Bill Ayers @ Red Emma’s Tonight

First things first: the new location of Red Emma’s is finally open at the corner of North ave and Maryland in Station North. You may recall that we posted some photos of the construction progress a while back. The new shop opened for good about a week and a half ago with not too much fanfare and is now keeping regular hours with a widely expanded vegan menu.

The shop alone is worth checking out on its own merits any day of the week, but tonight at 7:30 is a particularly good time to pop in when activist, professor and author Bill Ayers makes a book tour appearance with his latest work Public Enemy, Confessions of an American Dissident.

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Ayers featured prominently in the news in 2008 when the McCain campaign and right wing echo chamber seized on his past association with radical anti-war group the Weather Underground and Sarah Palin famously accused Barack Obama of ‘pallin’ around with terrorists.’

Of course, there’s more to Ayers’ life than what he did in the late 60′s and early 70′s. Much more. This lengthy feature from the Chicago Reader is a nice primer. No matter what you may think of his politics, you would be hard pressed to deny that Ayers has led a damned interesting life.

By way of a very small example, just take these lines from a recent Chicago Tribune article about Ayers’ new book:

Hells Angels fill the first row of a lecture to intimidate Ayers, the gang ends up debating the government’s ills with Ayers and colleagues all night at a Chinese restaurant.

His rich life has him hosting a dinner party for right-wing pundits one day and squatting with Greek anarchists another.

We like to think our own life is interesting enough, but it certainly doesn’t involve political debates with bikers and dabbling in Athens squatter culture. Spending an hour or two listening to Bill Ayers talk tonight will be worth about ten thousand crummy magazine profiles of vapid celebrities like Bradley Cooper, and the chance to shake his hand and cop a signed copy of his memoir is worth all the Dos Equis commercials under the sun.

The Chop Approves of Fox River Gloves

It’s no secret that the Chop is a big fan of woolen garments. We’re practically one quarter sheep on our mother’s side. Jackets, overcoats, even chunky socks; we wear it all, all Winter long.

Strangely though we’ve never been much on gloves. We’re they type whose prone to leave one glove behind when we go out, so for the longest time we were in the habit of just jamming our hands in our pockets and leaving them there. Any warmth a glove provided was always offset by the need to take it off to play with our phone or fiddle with out keys or whatever.

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But then we started bicycling everywhere. When you’re barreling down Falls road at 20 mph and the first thing exposed to the January wind is the backs of your hands you learn your lesson quickly and you go buy yourself some gloves.

For us that meant popping into Sixteen Tons on the Avenue in Hampden and picking up a pair of these fingerless ragg wool gloves from Fox River. Not pictured is the beaded grip attached to the palm which makes them an excellent choice for cycling, allowing us to both keep a steady grip on the bars as well as get a fine and secure feel for the brake levers.

But we soon found we were wearing them just as often off the bike. Despite being fingerless they’re plenty warm, and because they’re fingerless they allow us to slip our hands in and out of pockets easily and play with our phone at will.

Best of all, for some $15 gloves that took a fair amount of abuse last Winter our pair has held up remarkably well. Having dusted them off recently they’re ready for another season of wear, and go well with everything from our best suit to our most ragged jacket.

A word to the wise: Sixteen Tons recently re-stocked these gloves for 2013 in both fingerless and fingered varieties. If you need a pair of gloves you can’t do much better than this, and if you need a great sub-$20 gift for any man in your life these gloves will make an outstanding selection.

Fifth Annual Mobbies Awards @ Creative Alliance Tonight

So the Mobbies bash is tonight from 6:30-8:30. You should go. Even if you don’t have a blog or anything. You’re obviously reading this so you clearly have at least a basic working knowledge of blogs and Baltimore City, and that’s enough. Besides, you’re probably on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit or some combination of those. At least one, right? Well this is a good chance to meet some people from there and drink beer with them. And score a free sushi/Japanese dinner.

We already wrote up a fairly long post about the current state of Blogging in general and Baltimore especially, so we’re not going to repeat anything today. You can check it out at this link.

What we will do is take this opportunity to say thanks to the Sun for running the contest again this year and good luck to the staffers there for whom this is ‘their first rodeo’ so to speak.

Of course, the Sun’s purview only involves managing the contest and planning the party, so there’s been no mention on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere we’ve seen about an after party. Not sure about you but a two hour event with 30 minutes or so given over to awards does not constitute a full night of drinking for the Chop. Not even on a Tuesday.

So we’re just going to throw it out there that there ought to at least be an unofficial designated bar nearby. Our vote goes to ‘Irish Pub’ which is on Clinton just above Eastern, right behind Haussner’s. Other good choices are the Laughing Pint, Baltimore Taphouse and of course, Bad Decisions.

One thing’s certain though- wherever the night may take us we’re very likely to end up sauced on Jameson and watching Dog With a Blog on On Demand. Hands Down new favorite show. Stan is a dog! He has a blog! And he writes in it on every episode just like Doogie Howser M.D. used to. He’s also high-strung and precocious like Mr. Ed was. Oh yeah and he talks, duh. But the parents don’t know that. He only talks to the kids.

It doesn’t matter who wins or loses tonight. The real winners are Avery, Tyler and Chloe.

