Monday, May 23, 2016

Click (Music): Pole Dancing, Get Schooled on Twitter, Ketchup Ice Cream and Wildlife Returns

"Forest" by Giungla

I'm making some homemade ketchup. I'm really down in that bowl smashing the s*** out of some tomatoes. I got seeds exploding all over. My arms, my face, everything is covered. I grab a knife from it's sheath on the counter to deskin one of those bastards. Giungla's "Forest" is playing in the background. J-Fur walks into the kitchen. One look at me, she quickly backpedals and winds up spending the night at her parents. It may have cost me a marriage but that ketchup was so good! #NoRegrets.



"Hummingbird" by Kyla La Grange

In a post ketchup world, I find myself doing nothing but dicing and slicing potatoes on my mandolin in the shape of little french fries. After a magical baking experience, I lay those crispy nuggets out on the kitchen table along with a big bowl of that homemade ketchup. Z-Bot eats up those fries like they are going out-of-style but not once does she take them for a dip in the ketchup. I watch this for a while and then break out into song. "Hummingbird" by Kyla La Grange is my track of choice. "Like a hummingbird I will hover but never taste the fruit." Z-Bot smiles and nods her head like she has some sort of clue what I'm thinking.



"Dead Century" by Wildlife

Just when you thought (or was I the only one?) Wildlife would never stop touring North America long enough to put out another album, they do exactly that. Their first single from the new album is the title track "Dead Century." It is a song, according to the band, about moving forward through lost time, what it feels like to have one foot in an age that no longer exists and coming to terms with having the other in a world you may never understand. They share this "lost time" space with the likes of Mrs. Frank Flynn and her Ketchup Ice Cream.



"Give Me the Night" by Freddy Spacer

When I learned that Y LUV had put things on hold (about a year ago) I was pretty devastated. I began wandering the streets aimlessly looking for something to do. That something became sneaking into vegetarian restaurants, taking a seat in between an unsuspecting couple and having them pay me to drink bottles of ketchup. The pain was real. The heartburn was too. But the money was good. Now that Y LUVian Freddy Spacer has taken his unique lyrical style the solo route, I no longer feel the need to crash dates and drink ketchup by the bottles. The pain is gone. Unfortunately, so is the baby sitter.



"Strange Diseases" by Gang of Youths

When I Google searched strange disease and ketchup I came across an interesting question that I'm sure everyone has pondered at some time or another: Can I get AIDS from eating ketchup immediately after it has been injected by HIV? 



Videos:

"Amerika" by Wintersleep

The video for Wintersleep's "America" is a somber exploration into what happens when the Earth is done with you or, as Donald Trump points out, when you stop winning.



"Don't Let Me Down" by The Chainsmokers featuring Daya

I've watched the video for "Don't Let Me Down" about four times now. My purpose for these repeated watchings? To figure out who has the better moves. Is it the women? Or the car? Right now I'm leaning the mechanical route.



"I Was Wrong" by Arizona

How exactly did I get J-Fur to return home after my ketchup making episode? Let's just say I bought a lot of M&M's, threw my knives in the garbage and serenaded her with Arizona's "I Was Wrong."



"I Will Deny" by Donots

Kissing my future goodbye has never been more fun (or sweaty).




"Bloodstream" by Transviolet

"Bloodstream" by Transviolet features Jordan Kensley, a pole dancer, who reached out to the band about a possible collaboration. The majestic performance that was captured and immortalized by the video was not embraced by all. Waqar Zahid, for instance, took to social media to trash it:



But Jordan Kensley proved she isn't someone to f*** with when she responded to him:






Get All of 2016's Click Tracks (when available) in One Spotify Playlist:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Artist's Cookbook: What's Cooking With Lukr?

 "Let me come by and pick you up, your tattooed heart is all I want, your cocaine (queso) kiss tastes like no other."
-Lukr
I am notorious for hearing what I want to hear when it comes to song lyrics. Even after my wife corrects me, I usually continue to roll with my original thought. That's mostly because I like what I came up with better. "Fucked Up Summer," the new single by Nashville musician Lukr, played out almost the exact opposite of this. I didn't mishear Lukr's lyrics. I knew from the beginning that he was comparing an unnamed woman's kiss to the addictive act of snorting white shit up your nose. But when Lukr approached me about pairing his song with a plant based queso, well, shit, I could no longer think about anything but the queso. That includes cocaine. Somewhere between my private shower concerts and the changing of my car's oil, Lukr's lyrics morphed from a cocaine kiss into a queso one.   While it drives my wife batty, I'm perfectly okay with this slight alteration.

