Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Americans

The Americans by Robert Frank -- A great and often arcane sadness runs deeply through Robert Frank's now 50 year old collection of just 83 photographs (and now on special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), hinting, so sweetly, at the long concealed Truths about The Way We Live Here. Of its many images, so many are already recognizable and those that aren't are of such strong emotional resolution they become so almost immediately.

Here are a few examples:

So if you are in the mood for a cheap (only $31.00) 'coffee table' book, pick Frank's very quiet and very moral reimagining of America which teaches us with such small, timid images who, why and what we are.

(If you're even more curious about Frank, check this recent NY Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/25/arts/design/25frank.html?scp=2&sq=robert%20frank&st=cse)


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Inherent Vice

So you're walking around and the sky is magenta blue and woah: your groovy druggy ex-girlfriend, Shasta, has gone missing. Yep, her and her real estate mogul, Jewish, neo-Nazi loving hubby Mickey Wolfmann have gone missing. Shit. And Big Foot and the Golden Fang are after you. And Doc, the sax player is dead or maybe-not-dead, who knows. Oh, and you smoke 20, 30, maybe 40 joints of the good stuff every day: Panamanian Red, Acapulco Gold, and so on, making you so, so jumpy and yet that's not always such a bad thing, is it?

Such is Pynchon's latest: a neo-noir masterwork which more or less exists in that zany geo-maginative place where Tim Leary's brain reaches out and grabs the tendrils of both Cheech Marin's brain and Philip Marlowe's brainstems. Fun, cerebral, and funny, Inherent Vice is without a doubt Pynchon at his most accessible and most hilarious.

Read it, or, even better, listen to the brilliant audiobook version (available for rent at the store).



Thursday, September 10, 2009

MORE: Books and Beer and Beer and Books

It's fall (ok, practically), and we all know what that means: Oktoberfest is nearly here! To celebrate and get one in the mood for its malty, hoppy excesses, the highly esteemed alco-literate hybridists Z.Blast and I have compiled another episode of BEEROK, cleverly titled: BEEROK PT. 3!


(And for those in need of a refresher as to BEEROK's philosophic and gastronomic underpinnings: just as you would match your wine with your dinner, BEEROK is crafted to match your beer to the book you are reading, allowing you to be clever -- even brilliant -- as you sip and skim! SO, DO IT!: Slurp and Soak! Swallow and Wallow! Or, you know... spend your days drinking beers suited to enhance and expose your reading experiences!)

Silver City Brewing Co.'s Fat Scotch Style Ale (Silverdale, WA) & Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting -- A scabrous, brilliant beer for a truly scabrous, brilliant book and as far as I'm concerned, you simply can't go wrong with either of these Scottish delights: robust and full of life, they aren't easy on the palate but that's not the point. The point is immersion; domination...enjoyment?...(Of course enjoyment.) Highly localized in their idiosyncratic flavors (the book for its vernacular and the beer for its Scottich malts), both novel and beer assault the senses like something divine falling right off god's bedside table. A great pairing for those who enjoy being reminded how BIG and REAL life can get. Enjoy!

North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout (Fort Bragg, CA) & Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master And Margarita -- Don't think I'm taking the way out by pairing one of Russia's great novels to a beer solely because it too is a Russian! No, no this is all much more calculated than that...(right?)...For one: North Coast's Old Rasputin is known across all lands to be the best Russian Imperial Stout and thus also one of its darkest, most disturbingly complex distillations. This makes it a perfect match for Bulgakov's masterpiece, which is a wild master-work featuring such exquisite characters as Woland, the Devil masquerading as a Professor of Black Magic; his vodka swilling and decidedly articulate black cat; an insane novelist who's written a book about Pontius Pilate called The Master; reams of naked witches; and coteries of Moscow's Stalinist-era (and stuffy) artists and bureaucrats. Bulgakov's novel is an often hilarious reality-meets-fantasy tale of right and wrong as you've never experienced it before, and damned near perfect to immerse yourself in as you imbibe North Coast Brewing's best frighteningly dark and inscrutable spirit, Old Rasputin.

Russian River Brewing Co.'s Pliny the Elder (Santa Rosa, CA) & Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian -- It's been a long journey searching for a beer that could even come close to pairing with Blood Meridian's relentless stoicism, violent urges, and borderline satanic humor, but, alas, the chosen one has arrived: Russian River's Pliny the Elder. Probably one of the world's hoppiest IPAs (it's a triple, so it has at least 3 times the hops of your favorita normal IPA) it is also without question one its best. It pairs with McCarthy's picaresque Western about near-soulless bounty hunters out for Indian scalps near the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s because it is so bitter, so hoppy, so uninvitingly real a beer, you cannot choose to love it; it chooses you. Both linger on the palate for days, even weeks, if you let them, so be prepared. This is definitely a match for the strong of heart; the brawny in spirit. (If you're interested but not sure, check this cool clip which has Mccarthy reading from book in a part where The Judge speaks on war)

AS ALWAYS, GET BACK TO US WITH YOUR OWN BEEROK SUGGESTIONS! Let us know how it went, how it didn't, or just, what's next!

And....that's it. Drink up! Read Fast! Eat beer!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This is Where I Leave You

Although at times it may feel like a Reese Witherspoon movie about 'coming home' implanted with the wry one-liners of a mid-1990s SNL skit, Jonathan Tropper's new novel This is Where I Leave You is its own irrevently funny and uniquely crafted work. Marked for its zingy dialogue, its arrestingly accurate domestic tone, and the strength of Tropper's sympathy for his characters, This is Where I Leave You is a great pick-up for those who have loved the books of Tom Perrota, Richard Russo, or Nick Hornby in the past, and a book that is sure to make you laugh, cry, cringe, mutter, think, walk, giggle, etc., et cetera. So get it! Tell your friends about it! Make Tropper as rich off its royalties as you will be emotionally rich off the brilliance of its humor and impassioned characters! (Or don't, I hear Pynchon's new one's pretty damn good too, but more on that later.)

Ok, that's it.