Max Koch Uncorked

Wine-soaked adventures through a twisted life…

“Gramps: Beneath the Surface” Now on Vimeo

“In 2006, filmmakers Max Koch and The Counselor went deep into the California desert to spend a weekend with Max’s step-grandfather, Dick Surface. Armed only with a $300 Sony Handi-cam, a lot of beer, and the desire to capture a bit of Dick’s desert life-style, they ended up delving deeper into Dick’s psyche than expected. Drawn into Dick’s routine, they got a glimpse into his world – his family and friends, his joys and regrets, and his often controversial views and positions. But as the camera kept rolling, long misunderstandings came to light and family secrets were uncovered, forever changing Max’s understanding of his family, and his relationship with Dick. Now, on the occasion of the 10-Year Anniversary of this fateful weekend, Max and The Counselor invite you to grab a cold one and head back out to California City to really get to know “Gramps: Beneath the Surface.”

WINE PAIRING: Uh-oh, in honor of Gramps, it will have to be his favorite beverage at the time…Coors Light! (I know, I know…sacrilege! But sometimes you must acknowledge The Silver Bullet! Even in a wine-centric blog…)

To watch the doc in its entirety, click the pic below and GO:

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An unused drawing I did for the doc back in 2006. My Grandpa Bill taught me how to fish using Planter’s cheese balls as bait.


Thankful for Custom Shelving

Thanksgiving. I love it more and more every year. I’m thankful for a lot of things…but, let’s face it, it’s always more fun to assess what I do have than what I don’t. 

Yeah. Thankful for a lotta things. Family. Friends. My pugs. Work. Wine. Good documentaries and horror films. The ocean. Halloween and All Things October.

But today, you gotta permit me to get a little vapid and materialistic here and publicly declare my thankfulness for the custom shelving units we had installed in my office. I must tell you…I’ve never been more organized in my life. EVERYTHING has a place and it’s never been that way for me before. 

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In the nearly 7 years we’ve lived here in the condo, the custom shelving is only the first serious upgrade we’ve done. Sure, I’d love a hot tub or a fully-wired sound system all through the house, but custom shelves in my workspace were, like, an emergency. So we hired a guy named Chris who was very cool and easy to work with. He even loved punk rock and Nitro Circus. I’d blast Black Flag for him while he worked and we’d sing the praises of BMX badass Jolene Van Vugt during a break or whatever.

Chris did a beautiful job. And I had SO MUCH FUN getting rid of crap and keeping the stuff I knew I could never part with. My wife thinks I’m some kind of mild hoarder or something. I just have a LOT of books and Blu Rays. Okay, and odd artifacts as well.

All of the cabinets have a purpose. For example, this one is specifically for my grab-and-go video making items. I’m shooting a few different little projects as of this writing, so getting the gear together is now the least daunting it’s ever been.

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Yeah, man, EVERYTHING has a place. It’s good for the brain. All my shit is in order. There’s a really swell energy flow in here now, too. Next up, I gotta figure out what I wanna hang on the walls.

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I even have room for my glo-in-the-dark zombie collection!

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I don’t know where I get the hope these days, but as I wind down the year and enact a plan for 2017, I get excited. Mainly thinking about how my custom shelves (and desk) are going to serve me creatively in the new year.

Oh, and I almost forgot: I am thankful to YOU for reading this nonsense! Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.

WINE PAIRING: On the subject of shelving, I was thinking of a rockin’ “top shelf” title to suggest for your table this Thursday. And then I got curious and typed “Top Shelf Winery” and look what I found: TopShelf Winery in British Columbia! Wines dedicated to HOCKEY lovers. Listen, I’m no sport-o but I was instantly intrigued…

 

 


Magazine Podcast

Man. I’ve been podcasting for so long, it used to be called internet radio. It’s crazy…but it’s also my business, radio, so it makes cyclical sense that I once again find myself behind a microphone in a cool, dark studio…shootin’ the shit and havin’ a ball with people I enjoy jibber-jabbering with. It’s SO fun to just be “Max Koch” sometimes, no matter how hard the dude can get on my nerves whenever I listen back.

So after so many years of “Max Koch’s Mimosa” and “The Cutting Room Movie Podcast” and my own upcoming “Max Koch Uncorked” show, I’m pleased to introduce “Magazine”, a podcast my Cousin Lorenzo has created–and invited me to join him on. We are having a super-fun time and the first 4 episodes are now available for download. Lorenzo’s a great guy who I’ve known since I was a prepubescent! He’s also very funny and mellow and musical and so it’s no wonder he and The Counselor always got on so well. And speaking of The Counselor, he’s sure to join us in the studio one of these damn days, the busy bastard.

