2005 September at John Mackey's Blog



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  • September 30, 2005

    Birthday plans

    Well, we may not make it to the fair tomorrow, but we have two things confirmed…

    First, a haircut at this place (voted Best Hair Salon in Blogging.LA — and it’s here in Silverlake!), and for dinner…

    My favorite: sushi.

    But not just any sushi.

    Nobu Matsuhisa sushi. Somehow, AEJ managed to get us an 8pm reservation on a Saturday night at the best sushi restaurant in LA. I’ve never been to his NY restaurant, Nobu, but wow, I’m excited to try his original LA location, Matsuhisa. Here’s the menu. What would you have?



    There are huge brush fires burning here in Southern California, mostly north and west of us. The winds had been blowing from the east, so the smoke wasn’t coming in this direction. (What was happening, though, was the heat from the desert was blowing in this direction, bringing the temperature to the 90s yesterday. No humidity, so 90 degrees wasn’t as repressive as it is back on the east coast, but it’s still unpleasant.) Last night, the winds changed, and it suddenly smelled like somebody was burning wood in our living room. It took us a few minutes to realize it wasn’t a cookout, but was the fire in the Burbank area, now blowing smoke into Silverlake.

    Speaking of the ‘hood, Silverlake, there’s a new TV show called “Sex, Love & Secrets” on UPN, and it’s set right here in Silverlake. Here’s the full review in the LA Times, and it’s a hilarious primer on this neighborhood, but here are a few choice excerpts…

    ” ‘Sex, Love & Secrets’ wants to be a guilty pleasure for the Trader Joe’s-burrito-for-dinner American Apparel crowd. OK, but I wanted less Silver Lake as Fox soap and more Circus of Books. I wanted to smell the BO of the Beck wannabe, I wanted to covet thy gay neighbor’s house. Sadly, this show makes a mess of its neighborhood-centric premise. Because the camera tells you so in quick establishing montage, the supposed nerve center on “Sex, Love & Secrets” (you want it to be sex and lies, I know) is Sunset Junction and surrounding Silver Lake hangs. The characters are ensconced in TV-style referred-to careers — the celebrity journalist (German), the publicist (Richards) — and lifestyles that need a follow-up question. The ob-gyn resident, for instance, can afford the Silver Lake traditional? Maybe the voice-over lady can talk less about the group dynamic of the human species and clarify point of purchase. None of these people, strangely, has a dog. Isn’t Silver Lake the twentysomething dog owner capital of the world? Perhaps that’s for next season’s drama-like-this-one, set in Venice, called “Abbot Kinney.”

    To be honest, we didn’t even watch the show, but we’re going to check it out next week. It sounds awful. We’re looking forward to it.

    Speaking again of the ‘hood, we had a bit of a celebrity sighting last night. We were having dinner at a small neighborhood Mexican place called Alegria, and who walks in but Jason Robert Brown, Tony-winning composer of “Parade” and “The Last Five Years.” I fully agree with Newman’s admiration of this guy’s music, and it was a fun sighting, especially since it was so close to our new home. I wanted to say something, but didn’t want to be “that guy” who bugs celebrities while they eat dinner. Granted, Brown, like most composers, is a celebrity to a smaller percentage of the population than, say, Dr. Phil, so he might have considered it flattering, but still, he was eating, so we left him alone.

    Tomorrow is my birthday, and we’re thinking of spending the day at the Los Angeles County Fair. That’s right, LA has a fair. This brilliant TV commercial nails the absurdity. If we go, I promise to take lots of pictures. I’m a little bummed that we missed our chance to go last night, though, because that’s when they held the demolition derby. I loves me a good demolition derby. I wonder if they use LA-centric cars, like BMW’s and Prius’s. That would rule.


