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TONY FLETCHER'S NEXT DJ GIG IS AS GUEST AT TISWAS, DON HILL'S, GREENWICH AND SPRING STREETS, MANHATTAN, SATURDAY JANUARY 24. PERFORMING LIVE: AMBULANCE LTD. AND INOUK.

FRIDAY JANUARY 16

LIMAHL GOES TO BUTLINS

Next week, VH1 is taking a break from its Entertainment Tonight style specials (on metrosexuals, money and marriage) and, presumably, attempting to win back some of its original audience with the series Bands Reunited. The station website describes the show this way: "Each episode chronicles the effort to reunite a popular band from decades past, long since broken up…Shock, embarrassment and sometimes anger are just a few of the reactions host Aamer Haleem finds as he shows up unexpectedly and surprises each band member with the possibility of reuniting with their former bandmates. Some are thrilled for the opportunity to relive their heydays, while others would rather keep the past in the past."

Kajagoogoo and (fat) fan reunited. And we pay cable TV stations to get these bands back together???

In the case of Kajagoogoo, Extreme and A Flock Of Seagulls, I think we'd all sooner keep the past in the past, wouldn't we? A couple of the others could be interesting, though with The Alarm (under which name Mike Peters continues to perform) and Squeeze (whose line-up included so many different people over the years), I doubt if it was too difficult to get a show together. (And you know they did get the shows together; it took me less than a minute to former Kajagoogoo singer Limahl's web site and his own account of the reunion concert filmed back in October.) Of the ten featured acts, I'm most intrigued by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, who were famously argumentative even when things were going well, whose ability to actually play live was frequently called into question, whose 'drummer' Ped, last I heard (and that was about a decade ago) had reverted to being an electrician, and whose front man, Holly Johnson, has been living with H.I.V. for fifteen years or more. That episode goes out next Friday. Mark your TIVO.

And if one-hour TV specials don't satisfy your fixation for past pop stars, you can always head off to Butlins in Skegness at the end of February, to see Bananarama, ABC, Bucks Fizz, Musical Youth with Pato Banton and, yes, Limahl. Pass the sick bag on the left hand side...


HELP!

Thanks to iJamming! readers posting their Best of 2003 Lists, I've been catching up with some music I missed out on last year. And thanks to file-sharing, I've been able to check out some of these acts for free, first, to see if I like them. In the case of The Postal Service, I've already gone to iTunes and paid to officially download the same songs and more. (Though I realize I may have done this purely to prove my own point: that free file-sharing DOES result in paid purchases.) But as anyone who's spent time out there in file-sharing land knows, not every track comes through as planned. Searching out TV On The Radio, I came across a song called 'Robots' from an album OK Calculator. No, it's not the old Kraftwerk song, though it is most certainly electro. And it's absolutely hilarious. Sample lyrics: "Robots fucking in the middle of a telecast with Tom Brokaw announcing his love for puppies. Pictures of Oprah Winfrey fucking robots, for sale on E-Bay." But of course here's the catch: It's not the Brooklyn band TV On The Radio, it's somebody else entirely. Someone along the lines of Add N To (X). Though it's not them either. And though I'm sure I remember reading about either a band or album entitled OK Calculator, I can find no trace of either, anywhere on the web. Does anyone know this track/band/album? (My free download tells me it's track 16 of 18, if that helps.) If so, please pop in the pub to tell us. This song is too good not to share.


THURSDAY JANUARY 15

UNI-CORNY

The music industry may be in big trouble, but no one need fear a trickle down effect at this point. Not judging by last night at the Brooklyn club Southpaw, where over 500 people braved sub-freezing temperatures and a snowstorm to watch a band from Montreal via British Columbia, whose sole release to date was released by a Canadian indie.

Then again, it might be fairly observed that a significant percentage of the audience had heard little of The Unicorns until now, except for the buzz in the trendy press. The Village Voice, flavorpill and nyhappenings all strongly recommended the group's live show; allmusic.com reported regular appearance of "films, puppet shows, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches." After hearing a few whimsical lo-fi tracks via their web player, I decided to check the fuss for myself. Then again, I only live a few hundred yards from the venue. My apologies to anyone who came from further afield and was turned away (as dozens were), for taking their place.

But don't worry if you were one of them, for you didn't miss much. Founders Nick Diamonds and Alden Ginger, alternating guitar, bass, keys and vocals, have charisma in abundance; drummer Jamie Thompson has jazz skills in spades. When they make the most of these talents, The Unicorns deliver a somewhat confusing but ultimately endearing sound somewhere between They Might Be Giants, Daniel Johnston, Flaming Lips and your all-too-precocious cousin.

Alden Ginger, Uni-Corny, Jamie Thompson and Nick Diamonds: the talent is there, but the joke wears thin.

