We’ve been waiting to check out Uptown Bar & Lounge for ages, but every time we rolled past, it was always going off, with a crowded bar, rawwwwwk music playing and general craziness. So when owner George Merino told us to stop by one night during a “quiet lull” in the proceedings — between the happy hour crowd and the evening rush — we did. And it was still crowded! This space that used to be Don’s John has never let up, it appears, since the grand opening.
Once upon a time, there was a film festival in a far off distant land called Alberta, and when it was finished with its selection of short features, it would gather the best of the best and send them out into the world on tour, for other people to see. At first only a few people knew about this tour of festival films, and a place like, say, Campbell Hall at UCSB could comfortably hold those fans of mountaineering, skiing, and environmental travel videos.
But word of mouth spread, and now we find ourselves this coming week with two different film programs on two different nights — Wednesday and Thursday — filling the Arlington. It’s time for the Best of the 37th Annual Banff Mountain Film Festival.
All due respect to the former mayor of New York, but when the DVD screener of “Koch,” the documentary on NYC’s polarizing and transformational political figure, turned up on my doorstep I couldn’t help but think back to good old Video Shmideo in Victoria Court, and their section “Newly Dead.” Mr. Koch died only three weeks ago, so this is either amazing (or the worst) timing or the distributor Zeitgeist Films is striking while the street vendor’s pretzel is hot.
Ed Koch started life as a reformer on several difficult issues, including sodomy, in the early ’60s. He didn’t do well, but then he went on to win a seat in state legislature. As the doc opens, he is campaigning for mayor of New York in 1977, going up against other candidates like Bella Abzug and Mario Cuomo, speaking to potential voters as they stream out of the subway, asking “How am I doing?” and holding up a placard, all black Helvetica font on white, which seems just so NYC and so mid-’70s.
As writer and performer Polly Frost tells it, helicopter parents — those very worried people who dote on their children up to and through college — would never have approved of some of the people she met growing up. There was the riding instructor who, despite being influential and great in her job, also knocked back whiskey and smoked in front of her young charges. There was the 22-year-old lover who seduced her 16-year-old self, but because he threw some Johann Sebastian Bach onto his turntable while they made out, he started Ms. Frost’s lifelong love of classical music.
“Who do you actually learn the most from?” Ms. Frost rhetorically asks. “It’s not the so-called ‘good role models.’ They only show you their success and not the problems getting there. The people who really gave me wisdom about life were very imperfect and let me see their mistakes.”
We barely had a chance to mourn Meat ‘n’ Potatoes, the restaurant and bar next to the raucous Creekside, when it turned into something called The Bourbon Room. So we set out to investigate one wet, windy evening this week and found the place transformed: red leather booths, wallpaper and old paintings. It was like a speakeasy had landed in your mad grandma’s attic. Owners Anna Louise Sacks (of Wisconsin) and Alvaro Castellanos Rojas (of Milk & Honey and Alcazar) recently opened this restaurant and made sure the bar was ace. And it is. A majority of the drinks are bourbon-based. We tried a Bittered Sling, adapted from the one at Sly’s in Carpinteria, a simple mix of bourbon, sugar, and Angostura bitters with a slice of orange zest. The Wisco Old Fashioned muddles similar amounts of bourbon with cherries and orange. Nothing fussy. Just old school recipes. The two are most happy about their Kitty Coupe Deville, which uses bourbon, mint, sugar, cherry-infused bourbon and lime and mixes it into a lovely rocks cocktail both slightly sweet and mature.
Currently, a very silly rap track about thrift store shopping holds the number one place in the pop charts. The newsworthiness of this event centers on its indie stature — breaking into a corporate dominated chart through new media means. But the other story — and why Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” got passed around Facebook and Twitter — is how we all still love the humor and thrill of rhyming, especially when it makes us laugh.
This thought bubbled up while watching Ensemble Theatre’s latest production, “The Liar” at the Alhecama this last Sunday. David Ives updating of Pierre Corneille’s Restoration farce has kept its iambic pentameter and its rhyming scheme, and earns so many of its belly laughs with rhymes.
Dr. Drew Pinsky has said goodbye to his family, tended to his pet German shepherd and jumped in his car to commute to a shared studio where he and Adam Carolla are going to revamp, for a few episodes at least, their show “Loveline.” From 1995 to 2005, they co-hosted this syndicated call-in radio show — then a short-lived television version — dispensing love and sex advice to listeners. Dr. Drew played straight man to wiseacre Mr. Carolla. Despite numerous replacements for Mr. Carolla, the pairing remains the classic one, and the duo return to Santa Barbara this Saturday for an evening at the Lobero.
“The evening will be very similar to the last time,” Dr. Pinsky says, referring to a 2000 visit to UCSB’s Event Center. “But we have a lot more stories to tell now. People are interested in how we got here, how we got back together, what new observations we have. But the core is interaction with the audience. We never know where it’s going to go.”
Some months back, as we were sipping on a delicious and copper-cupped Moscow Mule at Roy, bartender Danny Scott sidled up to us, as you do at bars. “You guys like chocolate drinks?” he asked. Well, we like chocolate. And we like drinks. So yeah, I guess we do, we admitted.
“I’ve got this chocolate drink — check it out,” he said, before disappearing to make us a chocolate-filled cocktail. Maybe you’re reading this on Valentine’s Day. Maybe you’re reading it too late. But chocolate is always a winner. It’s an aphrodisiac! It’s an antioxidant! It’s good for you and your loved one!
Samantha Eve and her Out of the Box Productions have a penchant for the outre, blood, and … presidents it seems. Over their short production history, they’ve shot cannons of “blood” into the audience for their Halloween “Evil Dead” musical, and revived Stephen Sondheim’s “Assassins,” his paean to the mentally unbalanced killers and would-be murderers. So this Thursday’s opening of the musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson,” at the Center Stage Theater, is keeping with tradition.
“I think his legacy is haunted by a lot of blood, death and destruction,” Ms. Eve says. “And he’s a fascinating choice for a musical. Out of all the presidents, to make a punk musical about him? Because if you think about it, so much of that emo, punk craze is with the adolescents. And when Andrew Jackson was president, technically the United States was a teenager, a rebellious state of mind.”
Hello young lovers, wherever you are! Are you ready to celebrate V-day with an exclusive cocktail just for your significant other? We called on our friend, Ali Reide, host of the cupcakes and champagne tastings at Corks n’ Crowns, to see if she was prepared for the big day. Indeed, she was, and soon we were meeting at an undisclosed location to try her Strawberry Valentini. OK, strawberries and chocolate scream Valentine’s, and we weren’t complaining because she had brought a whole container full of chocolate-dipped berries for garnish. You know, just in case the garnish wasn’t perfect.
The drink itself looks like said strawberry. Ms. Reide coats the inside of the martini glass with chocolate syrup, while the drink itself is a mix of vodka, 360 Double Chocolate vodka and strawberry puree. The rim is all chocolate; use a skewer or a careful slice to keep the chocolate-dipped strawberry on the rim. The chocolate hits the taste buds at the same time the strawberry puree aroma arrives at the nose.