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Saturday, April 30, 2016


A whole new genre of art—mainly photography and some paintings—has evolved around the world-wide appreciation of all things coffee.
            On occasion, this blog will highlight examples of this genre one masterpiece at a time.

More on Mark Bowles:

Friday, April 29, 2016



Source of article: West Coaster Magazine and Website:

Trademark issues are common in the brewing industry. With thousands of businesses in operation and plenty more looking to get into the business, brewing companies are often forced to abandon names they are fond of because somebody got there first. Such was the case with the founders of Dark Ages Brewing. After coming up with that name and drawing up a “plague doctor” logo, they were forced to let the name go and come up with something new. But they loved that logo, so now that business, which is slated to open in Vista, shall be known by the rather menacing handle, Black Plague Brewing Company.

According to company co-founder John Kilby, England’s infamous Black Plague gave rise to the tavern in certain townships as people gathered in search of communalism during the worst of times. In a much brighter sense, Black Plague Brewing hopes to celebrate bringing people together for purposes of socializing and celebration.

But first, there’s much work to be done. Kilby and company are about to close on a spot sharing space with an existing restaurant that includes a 2,000-square-foot outside patio. That may be done by the time this article goes to print. After that will come the installation of a brewhouse—likely a 15-barrel system—followed by brewing. Even with all of that, the Black Plague team is aiming for a summer opening.

Once constructed, the brewery will be the domain of Dr. Philip Vieira, a neuroscientist with experience working at a Southern California nanobrewery after earning numerous awards as a homebrewer. The amount of beer he’ll brew annually has yet to be determined (between 1,500 and 10,500 barrels), but his standard portfolio should come in around 10 beers with a quartet of specialty offerings.

Core beers will be varied from a body standpoint (light, medium, dark) and include a cream ale, golden rye ale, Irish red ale, Scotch ale, India pale ale, black IPA and stout. Expect more adventurous styles—sours and Brettanomyces-fermented beers—from their specialty brews.

Though too early to be working toward steps two through 200, Black Plague’s ownership team says the sky is the limit and is entertaining out-of-state distribution and multiple taprooms in the future. For now, it’s about incubation in hopes of a full-on mid-summer outbreak.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


In keeping true to the mission of this blog to present eclectic news topics that range from pillar to post today we feature items from Hong Kong to Kendall Jenner’s tastebuds for pizza:

GOOGLE, THE RESTAURANT--Well, for those who remain cool on Google’s driverless car maybe you can love the tech giant’s latest venture into dining.   Google has opened a pop-up restaurant in New York City called Small World at 10 Kenmare Street (between Bowery and Elizabeth).  Different chefs, different days, different cuisine. The concept (part of Google’s awareness push for Google Translate app.  Yes, it is fun but needs a bit of explanation—too much—for his humble space so check it out at

Eve, where do you want to dine, tonight?”
“Adam, just Google something in London, but make sure you can dine there naked.”
BUNS & BREASTS—Leave it to those cheeky Brits to open a feel-free-to-come-naked restaurant in London.  Not since Adam and Eve ate au naturel has skinny dipping dining been more talked aboutOwner Seb Lyall is all about human freedom and sitting and dining nude is one of those liberties.  There will be naked and clothed areas at the restaurant so only fellow starkers in your cubicle will see you.  Here’s the drill.     Arrive clothed.  Go to the changing room and don a guest robe and go to your cubicle for dinner and vice versa.  Will the concept fly?  So far, Lyall claims he has 16,000 advance reservations. Critics, however, have been undressing the idea as being unsanitary and a magnet for pervs.  Name is still pending. 

“And the winner for best restaurant exterior fa├žade is...(interruption)...sorry, wrong award.  Winner of the world’s best restaurant is Alinea in Chicago. (Clue: Gray)
WE’RE #1--For the 5th year in a row, Elite Traveler magazine has named Chicago’s Alinea Restaurant the world’s best.  Owner and executive chef Grant Achatz attributes Alinea’s success to constant menu innovation and a curiosity by diners as to taste what’s new.  If you’re looking for a big sign for the restaurant at 1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614 you won’t see one.

Uber model Kendall Jenner as pizza delivery girl at recent fashion promo in Manhattan.  No, Joe’s didn’t make her list as all time fave pizza joynt.
GLAM PIZZAS--One of America’s top fashion model au current is Kendall Jenner.  When not on the runway, Ms. Jenner worships pizza.  Her bi-coastal faves can be found at Jones Pizza, 7205 Santa Monica Blvd., in West Hollywood and the Manhattan’s Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, 328 East 14th St.  She also likes Prime Pizza in LA and the Fairfax neighborhood it’s located.

