Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mirror-like Mississippi, Some Drinks, Some Candy

Got together with my mom and had a couple of drinks in Minneapolis's oldest restaurant, Pracna on Main. Don't worry. We fortified with some delicious grilled cheese first. We had the place to ourselves, which was great. And then we had the Mississippi River to ourselves, too. Stopped and got a nice snap.

We finished our outing up with a stop in Candyland. You're missing out if you haven't had their dark chocolate peanut butter cups.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coco Gets Her Wings

Alas, I was not a prodigy child pilot -- not a Doogie Howser of the Skies, if you will. This photo is merely a document of my very first flight. Make no mistake, this is certainly an event worth noting, but it's definitely best to note it from the cockpit.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Drag Queens, Alpaca Clothes, 1968, and One Giant Cocktail

Would've written sooner, but I got caught behind this giant cocktail at Thom Pham's Wondrous Azian Kitchen.

The one night I don't wear my lashes.

It's called a Wondrous Punch and, from what I can tell, anyone who drinks it will lose count of how many they've had while drinking their first one.

Bunny and I got this crazy drink at the after party (at Thom Pham's Wondrous Azian Kitchen) for the traveling production of La Cage Aux Folles, starring George Hamilton and Christopher Sieber.

It was fun to see Hamilton in person, but Sieber absolutely stole the show. He got caught behind my massive cocktail, too, and we found out together that, just like La Cage, the Wonderous Punch also comes with an intermission.

One activity going on right now (through February 2012) that will make you feel like you've had plenty to drink even if you haven't is the Minnesota History Center's 1968 exhibit. With all of the psychedelia, it just might start to feel as though the room is spinning -- but in a good way. Recreated living room scenes, loops of old television shows, a record-cover maker, and Janis Joplin's pants are just a tiny sampling of what this exhibition has to offer. There are even some pieces from the Apollo 8 mission.

The cold weather makes it really easy to see who is in denial -- they're all still dressing like it's summertime. Ridiculous. Nobody looks good hunched over and shivering in their club clothes, yet there they are every fall and winter. Morons.

It's especially silly not to dress warm when there are so many adorable, fashionable cold-weather clothes to wear.
The Utku fashion show this past week had more than a few great examples. Being a Peruvian fashion show, many of the clothes featured crocheted designs made with alpaca yarn. There were a few designs that featured untamed muppet-like alpaca hair, too, which were my favorite. Scruffy hats that come to a point, floor-length sweater-coats, and even boot covers got me excited for the cold weather. It all looked so mod!

Let's all remember that we can keep warm by dancing, too. And trying to set fire to each other while dancing.

Interstitial entertainment between designers at Utku.

Stop, drop, and roll, Chester!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Headed West: Art and Architecture

Tropical cocktails at Tiki Ti

Saw Catechism Cataclysm -- LOVED it. Stood outside the Museum of Death, but didn't go during this trip.

Bradbury Building. Many films were shot here, including Bladerunner.

The artists names are Neck Face and Fuck This Life, therefore, Bunny and I had to see this art show.

Shoes at LACE Gallery in Hollywood, circles are the window detail at El Coyote Mexican Restaurant.

Things got groovy at MOCA, baby.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Headed West: Food

Sugar Cookie with Sprinkles on Olvera Street

                                Meat counter at L.A. farmer's market            Bennett's homemade ice cream at L.A. farmer's market                                                                

Rose-flavored ice cream! Intense at first, then subtle and delicious.

Watermelon frozen yogurt with strawberry beads.

Headed West

Photos by Bunny Ultramod
Was great spending time in New York City, but I decided I needed to even things out a bit. Spent last week in Los Angeles, having adventures in Hollywood, and even heading to the coast via the enchanting Pacific Coast Highway. Two oceans in three weeks? Can't complain.

Must admit there was some business to attend to out there; it wasn't all fun and games. Well, it wasn't all games, anyway. More to come, Chester!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

21 Club (again)

Visited 21 again (never have to twist my arm really) to help ring in their brand new bar. It was September 17 and the bar was only about a week and a half old when I sidled up and ordered a martini (What? No orange bitters?), mom ordered a lavender lime rickey, and we shared an order of mini 21 burgers made from top ground round, chuck, dry-aged sirloin, and duck fat.

Had fun talking to the new bartenders, Risto and Matthew. Tried a beer by Brooklyn Breweries called Jack and Charlie's, named for 21's original owners. I'm not a fan of beer, but this is the only place that sells it, so I had to give it a try. Mom liked it, saying it had a really good, distinct micro-brew taste.