Unfortunately, they spend too much of their time on forced humor – a unicorn-adorned dancer who throws condoms in the audience, lengthy examinations of their baseball card collection, and lame jokes about balls dropping on New Year's Eve. Running parallel to all this was a superb skit with the 'soundman,' who when asked for more vocal in the monitor (such a common occurrence at Southpaw that few in the audience would have suspected a set-up), immediately began mimicking the archetypal whining front man through the stage mikes, bullied them to get on with the show and stop acting like pop stars, then put on a tape when the band wouldn't start playing quickly enough. It was one of those 'why has nobody thought of this before' gags, and if they toned it down a little, the Unicorns could convince at least every first-time audience member that it was for real. But like most of the music, it was too self-conscious to convince.

The jam-packed room – rendered yet more uncomfortable by the preponderance of heavy overcoats, hats and scarves (this was one gig I imagine even the smokers could appreciate a smoking ban) – began thinning out after about 15 minutes. By the end of the set – while the dancer stripped to his boxers and Alden played bass flat on his back, a charming but hardly original conclusion – you could actually wend your way through the crowd without knocking over someone's drink.

Stepping out of Southpaw into the snow...

Walking home with a younger couple as they drifted through the mounting snow in search of a subway, I elicited a quick vox pop. Sure enough, they'd heard a couple of Unicorns songs here and there, heard plenty buzz about the live show, decided to check the group for themselves… and were distinctly unimpressed. "They were like a high school band. They need to cut the jokes, get on with the show. They need a manager." (Love that New York business attitude.) "They need to grow up."

And then, as if it was unfair to ask this of them, the girl added, "But they're so young. They look about twelve." If the Unicorns song '2014' is remotely accurate, they're actually about 21. Young enough to come good in time. (And I suspect they will come good; I reserve the right to declare their third album brilliant.) But the same average age as the Sex Pistols in 1977. Or the Beatles in their Hamburg days. I think you know what I'm getting at. And if you don't, the Unicorns are for you.


WEDNESDAY JANUARY 14

THINGS THAT DRIVE US MAD

Just finished reading a fascinating story about S.U.V.'s and their safety, perceived and otherwise, in last week's New Yorker. S.U.V.'s, for our overseas readers who may be blissfully unaware, are those vast, truck-like gas-guzzling 'Sports Utility Vehicles' which have come to dominate American roads - primarily, it seems to me, because unless you're sitting in one yourself, you can't see anything else on the road for the fact that almost everybody else around you is already sitting in one (and high up above you at that).

Malcolm Gladwell's feature contains a list of safety statistics, which tells us that compact cars and mini-vans have much lower death rates than S.U.V.'s and pick-up trucks. Why, then, are these supposed 'off-road' vehicles so incredibly popular? Because of the perception of safety, the notion that, according to one renowned consultant to American auto makers, "If I am bigger and taller I'm safer." Or, as Gladwell puts it, "feeling safe has become more important actually being safe."

The Ford Explorer (top) and the Volkswagon Jetta (bottom). Which one looks safer? Which one is actually safer? (A clue: it's the less expensive one.)

But the result of choosing perceived safety over proven safety, is that the S.U.V. driver effectively abdicates his or her actual responsibility for safety.

"The S.U.V. boom represents a shift in how we conceive of safety – from active to passive," Gladwell writes. "It's what happens when a large number of drivers conclude, consciously or otherwise, that they are better off treating accidents as inevitable rather than avoidable."

Taking the aforementioned attitude of 'inevitability', the S.U.V. driver might feel vindicated. "In a head-on crash, an Explorer or a Suburban (both S.U.V.'s) would crush a (compact) Jetta or (mid-size) Camry." But citing the accompanying statistics listing fatal accident rates among America's most popular vehicles, in which those smaller vehicles have far lower death rates, Gladwell notes that, "Clearly, the drivers of Camrys and Jettas are finding a way to avoid head-on crashes with Explorers and Suburbans. The benefits of…being in an automobile that's capable of staying out of trouble are in many cases greater than the benefits of being big."

And somewhere in the middle of all this, he offers a refreshingly realistic take on a standard stand-up comic's gag:

"For years, we've all made fun of the middle-aged man who suddenly trades in his sedate family sedan for a shiny red sports car. That's called a midlife crisis. But at least it involves some degree of engagement with the act of driving. The man who gives up his sedate family sedan for an S.U.V. is saying something far more troubling – that he finds the demands of the road to be overwhelming. Is acting out really worse than giving up?"

No, this is not a roundabout way of stating that I've traded in the family Saturn station wagon for a BMW, though I have just spent a fortune on our American Volvo equivalent's 30,000-mile service. Still, I'll remember Gladwell's observation should I ever be pressured to trade up to an S.U.V. as an apparent improvement in family safety.


For the time being, the Europeans do not have to worry about the S.U.V. scourge. [Gladwell claims that "In Europe and Japan, people think of a safe car as a nimble car."] They do, of course, have their own set of problems on the roads. The one that's most got my goat when I've returned to Britain has been the proliferation of speed cameras, which seem to have become more about providing easy revenue than genuinely preventing accidents. My most striking example is on the A23 coming back into South London, where late-night driving on an empty dual carriageway with absolutely no pedestrians is restricted to speeds as low as 40mph. I'm convinced that the local authorities not only know it's safe for me to drive faster but that they would love me to do so – so as to fine me and put more money their coffers.