Dim sum from Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila and now Manhattan.
BUDGET MICHELIN—Aside from making and selling tires, Michelin is noted for its prestigious restaurant “star” rating system worldwide.  Because prices for a meal at most Michelin picks go through the roof, Chef and owner Mak Kwai Pui has been making news by bringing his Hong Kong based Tim Ho Wan restaurant to New York City.  Pui has been busy expanding his Michelin starred dim sum eateries to Thailand, Australia and the wilds of Manhattan.  Billed as the world’s least expensive Michelin rated (one star) restaurant in the world, there will be lines. Yes, there will.

Text: Holden DeMayo, food writer

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


GUEST BLOG—By Richard Pietschmann— Gary Shandling died recently, I found myself thinking about his wonderful The Larry Sanders Show. But then,suddenly, Hey, didn’t I interview him? popped into my brainpan. I was a busy boy back then doing the journalism thing, and writing about the famous, semi-famous and not-quite-yet famous at such a rapid clip that I moved on quickly to the next. Had I really interviewed Shandling, or was that some celebrity fever dream?

That’s when I remembered the big plastic box of cassette and micro-cassette interview tapes that I hadn’t been able to part with. I found the box and pulled off the lid. Stacks of tapes stared back, more than 100 of them. Would Shandling be in there? I’d have to burrow in to find out.

L.A.-based reporter, entertainment writer
and screenwriter Dick Pietschmann and
wife, Patti Pietschmann, who is an
award-winning writer specializing
in world travel.

Right on top were cassettes labeled “Ronstadt,” and that set my mind wandering back to a 1980s sit-down with the well-famous singer. It had occurred in the office of her manager, Peter Asher, which was on Doheny Drive in West Hollywood right around the corner from The Troubadour, the seminal music club where Linda had started her climb to renown. I had seen her perform there, barefoot on stage, several times. In the interview, I remember her telling me that she had moved to Marin County in Northern California and had a cow there named Luna. She was dating some governor. Some things you never forget.

Here are other memories from those old tapes:

There was Mil Batten, former New York Stock Exchange chairman. I sat in his huge Wall Street office in while the amiable West Virginian shared his views on many subjects. One was the impending breakup of AT&T, intended to erase its monopoly status and increase competition. Worst idea ever, Batten said. Why? Because the “Baby Bells” produced by the breakup would inevitably coalesce over time to form other near-monopolies, he said. That, of course, is exactly what happened. And one of them is now named AT&T.

I picked up a cassette labeled Robert Redford and recalled that we had once compared backgrounds–he wanted to hear about me first before talking about himself–and found that we had both lived as kids in Los Angeles’s Beverly Glen Canyon. Then I smiled and remembered that the actor and director had later called me at home to fill in some gaps in our discussion. My wife Patti picked up the phone and  asked the name of the person calling for me, and when she heard “Bob” Redford was on the line, the look on her face was as if she had just heard the word of God. It was a priceless moment.
I met Quincy Jones for lunch at at a favorite restaurant of his, Wolfgang Puck’s Chinoise in Santa Monica. The music producer did talk about his projects, including one with Michael Jackson, but mostly he talked about food.

When Esa-Pekka Salonen came to California as new music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, I was the first writer to interview the Finnish conductor and composer. He had barely gotten off the plane from Finland when I picked him up after a rehearsal at UCLA, and while I drove him to the Music Center in downtown Los Angeles I thought it would be funny to welcome him to Los Angeles by playing the Monty Python song honoring his homeland. It begins: Finland, Finland, Finland; Pony Camping or Trekking; Or just watching TV; Finland, Finland, Finland; It’s the country where I want to be.  He had never heard it. I thought it would be hilarious. He didn’t agree.

My dubious inspiration for interviewing blue-eyed soul singer Boz Scaggs was to go on a saloon crawl with him in San Francisco, where he lived. It devolved into a long night of hopping between drinking establishments, in one of which we met a genial biker who told us he had that day changed his name legally to Joe Dirte’, pronounced Dir-tay. A couple stops later, after an unfortunate encounter for Joe in the Balboa Cafe, he ended up stuffed rear-first into a trash can, both legs and arms poking out. That’s where we left Joe, grinning up at us.

David Geffen has a fearsome reputation for ruthless business practices, but the billionaire music and film business entrepreneur has never been anything but cordial to me. Once we met for a luncheon interview in his Beverly Hills mansion, which he told me was actually rented from actress Marlo Thomas. His staff served us pork ribs, I recall, and afterward he promised that he’d always take my call. I’m keeping that in my back pocket until I need investors for my next can’t-miss inspiration.