Before we dive finger deep into Lukr's queso (he's a vegan y'all), let's explore his artistic side a bit. Lukr began making music as a kid on an $80 piano. In his teens he fronted a band called Farewell Flight. The band toured from one coast of the US to the other dozens of times playing hundreds of shows. Eventually Lukr wound up in Nashville where he began writing/collaborating with artists from LA, NY,  Australia and the UK. He spent some time writing songs for other people before making the leap into a solo career. "Fucked Up Summer" is Lukr's first solo single. It illustrates perfectly Lukr's self-described "nostalgic neon grunge pop." The track relates the varied emotions that come with a freshly severed relationship. There's the remorse and solitary angst brought on by what used to be, the longing negotiations designed to keep the two of you in touch for just a few more seconds/hours/days/weeks and the interspersed moments of power and invincibility that come with knowing your whole world has crumbled around you and your path is no longer as fixed as it once was. In short, Lukr implies that his fucked up summer is like a dangerous car ride, a drug addiction, Catholic guilt, a strung out paradise, a forgiving shower and queso all rolled into three months that have been boiled down into about four minutes.

So you already know what one cooks up with a track like this. In case you are afflicted with a disease that only allows you to retain information for a few milliseconds, let me remind you that it's queso. You pair this track with queso. But not just any brand of queso. This is a special, plant-based, vegan queso that Lukr has created in his own kitchen. You want the printable goods? Go here.

"Fucked Up Summer" in video form (it is most fun this way):



In audio form:



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Food Pairing 101: What Goes With Eat Fast's Debut EP?

If the last month of my life were to be described in food terms, it would probably be that super gooey, oily cheese pizza that gets caught in your throat and causes you to choke. That's what packing and unpacking cars and boxes will do to you. The only good thing about this round the clock loading and unloading is that it forces you to block out all the bullsh** and only focus on the important things in life. One of those important things? Eat Fast's debut EP.

We've already featured two of the four tracks on the EP in previous posts (here and here). The third track, "Stammer," came out when I was elbow deep in packing tape and bubble wrap. I tried to craft a post with my nose but that went nowhere fast (pun only partially intended). The fourth (and final) track, "Fenham Dreadlock,"  hit the internet on the eve of the eve of the eve of the EP's release (tomorrow, May 13th, via Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes).

What's so good about this EP? For one thing, it rolls off quick. Each track clocks in at three and a half minutes or less. That is just about the perfect pairing for box making (and unmaking). All of the tracks follow a similar pattern. Take some harmonies, roll them in sugar, add some thumping guitars and frazzled guitar riffs, bake for less than three and a half minutes. Your final product? Some fine fuzzy pop brilliance. Think of it as the comfort food of fuzz pop. You always know what you are going to get and it feels perfect every time.

So what should one pair with this EP? Well, it is hot. It is bold and blinding. It turns your saliva bright red. All of that, plus the fact that I have survived on Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, vegan candy bars and chili over the last two weeks, I'd have to pair this album with Martha Stewart's Chili Con Candy.

Check out the new single, "Fenham Dreadlock":


The previous single, "Stammer":

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Click (Music): Permanent Highs, Moths on Hot Stuff, Satellites and Dancing Barefoot

"Permanent High" by Work Drugs

I can't take the euphoria associated with optimal gut health in heavy doses. I put aside time for kombucha on weekends, sauerkraut and tempeh every fourth Wednesday of the month, kimchi comes in spurts and sour pickles make the menu when the rest of my refrigerator is empty. That seems to be enough euphoria for me. When I saw, via NPR, that there are so many more probiotics to be had (I'm talking loaded cold brew coffee, granola, desserts and nut butters) I started to breakout in probiotic sepsis fevers. Can I exist on a permanent high? Will there be a place in the future where I can't avoid it? Will my darling little Thin Mints someday be crawling with bacteria?



"Streets" by Sofia Hardig

What if Kim Deal craved husmanskost, lingonberry jam, kotbullar and surstromming instead of Mexican?



"Moths to a Flame" by The Virginmarys

As my family and I drove to the zoo today, Janet Jackson sang about moths to flames on our radio. In front of us was an SUV with a bumper sticker that said "I don't have friends, I have family." The bumper sticker didn't seem to fit with the other ones on the car (or what was going on inside the car) so I remember dismissing it as stupid. "Moths to a Flame" by the Virginmarys has me rethinking that sticker. Maybe it isn't as stupid as I originally made it out to be. The songs camaraderie, the urgent need to continue sticking together in the face of demons like drug addiction and mental health is as important of a message as they come. Sometimes what your friends need isn't a friend. Sometimes they need something more. Boil that down over a few hours and I guess you wind up with something very similar to "I don't have friends, I have family."