I'm obviously not alone in my annoyance. After the British Government announced plans this Monday to add a £5 surcharge to the £60 fine already levied on motorists caught by cameras, to fund compensation to victims of crime, there was an immediate outcry. It was led by the right-wing press, which typically champions drivers' rights over public transport issues. But even the left-wing Guardian runs a Leader Column today imploring the Government to rethink. In a separate article, frustratingly short on actual facts and figures, the Guardian rightly takes the Daily Mail to task for suggesting that speeding is a victimless crime, but then switches the debate from that of safety to the part which really angers me: that of personal liberty. I see all these speed cameras on British roads, I note all the CCTVs on street corners and in buildings, and rather than feel safe or protected, I just get a Big Brother complex. Hey, just because I'm paranoid clearly doesn’t mean they're not watching me.

So when the Guardian notes that "In the US, (where) automobile and speed limits (are) as low as 55mph, speed cameras are used in just four states," they should also state the reason: Americans wouldn't stand for the invasion of privacy. I don't know how overall road safety records compare between S.U.V. heavy USA and camera crazy UK - though The Guardian reports that British road safety records are better than in Continental Europe, which is mostly free of S.U.V.'s and CCTV. Here's hoping, then, that the S.U.V. won't catch on in the UK and invasive stealth cameras won't catch on in the States.

A tangential aside: I was sent a British press cutting, reporting how Liverpool is about to copy the method by which the once appalling crime rate in Brooklyn's now prospering Red Hook was reversed. I imagine there's already no shortage of CCTV cameras in Liverpool, and I can assure you there are almost none in Red Hook. As with the S.U.V. controversy, the perception of safety is very different from the reality.


My Keith Moon biography was cited this month by Classic Rock magazine as one of the Rock Books You Must Own. Thanks for the compliment.

I wrote yesterday about the genius of Larry David. I note that the New Yorker's web site has an in-depth profile on him this week. Knowing the length of their features, which make mine look like Sun headlines by comparison, you may want to print it out for bedtime reading.


TUESDAY JANUARY 13

BODY PARTS

I know I'm not the only person who looks forward to Sunday nights with HBO, which means I'm not the only one who would have noticed that the night's prime time ratings stars, Sex In The City and Curb Your Enthusiasm, each honed in on the same theme last Sunday night: boob jobs. Given that the shows are based and filmed in coastal capitals 2500 miles apart, this says more about America's cultural (or at least, comedic) obsessions than it does about creative theft. There was little the HBO programmers could do about the coincidence but let it go, allowing that the two shows are each just two weeks into a new series, and particularly because Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David's excruciatingly embarrassing expose of the vacuous LA lifestyle, is following a series plot this time around.

That plot involves David being hand-picked by Mel Brooks to play Max Bialystock in the Broadway hit musical The Producers, opposite Ben Stiller as Leo Bloom. Since exploding onto the Sunday night schedules a couple of years back, Curb Your Enthusiasm has featured any number of memorable cameos, but Stiller deserves special acclaim for taking on this role, as he portrays himself every bit as shallow and self-absorbed as anyone else in Tinsel Town, though more willing to play the Hollywood game and therefore less likely to publicly embarrass himself in the process. Has the real Ben Stiller stood up? Probably not. The beauty of Curb Your Enthusiasm is that it shows how, in a place where no one (with the expection of the hapless Larry) ever says what they really mean, there is therefore no such thing as Reality TV.

Ben Stiller and Larry David play themselves as prime-time dicks in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The beauty in Curb Your Enthusiasm last week, when not dealing with tits of various shapes and sizes, was of a particular cruel kind: the blind character Michael from an earlier series returns as rehearsal pianist for The Producers, sporting what he claims to be his 'model' girlfriend, a 40-something with a face like the proverbial back of the bus. Most characters, real or imagined, would allow the blind man his comforts, but not David, who manages to break taboos on both beauty and blindness in the same few embarrassing, blissfully unscripted seconds.
Michael: "Don’t you think she's beautiful?"
Larry: "Egh…"
Michael" "Egh?"
Larry: "Egh."
Michael: "You don't think she's beautiful?"
Larry: "I don't say beautiful. She's 'nice'."
Michael. "Oh."
Larry: "She told you she was a model? Ah, what's the difference what she looks like – you can't see her anyway. That's one of the advantages, right? With good hearing?"
Michael: "Good hearing?"
Larry: "What is that, a myth? I thought blind people had better hearing. Like a dog."
Michael: "I wouldn't know Larry, I've never had it tested."


Beauty of a different kind is all over the media at the moment, leading me to conclude, in Carrie Fisher-typing-into-her-Powerbook mode, "There is nothing more humdrum than a buzzword. If being trendy is so much fun, why do we always feel like we need a hip replacement?"