So click the pic of Lorenzo and me below and GO. And if you like it, please feel free to follow our Soundcloud page for more eps. Lorenzo’s also working on getting the thing to iTunes as I type this.

WINE PAIRING: I’ve brought a few bottles of wine into the studio but wouldn’t you know it, it was Fess Parker’s Frontier Red that Cousin Lorenzo has so far responded to the most enthusiastically. It’s an unbeatable blend from multiple Golden State appellations that retails for less than ten bucks! Perfect for a “free podcasts only” budget.

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New Video: “Max Koch’s HALLOWEEN HELLSHOW 2016”

Well, it looks like I just “dropped” my latest Hellshow on YouTube! Now, listen, I’ve made a LOT of Halloween videos over the years, and honestly, I had NO idea I was gonna even gonna bother with one this year – I had skipped 2015 cuz views were so down – but sometimes inspiration brutally bludgeons you over the head. Only my wife really knew what the hell was going on during the DAYS I spent making this monstrosity.

Without giving too much away, let’s just say a dear ol’ buddy I’ve known for 30 years reached out to me to alert me to the existence of a VERY SPECIAL animated figure that lights up and does dirty, terrible things when you press a button on it’s little arm. It’s stupid as hell…but I was so blown away by the nonsensical-ness of this thing that I immediately ordered him to pick it up for me as I disembarked on this latest YouTube video journey. I actually had so much fun that I think I’m at a place where I’m ready make videos and NOT sweat their fate. All I know how to do is stay freaky, creative, and mad.

So click the pick of the little ghoul reading the “Deadly Dispatch” below and GO! And please don’t hesitate to share and lemme know what you think.

WINE PAIRING: Did I say freaky? You bet your bag of candy I did! Pour a few slugs of the Freakshow Cab outta Lodi into a sexy skull goblet while you’re watchin’ this thing. And don’t forget to turn out the lights!
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#WienerWeekend

So this past weekend was “Wiener Weekend” at the Condo in the Sky.  Now mind you, I didn’t come up with that, my wife did.  What began as me excitedly exclaiming, “honey! The new film by Todd Solondz has come to Amazon Prime!”, soon turned into a 3-day party involving brats, beers, wiener-dogs, roasts, and, well…failed candidate for NYC mayor, Anthony Weiner, and his wiener.

See, sometimes ya gotta get creative in a marriage.  Especially if you’ve been together for almost a quarter of a century like we have.  Things can get stagnant.  And so if you attach a weekend of fun activities to a really inspired premise and through-line, well…it can only help remind you that you chose your partner wisely.

Friday night was Comedy Central’s Roast of Rob Lowe, who, let’s face it, has a fairly well-documented reputation for being a real weenie.  I love these roasts because they can be downright brutal, some say mean-spirited, but that doesn’t bother me when it comes to soft targets like Ann Coulter, who, for some CRAZY reason, was one of the members of the dais.  Turns out she was just there to shill her new book about why Trump should be our next president.  Ann took so many hits, I almost started to feel sorry for her.  But when it was over, I treated myself to a crash course in Coulter’s controversies (Google search) and no longer felt sorry but sad.  How anyone can think and speak the way she does is beyond my comprehension.  But it was truly fascinating to skim the countless verbal offenses she’s guilty of. Man, I hope that woman finds peace.  Hate must take a LOT of energy. That said,

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As for the roast itself, it was a riot and we were howling all the way through. I gotta say, I think that Pete Davidson kid from SNL is pretty damn hilarious and I look forward to seeing his new show on Comedy Central.  I also couldn’t be happier watching Ralph “Johnny Cade” Macchio sufficiently crunch the nuts of his longtime “greaser” pal compatriot, Rob “Sodapop Curtis” Lowe (these are all character references from Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Outsiders”, in case you’re confused).

Saturday morning found us going from a Pilates class to – WAIT A MINUTE, WHAT??? – a (very spontaneous) Pumpkin Beer tasting at our most favorite local liquor store, Vendome Wine & Spirits! Pumpkin Beer tasting?? I LOVE Pumpkin Beers and tasting them!!

