New York, the 90’s and salad dressing

When I worked at The Gap (a million years ago), I frequently travelled  to New York to assist on photo shoots. Just a few years out of college, it was such an exhilarating and exciting time in my life — I was absolutely fearless in exploring the city. When I was on the company expense account, I stayed in nice hotels, cabbed everywhere and spent a $75/day per diem for food. Sadly, after a long day of steaming khaki pants, babysitting models and shuttling cappuccino orders I rarely had the desire to do more than order dinner in and fall asleep in front of the television. All to do it again in a few hours.

On personal trips, it was a very different experience. I was basically broke-ass, staying on the couch of a high-school friend who had moved there. But…it was SO much more fun. I remember going to Wigstock in Tompkins Square park (when it was still a place you would not go after dark), searching for the perfect vintage Levi’s 501s at Antique Boutique, staring in the marvelous windows at Barneys and Bergdorfs, and buying my Doc Martins at discount on W. 8th. While it wasn’t unusual to see celebrities and models going about their business, one memory stands out of seeing Ed Lover dancing at Wetlands (for some reason I thought that was oddly hilarious). At that time, I could still drink well enough to keep up with my friend (who, as a guy, should have had a much higher tolerance than me), as we would flit from bar to bar, going more underground as it got later and later. Ah, to be that young and spirited again.

Aaaanyway…we used to frequent a place called Dojo’s in the East Village. It was just downstairs from his roachy apartment on St. Marks, and they had healthy food for crazy cheap. One of my favorite things was their Carrot Ginger dressing — a bright/tangy/sweet thick sauce that we’d pour on salads, dip things in, and basically lick from the bowl. That stuff was amazing.

Just today, I was at Trader Joes, and got a prepackaged salad that had a very similar dressing, sparking memories of the original, which I haven’t had since my last visit to Dojo’s in the 90s. And now I can’t stop thinking about it. Then I look at the ingredients on the package and realize there isn’t any reason why I can’t make a jar (or a gallon) of this at home. A little more googling™ and next thing I know Gwyneth Paltow is serving up a recipe that looks pretty much spot on. Her version comes via GOOP, where she exhuberantly exclaims: “This dressing is the jam!” Oh Gwynnie!

(I will share the recipe here, in case you have a strong aversion to her or her website in general. I totally understand and I was right there with you, until she kind of won me over when she sang with Huey Lewis in Duets. I even bought her new cookbook — she’s harmless.)

SALAD WITH CARROT AND GINGER DRESSING

For dressing:

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sweet white miso
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons water

Pulse the carrot, shallot and ginger in a blender until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, add the miso, vinegar and sesame seed oil and whiz together. While the blender is going, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil and the water.

Combine the lettuce, onion and avocado in a bowl, drizzle with plenty of dressing and serve.

Selective Memory

The other day I was driving in the car with the radio on and came to the realization (after the full extended version played) that I STILL know all the lyrics to Rappers Delight.

I was oddly both proud and embarrassed at the same time. I don’t understand why my retention of knowledge from the past is mostly centered around short-lived ABC TV sitcoms, obscure actors and pop music from the 70s and 80s. How is this useful in any way, to me now?

The answer is, it’s in no way useful, except at gatherings with friends playing “name that classic rock tune” when no one has access to an iPhone or computer with Google. If only I could do this for money.

Anyway, a few years back, my friend Laura sent me this website quiz and I just recently re-took the test. Scored a 101 without cheating. I feel like I could have done better if I hadn’t been so spontaneous in jumping into the quiz (sometimes you have to warm up and stretch a little, before a challenge like this).

Right now I can just see Rob muttering to himself what a crazy wack-job he married.

But I really want to know, how did YOU do on the quiz?

Thrilla in Manila…

Ok, so maybe it’s not Manila, but I couldn’t resist (it was close enough).

1500 Filipino prison inmates from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center. The best part starts at the 3:20 mark. And they seem soooo into it. Do you think there was a tryout for the girl part in drag? Now THAT’S some acting!

I might be slow in the bandwagon of having seen this video, but I just wanted to share my fascination with this innate talent of Filipinos for music performance and dancing. It’s always been a part of my life (my father could play piano by ear and kept music flowing in the house) and growing up, I just assumed all families had sing-a-longs to American pop tunes after dinner every night. My mother doesn’t want a proper stereo unless it accepts a Karaoke input. Even now, when I’m home by myself watching VH1 Classic I follow the dance routines to my favorite videos from high school, which included “Thriller”, “Lucky Star” by Madonna, and “Love is a Battlefield”.

Doesn’t everyone?

Bad TV…BAD! (but oh so good)

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I have to confess that one of the reasons I decided to major in Mass Comm at Berkeley was because I had heard Todd Gitlin’s curriculum included watching television as part of the course requirements. I thought, “Man, college is SO cool!”

Believe it or not, I did find much of that learning applicable later in life. It helped shape my perception of the media, encouraged me to think critically, and helped me recognize television “formulas” from Aaron Spelling shows to the nightly news. Which makes it even more surprising to me that I am still such a sucker for so many shows considered “low brow” entertainment.

On my Tivo hot list this summer: Top Chef, The World Series of Pop Culture, Flight of the Conchords, and…um….Scott Baio is 45…and Single.

Now that last one (I’ll refer to it as SBI45AS) is kind of embarassing to admit, but just hear me out.

If you were a girl coming of age in the 70’s, then you know about SB. He probably entered my radar from Happy Days, as that was one of the only parent approved programs in the limited 3 hours of TV per week I was allowed to watch. I wasn’t a teenager yet and didn’t really like boys, but for some reason I followed everything he did (including Blansky’s Beauties and Bugsy Malone). Flash forward 30 years and he shows up on Arrested Development in a dryly funny role (Bob Loblaw) and having aged quite well.

So I got suckered into watching SBI45AS, just out of weird curiosity. Thing is, the storyline is interesting, he’s honest and compelling, and the subject matter feels so timely and relevant. Have you ever wanted to go back and talk to people you were involved with to find out why things didn’t work out? Do you wonder if the guys you knew growing up who couldn’t/wouldn’t grow up ever question their choice of that life path? Is there a point where it’s just too late to change who you turned out to be? It’s kind of a relief to see other people struggle with those same questions, for my entertainment. Man, I can’t believe he’s 45.

Also…great music on the show, too.