29.8.14

come on people.

Not to be alarmist or anything, but this would be a new fun development: something that feels/sounds like benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), the net result of which is very much like you drank wayyyy too much booze without any of the remotely pleasurable aspects of that (or the terribly unpleasant ones either, come to think of it). You know that business where the room won't stop spinning and your eyes won't focus? It's like that any time I sit down, stand up, lay down, roll over...essentially when I move my head. No idea if this is mirtzapine-withdrawal-related or just that I suddenly turned 84 years old Wednesday at about 5:30pm.

Or maybe it's just some kind of ear infection that doesn't hurt.I'm going to the doctor today to see what she thinks. The glass half full perspective would be I guess that I don't feel bad otherwise, other than a new sort of weird headache, and at moments the dizziness is a truly unique human sensation, almost fun at times if I'm not trying to accomplish something, like I've been Novocained somewhere in my body that I can't identify. It's exactly like the Mushroom Mode cheat code in Rise Of The Triad. And it feels a little less unpleasant right now than it did 8 hours ago. But jeez, come on people, I've got shit to do.

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26.8.14

in dreams, part xi.

So, as much as I would love for medication talking time to be over, my shit still isn't settled down. I've been trying to sleep without Ambien or Oxazepam just because I'm not sure if either one of those has been contributing to recent stomach distress.

The most obvious result of this has been a general lack of sleep over the past week or so, culminating in a 2.5-hour night's sleep last night, and resulting in that oh-so-familiar Fight Club feeling of being "never really awake....a copy of a copy of a copy".

On the less boring side, my brain has been so desperate to catch up on REM sleep that it has manufactured some crazily busy and vivid dreams the past three nights. Said brain also seems intent on incorporating whatever music I'm falling asleep to into these dreams, not in a totally positive way.

1) Tonight's: J-Kim and I are part of the Lee Konitz Quintet while he's in Amsterdam, along with Johnny D and a drummer who is a cross between our actual Norwegian drummer friend Tollef and Samantha's beauhunk Smith from Sex and the City.

This dream starts out as a typical "bringing wrong equipment to a gig" dream: I bring my Guild, which is unplayably strung with one bass string and four high E strings (iow, not a normal or useful tuning), and, since I'm two hours late to soundcheck, I hook my expression pedal up incorrectly so that instead of controlling my volume, it alters my pitch. So as the band starts playing (and as I am plugging in my guitar for the first time), I try to fade in with some subtle chords and instead of course sound like an air-raid siren or space laser beam.

After several disastrous attempts to contribute to the music, I stop playing and watch, mildly interested in why the music seems to repeat itself exactly every 8 minutes or so, and then after 48 minutes or so, the five of us start playing soccer/football, while wearing our instruments (this was planned...the concert is in a park at dusk).

This is only the first part of the dream, the rest involves me being drunk and caught in flagrante delicto by a baby wearing a gorilla costume bursting into my room, who I then bit on the nose repeatedly, and then some time later waking up with several people's wallets and phones in my pockets, who were pissed at me b/c I was supposed to be "holding on to them" (including my newest IRL employer), but I disappeared into the night. I'd also gone to sleep or "passed out" without acknowledging F.E. de Lange's whatsapp messages inviting me to play darts (?), and Mara's whatsapp requests to know how the gig had gone.

I woke up quite distressed by all of this because in one night I'd: ruined my musical reputation; pissed off Lee Konitz; disgruntled my new employer; gone off the wagon, and gone AWOL. The irony of all this is that I wasn't even listening to Lee Konitz IRL during the dream: I'd initially thought it was, during our "concert", but I think even in the dream after a few minutes of "Lee"'s solo I was thinking, "Mmm...I'm pretty sure this is Greg Osby". But my brain was not having any of that, so I got to watch "Lee Konitz" play the same Greg Osby solo over and over again for 45 minutes.

2) Last night: I was working at the smallest, busiest department store imaginable. It was my first day on the job, and I couldn't understand anything that was happening. Various supervisors kept trying to show me how to do various things, like ring customers up, calculate taxes, clean the washing machines, give refunds from the video games....etc.

But I couldn't hear anybody because of this enormous drone in my ears. I knew what it was, it was Éliane Radigue's Kyema from Trilogie de la Mort, but I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, until I reached up to touch my ears and realized I was wearing my raggedy white headphones/earbuds. Which, as soon as I noticed, I was a bit horrified b/c this is my first day at work and my manager is trying to teach me something that I'm not understanding at all, and it's because I'm wearing headphones.

So I take the headphones out, but the sound is still there. Weird. I reach up to touch my ears and there's another set of headphones there, a black pair this time, which I remove, but the sound is still there. This goes on for a while.

Ultimately, I'm exhausted by trying to turn off this sound in my dream that I am listening to in real life. In reality, I'm asleep with my white headphones on, listening to Radigue; in my dream, I hear the sound and know what it is, but can't figure out where it's coming from. This is a new one for me.

3) Two nights ago: had a violent and protracted dream altercation with this literally schizophrenic guy who used to stalk me a bit back in Atlanta in the 1990s. IRL, he answered an ad of mine looking for musicians (NEVER put an ad in the paper looking for musicians), and we played together and the music was actually OK, but he was quite obviously dangerously unstable: he'd been arrested a couple of times for assault and was constantly getting worked up into a state about very irrational things.