Yes, I'm talking about the Metrosexual, the latest ludicrously overblown style sensation. After a blissful weekend away from the television and press, I came back Sunday night and in the space of barely twelve hours, seven of which were spent asleep, I managed to stumble across a 'Metrosexual' special (featuring David Beckham) on the former pop music video channel VH1, a feature on Metrosexual Pop Idol host and Casey Kamen replacement Ryan Seacrest in the New York Times, and, flicking through the magazines in the supermarket queue, as you do, another Metrosexual special in Maxim (to which the obvious response is: what took them so long?). But none of them could beat (off) the front-of-magazine story in Monday's Newsweek about this Metrosexual trend, which makes the tit jobs of HBO's prime-time comedies seem as out-dated as, well, the Cosmopolitan cocktail.

In several metro areas, men are paying up to $100 for bikini waxes that take it all – all – off. Men claim it makes oral sex more sensual, says Lidia Tivichi of New York's Kimara Ahnert salon. "Without the hair, everything down there looks bigger," she says. "I know they like that, too."

Anyone care to argue?


MONDAY JANUARY 12

NEW YORK W(H)INES, PART 2

NEW YORK W(H)INES PART 1 CAN BE FOUND HERE

We spent the week of Christmas and New Year in the Catskills and through a combination of opportunity and desire, ended up drinking a lot of New York wines, working our way round the State's three viticultural areas: Long Island, the Hudson Valley and the Finger Lakes.

I'm on record as believing that Long Island's most successful red grape is Cabernet Franc [read the iJamming! Cabernet Franc feature here], but others, including many of the Estates themselves, prefer to tout their Merlot – and charge accordingly. The MACARI MERLOT 1998 cost us $24 at the winery back in November 2001. Opened a couple of weeks before the holidays, it was a purple color in the glass with a light reddish brick, exuding enticing notes of plum and vanilla oak. A slight sweetness on the nose was overtaken by a mintiness that I've noticed generally permeates Long Island Cabernet Sauvignons. An initially bright and cheery but increasingly bitter cherry attack went a little thin on the mid-palate before giving out to an opulent, plummy, affirmative finish. The wine still had surprisingly firm tannins but the sweet oak masked most of the fruit on hand. Quite a bold wine, and not one to kick out of bed, but not worth the $24 we paid for it at cellar door.

Still, it was better value than the LENZ ESTATE BOTTLED MERLOT 1997, which we had with Christmas Dinner. (The menu of Chestnut Roast accompanied by roast potatoes, parsnips and Brussels sprouts was a difficult wine match but, after much study and research, I figured the Merlot would complement.) A crimson red in the glass, it left behind significant tannins in the bottle. An initially subdued nose of toasty spices went on to reveal lots of vanilla oak on the palate, through which cedar (sandalwood?), tobacco, black cherry, black currant and a little plum all fought to make themselves known. Relatively smooth, with a just a hint of mint, the tannins had clearly softened and mostly integrated, and there was a reasonably endearing, spicy finish. That finish was yet longer 24 hours later, when I returned to the bottle, but was now a little sharp; the wine had otherwise rounded out in the middle and gave off more fig and plum flavors. (Both Cabernets are in the blend, making up less than 25% for the wine to fulfill legal Merlot definition.)

Looking at these notes, which seem pretty positive, you might wander what I have to complain about. Simple: QPR. The Quality-Price-Ratio. Those who know Lenz know that they've priced their Estate Bottled wines as though the North Fork is the new Napa. I'm too embarrassed to say what I paid for this wine (also bought at cellar back in 2001), but put it this way: for the price we should have been praising it like it was a personal gift from Santa's cellar. Instead, no one sat up and paid attention to the wine, no one screamed for more, no one much noticed it at all. There's an argument that the wine might have worked better if decanted prior to Christmas Dinner, given that it seemed to offer greater flavors 24 hours later; there's also the defence that it was up against a difficult food match. But I'd called Lenz a week before Christmas and they were stressed that this was optimum drinking time for this particular bottle.

Visiting their web site, I notice that to avoid regular confusion with their other Merlots, Lenz have renamed this bottling as 'Old Vines Merlot.' In Europe, 'old vines' is usually taken to mean at least 50 years, perhaps even 100; the Lenz Vines are aged approximately 20-25 years. Then again, by North Fork standards, that's almost primordial. This particular Merlot, incidentally, is the wine that famously outranked two vintages of Chateau Petrus at a Gramercy Tavern tasting; given that those Petrus wines cost $650 and $975 a bottle a piece, Lenz would have you believe the Estate Bottled (now Old Vines) is a bargain. It's not. Their $14 everyday Merlot (confusingly titled Reserve) offers far better value.


Wine is made up and down New York State. Lenz, Macari and Paumanok are on Long Island; Dr. Frank, Hermann Wiemer and Fox Run are all in the Finger Lakes; Cascade Mountain is in the Hudson River Valley. Map found at nywine.com

We faired better at a couple of Catskill restaurants that excel in New York wines, if not exactly in accurate wine lists. At the low-key and unpretentious Vines in Windham, where I sadly noted that the undrinkable Italian Sauvignon Blanc was still on the list from last year, I ordered a bottle of the Dr. KONSTANTIN FRANK 2001 JOHANNISBERG RIESLING to kick off our family night out. I've been bowled over by the same wine from Frank's major competitor in the Finger Lake Riesling stakes, Hermann J. Wiemer, and was eager to make a comparison. Only when the bottle was brought to the table – uncorked – did I discover it was 'Semi-Dry' (the Wiemer wine I love so much is dry) and I thought about sending it back purely to teach the restaurant to be more precise on its list or at least not to open bottles before presenting them...

