Monthly Archives: January 2009

The Best Haircut of My Life

Straight Razor Shave. Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Straight Razor Shave. Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Last night I went down to Two Roses Inc, a tattoo parlor, barbershop, and cafe in Barrio Logan for a full service haircut and it was amazing. The place has a good feel to it, everyone was friendly, at least three or four tattoo artists introduced themselves to me and chatted while I was waiting including the owners.

By the time I got in the chair Carlos the barber was chatting and we were having a good time, looking back on it, I’m not sure why I turned down his offer of a glass of Scotch while I was getting trimmed, but there will always be a next time.

After the cut he started prepping me for a shave with a straight razor. I was really looking forward to this because I hate shaving, so someone else doing it for me seemed pretty nice, and because of the old-time-machismo-getting-shaved-with-a-big-ole-sharp-blade thing. He started by putting some moisturizer on my face. Then wrapping me in a hot towel. He did this about three times to soften my skin and get it ready to shave. He put on some warm shaving cream and started shaving. By this time he’d been chatting it up and built some rapport so I wasn’t nervous about the blade at all.

he shaved all around, taking extra care around my beloved moustache. When done he toweled me off, put some sort of after-shave on that burned, but as he said “it doesn’t quite hurt, just makes you feel alive”. He put some more moisturizer on there and then toweled all the hair of my face, back and everywhere else it ended up. I was feeling great, in a sort of relaxation-haze, about to stand up when I pulled out a massager and gave me a little back and neck massage. It was already the best haircut of my life, but that just put it over the top.

He even recomended some waxy like stuff for styling my moustache, I’m gonna give that a try tonight to see if it holds up better than the Clubman’s wax I’ve been using.

Not only was this the best, most relaxing haircut ever. It was cheap too. The haircut was just a bit more than Supercuts would charge, the shave was $16 as well. The best part about it was the comfortable, old time feel they’ve got going.

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Santa Ana Winds

Santa Ana winds are my favorite weather phenomena. Santa Ana winds happen in Southern California (I wonder if they happen other places in the world?) in the fall and winter, the wind blows in from the east towards the ocean, usually getting warmer closer to the coast. They’re unseasonably warm and windy. I’m not really sure what causes them, scientists say it’s a misconception that it’s hot air from the desert, something to do with adiabatic compression but ya got me.

Santa Ana winds are coming back to San Diego this weekend and I’m excited. Most people hate them but I love it. I heard on the radio this morning that it would be in the 80’s this weekend, but this weather report says only low 70’s. Either way it’s going to get dry, windy and warm. A bad combo for fires, but otherwise nice and balmy weather.

Fire Lookout Towers

A few months ago I was reading through The Paris Review when I came across a story called Diary of a Fire Lookout by Philip Connors (you can read an excerpt online, and maybe find it at the library to read the rest). It’s a diary of the authors time spent as a fire lookout in the rugged Gila National Forest in New Mexico.

Fire lookouts are becoming more and more rare as modern technology encroaches upon the task of spotting forest fires. Which is sad because some of my favorite writers spent summers high up in a lookout tower thinking, writing, and watching for signs of smoke. Kerouac’s Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels. Ed Abbey’s Black Sun. Doug Peacock spent some time as fire lookout after Vietnam, I’m not sure that he ever wrote about it, but it probably helped clear his head and help him to readjust.

As Connors’s story shows, not all fire lookout towers have been shuttered, but most aren’t in service anymore. The Forest Fire Lookout Association has a list of links to retired lookout towers available for rent, most from the US Forest Service.

A recent article in the UT talks about the old fire lookout tower on Palomar Mountain reopening to be staffed by volunteers.

There’s something romantic about fire lookout towers, spending all that time in the woods. The solitude. The open space. The few journeys into town, via steep mountain trails, to get supplies. The chance encounters with passing hikers. Connors’s story captures the mood perfectly.

New Music: Ezra Furman & The Harpoons

Well, they’re not too new, only new to me, they’ve been around for a couple years now. But I just heard them.

Their song Take Off Your Sunglasses was the song of the day KEXP’s Podcast yesterday.

Something about the song just stood out to me, a good combination of lyrics, vocals and interesting sounds all blended together.

They’ve got some music on their myspace page you can stream. They did a Daytrotter Session not too long ago. And they’ve been on NPR’s World Cafe show not once, but twice.