For decades, Steve Allen was admired as a nonstop creative force in television, publishing and songwriting. His output was so prodigious it was easy to imagine he had little need for sleep. But the most surprising thing he told me was that he was worthless unless he had 10 hours of sleep every night.

Once I went on a road trip with the Los Angeles Lakers, during which I learned how boring such multi-city jaunts really were–grinding travel and hotel time punctuated by a few hours of game, usually every other day. In Atlanta, some players used the down time to go to a shoe store patronized by many NBA players. I remember Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and teammate Gail Goodrich sitting on the edge of a baggage carousel playing chess. During a team shoot-around on a practice court in Cleveland, I found an unused basket and was throwing up a few awkward baskets when I felt a presence behind me. When I turned around it was Kareem, staring down and me and shaking his head sadly.

Robin Williams always seemed a hyperkinetic whirlwind of energy and quips, as he was on the set of Mork and Mindy while I watched the show’s taping prior to our interview afterward. But when I was shown into his trailer later, Robin was slumped in a chair, exhausted. He was perfectly pleasant, but it seemed draining for him to simply answer questions, much less crack jokes. His performances exacted a tremendous toll.

Before I knew better, I assumed that classical music artists were serious and solemn even when not playing for an audience. James Galway set me straight about that. I met the flutist from Northern Ireland on board the long-gone small French ship Renaissance during a remarkable two-week classical music cruise in the Caribbean. Galway was one of the solo artists, who also included Daniel Barenboim, Maurice Andre’ and Gidon Kremer. The entire English Chamber Orchestra was also on board. From the first lunch at a big round table with several of the musicians, it was clear that classical artists knew how to kick back. One night gathered in a cabin and fueled by multiple bottles of good Champagne, Jimmy, Daniel and a few others grabbed their instruments and engaged in an impromptu jam session. I never looked at classical music the same way again.

Before I met Tom Waits in the seedy West Hollywood motel he called home, I thought the singer-songwriter-actor’s down-and-out persona was calculated. But I changed my mind when I entered his disheveled ground-floor apartment, carpeted from wall to wall in crushed beer cans. Pushed against one wall was the battered upright piano on which he composed such bleary paeans to drinking and disappointment as Closing Time and The Heart of Saturday Night. Even that distinctive gravel growl was authentic. When we went for a late-night drive in his pink Cadillac convertible many hours later, I understood how wrong I had been.

I didn’t know it at the time, but English artist David Hockney lived very close to us in the Hollywood Hills, our mutual canyon immortalized in his Nichols Canyon. It was close enough that I could walk to my interview with the acclaimed painter and collage artist. He couldn’t have been more pleasant. He let me into his house and introduced me to his beloved dachshund Stanley. He showed me his high-ceiling studio with its north-facing windows and unfinished works scattered around. We sat next to his backyard pool, its bottom painted in those trademark squiggles, and talked of California and England, of fame and privacy, of creative energy and ennui.
Yes, along with many others, Gary Shandling was there, too. I had interviewed him. But I can’t tell you a thing about it. Some things you never forget. Others you just can’t remember.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Stockholm, Sweden
GUEST BLOG—By Elanor Sezer, a candidate MSc in Japanese Politics and Sociology at the University of Oxford--When I first heard about the “Call a Random Swede” initiative, I dismissed it as an April Fools’ joke. Surely, a number set up by the Swedish Tourist Association that connects international callers to one of 10,000 random volunteers must be a joke. Who would really set up such a thing? And why? But the second time I heard this national news, I started to doubt that this was a joke. And, indeed, the third time I heard about the initiative was from my friend, who called me and said he had installed this “fantastic app” that enables you to take random international calls. “You should try it,” he said, adding an enthusiastic, “It's fun.” And so I had to face the facts: My dear country now has its very own number.

Sitting on my IKEA couch
Naturally, the first thing I did was to install the app myself. The only thing I needed to do to verify my Swedish-ness was to enter my local number. In the span of five minutes, I had gone from being a regular citizen to a cultural ambassador for my country. What can I say? It was magic. Feeling a sting of unfamiliar nationalistic pride (I am, after all, Swedish, and we are not known for nationalism, at least not the American variety), I sat down and stared at my phone. It didn't ring. I cooked my meatball-dinner with lingonberry jam. It didn't ring. I put on an ABBA CD and lounged in my IKEA couch. It didn't ring.

But then, right in the middle of my daily think about gender equality and the benefits of free healthcare, it rang! Excited, I grabbed my phone and answered (“Sweden speaking”). As it turned out, the caller was a journalist from a small town in the UK. “What is the deal with this initiative?”

