f 7inchSlam.com: May 2008


Steve's Lousy With Ideas, Vol. 1

The old man has taught me plenty in my twenty-five years on this planet, and along with Momma A they have instilled some hard and fast cooking values into me that will hopefully benefit me the rest of my life, provided our country doesn't devolve into a dystopia with food riots and meal pills and filtering one's own urine for drinking water. One such tenet of the Anderson men is our predilection to oysters, specifically the raw ones. And I woke up one Saturday morning and noticed Jacques Pepin on PBS doing a rundown of basic seafood preparation. When I saw how easy it was to simply obtain raw oysters, shuck them, and serve them much like the old man loved so much back when I was still living at home, I grabbed our well-worn and eternally loved copy of The Joy of Cooking off the shelf, and with oysters fresh from Coleman's Fish Market down by the folks' house in Wheeling, WV, I decided to try something new and had a small oyster party for myself.

The process itself wasn't very difficult. Grab a towel, grab a knife (since I didn't have an oyster shucking knife, I just used a paring knife instead of spending twelve dollars for one meal on a knife I would probably use ten more times in my lifetime like a jerk), scrub the grime off the oysters with a grill brush, and cut the oysters' muscles when I got them opened up. Not too much more to say expect these were delicious. Any amorous intention that oysters supposedly conjure up in the loins of their consumer is probably gospel truth, since these gave me a hard-on that could have led me around like a seeing eye dog.

With the requisite condiments (fresh horseradish, fresh lemon, and cocktail sauce), I got to work arranging my plate so as to utilize all half-shell slurping potential. Magnificent results soon followed.

Also, if you'll remember last week's A#1 BBQ we covered, I mentioned that I purchased some tuna steaks and more oysters at the store to be hidden away from the roving fools I consider my friends. Well, naturally, later I did the same thing and threw all that together secretly, only this time you can add broiled garlic-stuffed tuna steak, some tasty beets and greens, and oysters on Kavli crisp crackers (one of Norway's finest exports) to the list. I topped it off with a Hoegaarden I found in the back of the fridge. Did I mention that I LOVE EATING?!

I am also openly challenging our readers to a raw oyster eating contest. If you think you've got the stones, get in touch. You know where to find me.

Speaking of ideas both good and bad, the soundtrack around the house lately has been spiced up with a new 7" compilation series that has prompted some wags over at Termbo to hold a new selection of 7" EP's to the high standards of Am Rep's Dope, Guns, and Fucking in the Streets series of the 80's and 90's. But the focus today is on what many would lazily dub "weird punk" instead of "pigfuck" or noise rock or whatever you like to call Am Rep's varied output over the years. The series that is here in the now, and is doing a fine job of highlighting bright, under-appreciated stars in the underground punk sky is Almost Ready Records' The World's Lousy With Ideas compilations.

Almost Ready is run by a gent named Harry Howes (coincidentally the guy who hepped me to the Rats!) who migrated back to the Massachusetts in the contiguous USA after a furlough over in Hawaii. He certainly came back with a plan and with this series, he lined up some prominent (Home Blitz, Dan Melchoir, Wax Museums, Nobunny) and not-so-prominent (Lady Doctors, Fag Cop, etc.) bands to drop a tune on the pile, alternately kickstarting the collector scum fury for the bands' earlier releases, but also giving some stranger acts a first crack at wider exposure.

The disparate pairings of bands is the saving grace here. With a single volume, the listener can be treated to the trashed-out two-man thud of a primitive ensemble like Fag Cop, whose "My Daddy's Got White Trash Friends" stands as one of the dumbest yet greatest wadings into the Reatards/scumpunk gene pool that I've heard in quite awhile, or the mid-90's sandpaper punk guitar scrapings of a combo like Coconut Coolouts who channel a tuned-up yet slowed-down ghost of Kraut with their number "Messed Up Man". My favorite song of all the series so far has to go to Nobunny's "Hippy Witch" on Volume 3, even when the locked groove begins its torturous journey to the end of my sanity when I'm trying to read a book.

Volume 6 should be hitting the streets soon, and the proposed volumes I've heard about from Harry have me salivating for what is coming up. A few of the volumes have gone out of print as of this writing, but represses are on the way or in the case of Volume 1, out on the streets right now. However, I'd recommend heading over to ARR's Myspace to keep up with when future volumes will be forthcoming. Mine are all OG's though, and I like to think I've got some of the funniest sleeve designs. My personal favorites being the black cheerleader/wolfdog of Volume 2 and the swastika ladies' hockey team of Volume 5 I got the hockey sleeve special. Hope you get the special Burger King tape. Thanks, Harry! Eat up!