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Yes, I am most definitely one of these idiots who loves that time of year when pumpkin shows up in every damn thing. And MOST of these beers, ales, and ciders were absolutely delicious. I stuck my nose so deep in my glass and just INHALED the scents of falling leaves, candy corn, rubber masks, Michael Myers, scarecrows, hayrides, corn mazes, my own Dark Harvest drawings…you name it.  We had SO much fun. Wound up talking to some very eccentric beer nerds, too.  It was cool to bust out of our comfort zone. Wine tastings? ALL the time. Pumpkin BEER ones??  Hardly ever. 

Saturday supper was the newly-opened Dog Haus, just up the street from us. Described as a Southern California “craft casual hot dog concept”, the joint is just to die for.  I mean, I start to salivate the second I step through the doors to survey my options.  As it turns out, I’ve grown to be most fond of The Fonz: spicy Italian sausage, pastrami, melted mozzarella.  I KNOW.  SO decadent. But it was Wiener Weekend, man, what’d you expect I was gonna order?

Believe me, ain’t easy having a Dog Haus within walking distance.  That sure as hell ain’t gonna support the work I’ve been doing in Pilates these days. No, no, Dog Haus ALWAYS has to wind up being a special occasion-type deal. Or I may as well just give it all up and become a professional butt of fat jokes.  No thank you.

So with our wieners in tow, we made our way back home to quickly visit with some dear ones who dropped by for a quick visit. Then we busted open a bunch of our newly-acquired pumpkin beers (utilizing our frosted mugs) and ambitiously took in Todd Solondz’s latest cinematic masterpiece of pain, Wiener-Dog, currently streaming on Amazon Prime. You remember his 1995 film Welcome to the Dollhouse with Heather Matarazzo in the role of Wiener-Dog?  Well, this time she is embodied by one of my very favorite “newer” actresses, Greta Gerwig. 

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Listen, no joke. I can barely bring myself to recommend this film, it’s so depressing. Of course, that’s what I LOVED about it. Oh, I’m just crazy about Solondz. But if you think a movie about a little wiener dog bouncing from situation to circumstance and the effect she has on the lives of varying broken souls and misfits is going to warm your hearts and make you wanna rush out to the pound to rescue one? You must be thinking of another movie. And don’t get me STARTED on Danny DeVito as a washed-up former screenwriter turned disrespected college film professor named – brace yourself – Dave Schmerz.  

Yeesh.  One of his greatest, glum-iest performances of all.

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The film ends in a shocking and profoundly upsetting way.  One which we weren’t expecting. Uh, like, at ALL. But it worked…for me.

Just do this: heed caution if you choose to proceed with Wiener-Dog.  Especially if you’re an animal freak like me. The spoiler-abundant customer reviews on Amazon are hilarious.  Like, WHAT were this people thinking showing this movie to their KIDS?!  It’s Todd Solondz!  Not Beethoven Poops A Buncha Legos He Ate, Part 2!  Maybe they were expecting THIS type of wiener dog movie…?

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No idea.

Sunday, I man-scaped the region of my body containing my own personal wiener and we closed the frank-centric festivities with Josh Kriegman and Elyse Sternberg’s 2016 documentary, Weiner, a very provocative peek inside Anthony Weiner’s 2013 failed campaign to become the new mayor of New York City.  I’ve lost count of how many times the former congressman has sexted his sin-pipe out to the world, causing all kinds of problems for not only him but his family, but I will say that he came across to me as a very passionate guy who truly cares about making healthy, beneficial changes in the world. He just can’t seem to get a grip on this very odd compulsion he has to ruinously flirt with gross gals he never even winds up copulating with, much to the detriment of his marriage.  Evidently, he and his wife, Hillary Clinton’s vice chairwoman, Huma Abedin, are officially on the outs.  I hope they find peace, too.

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LOOK!! EVERYONE JUST NEEDS TO CHILL OUT AND DRINK PUMPKIN BEER AND THROW THEIR DAMN OWN WIENER WEEKENDS, DUDE!!!  LISTEN TO THE MAX HERE, I KNOW THINGS!!!

WINE PAIRING: In honor of all the fantastic pumpkin beers I sampled, I’m going to go with the Avery Brewing Company’s Rumpkin Ale Brew with Pumpkin and Spices. Aged in RUM barrels!  At 17.5% Alc by Vol, his stuff’s so good, you’ll wanna whip out your wiener and dance a jig ‘neath the next Harvest Moon! (Which, uh, just so happens to be September 16th, the opening day of Blair Witch, wahoo!)


Another Winter in a Summer Town

Something happened last night that made no sense. Something that is going to take me a while to figure out.

I’ve done a ton of theater in my life but I’ve never enjoyed GOING to theater. Especially musicals. It just never works out. EVER!

