band on the run (life on the Boulevard Périphérique)

There were still sex workers on Van Buren St. when the airport shuttle rolled up to my flophouse motel near Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix yesterday morning at 8 a.m.

After tumbling out of bed at 4 a.m., I had jumped on an early commuter flight from Austin and was joining my bandmate, keyboardist Ryan Williams, for a session in a make-shift recording studio we set up for a day on the Boulevard Périphérique of Western civilization.

Note the Gideon’s Bible on our recording console (our “desk,” as we say in recording arts parlance).

We were energized by the fact that our band Nous Non Plus had been featured as “band of the day” on the now ubiquitous Band of the Day App.

But the greatest counterpoint to the bleak glimmer of sun-burnt, crystal meth-tinged Phoenix was the fact that both of us would be home in time to kiss our kids goodnight: Ryan, dad to two beautiful boys, had driven down from Flagstaff for the morning, and I had flown in especially for the session. We began tracking at 8:30 a.m. and I was on an Austin-bound 2:40 p.m. flight that got me home in time for dinner.

When I dreamed of a career in pop music as a child, this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.

But when you’re a new dad, you don’t need late-night, smoke-filled rock clubs to make the jams flow…

Ryan’s playing was fantastic, the sounds groovy and warm, and Tracie P’s cooking never tasted better (shredded chicken and roast poblano pepper tacos and cilantro rice paired with bright, fresh Schiava)…

The working title of our forthcoming album (fall 2012) is “Le Sex et Le Politique”…

Security cam photo

Just had to post this photo, taken by an airport security agent using my camera on Sunday morning in Munich, Germany before I boarded for Washington, D.C.

When I went through security, he very courteously asked me if he could take a photo, using my camera. Yes, of course, I said. And so he proceeded to remove the camera from its pouch, its cap from the lens, and then he pointed and shot. The above photo is the result of his effort.

Isn’t it interesting to look at? Isn’t it fascinating to contemplate the semiotic implications of the composition and those posed by a gaze that cares only to see through the signifier but not to see the signified?

Needless to say, I was waived on through the check point with flying colors.

Best airport food? Guess where…

Tracie B and I love to travel. No matter where we’re going, as long as we’re together, the trip to the airport is always a fun one for the two of us.

But the one thing that really sucks about traveling is the awful food options in airports. Even with all of today’s fancy concessions, the food is nearly always a smorgasbord of Sysco-kissed processed foods. Well, friends, I am here to tell ya that there is at least one airport in our country where there’s a local and very tasty food option. It may not look pretty but, man, I was so hungry yesterday by the time my lady and I got to the airport!

Salt Lick BBQ at the Austin airport:

bbq

The real thing (when I took Mama Judy there the other day while she was visiting us in Texas):

bbq

Hungry?

Sublime: tuna tartare, avocado, and Soave

From the “life could be worse” department…

The acidity and minerality in the 2007 Soave Classico by Suavia and the rich flavors of raw tuna and fresh avocado made for a sublime pairing the other night at the happy hour at Trio, the steakhouse at the Four Season in Austin. When I’m not on the road hawking wine (mostly in San Antonio and Dallas these days), you’ll often find me there, hanging with my buddies chef Todd Duplechan and wine director Mark Sayre (Mark just passed the third level of his Master Sommelier. Right on man!).

Believe me, the wine trade isn’t always as glamorous and fun as it sounds but it’s kinda cool when you get to rep a wine like the Suavia (which I do).

Above: That’s where the grapes are grown. I visited Suavia in Soave Classico in April after Vinitaly.

Today, I’m heading to an “undisclosed location” in Arizona for reasons I am not at liberty to discuss.

Tracie B will be meeting up with me tomorrow in San Francisco and then we’ll head to Napa where we’ll be tasting at some of the wineries the company I work for represents in Texas. I am exhausted after three days on the road hawking some excellent wines from Friuli but, honestly, life sure could could be worse.

The highlight of our trip will be the Kermit Lynch portfolio tasting in San Francisco and the winemakers dinner the night before.

I’m posting from the Austin airport and I gotta run to make my plane. Stay tuned…

Who says penguins don’t fly?

Above: this penguin flies high in friendly skies (click image for animation).

Traveling sometimes make me blue (Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?).

Those of you who know me personally know that 2007 was not a great year for me. Things have been better lately but I still have some pretty rough days (and there are more ahead).

I had a great time yesterday in Sacramento where I attended the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium (look for my post tomorrow). But as I got on the plane this morning, the blues caught up with me once again.

But then… smiles and laughter were brought to everyone’s face when a penguin — I kid you not — came strolling down the aisle. He was on his way to Sea World in San Diego (I was on my way to my family’s place, not the zoo, for the record). Even when the twists and turns of life make you feel like you’re about to break into a million pieces, a close encounter with a happy little penguin somehow makes it all worthwhile again.

Above: the penguin’s mommy.

Above: this sweet lady was flying for the first time in her life and so the in-flight crew made her a “peanut crown” out of airline peanut bags.

Above: they don’t have electronic in-flight maps on Southwest Airlines so they use this one. Listen, after seeing the flying penguin, I’ll believe anything…

Above: the baggage claim at the Sacramento airport has these crazy sculptures. It takes you a minute to figure out that they’re works of art.

Look for my post tomorrow on my dinner with “national treasure” Darrell Corti and notes from Josh Greene’s excellent talk on “the state of the industry.”

Back to food and wine tomorrow, I promise… But a flying penguin? I had to blog it… An antidote to the blues, let me tell you…

*****

So far Away
Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
Doesn’t help to know that you’re just time away
Long ago I reached for you, and there you stood
Holding you again could only do me good
How I wish I could, but you’re so far away

One more song about moving along the highway
Can’t say much of anything that’s new
If I could only work this life out my way
I’d rather spend it being close to you
But you’re so far away
Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
Doesn’t help to know you’re so far away
Yeah, you’re so far away

Traveling around sure gets me down and lonely
Nothing else to do but close my mind
I sure hope the road don’t come to own me
There are so many dreams I have yet to find
But you’re so far away
Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
And it doesn’t help to know you’re so far away
You’re so far away
Yeah, you’re so far away
You’re so far away

— Carol King