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Leekfest 2008

Sometimes the good time you need more than anything to take your mind off the hustble and bustle in town is a simple roadtrip away. And when you've got red-VW-driving friends like Eric Courtney and Roxanne, sometimes you get to go on these trips and have the time of your life. We hopped in the car with the Cig and headed to Northwestern, PA for Leekfest at the West Line Inn three hours north. While I expected a grand day in the sunshine with the gang, I was unprepared for the bounty of amazing food, trashy bikers, good vibes, and general thumbs-up situations we found ourselves ensconced in on this particular day.

There's not much online information about Leekfest, but I'll give you the basics I gleaned from Roxanne and associated family members over the course of the day. It's been going on for over twenty years in this extremely small town on the outskirts of the Allegheny National Forest. It's held at the historic West Line Inn, which was a really interesting old building with a great staff of friendly country dwellers.

Since there no vegetarians in the car, we indulged every culinary creation that presented itself with impunity, starting with the most interesting gas station find in some time:

Buffalo style spicy/sweet cashews. Yes, they are as delicious as you might think. We were finally able to polish off this bag by the time we had reached our destination, and that was quite a feat because these pack a punch and will not only sugar-shock you, but salt-shock you as well. Bonus.

The countryside was beautiful and we were greeted by a pheasant while we parked the car and got ready to enter. The community was packed with revelers, with the local populace exploding to 100 times its normal size for this event annually.

After paying the five dollar entrance fee, here is the Inn and a portion of the crowd. This is not including the stage setup to the right, featuring admittedly awful acoustic cover sets from local yahoos. But the first group that played was a four-man bluegrass ensemble who legitimately started the day off properly as we went for our first beers inside, where luckily enough, two of Roxanne's cousins were the bartenders. Since she doesn't drink, we had a designated driver who was not only nice enough to bring us along, but also got us drunk rather cheaply. Ciggy said it best: "Roxanne is THE BEST." Truth.com!

Here's the first thing we slammed, the Greek Leek sauce dog. Quite frankly, one of the best I've ever had. Toppings included: meat sauce (similar to Texas-style dogs, if that helps), diced leeks, whole leeks, mustard, onions, relish. Everyone knocked one back and we moved onto the real menu after checking out the bikers and tossing back a beer or two.

I was extremely happy as soon as we entered. We ditched our jackets and got back to work. This should give you a better idea of the crowd size:

Yuengling had a hand in the festivities as well. Bonus!

Despite being thoroughly confused by the ticket system at first, thanks in part mostly to Ciggy's "jammers" we indulged in beforehand, the menu looked quite promising.

Here is the owner of the Westline Inn, standing outside the deep-friend leek station. This was the second item we polished off the menu. Tickets were a buck apiece and one could conceivably get stuffed for less than ten bucks.

The finished product:

Up next came the turket meatball sub, which hit the spot and was the only menu item lacking leeks, aside from the strawberry shortcake which no one got the chance to eat.

We also got to meet Roxanne's dad, who was a complete badass and a perfect example of how to grow to be a man in this day and age. He helped get us drunk and laughed at our exploits. Here are the boys of Spring, including Eric Courtney's new starring role in "Meet the Parents".

A tasty and unassuming concotion of ham and leek provided our next culinary adventure. I do believe that Ciggy ate at least two of these.

I took on the leek sausage and potato, ham, and leek chowder next. This was probably my favorite food of the day.

After awhile I just dipped my sausage into the chowder. Steve #1.

Inside the bar when returned to get a drink, everyone got freaked out by the Bigmouth Billy Bass-esque deer head that would sing to you when it was touched. I became extremely confused when I touched the rubberized head and it swirled around to look at me and then broke into song. The real deer head a foot to the left was not much help, either. They scammed us city folk but good.

The bikers were in assless full force and confused when asked for pictures.


Not only were monsters like this one in attendance, but there were plenty of 1%ers about, including David Allan Coe's old motorcycle club, the Outlaws. Yipes! We had realized that when we saw hundreds of motorcycles lining every road that we (especially us dudes) needed to be on our absolute best behavior, lest we end up being scraped off the leathers and boots of bruisers or angry meth dealers. Amazingly, we remained unscathed as the day drew towards its zenith. However, we did become aware that bikers are the kings and queens of offensive/hilarious/genius bumper stickers, back patches, regular patches, t-shirts, and vest writing. Next time, give them a close look. I couldn't stop laughing at every slogan that passed by: "If you can read this, THIS BITCH JUST PASSED YOU!".

West Line Inn menu. Looks quite promising.

Despite our pledge to good behavior, Cig and I still needed to get into some trouble.

I love the enthralled stare in the background. Time to get punk.

I followed up with another leek sausage.

After bidding goodbye to this wonderful community, we headed back to the city. We made sure to stop off at a random gas station for a spot of ice cream the way they can only do it out in the sticks. I grabbed a chocolate and peanut butter cup waffle cone model, and my first ice cream in about a year was as good as you would imagine. I'm getting misty thinking about it now. I guess I'll just have to stop back there next year.

