For Our Connecticut Readers:

Anthony Dawson has endorsed John DeStefano for Mayor, after getting creamed by him in a primary where Dawson was doing the bulk of the negative campaigning. Remember Dawson’s flier excoriating nearly all his rivals? Under DeStefano’s watch, Dawson alleged, “Our children are being murdered.” Another primary rival, Clifton Graves, was labeled “puppet of DeStefano.” Jeffrey Kerekes, the only other candidate in the primary—and, since switiching his party affiliation from Democrat to Independent, the only candidate from the primaries running against DeStefano in the general election—was charitably left out of Dawson’s old campaign brouhaha entirely.
Dawson availed himself of the most evil, children-murdering rhetoric for DeStefano, insulted Graves simply by associating him with the mayor, and let Kerekes off the hook by not saying anything about him at all.
Now Dawson’s continuing to ignore Kerekes, who by mounting a sustained challenge to nine-term incumbent DeStefano (and insisting on term limits for the gig) may be creating untold future chances for others to become mayor someday, and instead endorsing a man who not two months ago he was attacking with vitriol seldom seen on campaign fliers in this city.
Should Dawson run again, how will this look for him? He should start cutting the “Puppet of DeStefano” statements out of those fliers and making badges for himself.

Five scary songs

1. Elements of Need, Spanish Horses. A man is perturbed to find blood on his shirt. One of those gentle-then-screechy records from when emo was a cathartic release, not a way of categorizing commercialized punk.
2. Dream Syndicate, Halloween. I came to this song late, from the I Was a Teenage Zombie movie soundtrack. But it now so entrenched in my being that I can’t think of the holiday without humming it.
3. The Buoys, Timothy. Rupert Holmes’ most audacious three minutes, in a career filled with mystery and audacity. A garage pop single about caved-in miners eating their friend Timothy. I interviewed Holmes about this once, and he described how he’d been inspired to write it while overhearing a TV cooking show while he was working. The song is scary precisely because it’s so peppy and oblivious to the horror it describes.
4. Gavin Bryars, The Sinking of the Titanic. Bryars writes that he created this as “the musical equivalent of a work of conceptual art.” Taking off from the legend of the band on the Titanic continuing to play as the ship sank, you hear music slowly and excruciatingly being overwhelmed by water. It’s the suspense that kills you.
5. Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre is still the music of choice when you want to speed up the pace of a creepshow rather than deaden it. There’ve been several cartoon versions (though Disney’s Silly Symphonies “Skeleton Dance,” contrary to popular belief, is not Saint-Saens but an original Carl Stallings score.) Picasso inserted it into his play Desire Caught by the Tail. It’s a swirling beast that always overtakes you.

Rock Gods #224: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

What follows is a forum on pressing issues in the contemporary local music firmament. The only ground rule in this freewheeling discussion was that you couldn’t publicize your own work. One member of the panel (hint: he owns a label and a management company) chose not to follow this imperative, so we’ve replaced all his comments with lyrics from “Daddy Yaddo” by the northwestern 1960s garage band Have Trunk and Big Ears Will Travel.

The transcription:
Artie Capshaw: thanks for being here. Who wants to start off?
OS: Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda.
Jim Fix (Olympus Studios): Can we just say that there are more good bands in town now than perhaps ever?
OS: Dada yadada. Yadadada Dee.
Millie of the Model Marvels: Everybody still talks about the old days, though.
OS: Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda.
Jim: No, I was there. It’s better now. More bands. More clubs. More variety…
Artie: More clubs? There are three, plus a couple of basements.
Jim: There used to be one. Plus there’s way more happening at the college than there ever was.
OS: Dada yadada. Yadadada Dee.
Sherry Frish (Music Dept. instructor, college on the hill): Most of my students still come down the hill to the Bullfinch.
Millie: Bully for them. You can always spot a college boy at a Bullfinch show.
Jim: Give them a break, Millie. They’re not all about partying. I was a college boy once, you know.
PS: Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda. Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda. Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda. Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda. Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda. Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda. Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda. Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda. Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda. Yadda Dada, yadda Dee. Yadda dada yadda yadda dadadada yadayada…

… and that’s all we have room for today.