"Satellite" by Sara Hartman

I recently watched a Charlie Sheen movie about satellite communications and aliens wearing human skin as they infiltrated NASA. I found the movie hollow and meek, like a flavorless hummus. Sara Hartman's "Satellite" resides on the complete opposite pole from this movie. It is big, bold and filling. Everyone else will have you think it is the song of the summer. I tell you it is the song of right now.



Covers:

"Dancing Barefoot" by Her Majesty (Patti Smith Cover) 

JP and Her Majesty have returned with a re-imagination of Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot." Of all the songs to re-imagine why this track? JP says, "When I heard the original, its psychadelic undercurrents and garage punk poetry resonated for me on a deep, intuitive level. The lyrics delivered in Patti Smith's iconic maelstrom jumped out of my laptop speakers and hinted at the mystical aspects of life, birth, and the transcendence of death. I wanted to highlight the implied aspects of the original, that sense of losing oneself in another being, the awareness that with each beginning there is an end, and, in doing so, make it a lush, herMajesty song."



Videos:

"Now is the Time of Emotion" by Prince Rama

Because who hasn't dreamed of turning the wine and cheese crowd that frequents art shows into a cake and soup one?



"Are We Alive" by Augustines

Years ago I caught a punk band in Gainesville who performed with an interpretive dancer. I thought this was the coolest thing ever. I also thought that was the gig for me. Kids, jobs, health insurance and white picket fences have kept me from becoming that dream. We can't all be Big Jeff.




Get All of 2016's Click Tracks (when available) in One Spotify Playlist:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Click (Food): Debbie Does Waffles, Vegans Defeat Negan, Plant Based Alien Abductions and Kimchi Potstickers

Happenings:
  • Lisa Simpson going vegan? 23,634 people would like her to. I think this is a bit too easy. I'm in the process of getting a petition together for the MeatEater team to go vegan. That would be a real win.
  • Just what the world has been missing...a motherf***ing vegan selfie room. Thanks Doomie!
  • Australians Google vegan more than anyone else in the world. Some of the country's more popular searches include "why are vegans so preachy", "judgmental vegans", "self-righteous vegans" and "Lisa Simpson vegan?"
Recipes:

Vegan Kimchi Potstickers by The Veg Life

For a few weeks I put kimchi in everything. (quesadillas, burgers, Brussels Sprouts). One thing I didn't put it in was potstickers. Probably because I can't ever seem to find any wonton wrappers without egg. Yo, Veg Life, hook a blogger up. Where do you get your potstickers from?

Carrot Cake Waffles by Dietitian Debbie Dishes

My favorite porn growing up was Debbie Does Waffles. I would break this video out at least once a week while my parents weren't home. That was my first foray into the world of food porn.

Spinach and Kiwi Smoothie from Turnip the Oven

I was at the park yesterday and I heard a mom calling to her daughter on the slide. She said "Kiwi, come on down the slide because others are waiting." I turned and asked her if Kiwi was just a nickname. She gave me a horrendous look, grabbed her daughter and walked away. Can you blame me? Who, outside of those ridiculous out-of-touch celebrity couples, would name their kid after something that goes into a smoothie?

Spinach Filled Raviolis from Dora Daily

Now that I've perfected the art of the vegan pizza, it is time to get my Italian hands dirty in some other type of dough. Up next, raviolis. Come here you sexy little dough circles and let me stuff you full of spinach.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Click (Music): Eating Petals, Cape Cub, People Singing Into Walls and Constant Crushes from Verite

"Spools" by Tuft

My nostrils have been jammed up for the better part of two weeks. In the winter, not a big deal, but now that it is spring time and all the flowers are in full bloom, I'm feeling it. No matter how hard I try, I can't catch a whiff. So I've resorted to the "Spools" method of smelling flowers. That is I pick the flowers and eat the petals in order to get the feel for how they might've smelled. I must be a little less advanced than some people because even with tasting, I can't smell s***.



"The Start" by Cape Cub

Speaking of flowers, Cape Cub "The Start" is about the naivety of looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses. That's not a pitfall I typically find myself stuck in. I attribute this to my glasses having more of a quasi-industrial tint to them. Everything looks like dirty moths and mortared brick.



