tedeschi Trucks Band

33. Georgia Satellites

34. REO Speedwagon (My buddy TJ and I drove from Athens to Cincinnati to see Georgia Satellites, the night’s opening act at Cincinnati Gardens; we didn’t stay for much of the headliner, REO Speedwagon, opting for a late dinner at White Castle instead.)

35. Molly Hatchet

36. .38 Special

38. Blue Oyster Cult

39. Hot Tuna

40. The Pretenders

41. Cheap Trick (My one and only concert at Ohio State’s St. John Arena. There were no tickets sold in the upper deck because it bounced too much.)

42. Foghat

43. Sinead O’Connor

44. Avett Brothers

45. Black Moth Super Rainbow

46. Sonic Youth

47. Bruce Hornsby

48. Keller Williams

49. Disco Biscuits

50. Etta James

Note: I could keep going for a while…

on repeat.

In 2010, Mrs. Crappy and I ventured to Ohio for a terrific Groundhog weekend.

When we returned, our street looked like this:

cropped-img_4012.jpg

This weekend, I am venturing to Ohio — Mrs. Crappy has to work — for what I hope will be a terrific Groundhog weekend.

Check out what could be happening when I return on Sunday:

stormwarning

So. OK then.

 

pho down.

fosho

It’s winter. And we all need help finding some warmth, some color and some spice.

Me? I need some pho. Beef broth, simmered all day. A mound of rice noodles. Onions and scallions. Thin slices of beef that cook in the broth when that big bowl of deliciousness is carried out to your table. And sprouts, jalapenos, basil leaves, lime and chili paste on the side, so you can make that pho your own.

It’s so simple really, just beef noodle soup. Except that it isn’t simple at all — it’s a huge palette, ranging from a little sweet to wipe-the-sweat-off-your-forehead spicy, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s deeply satisfying, especially this time of year

Thanks to a Facebook conversation sparked by Spoon and this video, we’re having a Pho Down* at 6:30 Wednesday night, at Vietnam’s Pho on Penn Avenue in the Strip. A couple things to keep in mind: I recall that Vietnam’s Pho is cash only and that BYOB is OK with them. If I’m wrong about either one, someone correct me, OK?

Think you might join us? If you haven’t already, let me know, so we can give them a heads up Wednesday afternoon.

Sure, late January can look pretty bleak. Meeting a group of friends and slurping down some pho is guaranteed to help.

*Yes, I know I have to pronounce “pho” incorrectly for this pun to work. Get your own blog, smartypants.

don’t miss out.

8336204860_890822a05d_b

Thanks, Michelle.

I need your help.

Mrs. Crappy has a rule pertaining to the Polar Bear Plunge coming up on New Year’s Day. She doesn’t mind that I’m dumb enough to jump in the freezing cold Monongahela River, but she maintains — correctly, I will grudgingly admit — that I’m not allowed in the water unless there are enough friends along to pull me out.

At the moment, I know Jenda is going to show up at the Mon Wharf on Thursday morning. And with all due respect to Jenda, that’s not enough.

Have you always watched the spots about the plunge on the news New Year’s Day and kind of wondered what it would be like? It’s kind of like this:

And let me tell you, boys and girls — the bragging rights are unparalleled. And this could be the year you finally do it.

Specifics? I have specifics. We swim sometime between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m., but you’ll need to be down on the Mon Wharf by 8:30, or you may not make it down there at all. When you get down to the wharf, head towards the Point and look for the red Honda Element flying at least one Ohio State flag; the river bottom and shore is easier to navigate, which means you’re out of the water faster.

Oh, and we usually go get breakfast and beer after.

I have plenty more advice, none of which Jenda needs. But if some newcomers — like, say, you — let me know in the comments that you’re plunging, I’ll be sure to share.

a special six.

My former colleagues know me so well.

When it came time for my going-away party, I suspected there was a decent chance that I might take home a bottle of beer or two. And my friends at The Times didn’t let me down.

beerpresentI mean, who could not get excited about a thoughtful, carefully considered six pack like that?

Because I am the beer nerd that I am, I promised that I would give each of these classics the full Beer Guy treatment. A couple Fridays ago, I broke ‘em all out, taking notes on each one. Here you go, boys and girls, in order of appearance:

iclight

IC Light, Iron City Brewing Co. Light American lager. 4.1 percent alcohol by volume. My thought was to get this one out of the way first, because I wasn’t only battling a not-so-good brewery but also the whole perception of the official beer of Stillers fans thing. As it turned out, though, IC Light actually tasted a bit like beer, something that would prove to be a bit unusual as we went through the six. It was also thin and pushed too much corny sweetness in my face, but all told, not awful.

Coors Light, Molson Coors Brewing (MillerCoors). Light American lager, 4.1 percent alcohol by volume. First thing? Coors Light is fizzy. As in like ginger ale fizzy. The  other thing? This was the sweetest beer of the bunch. And that's not a good thing.

Coors Light, Molson Coors Brewing (MillerCoors). Light American lager, 4.1 percent alcohol by volume. First thing? Coors Light is fizzy. As in like ginger ale fizzy. The other thing? This was the sweetest beer of the bunch, like a can of sweet corn soaked in syrup. And that’s not a good thing. This is also the second-biggest selling beer in the United States. That’s an even worse thing.

Budweiser, Anheuser‑Busch InBev. American adjunct lager, 5 percent alcohol by volume. Ahh, the King. Compared with the beer it followed, this Bud was almost palatable. But wait, let's think about this for a minute. Sure, it lacks the candy bar sweetness of Coors Light; it's also missing pretty much any indication of ingredients that are typically used to make beer, especially the kind of hoppy bitterness you'd need to tone down the cloying corn. There's a thing to remember, boys and girls -- Keystone's "bitter beer face" commercials aside, a little bitterness in a beer is a good thing.

Budweiser, Anheuser‑Busch InBev. American adjunct lager, 5 percent alcohol by volume. Ahh, the King. Compared with the beer it followed, this Bud was almost palatable. But wait, let’s think about this for a minute. Sure, it lacks the candy bar sweetness of Coors Light; it’s also missing pretty much any indication of ingredients that are typically used to make beer, especially the kind of hoppy bitterness you’d need to tone down the cloying corn. There’s a thing to remember, boys and girls — Keystone’s “bitter beer face” commercials aside, a little bitterness in a beer is a good thing.

Rolling Rock Extra Pale, Anheuser‑Busch InBev. American adjunct lager, 4.5 percent alcohol by volume. I was a regular Rolling Rock drinker for a year or two way back in the day, well before the brand was purchased by A-B and production was moved to the glass-lined tanks of old New Jersey. And here's the interesting thing: Rolling Rock is actually better now than I remember. Rolling Rock didn't have the same sweetness as many of the other beers I regularly grabbed in those days; in fact, it the green bottles gave up enough to the sun that it wasn't unusual to some across some skunky flavors pretty consistently. Now? No skunky, but also no cloying sweet like its counterparts.

Rolling Rock Extra Pale, Anheuser‑Busch InBev. American adjunct lager, 4.5 percent alcohol by volume. I was a regular Rolling Rock drinker for a year or two way back in the day, well before the brand was purchased by A-B and production was moved to the glass-lined tanks of old New Jersey. And here’s the interesting thing: Rolling Rock is actually better now than I remember. Rolling Rock didn’t have the same sweetness as many of the other beers I regularly grabbed in those days; in fact, it the green bottles gave up enough to the sun that it wasn’t unusual to some across some skunky flavors pretty consistently. Now? Not skunky, but also not as much cloying sweetness as its counterparts.

Miller Genuine Draft, SABMiller (MillerCoors). American adjunct lager. 4.6 percent alcohol by volume. I spent some time with MGD in my youth as well, and this beer was pretty much as I remembered it -- thin, bland and inoffensive. Which is probably not what Miller was going for.

Miller Genuine Draft, SABMiller (MillerCoors). American adjunct lager. 4.6 percent alcohol by volume. I spent some time with MGD in my youth as well, and this beer was pretty much as I remembered it — thin, bland and inoffensive. In this group, I suppose boring is OK, but given that this was marketed as a bold alternative, MillerMolsonCoors isn’t hitting the mark. Surprised? Me neither.

Michelob Ultra, Anheuser‑Busch InBev. 4.2 percent alcohol by volume. Of all the beers in the sixer, this is the one that actually made me angry. It is beer for people who don't actually want to drink beer. It is a fiction created by marketers. It is an affront to everything I stand for. And it also poured the biggest head of any of the beers in the six. Go figure. But that was the only surprise. Mich Ultra is watery, corny and way too sweet.

Michelob Ultra, Anheuser‑Busch InBev. 4.2 percent alcohol by volume. Of all the beers in the sixer, this is the one that actually made me angry. It is beer for people who don’t actually want to drink beer. It is a fiction created by marketers. It is an affront to everything I stand for. And it also poured the biggest head of any of the beers in the six (WOOOOO, ACTUAL BEER-LIKE TENDENCIES). Go figure. But that was the only surprise. Mich Ultra is watery, corny and way too sweet.

Were there winners in this experiment? I’ll count myself among the winners, because it was legitimately fun getting back in touch with some of these beers. And if we’re talking about the beers, let’s go with Rolling Rock, because it may have actually improved when it was taken over by our A-B InBev overlords, and IC Light, because it sort of tastes like beer and not so much like bowl of corn flakes soaked in honey.

And I should point out one additional thing: my friends also came through with a very generous Bocktown gift card, so I was able to buy a few more six packs with beer that’ll prompt many fewer complaints.

Much better.

Much better.

Thanks again, guys. You couldn’t have done it any better if I had picked them out myself.