Mom and I then headed into the dining area and shared a 21-day aged sirloin steak. We sat under a toy Tru-Value truck, which may sound funny, but toys are actually part of 21's classic decor. It all started when Howard Hughes himself gave the restaurant a toy-sized Spruce Goose -- it's still there, too. It wasn't long before other barons of business followed suit. Now the entire ceiling has toys suspended from it.

The steak was delicious, by the way. And when Anthony, our head waiter, found out it was my birthday (I made sure to tell him) he brought me a delicious dessert, complete with candle, and kept my glass full of champagne.

Got another tour of the wine cellar, too. I love it down there.

Spoke a bit about my love for the 21 Club, its history, and my tour of the famous wine cellar on the Bunny and Coco Get Smashed podcast, which also features special guest, Susan Marks, who talks about her latest documentary, Of Dolls and Murder.

Have a listen, Chester!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Of Dolls and Murder, Dog Sitting, and James J. Hill

Roscoe meets Scott Seekins
I've been dogsitting for the past couple weeks. He's an adorable little fellow, Roscoe, unfortunately I've been too busy to keep him much company. So much so that he's begun taking himself on his own walkies. It's terrible, I know. And I felt really bad until I've seen what he's been up to.
Roscoe looking for giant table scraps
Went to the Minnesota premiere of Susan Marks' documentary Of Dolls and Murder. Great name for a movie,  isn't it? It's an amazing movie, too, and you must see it. Order it. You'll find out about Francis Glessner Lee, a woman and a pioneer in the early days of murder investigation, and how her dollhouse murder scenes continue to aid investigators today, and the influence on modern CSI tactics -- in real life and on television.

Recently did a podcast with Susan Marks, too, so you can find out more about her movie direct from her. Bunny and I also discuss cocktails with her, after all, the podcast is called Bunny and Coco Get Smashed. We named it after our book. Feel free to order that, too.

Visited something much bigger than a dollhouse recently -- the James J. Hill house in St. Paul is massive. (You can vote every day to help restore the pipe organ) It's a pretty extravagant place; there are faces everywhere, carved in the wood that practically covers the inside of the house. I saw hand-tooled leather wallpaper, a golden ceiling, and a silver vault. Just getting decorating tips, really. Need to spruce my place up a bit. Didn't see a bar anywhere, though, but I don't really need inspiration in that area. I'm set.

Off to walk the dog, Chester!

Friday, September 30, 2011

New York Aquarium, High Line, Rum House

Why yes, Empire State Building, you are more than welcome to have a sip of my g&t.
After spending a good part of the day on Coney Island's boardwalk and beach, we headed into the New York Aquarium. It was a great day to be there -- practically had the place to ourselves. I saw some seahorses there, and sharks. And some really odd fish that had both of their eyes one side of their face. They swim low and flat near the sand, flat like a pancake with their eyes on top rather than vertical like a sail with an eye on either side. Strange!

And I think one of their seals is magic. See if you can tell:

A couple of highlights the next day involved walking along the High Line -- an elevated train track turned elevated park and playground. It absolutely requires people relax and enjoy themselves up there, with places to sit everywhere -- chairs and lawns -- and tons of plants and trees. In some spots it's hard to believe you're above one of the busiest cities in the world rather than walking through a wooded backyard. My favorite part of the High Line is a fountain that is part of the sidewalk. Water streams across the top and people are allowed to walk through it. It was such a huge relief to pull of my socks and step into the cool, trickling water after a long day of walking the city streets! (Here's another story about its history.)

Enjoyed a night cap at a couple of places, including the La Quinta hotel. Doesn't sound terribly glamorous, but their outdoor rooftop bar has a stellar view of the Empire State Building.

Day after that we got burgers at P.J. Clarke's, I met my editor at CBS, and got drinks at Hotel Edison's Rum House. It was a chilly evening and the Rum House was a perfect place to get out of the wind. It's a cozy, dark bar that serves only drinks, no food. It's easy to linger there, especially when the live jazz begins.

The JC Hopkins trio played the night I was there. Have a listen, Chester!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Richard Branson, Joe Allen, and a Times Square Jumbo Tron

Our first stop on this trip was in Queens, where our favorite deli is located. We got there in time to see the longest sandwich I've ever seen -- it was 5 feet long.

Then this happened:
My mom met Richard Branson, creator of the Virgin empire. He was in a little bit of a hurry to make his segment on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, but was nice enough to stop for a quick photo. Wish I had time to tell him I would be happy to be one of the first bloggers to be sent into space via his Galactic project.

Afterward, mom and I went to Joe Allen. It's our favorite place to drink Sidecars -- they make them with lemon juice, but are always happy to accommodate my request for lime juice instead.

And then, while walking through Times Square, we noticed we were on one of the jumbo trons.