"Mama's Gonna Get You" by WASI

When my mama moved away from the house I grew up in, she missed the memories and the marks we left on the walls. She also missed her strawberry plants. She couldn't go back late at night to steal the memories or the marks, but she could dig up those damn berries. So she did, or at least as many as she could feasibly get away with. Perhaps WASI's "Mama's Gonna Get You" has nothing to do with midnight strawberry stealing but when I hear that chorus, that's immediately where my mind goes.



"Constant Crush" by Verite

Verite's Living EP has come out of the gate crushing it like Trevor Story. First it was "Underdressed" that got the ginger beard treatment. Now it is "Constant Crush." Keep your eyes open folks or before you know it, this EP will be rewriting history. Now if only it could throw a slider...



Remixes:

"Lost" by Connor Phillips (Young Bombs Remix) 

Young Bombs goal with this track was to display the vulnerability and capture the sound of being lost in the woods and getting mauled by a bear. I've been there, done that and it sounds almost exactly like this. Well, there is a lot more screaming.

  


Videos:

"Neverending" by Little Coyote

This video is exactly like The Wizard of Oz only with more tattoos, facepaint and weird hats.



"Connect" by My Gold Mask

The video for "Connect" brings to the forefront a question that I've found myself pondering more and more as I've gotten older. Do people actually sing into their walls? I can say with absolute certainty that I have never done this. But like once a week I see someone in a video doing it. Actually happen or is it simply a case of fiction being stranger than truth?



"Reckless" by Lowla

When I think "Reckless" my first thought is, and always has been, talking into a hamburger shaped phone. Nothing says I'm being reckless more than that.



"Don't Let Me Down" by The Chainsmokers featuring Daya

My aunt warned me, be wary of people wearing Metallica t-shirts. While I don't pin my worst years solely on not heeding that advice, I would say that had a lot to do with it.



"Eyes On You" by Veruca Salt

I wasn't a big Veruca Salt fan during their first go round. But I did appreciate Nina Gordon's cover of "Straight Outta Compton." That's why I gave this video a whirl. While the wasn't enough cultural appropriation for me, I did dance a little.




Get All of 2016's Click Tracks (when available) in One Spotify Playlist:

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Vegan in Tampa: A Guide to Eating Vegan in Wesley Chapel, New Tampa and Tampa Palms

I've been living in the Wesley Chapel, New Tampa and Tampa Palms area of Tampa for almost ten years. I have been vegan for four of them. Through research, trial and error and online recommendations I've been able to find some really good vegan friendly dishes, drinks and desserts in this area of town. Here are some of the fantastic vegan options you should check out next time you’re in this part of Tampa!

Capital Tacos #2 |  27209 FL 56 Wesley Chapel















Because Capital Tacos #2 has an out of this world collection of burrito (or if you prefer taco/salad/nacho/bowl/wet burrito) flavor combinations it has become one of my go-to's when out-of-towners come visit. It is really hard not to find something for everyone here.

You want Tex-Mex? Done. Seafood? Got it. Fried Chicken? They've got those too. But what do they have to offer vegans? While Capital Tacos #2 does not have any vegan combinations on their menu as is, they are perfectly willing to adjust their two vegetarian options to make them dairy free.

The first option is the Simon Pure. This burrito contains grilled portabella, black beans, pico, bombera salsa, Mexican street corn, jack and cheddar cheese and rice. Ask for it without the cheese and Mexican street corn (cooked with butter) for a vegan version.

Even after taking off the cheese and street corn, the Simon Pure is still bursting with flavor.

The other vegetarian option is the Mean Verde. The Mean Verde consists of breaded and fried avocado, refried pintos, queso, lettuce, pico, jack and cheddar, crushed chips and poblano ranch salsa. For a completely dairy free version ask for the avocado to not be fried, replace the poblano ranch salsa with a dairy free version and subtract the jack and cheddar and queso.

Capital Tacos #2 offers a number of dairy free sides to compliment your main course. Make sure you don't leave without trying out their chips. They are not your typical scrawny little yellow tortilla chips that seem to be the standard at Mexican restaurants. Capital Tacos #2's version are deep fried and golden and much thicker.

You can't go wrong with any of the salsas (mild, medium and hot) or the guacamole. Just ask them to hold the cheese (which they will sprinkle overtop).


Kwan Ming | 27607 State Road 56 Unit 105 Wesley Chapel

For the most part fresh and Chinese food seem to exist on opposite ends of the spectrum. Kwan Ming has made it a point to fuse the two together. They have six options that are labeled vegetarian on their menu. Some of these can be made vegan.