Officially, the initiative celebrates that Sweden was the first country to abolish censorship 250 years ago. Magnus Ling, general secretary and CEO of the Swedish Tourist Association, elaborated, saying in a statement, “In troubled times, many countries try to limit communication between people, but we want to do just the opposite. We are making Sweden the first country in the world with its own phone number and giving our fellow Swedes an opportunity to answer the calls, express themselves, and share their views, whatever they might be.”

This is not the first time sweet Sweden has fostered direct communication between ordinary Swedes and the wider world: In January 2009, the Swedish Institute launched @Sweden on Twitter, an account that lets a new Swede be the face of the country in 140 characters max each week. The account, which is still running, was so Swedish and successful that it received its own New York Times profile in 2012.

This time, though, the campaign coincides with one of the largest annual events in Europe that, this year, will be held in Sweden: the Eurovision Song Contest. The event is, in a nutshell, one large promotion for the host country (the winner of the competition the year before). It would take an exceptionally clever person to come up with a low-cost/high return promotion campaign ahead of the televised event that would further spark people’s curiosity; like, say, an app, perhaps?

The “Call a Random Swede” initiative is a fun idea as it appeals to both callers and receivers. It is exciting to connect with the outside world, and also flattering that someone takes interest in your country. As far as promotional campaigns go, it is a win-win concept.

Swedish made Ericcson phone didn't ring
But like all promotion, it can only last so long. Tomorrow there will be another fun concept, and this app will be forgotten in the midst of daily life. Which will, in my own Swedish case, involve beautiful, progressive people and excellent pop music.

Elanor Sezer is a candidate MSc in Japanese Politics and Sociology at the University of Oxford.

Reposted from New America Weekly.

New America Weekly is a digital magazine, featuring big ideas and bold thinking to confront today's most pressing challenges.  It kindly shares its editorial with the public for reposting.  is an independent think tank based in Washington DC.

New America is dedicated to the renewal of American politics, prosperity, and purpose in the Digital Age. We carry out our mission as a nonprofit civic enterprise: an intellectual venture capital fund, think tank, technology laboratory, public forum, and media platform. Our hallmarks are big ideas, impartial analysis, pragmatic policy solutions, technological innovation, next generation politics, and creative engagement with broad audiences.


New America was founded in 1999 to nurture a new generation of public intellectuals – scholars, policy experts, and journalists who could address major social, economic, and political challenges in ways that would engage the public at large -- and to provide a set of blueprints for American renewal in an era of globalization and digitization. The initial challenge, which continues today, was to find the minds and foster the debates needed to guide American renewal in an era of profound, exhilarating, but often threatening change.

Under the leadership of founding president Ted Halstead and his successor Steve Coll, New America became a vibrant intellectual community and public policy institute. Its Fellows and program staff have incubated and advanced breakthrough ideas[1] in a wide range of domestic and international policy arenas. Today we have a staff of some 140 people, a budget of roughly $20 million, and a wide array of programs and undertakings.


As a civic enterprise, we are committed to the solution of public problems. Solutions at scale are likely to require the combined efforts of the public, private, and civic sectors as well as a blend of technology, policy, and politics. New America provides a platform that enables individuals and groups working on these solutions to drive different stages of change, from inspiration to implementation. Our work concentrates in the following categories:

Identifying and nurturing new and diverse thinkers, researchers and writers and helping them join the public conversation.
Developing and implementing ideas and policies to address public problems at the local, state, federal, and international level.
Bridging the worlds of technology, policy, politics, and academia, both by creating, testing, and piloting new technologies and integrating existing technologies into policy solutions.
Using media and live events to share ideas and engage audiences in the nation’s capital and across the country around shared challenges.
Our Aspirations

New technologies change how we live and work -- disruptions that in turn affect families, schools, social networks, civic organizations, political preferences, and foreign policy. They reshape what we buy and sell and where and how we invest our capital, creating new winners and losers. Over time, however, the nature and impact of these technologies depend on choices made by governments, businesses, civic groups, and communities. American institutions today – the workplace, the family, the schoolhouse, the doctor’s office, the corner store, the bank, the voting booth, the town hall, the military, the embassy – have only begun to transform and adapt to a digital economy and society. It is up to all of us to make the choices necessary to ensure that transformation upholds America’s founding values of liberty, equality, democracy, and justice.

New America’s staff, fellows, board, and alumni believe in the possibility of transformative change. For hundreds of years America has repeatedly managed to reinvent its society, economy, and political system in the face of sweeping changes at home and abroad, while still holding to the promise of a society in which every individual has an equal chance to live up to his or her potential. We believe that through the power of people, ideas, technology, and participatory democracy, we can and must renew ourselves again.