Anyway, in the dream, we were in Seattle, in a giant downtown park, and it was dusk for like 6 hours of dream chase/fight. The weirdest part of this one was that at a certain point I was trying to throw an enormous and fully-packed/loaded suitcase of music gear at him, but I couldn't get it to move. It was one of those dream moments where you're trying to make something physically happen and it just won't, and you can't understand why not. I tried and tried to move this suitcase, but nothing.

When I woke up, I felt like I'd worked out the day before and done a couple too many dumbbell curls with my right arm: my bicep was throbbing. So....I injured my IRL self in a dream fight? Another exciting new twist.

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23.8.14

speechless access.


















Foreign Correspondent The Mara has been touring the coast of Northern France this week, fromoutwhence (should be a word) these photos of giant yet affordable crustaceans and pretty humorous Frenglish come.

From top to bottom: on the steps of the Royal Albion Hotel in Criel-sur-Mer; moules-frites and crevettes at Les Mouettes in Mers Les-Bains/Tréport; just outside the city walls of Saint Malo (you can reminisce about my previous adventures there here); €1 oysters in Cancale; cans and cans of Pure Terror; un-color-correctable Platter O'Death ("Everybody Dies") in Cancale; whatever the fuck Jammy Gaby is back in Criel-sur-Mer; nonsense phrases in everything but French (why bother making a sign?). Photos by MT and F.E. de Lange.




14.8.14

tang.























This doesn't look like much, but the first version went by so fast I'm thinking about making it again tonight. It's from the rich tradition of Spanish escabeches and salpicóns and all other manner of marinated and pickled fish, served cold or at room temperature. Obvs wild salmon is not a requirement here, just any slightly oily fish that really tastes like something on its own. If you are using wild salmon, Kalamatas were key, I wouldn't substitute another olive.

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wild salmon in olive escabeche.


2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-wide, 2-inch lengths
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp dried thyme
4 to 8 bay leaves (8 if they're good ones)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 wild salmon filets (about 500g total)
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped very fine

This is kind of how you do it, not my instructions yet, they're still the original Food & Wine instructions. You'll be able to tell when they're mine because the words "shimmering" and "dollop" will be gone. Probably also "spooning".

Using a mandoline, cut the carrots into thin strips. In a small skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the carrots, shallots, thyme sprigs, bay leaves and garlic and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are softened, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil until shimmering. Season the mackerel fillets with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet skin-side down. Cook over high heat until the skin is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook the fillets for 1 minute longer, until almost cooked through. Transfer the fillets to a large, shallow glass or ceramic dish, skin side up. Top with the vegetables and their marinade. Let stand at room temperature for 3 hours, occasionally spooning the marinade over.

Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Arrange the mackerel on plates and spoon the vegetables and their marinade on top. Dollop with the tapenade and serve.


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11.8.14

medication corner.

So, hopefully to bring this saga to a temporary close: let's call mirtazapine withdrawals a 2 to 3 4 to 6 week process. One thing to be careful about: if you're paranoid about not sleeping (which is probably why you were taking mirtazapine in the first place), try to resist the temptation to replace the missing mirtazapine with a little extra zolpidem or oxazepam. It became really difficult to tell what was fucking my shit up, the sudden absence of longer-term meds or slightly increased reliance on shorter-term sleep aids.

I stopped everything but melatonin a couple of days ago and now feel pretty OK, except that of course I haven't been sleeping. As always, it's hard to assess what helped fix things b/c I tend to change 12 variables at once whenever I feel like serious ass, b/c if you could potentially shorten your period of serious assiness well then why wouldn't you.

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6.8.14

gaasperplas.



















Above: my only picture of my visit to Gaasperplas, which was a lovely place to be, but the bike ride there was quite something.

Then last night we had our new version of Jamaican comfort food again: jerk steak, coconut chicken curry based on this, black beans, rice. And homemade cronuts for dessert, don't ask.

Below that, the prototype packaging for Daddy's Balls, a special ghost pepper edition of our BBQ sauce.



4.8.14

de echte echte bakker.



















Went down to the corner bakery today, which has previously always been a branch of this shitty prefab industrial bakery chain, not worth the empty carbs at all. A few weeks back this branch changed their name to Bakkerij Westerpark, or maybe it was months ago, I stopped looking at that corner of the street years ago.

I don't know if this is a crafty corporate rebranding thingie, you know, where someone who cranks out huge volumes of uninspired, soul-free characterless pap suddenly figures out they need to tap into the "artisanal" craze so they change everything about their presentation and marketing but still crank out the same shitty food....

....or if this is an actually new bakery. I'm skeptical b/c 1) i'm a skeptic and 2) they're using the same bags as the last place. And 3) this kind of shit is happening constantly. I hate that my first reaction to what could totally be a sweet, honest family business is to suspect the worst, but this is the climate we live in today people ect ect ect. 

IN ANY EVENT, today I went in there b/c  this morning the mooperbird mumbled something about a croissant as she tossed and turned in an attempt to crank out 30 minutes' more sleep, and this place is really the only remotely promising option on our street. 

And lo, what did I find there:























A cronut. My first cronut.























And? Braincrushingly sweet, the kind of sweet that I haven't experienced in many months. And: delicious with a cup of strong coffee. They also have pretty healthy-seeming-yet-tasty spelt croissants if you're not totally burned out on spelt by this point. I'll probably go back.

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