My dish of choice, by default, is the tofu with black bean sauce. This dish contains fresh veggies and tofu (that is not breaded) cooked in a black bean sauce. It is served alongside a plate of rice. Why the default?

Because my real number one, my bae so to speak, is the garlic fried rice. 

It is loaded with fresh cloves of garlic that are sliced and fried until they are golden brown on the outside. They are then tossed with your typical fried rice veggies to create a masterfully blended dish. Not too salty. Not too fried. Just bite after bite of blacking out in Tampa and waking up in Gilroy, California. I happily breathe this dish for hours afterwards.

The garlic fried rice is my wife's bae as well. So instead of ordering two of the same dish, I default to the tofu in black bean sauce. Make sure to ask for the fried rice without egg.


Nutrition S'Mart | 1821 Bruce B. Downs Wesley Chapel

Keep your eyes pinned to the ground as you walk through Nutrition S'Mart. That way you won't see all the overpriced vegan/vegetarian friendly items they have on the shelves. You don't need that stuff. You can do better (and cheaper) elsewhere.

The important part of Nutrition S'Mart is the far back corner. It is here that the Wesley Chapel location of this chain got wise and built a juice bar/sandwich area.

It is in this juice bar/sandwich area that one can procure some of the cheapest (and tastiest) kombucha on tap. One twelve ounce glass can be yours for just $2.79 plus tax. That's not a mistake, that's the real deal. 

Nutrition S'Mart serves Kombucha Tampa brand kombucha. Flavors on regular rotation include the Blueberry, Hibiscus Berry and Mango.
Don't bother with the growler as, unless my math is wrong, it is a worse deal than just buying a twelve ounce cup.

As far as the rest of the juice bar/sandwich area goes, they have a number of vegan options. These include build your own sandwiches with vegan cheese and a bevy of smoothies. I can't vouch for any of these because I've never gotten past the kombucha.


Ciccio Cali | 17004 Palm Pointe Drive Tampa Palms


There are a lot of things I don't like about the Ciccio collection of restaurants. I don't like their weekend brunch menus or their jacking up the prices for dinner. I don't like that they consistently seem to remove my favorite things from their menu with no warning.

Ultimately, as is the case with any restaurant, if the food is done well it can make everything else moot. I must admit, I've never left disappointed or underwhelmed by what I've eaten at a Ciccio restaurant.

Ciccio Cali in Tampa Palms has a menu that is littered with wraps, bowls, pizzas, salads and stirfrys. These items feature a large variety of fresh vegetables, some of which I've never seen offered at any other restaurant. These include kale blends and spaghetti squash.

Ciccio Cali meets the needs of their vegetarian and vegan customers by providing the option of switching out any meat for a veggie and broccoli mix (I don't understand why more restaurants don't do something like this).

My meal of choice at Ciccio Cali is the Fire Bird. The veggies are tossed in buffalo sauce, paired with rice, then wrapped in a pressed tortilla. Delicious! 

Other vegan options include the vegan, thai, fitness and citrus bowls (replace the chicken with veggies in the latter three), all the stirfrys and the entire line of side dishes.


Cappy's Pizzeria | 16019 Tampa Palms Blvd.

Since the beginning of time pizza has remained virtually the same, the sum of four amazing parts (sauce, crust, topping and cheese) joined together as one.

Some people like to mess with this perfection. They subtract or alter one of those elements to see just how dreadful the result is. I must admit, I'm one of those people. I love me some pizza. I don't love me some cheese.

Cappy's is one of the few places in Tampa that can pull off a vegan pizza. 

This is because their flaky deep dish Chicago style crust and their tangy, slightly spicy, red sauce are flavorful enough that removing the cheese doesn't hinder them.

I usually top my deep dish pizza with fresh spinach and artichokes. Make sure to specify that you want it vegan, otherwise they may sprinkle Parmesan on top of the sauce.


365 Caffe Italiano | 28211 Paseo Drive, Suite 10 Wesley Chapel

Need a vegan dessert in the Wesley Chapel/New Tampa/Tampa Palms area? 365 Caffe Italiano is the place to go. Each and every day (365/7) this shop offers at least 3 different dairy free gelato options. Some days they even go all crazy and stretch it to four.

If you are in to chocolate and mint and desserty flavors like that and are dairy free, well, you are out of luck. At 365, those all contain the animal stuff.

But if you are like me and hate those flavors with a passion, no big deal. It is the fruit options at 365 Caffe Italiano that contain no dairy. Mango and berry blast are just two of the vegan versions I've tried. Sweet, cold, refreshing and tasty.