Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stuff I Like

Many people write blog postings about pop culture events, books, music, people and ideologies they hate. While, without a doubt, I can spit venom with the best - and worst - of them, well, there isn't a paucity of poison in the world. So today's posting is devoted strictly to stuff I like.

Let's start with. . .

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

This Gibson L-5 guitar is definitely something I like very much! Although San Francisco's Guitar Solo store has been highly recommended to me, alas, I will have to set my sights for a much lower priced model than this beauty.

BOOKSTORES

We love Omnivore Books in San Francisco's Noe Valley. Events, book signings, chefs (live - IN PERSON), new books and rare antiquarian and collectible items - they got 'em.

There are still numerous indie bookstores in San Francisco neighborhoods; Green Apple Books and City Lights are two notable ones. Others I used to enjoy visiting back in the day, such as Drama Books and Limelight Books - appear to be long gone.

VIDEO RENTAL AND RECORD STORES
If you can't (or won't) go out, rent a DVD (or three) from San Francisco's LeVideo on 1231 9th Avenue between Lincoln & Irving (in the Inner Sunset district). They actually carry the cool classic stuff! So did Jazz Quarter in San Francisco's Sunset District before owner Tom Madden passed away in August, 2010. Across the bay in Oakland, check out Groove Yard Jazz on 5555 Claremont for yet more out-of-print sonic masterpieces; like Jazz Quarter, they specialize in rare vinyl.

CLASSIC MOVIES ON DVD

Is it possible to see too many rare classic films on DVD? In a word, no - even if all the lost silents and 1928-1929 early talkies see the light of day after 80+ years in The Twilight Zone.


Among the top-notch DVD companies - soon to be joined by Paul E. Gierucki's Cinemuseum - who are restoring the rare, the obscure, the amazing, the beautiful, the hilarious, as well as the fascinating flotsam and jetsam and utter cinematic WTF out there:

Grapevine Video
Need a ridiculously rare silent that you can't find on DVD anywhere? Give these guys a call!

Kino Lorber
Worth checking out for their Buster Keaton releases alone!

Looser Than Loose
Ali and Dave Stevenson of Looser Than Loose (and the Manchester Mirthquake events) have made it possible for 21st century viewers to discover just how wonderful many lesser known comedians and comediennes of the silent and early sound eras can be.



They specialize in the rarest of the rare comedies and continually come up with stuff I didn't know existed. I especially like their Lloyd Hamilton and "Dizzy Damsels" DVDs.

Shout! Factory
I have undying gratitude for this company for their Ernie Kovacs Collection box set and terrific selection of concerts on DVD. Shout! Factory are the unparalleled archivists of cool classic television and I look forward to their upcoming releases.

Thunderbean Animation
Steve Stanchfield has been doing outstanding work bringing to light lesser known gems and important history from the world of animation, painstakingly mastered, often from 35mm nitrate prints. The latest Thunderbean release of Paramount's Noveltoons may even nudge me to grudgingly re-assess Famous Studios, far and away my LEAST favorite of all cartoon producers. Steve's transfers from gorgeous I.B. Technicolor prints are stunning.



CLASSIC MOVIE HOUSES OF WORSHIP

The Niles Essanay Film Silent Museum

Located a stone's throw from where G.M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson shot westerns a century ago, the museum presents silent movies every Saturday night, as well as such annual events as the Broncho Billy Film Festival, in the Edison Theatre - which was once a nickelodeon. Vintage movies in a cozy neighborhood environment = fun.

The Castro Theatre

Host to the off-the-charts wonderful Noir City and San Francisco Silent Film Festivals, this historic movie palace is the place to see vintage movies in their full big screen glory.

Paramount Theatre

The Paramount has bragging rights for presenting Abel Gance's mega-epic super-epic Napoleon earlier this year, but also has been producing weekly big screen fun via the Paramount Movie Classics series for quite a few years now.

Stanford Theatre

Third of the art deco movie palaces in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Stanford runs classic movies year 'round and presents comprehensive retrospectives of iconic stars and directors.

MUSIC: RESTORATIONS AND BOX SETS
There are so many companies, mostly intrepid DIY organizations, responsible for producing stellar new recordings and restoring vintage ones. I'll leave it at a few favorites. Two reissue labels that will warm the difficult-to-please collector's heart are Revenant Records and Mosaic Records. The latter is responsible for 25 years of remarkable limited edition box sets; nobody has done more to preserve historic jazz for future generations. And, for something completely different, there's also Sundazed Music, a reissue label which, as Shout! Factory and Rhino does, mines the vaults for pure pop from the mid to late 1960's. You know the sound: layered cooing vocals, touches of psychedelia and orchestral flourishes, all inspired by Sir George Martin, Brian Wilson and Phil Spector .

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD

As a direct result of a bi-coastal relationship with a food blogger Querida, I have favorite eateries on both sides of the U.S.A. and can't decide between them! I'll treat these top-notch restaurants and markets as if they were sports teams with divisions then!

Eastern Division

Adams Fairacre Farms
My favorite market in upstate New York!

Harney And Sons Fine Teas
Love their tea room in Millerton and selection of teas overall.

Osaka Japanese Restaurant
The pride of Rhinebeck and my personal Hudson Valley choice for sushi and sashimi.

Red Devon Restaurant

Owners Julia and Nigel Widdowson have hit a grand slam with this treasure in pastoral Dutchess County. We have enjoyed amazing home-cooked meals - never less than a five star dining experience - at Red Devon. Don't blast past the town of Bangall without stopping there.

Western Division


Bi-Rite Market
San Francisco's best, bar none!

Ferry Building Marketplace
I'm a sucker for Hog Island Oysters and Blue Bottle Coffee, every time.


Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
The definition of a jaw-droppingly wonderful farmers market.



Philz Coffee
We are blessed with some amazing coffees in the San Francisco Bay Area.



Philz features the secret blends of owner Phil Jaber and has a store on the Facebook campus! I'm personally fond of Philz Philharmonic blend.

TenRen Tea
Excellent choice for oolong and China teas in general. My favorite: the oolong King's Tea.

Southeast Conference
TeaRex offers the only U.S. grown black teas, from South Carolina's Wadmalaw Island. Their Charleston Breakfast Blend in particular is a standout.

I think that's all - for now!

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