Those waving, blurry figures are us.

So we waved to the masses before heading to Greenwich Village, where I stumbled upon Sockerbit, a brand new candy store that features sweets from Sweden. My sweet tooth got the best of me here, so I ended up getting a selection of goodies to bring back to the hotel.

Have a sweet day, Chester!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunsets and Shrieking on Coney Island

Visited Coney Island twice during our trip this year -- on September 14 and, when we found out the rides weren't in service that day, we went back on the 18th. No big deal. Not like it's a problem to have to visit a seaside amusement park twice in a week, is it?

Mom and I brought some Nathan's hotdogs to the boardwalk, had some lemonade, and flew kites on the beach (she brought them from a Dollar Store in MN). Before heading back to our hotel, we stopped in at the aquarium in time to see the penguins eat a late lunch. They're quite refined when it comes to dining -- they each waited their turn, ate a couple of fish, then moved out of the way for the next well-dressed fellow. Messy on their finish though -- look out. They shake their heads instead of wiping their beaks with napkins. I was expecting more manners from such refined dressers.

On the 18th, I saw a tweet from @NYCTBusStop about a special nostalgia train running limited stops from Times Square to 96th street. So our second trip to the beach was delayed a little while. What a wild ride! This train was originally in service beginning in 1917, had ceiling fans and we got to have the windows open. It was fun seeing people on the platform realize this was not a regular train. Mom cracked up some lady by shouting out the window, "What century is this?"

After that we rode the Wonder Wheel, and I got to the Cyclone in time to sit in the very first seat. This coaster is liable to break a person, so I figure I better ride it while I can. I had to shut the camera off after the first dive because, well, I needed both hands to hang on, dang it. My arm was sore for the rest of the trip.

Played on the beach until sunset, ate ice cream, and met my doppelganger -- Coney Island's very own Lola Staar. The rest of our trip consisted of eating and drinking, of course.

Will report more soon, Chester!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Drinking Podcast and an Opening Gala

In front of the new Cowles Center. Photo by Bunny.

THE NEW COWLES CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS officially opened this weekend. Before opening to the public on Sunday, Bunny and I headed over on Saturday night for a preview gala. The last time I was there, I donned a hard hat. Read all about it here.

The dust has since cleared; the whole place is crisp and spacious. The theater itself really is a sweet jewelry box of a place. It's an incredibly intimate theater to see performances -- dance in particular. There doesn't appear to be a bad seat in the house.

BUNNY AND I WILL BE RECORDING THE VERY FIRST Bunny and Coco Get Smashed podcast soon, with special guest and documentary filmmaker Susan Marks. I can't wait! The name of the podcast has the same name as mine and Bunny's ebook. Bought it yet?

Susan Marks talks with John Waters
We'll tell drinking stories, review places to drink, and of course the hard stuff itself: al-kee-hal. We'll be interviewing filmmaker Susan Marks, whose documentary "Of Dolls and Murder" is having its Minnesota premier on September 28th at The Heights Theater. She shares the fascinating history of Frances Glessner Lee -- specifically her hobby of meticulously recreating murder scenes with homemade dolls and dollhouses. Susan interweaves this story with interviews and fascinating details of modern forensics. She even got John Waters to narrate it.

I'll be sure to let you know the moment the podcast is online.

ON THE LIST FOR THE COMING WEEK: I'll be reporting on my adventures in New York City. Coney Island. 21 Club. Oh -- and the continuing search for the best NY slice (my favorite pizza places keep disappearing).

Gotta love New York City, Chester.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dr. John, Chickens, and Eating Fun Food at the Minnesota State Fair

Let's start with a guessing game, shall we? What in the world do you think this is?
Another Minnesota State Fair has come and gone. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of attending the Great Minnesota Get-Together, it's a junk-food feeding frenzy. It's people-watching mania. There are live animals -- my favorite -- and there are fried ones (I do enjoy a good corn dog from time to time). There are block-long lines to try such food craziness as deep-fried cookie dough, sweet-corn flavored ice cream, honey-flavored ice cream, and deep-fried candy bars. I tried some of it -- the corn ice cream was good. And I tried ostrich, which tasted like a sweeter kind of hamburger. This year though, my favorite thing at the fair was visiting the goats and chickens. That photo up there by the way, is the belly of a tiny little goat.
Fell in love with this lady and wanted to take her home with me.

Ostrich, Fireworks, Sweet Corn Ice Cream!

I saw Dr. John perform at the Leinie Lodge.
I loved hearing some of his spookier New Orleans music live, like Walk On Gilded Splinters. It was the music Max and I were listening to as we drove into Louisiana, and New Orleans, in the middle of the night back in 2004.