The most mouth-watering picture I've ever posted at iJamming! - and one of the most mouth-watering of wines too. The current benchmark for Finger Lake whites. read review here.

But I didn't, and I'm glad about that. A glowing yellow-green-gold, the wine gave out a truly piercing nose of citrus, night green apples, Asian pears and, though I recognize these things are often mere suggestions brought on by associations, more than a hint of the mountain air that surrounded us. Not desperately acidic, those same citrus/apple/pear flavors tore through the slightly sweet (3.2% Residual Sugar) and exceedingly ripe fruit. Penetrating and pleasurable, its citrus notes and off-dry flavors made it an excellent combination well with a wide variety of food on the table – from green salads to a vegetable tempura, lobster claws to salmon, and mussels back to foie gras.

For my own part, given that I had a mushroom risotto coming my way, I moved on to a glass of the Dr. KONSTANTIN FRANK NV 'CABERNET,' which in typically confusing New York wine style, is in fact 56% Merlot, with a near enough equal mix of the two Cabernet grapes making up the balance. The cooler climate, earlier-ripening Cabernet Franc aside, I've been generally wary of Finger Lake reds, but this one helped turn me around. A deep, plummy nose only hinted at the rich, equally plummy wine laden with blackcurrant/blueberry/tobacco flavors, and a lingering oak finish. No tannin but certainly full-bodied. Some cedar and blueberry on the finish, it was surprisingly satisfying – or maybe, with my mediocre North Fork Merlot experiences still in my memory, I was merely relieved that a Finger Lakes red should show so well by comparison.

Either way, I was impressed enough with my glass that I went for another, and here's an interesting tangential experience... Checking out the wines in the bar prior to beating seated, I'd seen that the bottle of Frank Cabernet was nearing empty: I was surely served the last glass in the bottle. Equally obviously, my second glass came from a new bottle: it was subdued, quiet, polite and unobtrusive, an entirely different wine. Had I had the second glass first, I wouldn't have ordered a second. (There's some wine speak for you!) Not only does this experience say much about how wines develop when exposed to oxygen, but it suggests that contrary to conventional wisdom – which says you should ask restaurants and bars to open a new bottle of wine when serving by the glass - some wines benefit from being opened (and of course re-corked) perhaps 24-48 hours before coming the customer's way.

Three nights later, Posie and I had a meal out at the region's most reputed restaurant, which will remain anonymous as I plan on maintaining a friendly relationship. The restaurant proudly touts its Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, and the Wine List is indeed extremely deep and varied, with a notable emphasis on New York state wines (Germany and Austria are also well represented), which perfectly suited my New York State of Mind.

Now, the New York Times recently ran an investigative story about the Wine Spectator Awards, noting that the influential magazine, while granting the Award to the vast majority of restaurants that pay the 'entrance fee' when sending in their wine lists, rarely actually sends reporters out to check that requirements (for an on-hand Sommelier or that the wines are indeed in stock) are being met. I was not trying to test this out but, partially confused by the entry accompanying the Fox Run Pinot Noir Reserve 2001, which had a note about the 1997 vintage, and partially because I wanted to get the very best New York state wine for our food matches, I summoned the sommelier. The staff member who showed clearly knew nothing about wine, and I found my questions becoming purely rhetorical, ending with a simple request to confirm the vintage on the Fox Run Pinot Noir Reserve and Gewürtzraminer, and the Millbrook Hudson Valley Chardonnay Reserve. Only one of these matched the vintage on the list: the Pinot Noir Reserve was in fact, neither 2001 nor 1997 but a 1999. That actually suited me fine, and I ordered up a bottle.

The waitress arrived with the apparently good news that the 'sommelier' had found a 'more recent vintage.' This not only assumed that I wanted a more recent vintage, but that I didn't care what wine I was drinking: the bottle in the waitress's hand was a Paumanok Merlot, from Long Island!! Back she went for the right wine, while our appetizers gew increasingly cold in front of us.

A lengthy preamble, I know. But mistakes must be mentioned. Still, the good news is that it was well worth the wait. A dark garnet color, the FOX RUN PINOT NOIR RESERVE 1999 had a nose of black cherries and raspberries but also a sweet cherry aroma lingering over the top, with some violets and even a little tar competing. All in all, an extremely complex bouquet, especially given that these were immediate impressions floating over the top of our rapidly cooling appetizers. In the mouth, there was an almost perfect combination of those same bright fruits and darker, meaner flavors, some tar and tobacco, a tangy resiliency, and a chewy finish giving way to a lingering sensation of bittersweet chocolate. Tannins were pure velvet. A seriously complex and sophisticated delivery of a notoriously fickle grape, it matched perfectly with Posie's salmon and though it went better with my (cold) porcini mushroom puff pastry appetizer than my stuffed pepper entrée, I really couldn't get enough of this wine. Actually, I could: Posie was barely drinking over the holidays, which meant that pretty much the whole bottle had my name on it.

