Sunday, October 14, 2007

Road Raging Fire & Foodie Fears

They say ya can't fight fashion...

and the "they" in this particular instance being the particularly peculiar yet bland blue collar-esque Ohio based rock band known as The Michael Stanley Band...

Twas a band who just as easily could have been the Ernie Kreplucezk band, other than the fact the leader's name just happened to be a guy named Michael Stanley, and thus the deal was sealed...

They were an Ohio based AOR type rock band that spewed out numerous LPs of average quality 70's rock...

Anyhow... this track from their last major label slab in 1983 seemed appropriate for this post, since the topic today gets rolling around the concept of a fire in the hole at the base of a mountain...

and the song is called Fire in The Hole, produced by Bob Clearmountain ...and I just returned from LA during it's fall Fashion Week...

and they say you can't fight fashion, or fate

see things are tying in nicely so far...

You Can't Fight FashionMichael Stanley Band
"Fire in the Hole" (mp3)
from "You Can't Fight Fashion"

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Stream from Rhapsody
More On This Album

Anyhow, while back in my SF work neighborhood, local Tenderloin dining legend Original Joe's suffered it's own fire on Friday, a scary big rig fire in a tunnel near Santa Clarita has severed the main commercial road artery through Northern & Southern California.

[ yikes! map of alternate routes around the I-5 south during closure further down]

The Arcade Fire - Tunnels

The Arcade Fire - No Cars Go

Motorhead - Fire, Fire

The Governator, possibly eager to please the Republican voting base of Santa Clarita Chumscrubbers that helped get him into office, Arnie made sure to immediately declare the situation a "State of Emergency".


One wonders if certain inevitable "Emergency" situations like this can't be seen coming, and with the obvious transportation risks better managed or mitigated...

Baba Israel - State of Emergency

P.S Speaking of "State of Emergencies", seriously, has the governor or any of his minions tried eating out here on the 5? Where the hell am I supposed to find a decent dining location with small plates, that has a trained staff capable of suitable bio-dynamic wine pairings, and perhaps proper vegetarian options out here that go with the smell of the horrendous cow sh*t...

Read my road rage addled rant of a Frisco Foodie Fraught With Fears For Us All after hours spent inching along the I-5 yesterday out of Southern California, literally many miles from a decent warm organic frisee & Treviso radicchio salad topped with thinly sliced pear, sundried heirloom tomatoes, herbed chevre and bottarga in a Barolo-tangerine vinaigrette ...

Is this California or Oklahoma for gawd sakes? I just came from Fashion Week, and starving like an anorexic model out here...

Viva Voce - Fashionably Lonely

Lovers, Lead the Way! / The Heat Can Melt Your BrainViva Voce
"Fashionably Lonely" (mp3)
from "Lovers, Lead the Way! / The Heat Can Melt Your Brain"

More On This Album

Got the Impeach Bush/Cheney BluesBaba Isreal
"State of Emergency" (mp3)
from "Got the Impeach Bush/Cheney Blues"
(Random Chance, Inc.)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic
Stream from Rhapsody
More On This Album

With maintenance and construction deferred, and more vehicles arriving daily, our statewide roads are aging dangerously. There are many many more trucks careening at high speeds through windy dark holes like the one in the rugged mountains south of the grapevine, than when these roads were planned. 225,000 vehicles a day apparently use the I-5 where the accident occurred. A similar stretch of I-5 just a mile away had been shut for almost 12 hours by a different big rig accident just 10 days earlier involving a truck carrying 50,000 pounds of melons in early October ...

In the last 50 years commercial freight traffic has moved off rails and onto California's already over crowded roadways. Dozens of big rig accidents a week occur in the state, most occur in areas where truck traffic is mixed in with general passenger traffic. The Bay Area is prone to it's own trouble along the 80 corridor, but the most dangerous stretch is the 710 North coming from the busy Port of Long Beach which averages at least one big rig accident a day, and in addition LA almost always has at least one big rig accident occurring somewhere in it's 4000 sq mile county...

Justin Haigh =Big Rig Blues

Pale Horse RiderJustin Haigh
"Big Rig Blues" (mp3)
from "Pale Horse Rider"
(Aberdeen Originals LLC)

Buy at iTunes Music Store
Buy at eMusic
Stream from Rhapsody
More On This Album

The tunnel the trucks collided in on Friday wasn't all that much different in concept than this one pictured below that was dug in the 1870's by some 1000 or so Chinese railroad workers in the same area. The single lane tunnel pictured here was along Southern Pacific's San Joaquin Line, linking the Santa Clarita Valley (in Railroad Canyon) with the rest of Southern California.