Here's a slideshow of those chickens I mentioned:

And a video of a couple of them making noise:

Cockadoodledoo, Chester!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Space Contest, Drinkin' Spelling Bee, and a Crashed Wedding

 LET ME JUST START BY SAYING I would be thrilled to title one of these posts as follows:

Coco Goes Out...OF THIS WORLD

That's right. Ellipses and all caps. You know I don't use those grammatical tools lightly.

So what's the big occasion? It's the 50th anniversary of the Space Needle. And there will be a contest to accompany the celebration. The grand prize is the opportunity to travel into suborbital space. That means the winner will be able to see "the curvature of the earth and the blackness of Space."

If I don't win on behalf of the Space Needle, I'd love to petition Space Adventures to send a blogger (i.e. me) into space.

To keep myself from getting completely wound up about the idea of flying into orbit, I must distract myself with novelties here on earth. So, on Saturday I helped judge the Drinkin' Spelling Bee at the 331 club. It was a total blast (blast off? See? I can't get my brain down to earth now.) I witnessed someone spell a very long word backwards. I also saw a couple of people spell in their underwear.

And then Bunny and I crashed a wedding. 

Bunny and I danced a bit and then discovered a camera in one corner of the dance floor. Let's just take a look at what's going on here for a second, shall we? Obviously Bunny is trying to high-five the camera. Clearly I was afraid of bright lights at this point and slowly sinking into the floor. And then there's our new friend Eric -- a friend of the brides'. The brides' friend. Did I mention this was a lesbian wedding? And Eric is the fellow who invited us over for some Lillet on the rocks. Thanks again for one helluva great night, Eric!

Took some time for other summer activities this weekend -- including sitting outside at Gather, the new D'Amico & Sons restaurant at The Walker Art Center. It couldn't have been a more perfect afternoon for sitting outside. I'm not usually one for garden-y tasting cocktails, but their lavender lemonade was a perfect match for the summer afternoon. Be sure to visit on Thursdays for happy hour. A specialty cocktail is chosen as their feature and is only $5. Appetizers are also only $5 during happy hour, too.

There are a couple of feature appetizers each month as well. During August the two features are gnocchi, foie gras meatballs and cold porchetta, parmesan cracker, with horseradish cream. I had the gnocchi. I don't think I've used the word delectable on this blog before, so I will use it now. These appetizers were delectable. I'll share more about this later.

My uncle lives in northern Minnesota and likes to make his own wine using the area's wild fruits. In the past I've tried his various wine flavors, including choke-cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and, most recently, blueberry. One night the bottles of blueberry wine fermenting in his basement decided to have party of their own -- corks were popping. Instead of wine, my uncle accidentally made sparkling wine. And let me tell you, blueberry sparkling wine is luxurious. I wonder how many bottles are left...

Remember when I told you I took a very special behind-scenes-tour of the Science Museum of Minnesota? I'm making good on my promise to share it all with you -- I wrote about it here, for the local CBS affiliate.

Go. Eat, drink, and be merry, Chester.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Flash Flood, A Meteorite, and The Claw

Took a dip in the Rum River last Sunday with Indiana Jones, my mom and dad's flatcoat retriever mix. He likes to swim and he likes me, but I'm not sure he likes both at the same time. He starts to whimper if I float out too far and feels like he has to swim out and rescue me.

Walking back from the river I noticed a strange rock in the ground. I didn't pick it up at first, but then went back for it. I am so glad I did! Its dark red color stuck out in the light-colored sand of the field I found it in. I noticed shiny black specks in it as well, so when I got home I checked if it was magnetic. To my amazement, it was! However, I can't seem to find any photos of similar looking meteorites.

In my research though, I found out a 3-pound meteorite was found in that field in July 1961 (50 years to the month that I found this little rock!) and came to be called the Anoka Meteorite. In 1963 a 123 pound meteorite was found in Champlin, Minnesota, and has the exact same composition as the Anoka Meteorite. Found out a bunch of other information, too, but on to something else!

The next day on the bus ride back to Minneapolis, well before rush hour, I was surprised at the sudden traffic jam near the Broadway bridge on I-94. Cars were trying to merge back into the main lanes of traffic from the exit lane. As the bus continued forward, slowly, I saw what the problem was -- flood! I got some footage for you:

It seems I visit the Walker Art Center more than anything else lately, but how could I miss meeting famous wrestler from the 1960s and '70s, Baron Von Raschke? I couldn't, that's how. His son was present for the filming of a documentary by Phil Harder about Baron Von Raschke, so Bunny and I dressed as extras to appear in the film, too. Pretty great.

Hope you have a great week, Chester! Grrr!