Invited to an after dinner drink on the house as an apology for the earlier confusion, and ambling up to the bar to enjoy it, we then met the wine buyer, a fanatic for the New York industry, who did his best to explain away the confusion about the wine list entries. We soon got to talking about New York wines in detail, and he was clearly delighted to have an aficionado at hand. When I commented that I had the basic FOX RUN PINOT NOIR 2001 at home, our host said he'd just received a shipment of the same and promptly uncorked a bottle to compare. He observed that the regular Fox Run was more of a Volnay than whatever other Burgundian reference he made from my last half glass of the Reserve; for my part I never like going back to thinner wines and the 2001 Fox Run seemed like more of an everyday, fruity and thin Pinot Noir such as I'd originally expected from Finger Lakes offerings. The two wines were in fact like night and day. But I will say this: The Reserve, which cost less for the bottle at the restaurant than the Lenz Merlot cost me at the winery, is the best red I've had from New York State in a while.

Our now successful night concluded with complementary glasses of both the PAUMANOK RIESLING LATE HARVEST 1998 from the North Fork, with sweet, smooth apple flavors, and the PAUMANOK LATE HARVEST SAUVIGNON BLANC 1998. Returning to an earlier issue, I wonder if the latter bottle had been open for a long time: my notes of toffee and caramel contrast with the winery's own online references to quince and litchi, and other reviews that mention pineapple, melon and orange. Perhaps spurred on by a comment made by the all-powerful Robert Parker, itself of course immediately referenced by the winery, the wine list dared compare this wine, apparently the only 100% late harvest Sauvignon Blanc on the east coast, to a Sauternes; I would be surprised if anyone mistook it for the real thing if placed side by side. (Unless they were attending a tasting at the Gramercy Tavern, of course.) On the other hand, I'd love to see some Burgundy fans blind taste the Fox Run Pinot Noir Reserve 99 alongside an equally priced Burgundy of similar age.


Our New Year's Eve didn't turn out as planned and I ended up opening the nearest bottle of room temperature red wine on hand to accompany a freshly-cooked pizza: the CASCADE MOUNTAIN PRIVATE RESERVE 2000, from the Hudson Valley, 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Foch. Only 11.5% alcohol, it was neither good enough to justify its labeling nor poor enough to pan. While I got little by way of typical cabernet flavors from it, at least I didn't get the herbaceous strawberry aromas I've had from other poor Hudson Valley Cabs. Perhaps it was the Foch, but there was some nice spice in the bottle. However, the tannins, which I'd noticed when tasting at Hunter Mountain's 6th Annual Microbrew, Wine and Fine Food Festival a few months back, were now strangely absent. While not truly worth the $16 I paid for it, the Private Reserve was perfectly pleasant with the pizza, a good everyday table wine, and certainly better value than the Lenz Merlot. But then everything is.


Finally, and spurred by our experiences at the local restaurant, I'd hoped to enjoy my Fox Run 2001 Pinot Noir at a New Year's Day party. Perhaps word of the winery is spreading: our host took one look at the bottle, promised to save it for 'holy days' (as opposed to holidays?), stuck it on the top shelf and pointed me to the Australian YELLOWTAIL MERLOT instead! I know that it's easier for multinationals to make industrial wine for the lowest common denominator's taste than for a small producer to make artisanal wine for Gramercy Tavern taste-offs, but even so: the Yellowtail was more instantly agreeable than had the Lenz. And of course, it was better value.

Conclusions: Long Island reds are slipping in my esteem, Hudson Valley ones are gaining a small foothold, and while there's much mediocrity in the Finger Lakes, the best reds are perhaps the best in the State.

Links to these winery's sites are provided within the reviews. Most wineries sell their wines direct. Among wine stores, Vintage New York and New York Wine Cork have extensive supplies of New York State wines.

2004 MUSINGS
JAN 5-11: Tony's Top 10s of 2003, Howard Dean and his credits, Mick Middles and Mark E. Smith, Mick Jones and Don Letts,