Bib Ballads and My Four Weeks in France at the Bullfinch, leading the songwriting ring… Treat ‘Em Rough and The Real Dope at the club which frowns on drug references in band names, Hamilton’s. Guess they must think you’re stupid rather than stoned, TRD… The Young Immigrunts and Own Your Own Home at D’ollaire’s, a cheapie night of bands which didn’t have to travel far…

Listening to… Strange Boys

Strange Boys, Live Music. I recall a high school acquaintance who would persist in pronouncing the Rolling Stone album Love You Live as if it were a tribute to Liv Ullman rather than a tour document. The short-i quality of living resurfaces more subtly with Live Music, in which “Live” is meant to sound as it does in “Live dangerously” or “live for the moment” or “live it up” or “you might as well live.” While not technically or intentionally a long-i live album, Live Music sure sounds at times like it could be. It’s muddy and earthy loose and free.
I can precisely describe what his music sounds like, but the references are so obscure they’d only confuse. The Strange Boys sound like The Kinks, but only the middle bits of a couple of songs on Muswell Hillbillies. They sound a little like early David Essex, but you’d have to know something beyond Rock On. They sound like Leon Russell at his most stripped-down and laid-back; the songs of his nobody knows. They sound like some of Gordon Gano’s gospel experiments.
Mostly they sound like themselves, in the best sense. Moments of Randy Newman and Tom Waits, but literally moments. Several distinct musicians doing distinct things. Everything feels comfortable from the unpretentious song titles (“You Take Everything for Granite When You’re Stone”) to the soothing yet stirring sounds.

Literary Up

A Wi-fi glitch snapped my Kindle out of kommission. I just kouldn’t get it to rekonnekt. After punching the wi-fi password into it several times during the day, the stars finally aligned and the Kindle got on the same page as the router.
Meantime, I fretted. My Kindle is not a passive device. I use the Kindle app on my phone a lot, but I love the Kindle itself for the ability to subscribe to magazines, newspapers and blogs (including this one). Not to mention ordering books on a whim.
Here’s what I’ve added to the Kindle in recent days:
Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Nevada daily newspaper. I doubt I’ll keep it past the two-week free trial.
Fantasy & Science Fiction Digest, the regularly produced free edition the Kindle offers. I’m not a regular sci-fi reader, but I have my favorites. What I have learned is that I read a lot more short stories on the Kindle than I ever did in books, and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine was one of the best subscription decisions I ever made.
The script of Amy Herzog’s Belleville, currently at the Yale Repertory Theatre. The Kindle handles all kinds of document files. Mine’s piled up with playscripts, including all ten plays in the 20-hour epic The Warp.
The novel Bright Young Things, a special Kindle Edition which amusingly is rendered in the device’s unvaried typeface as “Bright Young Things With Bonus Material.”
Christmas-themed romantic fiction is climbing the “Kindle Top 100 Free” chart, which I’m not quite ready for. But I pluck trashy books off that list all the time. Right now I’m flirting with the romance novels “Twice a Rake” and “A Scandalous Past,” just because I want to see those titles when I’m skimming through my Kindle menu.

For Our Connecticut Readers: Box Score

I really dug this press release from the Box 63 restaurant a few blocks from my house. I remember the site as Fitzwilly’s—the favored place for Yalies to bring their visiting parents—then as a succession of shortlived dance clubs (one of which was linked to a street shooting in the neighborhood back in the mid-‘90s). Most recently it was Xando, which transformed into the coffeeshop Cosi. I remember being sorely offended by Xando when it opened, because its T-shirts said “Xando Yale” instead of “Xando New Haven.” As a vegetarian, I’m not likely to eat very often at Box 63, but I applaud that they’re inclusive of the whole community and not just the college folk.
Here’s the release:

338 Elm St – A Legacy To Uphold
Carl Carbone of Box 63 Restaurant Continues a Landmark of New Haven

Box 63 sees thousands of patrons a week in its downtown location, few who know the true history of 338 Elm St. For history buffs, here it is: from 1863-1974, the building now occupied by Box 63 bar served as Old Engine House #3. This firehouse was one of three that came to the rescue of New Haven’s most notorious fire started in the woodworking shop of the Old County Prison. On the early spring morning of April 13th, 1910, that very fire was reported first from call box number 63, from which we get Box 63’s namesake.

In 1974, Old Engine House #3 reached the end of its useful service and city planners sold the building, charging its new owner with the daunting task of uniting two diverse neighborhoods and providing a common ground on which all citizens of New Haven could come together as a community. That pursuit bore the acclaimed Fitzwilly’s, a pub that soon became a hugely popular and trendy establishment in New Haven, accomplishing the city’s vision and one that citizens remember to this day.