    September 26, 2005

    Sasparilla and Pork

    There are a few exciting performances coming up of “Sasparilla.” This fall (not sure of the date), Tokyo Kosei Wind Symphony will do the piece in Tokyo. In December, Scott Stewart is doing it at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, and Stuart Sims is doing the piece at California State University Stanislaus. (I’ll be attending both of those performances.) On November 18, Rick Clary is doing it with his (awesome) ensemble at Florida State. On February 13, James Kull, conductor-extraordinaire and frequent blog reader, does the piece at Carnegie Hall. Finally, a few days later, the mother of ’em all — Rick Clary is doing the piece with the Texas All-State Band. That makes two years in a row with Mackey performances at TMEA! Here’s hoping that tradition holds…

    Things are going fine here in LA. Lots of cookouts. Last night, we made pork tenderloin, courtesy of a great recipe in my new favorite cook book, “The Cook’s Illustrated Guide to Grilling And Barbecue.” If you have a grill, the book is a must-have. As a side dish, AEJ prepared mashed potatoes — using the best mashed potato recipe we’ve ever found, Michael Romano’s mashed potatoes as prepared at Union Square Cafe in New York City. Wow. It was all rounded out by a glass of wine (or two) from our new neighborhood wine store, Silverlake Wine. Pretty much a perfect meal. As AEJ pointed out, it felt very “grown up.” By the time we were done, we realized we’d each eaten one pound of mashed potatoes (plus a half-stick of butter and 1/2 cup of half-and-half each, as directed by the recipe) and over a half-pound of pork tenderloin. So, we probably don’t ever need to eat again, but wow — tasty.

    Seriously. Just the mashed potatoes alone are heavenly. We’ll be preparing them at Thanksgiving, in case anyone is interested…


    September 21, 2005


    I spent this afternoon making performance sets of “Damn,” my short piece for clarinet and percussion ensemble. The piece was my first collaboration with choreographer Robert Battle way back in 1998. Until last fall, it had only received a half-dozen performances, all with the Parsons Dance Company. Then, through a strange series of events, the United States Synchronized Swim Team picked up the piece and performed to it at the Olympics in Athens. (They won the Bronze medal.) Since then, I’ve sold several sets, and Robert Spring even commercially recorded the piece this spring.

    The only complaint I have about this piece is that I hate making the parts. The score is 8.5×11, and the parts are 11×14, meaning hand-cutting 11×17 pages down to 11×14, and hand taping them. Until today, I’d been making one set at a time as it was ordered, but that became too time consuming, so today I went ahead and made a half-dozen sets, just to cover it for the near (or possibly distant) future.

    I hate making parts. Hate it. I hate the tape residue that collects on my fingertips. And it’s boring. And takes forever. But today, for the first time, I made the parts here at my desk at my new place in LA. I used to make parts on the floor of my living room in New York, and the view, if anything, would usually be an episode of Dr. Phil on TiVo. But today, every time I looked up from the mess of papers on my desk, I saw the view of the hills and the reservoir.

    This made me realize three things. First, I could get used to this place. Second, I should stop bitching about things like making parts. And third, Newman and Melissa really need to come visit, maybe on a day during which turkey might be served.

    (Wha? Where’d that last part come from? Was that too obvious?)


    September 20, 2005

    The End

    I’ve been intending to post a final “cross country drive” blog entry for several days, but it’s pretty anti-climactic. I mean, Oklahoma had the American Idol, and Texas had the biggest cross in the western hemisphere, but New Mexico, Arizona, and the desert in California have… well, beauty. Lots and lots of beauty.
    New Mexico had this mountain:

    And lots of others. It had long stretches of straight roads:

    And this crazy summer thunderstorm off in the distance:

    Which got closer…

    …and eventually poured torrential rains all over our car.

    When we reached Santa Fe, we found that every meal included green chiles. Even this burger:

    The burger was tasty, but this particular place started with a frozen patty, and I can’t condone that.

    Arizona was the prettiest state we visited on this drive. Unfortunately, our driving schedule required us to drive through some of the prettiest part at night, so we missed a lot of the scenery. Here’s a picture of me, popping my head out of our car somewhere in Arizona.

    Arizona had beautiful plants, and a lot more color than I expected for essentially the desert.

    Next up, at 85 mph, was — finally — California. California had these crazy black rocks. What are these?

    And this certainly deserved a picture. Our first Californian In-N-Out Burger!

    We can’t figure out what it is, but the light looks different in California. They should make movies here.

    But to go along with the gorgeous light, there’s… traffic.

    Finally settling in here in LA, we’ve had our first cookout…

    … featuring some perfectly delicious burgers. No frozen patties here, my friend.

    I washed the 3600 miles worth of bugs off of the car…

    … and we sat on the deck and enjoyed some of that California light.