(feature image via Disney)

Sauerkraut for Thanksgiving: A Baltimore Tradition

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us. For those of us who are Baltimore natives preparing a Thanksgiving table means getting a Turkey, and most likely a ham as well, along with stuffing and corn and yams and all, and of course, the pièce de résistance of the true Maryland Thanksgiving repast, Polish sausage and sauerkraut.

Most non-natives will balk at the notion of including kraut as part of a turkey feast. But they are for the most part fools and their knavish opinions are clearly the product of an ill-informed and inferior worldview. After all, how is one meant to make a next-day turkey reuben if there is no leftover sauerkraut in the fridge?

At the same time though, we can understand how kraut gets a bad rap. It takes quite a bit of effort to pickle your own cabbage, and even the most precious of Etsyfied hipsters isn’t likely to have enough mason jars or patience to convert copious amounts of cabbage into shredded, fermented slaw. The process takes at least a month. Sadly the only readily available alternative to homemade is the generic, stringy, pungent canned sauerkraut on supermarket shelves, best known as (and perhaps best suited to be) a hot dog topping. ‘Gourmet’ brands in supermarkets never taste much different from the basic can.

You'll need to add more than that parsley sprig if you actually want it to taste very good.

You’ll need to add more than that parsley sprig if you actually want it to taste very good.

Much like the gelatinous, can-shaped flavorless cranberry corn syrup and citric acid blend that passes for cranberry sauce, plain kraut out of the can deserves most of the scorn people bear it. However it also has this in common with cheap cranberry sauce: you can dress it up, and if you do it right it’s actually pretty good.

So we’re going to explain how to do it here. The Chop has been a vegetarian going on 20 years now (our family does set aside some sausageless kraut at Thanksgiving, natch) but sausage and sauerkraut is a dish we still enjoy regularly, usually with Smart Sausages or something similar. We’re going to explain the carnivore version though, which is roughly the same.

First: Sear your sausages in a pan over high heat. Just a quick browning on each side. Pull them and set them aside for a bit. If you’re cooking a good quantity of sausage you may have enough fat in the pan. If not, add some bacon grease or shortening.

Second: Add some sliced onions and some peeled, diced apple chunks to the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Saute them until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. Near the end add a few cloves of garlic sliced thinly or minced. Once the garlic is sizzling slide everything to one side and deglaze the pan with Boh or similar beer. Alternately, you can use gin if you want juniper flavor. Allow the alcohol to burn off either way.

Third: Strain your sauerkraut. You can do this by just pushing the lid into the can. Add it to the pan along with a small amount of malt or cider vinegar. You may wish to cut the acidity with a bit of sugar as well. Add in some stock or broth. Vegetable stock works best, even in a real-sausage recipe. Stir the pan and let it heat up covered.

Fourth: Once it’s hot add in a little fresh rosemary and thyme, fennel sprigs, a few carraway seeds, a bay leaf, a pinch of allspice, a dash of nutmeg, a small amount of celery salt and some black pepper. This is a basic list. If you’re missing one or two items it’s no problem. If you want to substitute something similar that’s fine too. Add your sausage back into the pan, pile the kraut on top of it and put the lid on. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 90 minutes or more. When your sausage is brown all the way through you’re ready to eat.

When done right you’ll have some big flavors mixed and muddled with several more subtle flavors that all together elevate a fifty nine cent can of sauerkraut to a height of culinary excellence beyond most people’s belief. Because this dish contains such big flavor, and because it’s all protein and vegetables it’s best to serve it with pierogi or some other type of dumpling or plain-ish potato side for a complete meal. That is, of course, if you’re not serving it in its rightful place, right next to the Thanksgiving turkey.

Posters By Alex Fine, Post Typography On View/Sale

Perhaps, unlike the Chop, you are not a cheap and selfish bastard. Perhaps you don’t just get a Christmas gift for your mom and girlfriend and call it a day. Perhaps you are generous enough to buy reasonably priced holiday gifts for some of your punk rock friends as well and will soon be in the market for same.

Or maybe you just moved into a new place and need some cool shit for your walls.

And it could even be that you’re an obsessive nerd of a record collector who can’t get enough of things like old set lists, tour t-shirts and show posters. Especially posters.

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Well you’re in luck because two of Baltimore’s preeminent artists working in the realm of punk show posters are about to open their archives of work over the last ten years and beyond.

Tonight illustrator Alex Fine comes to Gallery 788 with a collection of upwards of 200 posters. You’re likely already very familiar with Alex’s work having seen it regularly in the City Paper and the B daily among others. You may have even seen a poster or two on this blog on the days of shows we’ve written about. If you need a refresher check his portfolio available online.

Select screen prints will be available, and if you haven’t had a chance to see the new location of Gallery 788 yet tonight is an outstanding opportunity to check it out. It’s an outstanding space and the gallery’s fifth annual erotic art show will be on view concurrently.

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On Saturday, December 7 (a day that will live in infamy) the work of Fine’s Pure Junk bandmate Nolen Strals and his partner Bruce Willen will be available for show and sale at the Charles North studio of their firm Post Typography. Located at number 3 West 23rd St, the open studio will include some of Post Typography’s greatest hits poster-wise, as well as their books and some pretty choice out-of-print Double Dagger merch like vinyl and T-shirts.

The event runs from noon- 5:00 pm. Don’t be a sucker… bring cash and show up early. There’s going to be something you want here and if you fuck around and wait until 4 pm someone else is going to come in and buy it before you.