Since there weren't any records to be found and honestly, the bands onstage had about 1/10th the spark of a decaying horse cock, we were satisfied with Roxanne's iPod on shuffle the whole way there. But on the way home, I just said "Just jam the Velvets". With that, we revisited the classic third VU album. While I've been a VU fan for a long time now, sometimes I have to debate with myself which particular album resonates the most for me at that particular time. Some days I believe White Light/White Heat is the untouchable jumping-off point of their greatness. Or I may wake up to The Velvet Underground and Nico, a mug of green tea, and a beautiful sunrise. Perhaps full-fledged pop genius is the order of the day and Loaded will make its way to the top of the heap. But as I think about it right now, when driving through the wondrous majesty of true, wild nature, staring out the window at an ever-brightening moonlight brushing the tops of the trees and illuminating the stars around us, perhaps it doesn't matter. Perfect music will always fit our perfect moments. And here I believe you can see a touch of my ebullient side:

Thanks West Line and Roxanne for everything. I will be back next year come hell or high water. Eric Courtney and I have discussed the West Virginia Rampfest as well. Stay tuned.

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Quattrone's Poutine and Rob Henry's Anxiety

The chef in his glory on my old bathroom floor, circa 2006.

Here's one from the vaults of wintertime I had saved for posting here. A few months back, local nightspot Remedy in Lawrenceville hosted "Neil Young Night". Naturally, Paul Quattrone from Modey Lemon/Midnite Snake/Baby Bird/Italian Ice (Jesus, that's enough for now!) had a raunchy food idea cooked up and decided to salute our steely Canadian brethren and whip up that wonderful concoction I've been waiting for since Vinnie and I soldiered up to Toronto two years ago known as poutine. Unfortunately, when I was bumming through Queen Street, I learned that poutine is much more common in a French-Canadian city like Montreal where everyone is wacked on PCP all day and not so easy to find in a burgh like Toronto where everyone is content to be drunk on shitty beer like Labatt 50 instead.

While bootleg Neil footage blared through the projector and sound system upstairs, the jukebox (when turned on) cycled through the requisite gems in his catalog, much to the delight of uber-fans like Lil' Suzz. The place was packed with our friends and I finally got a chance to give poutine a go. Barring any trips to Montreal ("Vive le Steve!") in the near future, I must say that the poutine was delicious! The combination of curds, fries, and gravy hit the spot. And while Canadians or Wisconsinites may take issue with their curds with a vehement proud streak, the Pittsburgh version suited me just fine. Despite having to eat standing up in a crowded bar, I'd give the experience an A- when food, soundtrack, company, and location are all added up in this great internet equation known as 7-Inch Slam.

While I was there, I ran into my friend Ben Smartnick, straight-edge rogue and one-half of the guitar corps of up-and-coming local powerhouse Kim Phuc. He had a copy of their then just-released 7" to slip me, and I was quite pleased to be an early recipient before the general public could hound away for this 300-press gem.

I do believe this is now out of print, but you may be able to write the band for more.

Kim Phuc has been gigging around town for quite awhile now with Ben and vocalist Rob Henry as constants, and most notably with the newest lineup featuring Corey from Caustic Christ/Aus Rotten on bass, local heartthrob Eli on second guitar, and local roustabout TFP on drums. Their sound has been refined in a gristmill of dark, brooding, anxiety-ridden punk: rain-soaked and rusted, much like many parts of our city, owing as much to 80's Northwestern punk and warbly post-punk as to hints of Rudimentary Peni's Death Church. Rob Henry wails and stomps and spits out his neuroses on wax, and you can feel the palpable tension contract and expand as the walls close in around him. Despite his reputation as a ball of pleasure, the lyrics dwell in a sub-basement of the human condition, all sweat and jitters and regrets long since washed-over.

While the recording here doesn't have the punch of their upcoming 2-song effort on Criminal IQ, the songs have no trouble standing up to the given treatment and generally overcome any sonic issues, especially in the case of the B-side, where they sufficiently punk out and deliver a knee to the solar plexus akin to their live show which earns them more and more fans as time goes by. Up above you can see the author with RH in all our glory, right after I'd ingested fungus that was both a blessing and a curse, since I enjoyed the show immensely, despite Eric Courtney and I ending up at a ski resort six hours away at 7 in the morning the next day. But what can you say? A youthful indiscretion, perhaps, but our motto around these parts is don't fear the afterlife.

Keep your eyes peeled for more from these fine folks. They have recently played out in NYC and Philly, and with a substantial string of local gigs coming up (some with good-to-great bands and some that I generally will excuse myself for [which I find to be Kim Phuc's only real failing: SELECTIVITY OF SHOWS]) I can only assume they will continue doing us proud here in Pittsburgh until Rob Henry finally collapses. And that's a day I hope will never come.

Kim Phuc photo courtesy of Laila A.

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