Monthly Archives: May 2008

Pizza Port Hop 15

When I was in college, my first roommate was a guy who had just gotten out of the Navy at age 21. He was a one-of-a-kind and I have many stories about this guy. Here’s one of them.

My roommate had gotten some tattoos when he first entered the Navy, and they were the kind of tattoos an 18-year-old military guy might get — a Tasmanian Devil on one shoulder, a pirate-and-parrot thingy on the other shoulder and on his heart, an image of a heart with “mom” across it.

By the time he turned 22, he was regretting the pirate-and-parrot tattoo. Most people I’ve known who’ve gotten bad tattoos seem to rationalize it later by saying something like, “It reminds me of a time in my life, so I like it for that reason.” My roommate, to his credit, didn’t play such games.  He openly said it looked cheesy and he wished he hadn’t gotten it. Tattoo removal was a fairly new thing back then and quite expensive. It didn’t seem like a good option for him.

That is, until he came up with an idea on how he could remove it himself. He figured that since getting the tattoo meant having little holes poked in his skin and ink put in the holes, perhaps he could poke holes in the same spots and get the ink to bleed out. And rather than poke hundreds or thousands of little holes, maybe he could just use a wire-brush drill bit, and a drill, to grind away the top layer of skin on his shoulder, causing the ink to bleed out. The scabs would heal and the tattoo would be gone, he reckoned.

My roommate had a high tolerance for pain — he’d once tried his hand at giving himself a partial circumcision and had to stop not because of the pain but because of massive blood loss. He figured that he could get drunk to numb himself, then I could use the drill bit to erase his tattoo. For some reason, I agreed.

It turned out I didn’t have to do it. I was away for a weekend and he decided that he didn’t want to wait any longer. He bought a bottle of Wild Turkey, drank a bunch of it, boiled the wire-brush drill bit (to sterilize it, he said), washed off his shoulder and sat down to do some grinding.

He didn’t get very far. Apparently the grinding was more painful than expected, not to mention messy, with the wire brush causing blood and skin to spray in all directions. He gave up after a little bit of grinding. When the wound healed, the tattoo looked worse, with a bit of a smudge mark on it. The plan didn’t work out so well.

If I ever find myself needing to drink alcohol to fight pain off, I think I’ll go with Hop 15 from Port Brewing, aka Pizza Port, instead of Wild Turkey.

Hop 15 is a DIPA that has 15 different hops in it, added every 15 minutes during the brewing process, and if you drink 15 bottles or pints of it, you might think grinding at your skin with a wire brush isn’t such a bad idea.

Hop 15 is very strong stuff, 9.7% alcohol by volume, and while it’s delicious, it is the kind of thing that can make a person say, “Whoa, that’ll put hair on your chest” when you first drink it. It’s the beer aficionado’s liquid courage.


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The Maharaja

The Maharaja

If you know sanskrit like I know sanskrit, then you know that Maharaja means “worth $7.50 for a 22-oz bottle.” OK, so the label on the bottle says Maharaja is sanskrit for “great king.” Same difference.

Anyway, The Maharaja is made by Avery Brewing, which is based in Boulder, Colorado, and makes some very nice beers. The Maharaja is one of those special beers, only available at certain times and in limited quantities. They even go so far as to put info on when it was brewed and which batch it came from on the label. The bottles I got from BevMo say “Bottled in Feb. 2008, Batch 7” on them.

Maharaja label













And you know what, the Maharaja is special. It’s hoppy and bitter like you’d expect a strong (almost 10% alcohol) DIPA to be, but it’s very well-balanced and has a slightly creamy finish that makes it go down nicely. As soon as I finished my first one I began looking forward to the next. But with it being so high in alcohol, not to mention pricey, it’s probably best not to drink too many in a row or you’ll be looking for the sanskrit word for, “I’m too drunk!”

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Coachella 2008

The car thermometer read 100 as we were arriving at the grounds Saturday afternoon.

 This was my seventh trip to Coachella and it was another fun one.

It was very hot — 100 degrees just after 2 p.m. Saturday, as you can see in the photo taken about 1/2 mile from the venue — but a trip to the Do Lab was all I needed to cool off.

The Do Lab is an area in the middle of the grounds where there are plenty of folks wielding hoses to spray people down and cool you off. There were DJs, including Adam Freeland, playing records at the Do Lab area all weekend, and everyone there seemed to be having a great time. The Do Lab

The musical highlight for me was Spiritualized, who played in the Mojave tent on Sunday as the sun went down. It was an “Acoustic Mainlines” show featuring leader Jason Spaceman playing acoustic guitar accompanied by a guy playing a Fender Rhodes, a four-woman string section and three female backing singers. There were some frustrating problems with the sound during the first couple of numbers, and I’ve heard that the sound was bad further back throughout the show, but I was up toward the front and could hear everything just fine. They played a lot of songs off their new album, which I like, as well as older tunes such as “Oh Happy Day,” “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” and “I Think I’m In Love.” The latter is my favorite Spiritualized song, but on Sunday it was “Ladies and Gentlemen…” that stole the show. As in the “Elvis mix” of the song that you can find if you dig around, it blended lyrics from “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You/Fools Rush In” (sung by the backing singers) with the original “All I want in life’s a little bit of love to take the pain away” etc., and it came together just beautifully. When the song ended I swear I saw three different people wiping tears from their eyes.

There were many other highlights over the weekend. It was great to finally see Portishead after all these years, and they delivered a killer set. Prince was excellent as well, opening with Morris Day and Jerome from The Time singing a couple old Time classics, then Sheila E. singing “The Glamorous Life,” then Chaka Khan singing “I Feel For You.” Then he started popping out his own tunes and things got even better.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks were very good, as were Dan Deacon, Love & Rockets, Fatboy Slim, Swervedriver, the Raconteurs, Roger Waters and Kraftwerk.

Among the more disappointing acts were Vampire Weekend, who were a bit blah; Aphex Twin, who played a laptop DJ set that didn’t do much for me; and Cut Copy, who I love on record but didn’t quite click live.

But the fun for me with Coachella is just being there. There’s a great vibe in the air, lots of fun people-watching, plenty of good music. I wish I didn’t have to wait a year for the next one.

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