Here’s their official website.

My First Ever White Christmas

Photo by Kinsee Morlan

As close as I came to a Snowman. Photo by Kinsee Morlan

I spent my first ever white Christmas in Bayfield, CO with my fiance and future family-in-law.

It snowed quite a bit before we got there, and kept snowing for almost two days straight after we arrived. Even though it was about 25F outside most of the time, it didn’t feel like what I expected that to feel like. It was cold but I thought it would feel colder.

We spent some time in downtown Durango, which has a nice main street that reminds me a lot of Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. I also got my first taste of one of the many Durango craft breweries, we had lunch at Carver Brewing Co. Quite fine beers indeed. I got to meet a ton of Kinsee’s old high school friends and spend time with her family.

I also acted like a small child playing in the snow much of the weekend. I think I had only seen snow fall once before this. I shoveled the driveway quite a bit (I’m told the novelty wears off soon), made a snow angel, went sleding and tobaganing and even made a face print in the snow (that was cold!).

I really wanted to build a snowman and have a snowball fight, but the snow was far too powdery and soft, it crumbled in your hand as you tried to ball it up, it was nothing like the icey hard snow I’ve played in before.

Kinsee shot some video of my playing in the snow, I’ll post some of that soon.

Nortec Collective: Brown Bike video

Nortec Collective just posted the video for Brown Bike by Bostich+Fussible, one of my favorite Nortec songs. The video is awesomely hip.

Sadly I still haven’t gone on a Tijuana bike ride. Maybe I’ll hook up with these folks soon.

Dogfish Head Brewery

It seems like I’ve been blogging a lot about beer recently, not quite sure why that is, but there’s more to come…

I don’t read The New Yorker too often, when I do sit down to read it I find myself flipping through the pages, barely skimming the articles and unless an article really catches my eye I’m done about 20 minutes later. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy The New Yorker, its just really hit or miss for me. Every once in a while I come across an article that I really enjoy. Such is the case for the article, A Better Brew, The Rise of Extreme Beer by Burkhard Bilger in the November 24th 2008 issue.

The article talks mostly about the modern craft beer movement and focuses primarily on Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware. They do delve into beer history a little bit, explaining the Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law) and the differences between German beers and Belgian beers (and where American beers fit in). I was amazed to learn that before prohibition and the industrialization of the 1950’s American beers were actually good.

In 1878, Maureen Ogle notes in her recent book “Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer,” Busch’s St. Louis Lager took on more than a hundred European beers at a competition in Paris. The lager came home with the gold, causing an “immense sensation,”.

The history part of the article was fun to read about, but I got really excited reading about Dogfish Head. I’d heard of them before, seen their beers at the liquor store, but never paid them much attention. They’re pretty pricey and with all the good quality local beer for lower prices I never got around to trying anything they make. But this article portrayed them as wildly experimental, exciting and from the sounds of things, making great beers.

It told the story of their Palo Santo Marron, a 12% brown ale aged in Palo Santo wood containers. This wood is some of the hardest in the world and has been used to make wine before, but never beer. The brewery liked it so much they made the largest wooden brewing containers out of it in American since prohibition. They also talked about the Midas Touch Golden Elixir, made of barley, grapes, honey and saffron they claim it is the oldest known fermented beverage recipe in the world. The beer sounded so good I had to go out and try some.

I got lucky at the liquor store, they had both of the beers I just mentioned, what wasn’t so lucky was the price. A four-pack weighed in around $13, less than $4 a beer after tax and CRV, its cheaper than drinking at a bar, but still pricey for bottled beer. I decided to go with the Palo Santo Marron, they had less of it. I got home, chilled it and gave it a try. I poured it into a pint glass and immediately noticed how thick and dark it was. It poured slow and heavy like a viscous dirty motor oil. It left almost no head at all in the glass. Luckily when I tasted it the taste was anything but motor oil. It was still thick and heavy but good. It tasted like most brown ales, a little nutty, maybe a little vanilla, only stronger, much stronger. After one 12oz bottle I could feel a buzz, it was a good thing I wasn’t drinking this at a bar because I wouldn’t have been able to drive for a while.

As with most “extreme beers” this isn’t something I’m going to drink all the time. Even if I could afford to, I don’t think it would be as good if drank everyday, but every once in a while this beer is quite the treat. I’m looking forward to trying plenty of other beers from this brewery.