My wife, however, lives for the theater. She was a professional musical theatre performer who still takes dancing, singing, and improv lessons when she’s not leading 10 people in her corporate job. So, for respite, she will buy Pantages season tickets and go see shows alone because she feels bad dragging me to them. I mean, SO selfless of her, yes, but I do feel guilty sometimes.

Which is why I really had no problem with her coming to me about AHMANSON Theatre season tickets. She very politely asked if I would be interested in joining her for a run of productions and I agreed to do so. One ONE condition: That there would be MUCH wine.

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Deal. 

WIFE: One of the shows is the musical based on Grey Gardens.

ME: Grey Gardens?? I love that documentary! I own that one on Criterion.

WIFE: I know and that’s great, but this is a musical based on the Bouvier-Beales.

ME: Huh…? But I HATE musicals.

WIFE: Well…not Jesus Christ Superstar. You like that one. West Side Story?

ME: Honey…

WIFE: Fine. I’ll just cancel the subscription. 

ME: No, no! I’m – grrrrr – I’m in. Let’s do it. What else we got?

WIFE: Well, there’s an Arthur Miller play…there’s Fun Home, which I know you own the graphic novel of and were curious about–

ME: Musical, too, right?

WIFE: Yes.

ME: Kill me. EVERYTHING has to become a musical now, I guess. Go on.

WIFE: Another musical based on…uh…

ME: WHAT.

WIFE: A musical based on Amélie, that annoying French film you hated. 

ME: WHAT??? Amélie the MUSICAL???? NNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!

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Grey Gardens, in case you don’t know, and according to Wikipedia, “is a 1975 American documentary film by Albert and David Maysles. The film depicts the everyday lives of two reclusive, formerly upper class women, a mother and daughter both named Edith Beale, who lived in poverty at Grey Gardens, a derelict mansion at 3 West End Road in the wealthy Georgica Pond neighborhood of East Hampton, New York.” 

They were also two women related to Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, who were, by the time the doc was made, living in squalor, in a total mess of a mansion with no plumbing and lots of fleas and cats, as American Royalty exiles. 

Grey Gardens: The Musical stars veteran actress Betty Buckley as old Edith Bouvier-Beale and Rachel York – a performer I know nothing about – as BOTH young Edith and, in the second act, her outrageously-eccentric daughter (and virtually-imprisoned mad woman) Edie. This performance…blew…my…face off. Talk about CHANNELING. I don’t understand how someone could be this spot on, not only in mannerisms, voice, and body, but…spirit. I was astounded. It WAS Little Edie from the documentary right up there on stage!

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It wasn’t a very large ensemble at all. Mainly the two lead ladies and the rest of the actors in multiple roles. Act 1 takes place in the glorious, hopeful, well-provided for past, while Act 2 takes place in the inevitably bleak and ruinous future. I was so unsure how they were going to pull off the actual Hoarders-like FILTH of Grey Gardens on stage, but the set and art and prop design people did an absolutely extraordinary job. There’s SO much to look at onstage BESIDES the humans.

Best of all…I didn’t mind the songs. Did you read that?? It’s a musical and I didn’t mind the musical numbers! They made sense to me because the two Ediths fancied themselves singer/performers, even though they were total amateurs. So when they broke out in song, I understood WHY. Not to mention the fact that the writers of this thing paid VERY close attention to the source material, the documentary. Like, there’s a whole number based on the elder Edith wooing Jerry the Dimbulb Delivery Boy with her cobs of corn that she boils near her bedside. It’s called “Jerry Likes My Corn” and it’s both super-hilarious and SUPER-sad. Buckley killed that one.

However, NOTHING prepared me for Little Edie’s “Another Winter in a Summer Town” at the end. (It’s so funny. These reference clips from YouTube I’m using here from the original Broadway cast album don’t seem or sound NEARLY as powerful and profound or dark as they did last night with the cast I saw. In fact, they actually sound REALLY musical theatre-y. Which just goes to show, this stuff is meant to be seen live? The emotions tend to range? Different productions just sound…different? I dunno.)

The point is, both my wife and I were blubbering wrecks during the song. Trust me, we both have a coupla pretty crazy-in-their-own-way mothers that we wish we could be more in sync with, so we deeply related. As it is, I also just “celebrated” my 46th birthday this past Monday and it has been a slew of very introspective, where-am-I-going, time-is-running-out, I’ve-got-to-DO-something-with-my-life types of days. Hence the whole theme of “well, here it is, winter again and everyone’s gone and I’m stuck here, rotting away and losing my mind in a town that’s only alive in the summer.” It’s a pretty debilitating metaphor for age and creativity, I think.

