I make it a point to try beers that I’ve never had before whenever possible. It’s kind of the same principle that makes me want to eat tripe in Florence or beef tongue in London–both of which were pretty darn good, btw. The nice thing about beer is that rarely is even the worst stuff anywhere near as scary as the concept of beef tongue.
One exception was a fine brew made by a former housemate of mine. Those of you who have the misfortune to have a friend, relative, spouse, or close acquaintance with more beery enthusiasm than skill know what’s coming and can skip ahead.
After a day of the 1996 version of the snow “storm of the century,” and being thoroughly unable to move my car, my housemates and I decided to empty the fridge of all drinkables instead. There were a few OK beers, which were passed around for tasting in an early 1970s Polynesian-restaurant tiki glass (now in the possession of Jim Heaney). Then we started hitting the bottles with no labels.
It is indicative of the state of our minds that we took a minute to remember that our former housemate Dina, who had left us in the late summer of 1995, had experimented with making beer with her then-boyfriend, now-husband Ian. Both had pretty impeccable scientific credentials, and with much excitement they put away some beer and some hard cider. There were two bottles of each left in our fridge six months later.
We were lucky and hit the cider first. I say “lucky” because the pure alcohol left in the bottles by the yeast they had never removed prior to bottling numbed our taste buds for what was to come. Then we tried the beer. To this day, I can’t remember what it tasted like, only that it cured my desire to make beer for good.
Fortunately, if the brewers at New Belgium Brewing ever had this experience, they moved past it. Michael Jackson (the beer hunter, not the “king” of pop) isn’t kidding when he says that their Trippel has “a huge, earthy floweriness.” If I hadn’t bought the beer myself I wouldn’t have believed it to be an American brew. Figures I had to go to Seattle to find this Colorado gem.
More beer notes to come after the Washington Brew Fest this weekend.
I had planned on updating this page more often than once every nine months, but sometimes school and work seem like a more pressing responsibility than maintaining a web log. See the FAQ for other updates.
Two quick thoughts:
1. OK, so I haven’t visited either of them more than once or twice in the past six months, but I’m still depressed that Suck and Feed are gone. Plastic isn’t really an adequate replacement (though it will be if Polly Esther can continue to write her stuff somewhere else…) See the full story many places online, including The Industry Standard.
2. Listening to Radiohead‘s Amnesiac for the third or fourth time this morning in the car on the way to work in the pouring rain with no coffee and indigestion makes me think of that famous question that the head of Atlantic Records asked of Peter Gabriel on hearing the “melting face” album: “Has Peter been hospitalized?” But bits of it are so pretty. I am more tempted than ever to try to figure out a way to translate the music into something that can be performed by a mixed a cappella group just for the sheer challenge of humanizing it.
For anybody who’s been waiting two months for me to get around to posting the next round of photos from our most recent European vacation, I apologize. Business school and a Powerbook crash (watch this space for details on both) have kept me from posting recently.
In lieu of something more personal, I post these thoughts from William Carlos Williams:
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,–
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,–
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
The other really impressive thing about Pompeii was the sheer scale of some of the remaining buildings. One of the facilities was a big arena that included a swimming pool (now completely grassed over but still visible as a sloped depression in the earth).
The other amazing building was the amphitheatre, which is thought to be the oldest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire, predating the Colosseum. The entire structure, unlike the Colosseum, is intact (though many parts are grassed over), allowing you to see the symmetric shape of the facility.
We only spent an afternoon in Pompeii, far too short a time to see everything we wanted to see. But we had to drive on to Positano.
From Rome, we drove the Autostrade to the Amalfi Coast. Our first stop was originally to be Naples, but we decided that the hazards of taking a car into Naples outweighted our desire to see the city. We accordingly gave Naples a miss and (after some maneuvers because we missed the exit) got to Pompeii.
After Rome, which was clean and had its antiquities tucked away into well-defined corners, usually in pretty bad shape (the Forum is nothing but broken blocks and chunks of marble), our first view of Pompeii was a surprise. The city is both more and less well preserved than one might imagine. After reading National Geographic articles about the discoveries from this excavation, the initial reality of the site is a let-down. It’s extremely dusty and has been utterly stripped of ornament—all the good pieces went to museums, mostly in Naples.
However, as we started looking closer and entering some of the dwellings (some of which have intact ceilings, most of which had intact walls), we started to be blown away. Many of the dwellings had gorgeous frescoes on the walls; some had incredible mosaics.
The continuation of our trip can be found on the pages below:
After London, we embarked on a ten-day trip to Italy to celebrate Lisa’s graduation last summer from Maryland with her MBA and MS, and my admission to Sloan at MIT for the fall. The focus of the trip would be the Amalfi Coast, but we had spent some time in Rome on our honeymoon and wanted to revisit our old friend.
Although the city was mostly familiar, it seemed to sparkle as a result of the preparations for the Millennial visitors. One especially noteworthy thing was the colors of the walls, which had been painted throughout most of the city with an ancient technique that used natural pigments in solution with milk to achieve a lovely wash.
We stayed near the Piazza Navona, and spent a lot of time just walking around the place, built over Diocletian’s hippodrome and said to offer the best people-watching in the city. It certainly had one of the best enotecas (wine bars) around…
One of the small joys about our days in Rome was that much of the restoration work that had been ongoing on our previous visit was complete now. I finally got a chance to see the facade of St Peter’s, which had been under scaffolding when we visited in 1998.
One of our favorite churches in Rome is Santa Maria de Trastevere, named for the funky district across the Tiber in which it is located. We took this shortly before going for a repeat dinner at Romolo, one of our favorite Roman osterias. It’s housed in the former villa of Raphael’s mistress, and the seating in the stone courtyard is to die for. We did not die this time, as we knew we were on our way to Paradise on the Mediterranean, Positano. Of course, we’d have to drive the Autostrade del Sol and go through Pompeii first…
We’ve been promising to publish photos from our trips for so long, I can’t blame anyone for not believing that we’d do it…but I’ll try to post more photos every few days for the next few weeks to catch up.
Our travels this year started in London with one of those British Airways saver fares. It ended with meeting one of the Cheeselords and his friends at the Savoy for various beverages, some made with absinthe (which, amazingly, is still legal in London).
Two photos of St Paul here in honor of one of the weirder coincidences of the trip: as I was coming down the steps of the dome tour, having gone to the top to get the first of the photos below, I ran into Dan’s friends starting their ascent. We had been trying to get in touch with each other for three days…
Aggarwal, We Hardly Knew Ye
Between conversations with old friends and mash notes from the Post, I’ve heard the name Reggie Aggarwal more often in the past month than in seven years. So who’s Reggie? Maybe these two gems from “Hoover” by Lee Keath (a YJ-revival-era ‘Hoo) will shed some light into the depths of his past:
This is me working with the Suspicious Web Committee.
|Well, we just returned from our trips to Ireland and France. We have plenty of photos, and I will be posting those as time and disk space permit.
|Jarrett House North is the northernmost outpost of my little corner of the Jarrett family. The next nearest claim to the title is my sister’s home in Richmond (sister pictured, right), followed by my folks’ place in Newport News, Virginia. After that it’s all North Carolina and the ancestral (stony) ground.
The long-promised sets of photos from our European trips are looking for a home. I’m out of disk space on my old Mac and experimenting with different free web hosting services. At some point the whole page may move there; right now, I’ll just be hosting the pictures.
What’s Not (Yet)
I’d really like to get some information together on the publications I worked on in school, such as Rag & Bone and Aleph.
Who knows? Maybe my wife will want to put some things up here too…