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Washtenaw Flaneurade
18 March 2007
Flyer-Snatch Unveiled
Now Playing: Nellie McKay (no relation)--"Inner Peace"
The other day, I got out of work early and was walking along Liberty Street when I came, wholly unawares, upon a particularly notorious local character whose activities have gone much unremarked upon by his foes: essentially all those with an interest in a vibrant city and a happening nightlife. I speak, of course, of the dreaded Flyer-Snatch, the freeze-dried old jackanapes who thinks that flyers on poles and walls, etc. are visual pollution and an affront to the utopian aesthetics of his beloved, criminally overpriced Treetown, as opposed to a vital way to get the word out on an actual music scene in Ann Arbor. Flyer-Snatch roams the streets, one would hope in his free time, tearing down flyers wherever he finds them, an activity that, one can imagine, greatly perturbed certain friends who put a great deal of time and energy into promoting the music scene that lends the town much of what good it retains. I found this Homeric-scale timewaster on the corner of Liberty and Thompson, seriously going to town on one of the more heavily festooned poles, his skeletal face and grey whiskers harsh and unpleasant beneath the green baseball cap, his bony hands ripping off the paper with claw-like motions that made it look as if he were casting spells. It was cold out, and I had my cap and scarf on, the latter almost totally covering my face. I like to think I looked a suburban Tuareg, or perhaps one of the mysterious ski-masked characters that menace Michael Sacks' Billy Pilgrim through the plane windows in George Roy Hill's underrated 1972 film of Slaughterhouse Five. There was really only one thing to do: stand about seven or eight feet away from him in the chill and sunshine and glare at him silently as he went about his work. Flyer-Snatch looked at me a little strangely once or twice, which nearly led me to speak. Something along the lines of "dude, you're the one spending five to ten minutes on tearing flyers off a fucking telephone pole!!!" I should have just walked on, but he really deserved the admittedly miniscule discomfort, and besides, I was curious to see if he'd "go all the way," as they put it. He finished, leaving the "hard ones" on, which I didn't think spoke well of his dedication. Now that I think of it, I should have clapped sarcastically as he walked off. Maybe I'll get another chance.

St. Patrick's Day? I skipped all the annoying bar parties (and, more to the point, bar partiers), went home after Food Gatherers and fixed Irish stew, which turned out wonderfully--barley is so much more rewarding than rice, so much more flavorful and textured (you can actually chew it, where rice goes straight through). It was a pretty cooking-heavy day; while the stew was cooking in the oven, I went ahead and fixed myself some garlic sauted potatoes for later (increasingly one of my favorite snacks) and would have made lamb stock (I still have the bones from the stuff I used for the stew) if I hadn't accidentally burned the onions--I guess as opposed to purposefully burning the onions; huh? I'd planned on watching How Green Was My Valley (1941; Welsh in subject matter but directed by John Ford), but instead went halfway between Gounod's Faust on CBC Radio 2 (not as lame as I expected) and the Patrick Troughton Doctor Who classic "The Invasion" (1968). In retrospect, it was a pretty fucking sweet day, right up to the end...

Irish Stew
2 tbsp butter
2 medium onions, chopped
3 lbs. boneless lamb stew meat cut into small chunks
3/4 tsp dried thyme
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp Worcs sauce
4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
8 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Saute onions in Dutch oven with butter, eventually stirring in lamb, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Add stock and potatoes, stir, and place in oven for 1 hr. Add carrots, cream, and barley, replacing in oven for another hour. When done, season with salt and pepper and serve.

I cut the recipe, made for 4-6 people, by a third and used balsamic vinaigrette instead of Worcs (and a rosemary-basil combo instead of thyme), and drained the fluid left over when it had finished cooking--I think I used a cup too much. It was quite a mouthful anyway, and I have at least half of it left over from dinner, which I did with a Caesar salad and a bottle of Molson, the latter tasting like ambrosia. Why the Molson? Well...

CBC Radio 3 is no more, at least on the regular airwaves in southeast Michigan. Due to a massive reogranization of Radio 2, the Saturday night block of the Canadian public indie pop, rock and hiphop station will no longer run. Hopefully the remix will leave Tom Allen's Music and Company and Howard Dick's Saturday Afternoon at the Opera untouched--the broadcast of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra on the 3rd was awesome. I'd become greatly attached to Radio 2 as an ongoing soundtrack to both lazy stay-at-home Saturday nights and those when, in recent months, I trained myself on new recipes, as well as the best way to keep track of musical developments north of the border (and occasionally here and in Europe--without Radio 3, I'd never have heard of the Go! Team). While last night was bittersweet, my own favorite run was last 3rd (as mentioned before, Radio 2 was on a real roll that weekend), in which Evaporators frontman "Nardwar The Human Serviette" unleashed a recording of a song by the Mynah Birds, the all-but-forgotten 60s folk/R&B outfit that featured both Neil Young and Rick James, the Two Koreas rocked out "U-Boat Commander," and best of all, Vancouver-based DJ Grant Lawrence perfectly showcased the medium's possibilities by encouraging a group of charming teen callers at an outdoor car party on the shores of Cape Breton Island to crank it up, open their doors, and dance to the wistful and whistle-heavy Peter, Bjorn and John instant classic "Young Folks," thus providing a forever indelible image to someone listening to the same song two thousand miles away, and probably thousands more at any number of distances. Nothing really could have topped that, or given such a glorious showcase for what radio can do, and I'd like to thank the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for making it all possible, eh?

Finally, a number of friends have reported problems with the comments, and so I've decided to start moderating; hopefully that might iron out the kinks, whatever they are... *fingers crossed*

Posted by Charles J. Microphone at 1:41 PM EDT
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