2003 MUSINGS:
DEC 22-JAN 4: Blind Boys of Alabama live, Joe Strummer, Year-End Lists, Finding Nemo, The Return of The King
DEC 15-21: Placebo live, Park Slope, Angels In America, Saddam's capture
DEC 8-14: The Rapture live, Guardian readers change lightbulbs, Keep iJamming! Thriving
DEC 1-7: Cabaret Laws, Ready Brek, Kinky Friedman, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Jonathan Lethem, Julie Burchill, Blizzard running
NOV 17-30: Lost In Music, Lost In Translation, Neil Boland, Political Polls, Press Clips, Australian Whines
NOV 10-16: Ben E. King live, Hedonism readings, A***nal, Charts on Fire
NOV 3-9: Brother Bear, Oneida, P. Diddy, Steve Kember, Guy Fawkes, Iraq, the Marathon
OCT 27-NOV 2: CMJ Music Marathon report, NYC Running Marathon preview, Prey For Rock'n'Roll, Yellow Dog, Gen Wesley Clark, Halloween
OCT 20-26: Television Personalities, defending New York rockers, Bill Drummond Is Read
OCT 6-19: LCD Soundsystem live, Renewable Brooklyn review, Blind Acceptance is a sign...
SEP29-OCT 5: New York w(h)ines parts 1 and 2, Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium.
SEP 22-28: Atlantic Antic, Pacifists for War: General Wesley Clark and the Democratic Debate, Danny Tenaglia, Running Wild, Steppenwolf
SEP 15-21: Radio 4/DJ Vadim live, Manhattan Mondaze, Circle of Light, Renewable Brooklyn
SEP 8-14: Central Park Film Festival, Roger (Daltrey) and me, September 11 Revisited, The Raveonettes/Stellastarr* live, Recording Idiots of America,
SEP1-7: Film Festivities, Party Monster, Keith Moon RIP
AUG 25-31: Punk Planet, Carlsonics, Copyright Protection, Cline Zinfandel, BRMC
AUG 18-24: Black Out Blame Game, John Shuttleworth, British Music mags, Greg Palast, The Thrills live.
AUG 11-17: The New York blackout, Restaurant reviews, The Media as Watchdog, What I Bought On My Holidays
AUG 4-10: Step On again, Shaun W. Ryder, Jack magazine, the BBC, the Weather, Detroit Cobras, football and Rock'n'Roll
JULY 28-AUG 3: De La Guarda, The Rapture, Radio 4, Stellastarr*, Jodie Marsh, A Tale of Two Lions, Hedonism launch photos,
JULY 14-27: Manchester Move Memories, Hedonism is Here, Holiday postcard
JULY 7-13: Chuck Jackson live, Step On, Beverley Beat, British Way of Life
JUNE30-JULY6: David Beckham, Geoffrey Armes, Happy Mondays, Step On at Royale
JUNE 23-29: Ceasars/The Realistics live, weddings and anniversaries, Cabaret laws.
JUNE 9-23: Hell W10, The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Nada Surf live, Field Day debacle
JUNE 2-8: Six Feet Under - Over, Field Day, Siren Fest, Crouching Tigher Hidden Cigarette
MAY 19-JUNE 1: Ian McCulloch live, New York's financial woes, Six Feet Under, Hedonism, Tommy Guerrero.
MAY 5-18: Live reviews of The Rapture, De La Soul, Carlsonics, Laptop, The Libertines, Echoboy, The Greenhornes; observations on Chris Coco/The Blue Room, The Apple Music Store, Alan Freed, Phil Spector, The Matrix Reloaded, Rare Earth, Tinnitus and Royale!
APRIL 28-MAY 4: Flaming Lips, Madonna, Bill Maher, The Dixie Chicks, the war
APRIL 21-27: Rotary Connection, War(n) Out, Cocaine Talk
APRIL 14-20: Belated London Musings on Death Disco and CPFC.
APRIL 7-13: London Musings: Madness, Inspiral Carpets, the Affair, the Palace, the Jam
MARCH 31-APRIL 6: Music be the spice of life, London Calling: Ten Observations from the Old Country
MARCH 24-30: Six Feet Under, Peaches/Elefant live, MP Frees and Busted Boy Bands
MARCH 17-23: Röyksopp live, Transmission, Worn-Out War Talk
MARCH 10-16: Live reviews: Stratford 4, Flaming Sideburns, Joe Jackson Band, Linkin Park. Why I Oppose The War (For Now).
MARCH 3-9: The Pursuit of Happiness, Weekend Players, U.S. Bombs, Al Farooq, A New Pessimism, Brooklyn Half Marathon
FEBRUARY 24-MARCH2: Orange Park, Ali G-Saddam Hussein-Dan Rather-Bill Maher-Jon Stewart TV reviews, Stellastarr*, James Murphy, The Station nightclub fire, the Grammys
FEBRUARY 17-23: Village Voice Poll, Singles Club, Smoke and Fire
FEBRUARY 3-16: Snug, The Face, Pink, Supergrass live, Keith Moon, Phil Spector, Gore Vidal
JANUARY 27-FEBRUARY 2: Communist Chic, Spiritland, Daddy You're A Hero, Keith Moon, State of the Union, CPFC and more on Iraq
JANUARY 20-26: Divisions of Laura Lee, Burning Brides, Words On War, Child Abuse of a Different Kind, Losing My Edge
JANUARY 13-19: Pete Townshend, Pee Wee Herman, South Park and more Pete Townshend
JANUARY 6-12: Interpol in concert, Tony Fletcher's Top 10 Albums and Singles of 2002, More on Joe Strummer and The Clash, Fever Pitch and Bend It Like Beckham.
DECEMBER 31 2002 -JAN 5 2003: A tribute to Joe Strummer, Radio 4 live on New Year's Eve
2002 MUSINGS ARE LISTED HERE:


iJamming! Site Copyright Tony Fletcher 2003




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This page last updated
Mon, Jul 26, 2004 12:17 pm)


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WHAT'S NEW IN iJAMMING!...