Aisler's Set - California

Terrible Things HappenThe Aislers Set
"California" (mp3)
from "Terrible Things Happen"

Buy at eMusic
Stream from Rhapsody
More On This Album

People yesterday claimed the traffic was horrendous and expect it to remain so, and I was indeed among those who spent hours inching along the I-5 yesterday in Southern California, and can testify to the chaos...

But now that I finally am back up here, and free to think about it ... hey, the harrowing 2 hour crawl to get 14 miles is about how long it takes to get across town and back in San Francisco anyway. I mean seriously, try to circumnavigate the length and breadth of San Francisco's 7 miles across and back sometime in less than 2 hours...

Especially if one is prone to use MUNI, or stop for the numerous & delicious gourmet tapas joints popping up everywhere... I loves me any place that calls Mayo by it's fancy name Aioli, then puts lime in it. I don't think you can go 15 minutes in SF without being offered seared Ahi. I think Spicy Pineapple Saffron Coulis is a regular side dish on the lunch menu at Marina Middle school ...

Am I digressing?

I wonder if it would be any better if a proposed billion dollar bullet train derailed at the same junction on the 5?

Do you think the Tapas on a bullet train would be any good?

Anyhow... After some radical rerouting & dusty detouring, I got to see sleepy little Newhall California, which has a few more taco stands, trailer parks & brake repair joints since the pic below was taken, but it captures the essential spirit of the place. The semi-bucolic backroad outpost was surprised by the traffic influx, and the local gas station had run out of gasoline by about noon.

All I know is that there was no place serving "Small Plates"...but things could be easily "SuperSized"...

Bay Area Foodie Fraught with Fear on The Five

I think the worst part being trapped on the wrong side of the fire was knowing that even after escaping the grid lock delays of the southland, I was being faced with the bleak and unexpected prospects of spending Saturday Night on Highway 5. I had just passed up the last 210 exit to Pasadena a town in the midst of a free fall arts festival headlined by Viet-retro-rockers Dengue Fever when I learned of the impending doom and traffic blockage I was facing on the Highway 5. The only thing to do was sit and bear it...

Alas, with my LA escape route blocked, and chance of dining within range of a San Francisco bay breeze fading, even imagining hope that there was a suitable Northern California style meal in the near future was futile. I resigned myself that I would not be enjoying any sort of award winning fusion cafe on the horizon or even fresh baked whole grain bread.

Indeed, a man in a box named Jack confirmed his fish sandwhich contained no wild caught Pacific Salmon smoked on a cedar plank. the so-called King of Burgers did not offer anything resembling a fresh organic green mesclun salad topped with apricot pistachio goat cheese from Pescadero, which would've possibly made the long journey home more palatable.

I ended up avoiding the "animal style" drive thru line at In-n-Out, and ate food from something locals referred to as a "strip mall", finding a quaint place called Chili's. Apparently they are well known purveyors within the "baby back rib community". Not sure if anything there was "free range", except the soft drink refills...

The traffic was slow...and the food was decidedly faster...

The traumatic traffic stalling accident on the 5 outside LA, brings to the fore not only dramatic public safety issues but also of how foolish foodies can attempt to cope with the highway's seriously un "haute" cuisine scene.

The author attempts to enjoy a tiny but oh, so delicious $15 baby beet salad at Water Grill before devouring some grilled Colorado River sturgeon with the lil' green cumin spatzles and epezote Chimichurri on the evening of the tragic I-5 tunnel crash & traffic jam which would create a dietary crisis...


Meanwhile, behind me the smoke was still visible, and the southland shuddered with fears that it may be quite awhile before the southward part of the 5 is able to open...

News media reports & a map below:

SF's Channel 5 adds info on the slow moving cleanup process on Saturday ...

At the end of the Ch 5 report you briefly see the very worried family of missing trucker Ricardo Cibrian, whose family was holding a roadside vigil in hopes of hearing some positive news.

View Larger Map

Sources: Caltrans, California Highway Patrol, LA Times and in the field foodie reporting

Songs of Fire by artists like uh, Joaquin Phoenix, Broken Social Scene, and even a contribution from a Spanish Death Metal ensemble follow:

Broken Social SceneBroken Social Scene
"Fire Eye'd Boy" (mp3)
from "Broken Social Scene"
(Arts & Crafts)

Buy at eMusic
Stream from Rhapsody
More On This Album

Realms of DesolationBetween the Frost
"Burning Kingdom of Fire" (mp3)
from "Realms of Desolation"
(Still Alive Records)

More On This Album

bonus track:

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire

No comments: