SYNOPSIS: Summer is officially here and that means barbecues! And singed eyebrows! And drunken house guests! And broken dishes! And hurt feelings! And if you’re really lucky, trails of vomit all through your apartment! Or even SHC!
Gosh, isn’t summer fun?
Oh, your Uncle LD could go right on screaming, because much as he loves the company of all his many dear friends, what he loves more than anything is PEACE and QUIET. And P&Q are not generally considered to be distinguishing characteristics of barbecues in New York City, are they? Why just look around you and you’ll smell a lot of burning meat (or worse, those vegetarian substitues that smell worse than cheap pot) and hear a lot of dreadful music being played at top volume on crappy stereos, all wafting down from rooftops all over the city. Swoon-inducing, and not in the good way. Happily, no one ever invites Uncle LD to parties anyhow, so think of the pain he is spared while he sits alone reading AM Homes, HH Holmes, or “Don’t Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World’s Greatest Chefs” by Kimberly Witherspoon.
But if your friends force you to attend such festivities, simply make up your mind to make the best of them — one party at a time! Uncle LD talks with his pal Jim Bentley about Zen and the art of grilling meats, and the appropriate beverages that ensure a good party. Then Sonny Jim plays some of his favorite songs, Uncle LD plays some of his faves, and we head off to Blue Smoke for some brisket. In my dreams, right?
And keep this handy hint in mind for next year: As our old Baltimore friend Mr Burger was fond of saying, “The best way to start your Fourth of July barbecue is with a gasoline-soaked American flag.” Hip-hip-hurrah for freedom of speech!
Next week: More Stuff You’ve Probably Never Heard
MUSIC FOR TORCHING!
“America, I Love You” by the New York Military Band Edison Blue Amberol (1916)
Oh yes we do, though our love is sorely tested. As Diana Mitford once said that it wasn’t her country she had problems with, but rather its government…
“Keep Wasting Your Time” by Up The Empire; LIGHT RIDES THE SUPER MAJOR (unreleased sampler 2006)
A slap-happy slacker anthem for the kiddies — kind of a suburban tribute to Billy Idol, maybe…”chug chug sneer,” but with pretty vocal harmonies and better drums.
“How It Goes” by Catfish Haven; GOOD FRIENDS (Secretly Canadian 2006)
If you like this, you’ll love Damian Jurado, too. I have no idea what these guys look like, but in my mind some of them have adorable college beards and wear unironic T-shirts from regional moving companies. And really good shoes.
“I’ll Bring You Home” by Jennifer O’Connor; OVER THE MOUNTAIN, ACROSS THE VALLEY AND BACK TO THE STARS (Matador 2006) A drunken seduction that seems to come as something of a surprise to Miss O’Connor’s protagonist. Surely a jaunty jukebox favorite-to-be, along the lines of “Sugar Walls” but funnier and without the smirk.
“Caught with the Meat In Your Mouth” by Dead Boys; YOUNG, LOUD & SNOTTY (Sire 1977)
A punk classic and a masterful single entendre. He’s talking about ‘cue, right?
“Bandages” by Hot Hot Heat; MAKE UP THE BREAKDOWN (Sub Pop 2002)
Keyboard pyrotechnics and lovelorn adenoidal adolescent yelping always work in a two-minute pop song. These goofy kids suffer so you don’t have to. Louder, please!
“Some Summer Day” by Stephin Merritt; EBAN & CHARLEY soundtrack (Merge 2002)
Mr M’s sultry habanera celebrates lost youth and lost love, which you can take as his permission to proposition the nearest object of your affection and hopeful convince him/her/it to come with you to the nearest dark corner. If not, the gentle sound of your tears will blend perfectly with this little darling of a song.
“The Joy Of Eating Raw Flesh” by Bow Wow Wow; THE BEST OF BOW WOW WOW (BMG 1997)
Even without Annabella’s rabid cheerleader rants, this Malcolm McLauren project made great music, combining intense tribal drumming with classic rockabilly/surf guitar moves that still say “Party!” some twenty years after it was committed to tape.
“Picnic Boy” by the Residents; THE COMMERCIAL ALBUM 25th Anniversary Reissue (Mute US 2004)
One of the many gems from their classic album of one-minute songs. Excellent to throw in your multi-disc player with other great party albums (WILD PLANET by the B52s, for example) and let them fall where they may. This song was sung by an uncredited Lena Lovich, who had her 15 minutes with the new wave club hit “Lucky Number.”
“Try the Worryin’ Way” by the Fabulettes; GIRL GROUP SOUNDS LOST AND FOUND (Rhino 2005)
Actually almost everything on this sublime box-set (packed in a hat box!) is frug-inducing, but this song — that suggests an alternative to normal dieting — seemed perfect for atonement after some scoailly acceptable overindulgence.
“Witchi Tai To” by Future Pilot A.K.A.; TINY WAVES, MIGHTY SEA (Domino 2001)
A lovely anthem for those who crave a bit of modern tribal love-rock, yet really can’t deal with Phish or their lesser followers. There are a zillion of covers of this old Jim Pepper song, which is said to be based on a peyote healing chant of the Native American Church the songwriter learned from his enlightened grandpapa. This gorgeous one is by Sushil K Dade, ex-Soup Dragon, from Glasgow. No, no-one put E in your beer, darling. At least I don’t think so.
“I Love The Rain” by The Real Tuesday Weld; WHERE PSYCHE MEETS CUPID (Dreamy 2000)
Oh, Stephen Coates. Dapper, dreamy and only a little dour. If a thundershower threatens your BBQ, dash inside and crank up the Victrola and shimmy away the even to Mr Coates’ antique beat.
And as a special bonus, Uncle LD includes this yummy recipe for your next summer fete, though do please keep them refrigerated so he won’t have to think of you dying a slow and painful death from food poisoning.
Serves six, unless your guest are greedy little piglets
One dozen Grade A Extra Large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise (if you don’t make your own use Hellman’s)
1 6-ounce can fancy crabmeat, drained
Zatarin’s Cajun Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Coleman’s Powdered Mustard
1 tablespoon minced white or yellow onion
About 1/2 teaspoon pickle relish
A few drops apple cider vinegar
1. Place eggs in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover them. Bring water to a boil, then remove pot from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Carefully place pot in sink, drain, then run cool tap water over eggs for several minutes. Drain again and let eggs cool.
2. Peel eggs, cut in half lengthwise, then gently remove the yolks with a teaspoon. Place in a medium-sized glass or ceramic bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork and mix with the mayo, onion, relish and vinegar, then gently fold in crab meat. Season with Zatarin’s to taste, but err on the side of caution here.
3. Carefully spoon mixture into egg halves, place on pretty tray, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
4. Before serving, lightly dust tops with paprika.
Variations: Omit pickle relish and paprika and mix in a little finely chopped fresh parsley before filling egg halves. Use prepared Dijon mustard instead of the powdered sort and add a few drops Tabasco. Or forego the Cajun stuff, relish and vinegar entirely and season instead with a little salt and pepper, then garnish with capers instead of paprika. Or add a dash of celery seed. For someone worth it, garnish with tarama (smoked red carp roe).