THE BEST OF 2003
Tony's Top Tens

FEATURED WINE REGION:
CÔTES DU RHÔNE-VILLAGES
updated and re-designed

The DECEMBER HITLIST
Bruce, Bowie, Iggy, Joe and Jodie...

From the Jamming! Archives
TONY PARSONS on BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, 1984

THE IJAMMING! HITLIST:
Global Techtronica

FEATURED WINE:
Santa Julia Torrontes, Argentina

THE DECEMBER HITLIST Part 2
TRIPPED OUT BRITS: Nine albums of vaguely psychedelic bliss

FEATURED ALBUM:
Eargasm by Plump DJs

FEATURED WINE:
Paul Durdilly Les Grandes Coasses Beaujolais Nouveau 2003

THE DECEMBER HITLIST Part 1
BRITISH DANCE MUSIC:
Down But Not Out

THE OTHER NEW YORK MARATHON: 10 Live Reviews from the CMJ Music Marathon, October 2003

THE OCTOBER HITLIST:
Albums from UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Iceland, Denmark, New York and New Jersey.

NEW YORK W(H)INES:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

DANCING IN THE DARK:
Bruce Springsteen at Shea Stadium

THE AUGUST HITLIST
What I bought on my Holidays (CDs, 12"s, books and magazines from the UK)

HEDONISM
What, Where, How and Why...

MANCHESTER MOVE MEMORIES:
A report from a proper Field Day Festival (includes R.E.M., The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, and Badly Drawn Boy)

THE JULY HITLIST:
10 NEW NEW YORK ALBUMS

THE JUNE HITLIST:
15 NEW ALBUMS
10 OLD ALBUMS
5 MOVIES

THE MAY HITLIST:
20 NEW ALBUMS,
1 ONLINE ESSENTIAL,
3 NEW MAGAZINES

FEATURED MIX CD:
2 CD's & MP3's

INSPIRAL CARPETS
live at the Brixton Academy

The iJamming! Interview:
2 MANY DJs
"We bypassed the record company and the industry - we just did this thing and it went off."

From the Jamming! Archives:
KILLING JOKE
interviewed in 1981

WHY I OPPOSE THE WAR
as of March 11

THE MARCH HITLIST:
5 SUPERB COMPILATIONS
20 ALBUMS, 5 EPs

THE FEBRUARY HITLIST:
25 ALBUMS

2002: THE YEAR IN REVIEW
Ten Major Memories and a number of lists

INTERPOL in concert

JOE STRUMMER: A TRIBUTE

THE DECEMBER HITLIST:
5 ALBUMS, EPs, MIX CDS, COMPILATIONS and SONGS

the iJamming! Book Review
WHY TERRORISM WORKS
by Alan Dershowitz

CABERNET FRANC
The 'Other' Cabernet Grape Takes Root In New York
Part 1: The Basics/Regions
Part 2: New York Wines
Part 3: Loire Wines
Part 4: Conclusions

THE NOVEMBER HITLIST
30 Albums 10 Songs

HOW MUCH WILL IT HURT?:
Tips for the marathon virgin.

From the Jamming! Archives:
THE JAM
Interviewed in 1979

The iJamming! Interview: UNDERWORLD
NOW WITH LIVE PHOTOS

Coming and Going
Chapter 3: THE PALACE

The iJamming! Interview
RICHARD BUTLER Part 2

From the Jamming! Archives:
ADAM ANT
Interviewed in 1978

REMARKS REMADE:
Available Now!
The introduction to the new edition of my R.E.M. biography is here.

A Decade In Dance
BT & BANCO DE GAIA
10 Years (Apiece)

2 MANY TASTINGS:
The iJamming! Wine Round Up October 2002, including:
Sauvignon Blanc
Chardonnay
Pinot Noir
Rhône Rangers
Southern France
Zinfandel

HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT
The whole 1990s catalogue

From the Jamming! Archives:
PAUL WELLER
interviewed in 1978

The iJamming! interview:
CARL COX

GOLDEN SHOT hostess 'Lee Patrick' recalls her time as Keith Moon's amour

From the Jamming! Archives:
U2 interviewed in 1984.

iJamming! Wino/Muso:
JOHN ACQUAVIVA

The iJAMMING! interview:
DAVID SYLVIAN

From the Keith Moon archives:
the JEFF BECK interview .

The iJAMMING! chat:
MARK PERRY

TRAVIS.
Fran Healy explains why "you cannot own a song."

From the JAMMING! archives: The Story That Spawned Creation

The iJAMMING! interview:
BOY GEORGE.

The biggest night out that you'll ever have in." Jockey Slut
"Hedonism will have you gripped from start to finish, guaranteed." International DJ


Tony Fletcher's debut novel HEDONISM is out now in the UK. For more information and to read excerpts, click here.

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