When Carl Carbone found the three-year vacant building on the corner of Park & Elm, he pledged to restore the property and bring back the community ideals with a new and up-to-date concept that diners could once again enjoy; this was the birth of Box 63. The restaurant is centered on ‘Green Dining’ – a sustainable approach to restaurant management. Starting with the renovations, Box 63 used many recycled parts – 90% of the kitchen equipment is refurbished along side of new refrigerators that are highly energy-efficient. Fully 25% of all you see at Box 63 is refurbished and/or recycled: tables made from wood from a decommissioned old factory, drink rails from the newly remolded Yale Bowl, bead boards saved from a old New Haven multi-family home, even old telephone poles in the bar that uphold 100 year old massive crown moldings removed from a salvage yard, and lots of other fun decorations from historic places in New Haven.

The sustainability didn’t stop with the construction—all of Box 63’s dishes are made in-house with fresh raw ingredients, a pursuit that helps eliminate the green house emissions created during the manufacturing process along with all the post-consumer wastes of cardboard, plastic and aluminum that are the by-product of manufacturing processed-foods. Sustainability isn’t just a manufacturing motive, it’s a moral issue that cousins Tom & Carl Carbone, both of whom have families with children, address at Box 63. “We are sick of constantly having to settle for the processed, frozen, packaged and pre-cooked foods that franchise restaurants offer,” says Carl, a former chef, “we adopt the philosophy that quality doesn’t have to be expensive, unlike its franchise counterparts which opt for the more profitable pre-packaged frozen menu offerings that requires little effort to put on the plate. It comes down to what we wanted for our families: wholesome, fresh, raw ingredients that we process without chemicals and preservatives that have real food taste with all the nutritional benefits. We are not boardroom executives and we stand behind our choices, maybe its because we have to stand in front of our customer and look them in the eye when they dine with us. Call it food that we are proud to serve our families and lucky enough to provide our customers.”
Featuring American comfort food, a 50-plus bottled beer list, and a no-nonsense approach to dining, Box 63 begs its customers to “eat with your hands,” though silverware is of course provided! With value-driven portions and a farm-to-fork approach to its menu, it’s no wonder this restaurant has been creating a buzz in and around New Haven. Located on the corner of Park & Elm streets, Box 63 pays homage to the firefighters that once called 338 Elm Street their firehouse home.

Squash match

I’ve been baking squash seeds and they’ve just started popping and flying all around the inside of the oven like Mexican jumping beans.
A lot of squash seeds don’t get crispy when you bake them. They taste like uncooked seeds no matter what. If somebody’s done a chart on which seeds are bakeable and which one will just jump into odd corners of the oven, I don’t even know how to Google that.
The other thing I’ve been doing with squash is boiling the skins for broth, then putting that broth in bread dough. Works especially well with my sourdough. Moist, as you’d expect, and adds vaguely to the flavor without overpowering anything. Nice tint to the dough too.

Rock Gods #223: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

Six years ago the Boam Hoddys wrote a song about their neighborhood: “Cosy Corner.”
Last week, it was revived as a protest song. No new verses, no new ironic or aggrieved delivery. Sung straightforward, it just sounds different in the wake of eminent domain evictions along Sankozi Corners on the shoreline. The band, which hadn’t played out in three years but technically hadn’t broken up, were convinced to regroup for a rally at Park Beach Park.
Next up: a full-blown benefit concert for those who are refusing to move, facing potentionally huge penalties and legal fees.
Other bands are being enlisted, but actual protest songs are hard to come by. Even the Boam Hoddys didn’t really have one.
So a sub-rally was held in the park following last week’s event, featuring some musicians who’d attended in their daytime guises as fearful residents.
The group wrote a song—or at least have agreed to scatter and write one. It has 27 verses so far, in an easily learned blues base. Each couplet is penned by a different protester.
The resulting song will headline a four-hour concert in Park Beach Park two weeks from now, starring the Boam Hoddys of course, plus members of Accuse Pie, The Ashcan School and Mass Young.
Call it a house band. A save the houses band.

The Art Bakers and The Bickersons at the Bullfinch, bickering…. ‘40s nostalgia nite at Hamilton’s with Chesterfield Supper Club, G.I. Jive and The High-Jinkers, for some grandparent reunion in town… Hip and progressive show of bands that aren’t in limbo yet, for a change at D’ollaire’s: The Blandings, X Minus One and The Johnny Dollars (for a change! Get it?)…