April 26th, 2010

The Week That Was 4.25.10

I’m a self-proclaimed wallflower. Sitting around and strategically positioning myself to overhear conversations is a favorite pastime for me. This week was full of that kind of behavior, but in the spirit of anonymity and the hopes of keeping this site from being shut down by CyberNanny, I have to keep from publishing them. If we learned anything from the Dark Knight, it’s that you have to keep yourself at a PG-13 rating to achieve the fullest fiscal success. So, I leave you with the things I did and not the things I heard. Here is The Week That Was.

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Stop, Stay, Have Some Champagne
Turning down a drink is always a difficult proposition. While eating my typical dinner of Pasta and Shrimp Genovese at Paulie’s, I got a text message from a friend who had canceled on me earlier in the day. Looking for some redemption, I was invited up to Boheme where, apparently, the champagne (sparkling wine to be truthful) was flowing. Not a fan of the bubbly stuff, I still decided that any entertaining conversation for the rest of the night was better than none at all. My sock puppet friend, Mr. Chucko, isn’t as exciting as you might think he would be. I found my way over to the Montrose-area wine bar, ordered myself a Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout and joined in on the festivities. From dirty French phrases to sharing voyeuristic tendencies, we hit on some of the more random topics on the back patio as my pack of cigarettes was quickly emptied. The back patio is fashioned just as the interior, with an eclectic artisanal style that you expect from the area. For the most part, it allows its fair share of privacy as well… until, of course, one person in your group realizes that someone at a different table is the long lost, sister of the brother of a friend of their ex-high school boyfriend. Yes, it was that confusing.

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Gingers Have Souls! Gingers Have Souls!
In a former life, I worked at a place called the Texas Swim Shop. If you never delved into the world of competitive swimming, you’ve likely never heard of the place. Though I can’t say that the owners and I saw eye to eye on all issues, one of them that we connected on was beer drinking. It was through them that I first heard about Ginger Man a decade ago. I had no idea that it was such a Houston institution and its practice of loading up patrons on import draught beer had been going on for so long. It’s a shame that I haven’t been there enough and that generic places like Flying Saucer are here with their shiny taps and short, pleated skirted waitresses distract patrons from the small Rice Village bar. Who cares that all I drank was Saint Arnold’s Amber? The fact that I could have ordered any of the 50+ beers on the wall was comforting enough. Being able to sit outside of the mellow Ginger Man and watch the Rice pedestrians flit back and forth between what I now refer to as the “college bars,” you get to enjoy the fact that you’re willing to spend six dollars for a decent beer and not scrounge for quarters to buy a “big ass” Lone Star next door. However, I’m sure my checking account would beg to differ on that bullet point.

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Pop, Squeak, Sizzle, Bubble, Onomato-wha?
It’s a rare occasion that I escape from work early. This week, I tentatively set up a Friday lunch meeting in town, noting the fact that my “indignation levels” would have to be high in order for me to abscond. Little known fact: Four hours into Monday morning indignant emotions run at such a clip to be feared. I met my “lawyer” at the English pub, Black Labrador around 12:30ish to discuss business, Houston and Houston business. Being a fan of fish and chips (especially at Red Lion), I decided to give this pub’s traditional fare a try. While it wasn’t enough for me to knock off the reigning champion, the plate filled me up as I watched my counterpart struggle through the Bubble and Squeak. One of the only vegetarian options, the B&S was half potato pancake and half tomato filled with some sort of mayonnaise concoction. Ah, to turn your back on eating meat. It must be a joy. Enjoy your tofu, elitists. I will be in the corner diving head first into this New York Strip. I hope they serve beef in hell.

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How Not to Waste Your Friday
With an entire Friday ahead of me, what other extracurricular activity would be better than a couple of beers under the Spring sun? After meeting up with another friend of mine who had the day off, we quickly coordinated a visit to West Alabama Ice House to partake in my favorite excuse to drink: throwing horseshoes and fending off stray rebounds from the basketball hoop. There were stories to be told and the dirty, red picnic tables of West Alabama Ice House were the perfect, if not only, option for those tall tales to be aired out. Empty Pacificos and Blue Moons quickly filled the table, especially after four more friends joined the party when five o’clock rolled around. If there is an art to acquiring a buzz before 8PM, just call me Manet.

Of course, Friday is Friday. Staying in on the night that bleeds into the weekend is a sacrilegious affair. I left the Ice House around eight to go eat; a practice that escaped me for most of the previous week: remembering dinner. I took a nervous nap on my over-sized chair after dining (if you want to call drive-thru, fast food dining). When you’re only nervous about not taking advantage of the rest of the night, you’re probably due for an intervention… or a round of pool by yourself at Big Star Bar in the Heights. Would it have been sadder for me to stay in, watch reruns of Ali vs. Foreman and taken to bed early on Friday or stalk the green felt on my own, drinking a Lone Star? No, seriously. Would it have been? (Note: For your consideration, I went to Big Star Bar and played pool by myself.)

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Andrew Karnavas Solo Album Release Party – Continental Club
The only thing that I had planned for the weekend was the Film Noir album release party at Continental Club. A Local Natives concert at Mango’s was enticing, but having started this Houston web project, it’s impossible to turn your back on one of the city’s own when they’re two measures from making it big. It helps that some new friends applied the necessary peer pressure to make the decision for me. So, I packed up a trunk-full of t-shirts and decided to play a real game of “Where’s Pauldo?” that no one took advantage of (for shame!).

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I’ve always been a fan of Andrew Karnavas’ full-time band, Runaway Sun, and I had caught the title track of his new release on his website, but that never prepares you fully for the live music experience. Seeing some of Houston’s best and brightest in the audience, with emotions running high both onstage and in the crowd, I found myself jumping around from spot to spot in Continental Club taking photos and taking in the scene. My friend, who I wrangled into going to the show, turned to me at one point to say that Karnavas almost sounds like a Texas version of Paolo Nutini when he slows down the rhythm for his solo endeavor. I agreed with him at the time, but after listening to the record three times on Sunday morning, I’d have to say there is little similar between the two artists.

The night ended with The Suspects playing in the backyard and Runaway Sun taking the stage at the Continental Club. It was a night of mic’d distractions as I spent most of my time bobbing and weaving through the collected crowd. Well, that is until I disappeared into the darkness of Big Top to live to photograph another day.

[Check out Flickr for the Andrew Karnavas photos. Not all have been edited, but I'm sure you can find a couple you like out of the 250+.]

— Paul

Comments

Eric S — Monday, April 26, 2010 2:22 pm

Damn. Sorry I missed it man. Great shots though.

Imelda — Wednesday, April 28, 2010 10:19 am

Great show and great review!

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