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WINE PAIRING: The GOOD news is: YOU CAN DRINK INSIDE THE AHMANSON NOW! Oh, yeah, they give you little cups with lids and straws so you can take your wine inside the space while you watch the shows. PERFECT for my deal with Nic on this season subscription. And if you go down to the first-level bar and see Scott, tell him Max sent ya. He’s really cool and wears an EYEPATCH. A legit one, too! He totally set me up with pre-paid beverages that I collected during intermission. Look, he even put a little sign out for me, which I saved!

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Hey, I LIKE going to the theatre now!


Happy Anniversary, YouTube!

Ten years today, YouTube, baby!

You n’ me?

Ten long, short, up, down, happy, sad, crazy, mad years.

Why it only seems like yesterday – July 21, 2006, to be exact – that a female friend of mine told me I should “sign up for YouTube” (“for what, like, online classes?”) and film myself doing my impressions. “Hey, hey, what’m I, some low-rent Rich Little wannabe? These ain’t impressions that I do here, lady. There are channelings.  I’m an ARTIST.  Me, I try to BECOME these guys.”

“Yeah, yeah, just get it done”, she’d say.

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My channel, Bowlerhat – or Bowler Hat Productions, named in honor of Alex’s derby in Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” – became my wonderland. My most favorite form of creative expression.  I took risks. And once the Tony Soprano stuff hit, I took even MORE risks. And hits.  It got to the point that if I wanted to make something totally different over there…say, a video of a puppet trying to talk Gary Busey into taking a shit because he was constipated, while Nick Nolte is banging on the bathroom door outside…well, then, damn it, I was gonna do it.

Over time, making all those videos almost plunged me into madness. I got so method actor-y about them. I’ll never forget walking over to 7-11 and buying 15 types of bubble gum Al Pacino could sample for “Tony Soprano Stages an INTERVENTION.”

YouTube gave me an instant audience. It always brought me a lotta haters, which I wasn’t at ALL ready for. And soon I was even making $$$ from YouTube once they came at me about being a partner. But I think I’m making much less with them these days as I’ve gone from hundreds of thousands of views on stuff…to maybe a few hundred even.

And there’s where you start do wonder:  Is it over? Do I suck? Or am I just TOO out there, too experimental? Does nobody even CARE anymore? Maybe it’s that I’m too old? Or is it because I don’t do Tony Soprano enough. But even when I do do Tony Soprano, the views just aren’t what they’ve been in the past. 

I DON’T KNOW THE FORMULA BECAUSE THE FORMULA IS ALWAYS CHANGING. 

Listen. Just know that YouTube’s been good to me. It has brought me TONS of work. And most of it legitimate. I got to work with Sopranos cast members on various projects.  I got to play Mickey Rourke on a late-night talk show.  I even got flown to Long Island once for a weekend of shooting videos and they put me up in this super-fancy corporate hotel that I never wanted to leave.  The gig? Channel Pacino, Nicholson, and De Niro in an office setting. How much fun was THAT? I still thank Pete Sussi, the guy who found me on YouTube and put all that together, to this day.  They even scored me a SAG contract, that’s how much it meant that we work together.

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I’m proud of my little YouTube legacy. It will all be good fodder and footage for the Max Koch documentary someone makes when I die. (Oh, I totally believe that my true fame will be posthumous!)

When I started this blog, I opened a second channel for videos more related to wine and travel. I get a lot of very kind comments over there. All in all…I have enjoyed this run very much. And I most definitely plan to keep going.

Oh! Almost forgot. I made a quick, little new video in honor of the anni. Just click this pic below of the YouTube logo and GO:

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WINE PAIRING: A.J. Soprano would be proud! I’m bustin’ out the Cristal!  Hey!!! Happy Anniversary!!! (Aw, crap, half the bottle fizzled out…this stuff’s expensive…)


“Chuck Duck Goes to WASHINGTON” (New Video)

Just got back from Washington, DC!  The wife had to attend an HR conference out there, and, as usual, we wound up turning the trip into a golden opportunity to travel and explore.

Let me tell you something, anybody born and raised in this country is doing themselves a grave disservice by not visiting our nation’s capitol.  Where else can you get a historic river, an eternal flame, a SPY museum, the steps from “The Exorcist”, ALL the monuments and memorials you could ask for…and something called Amish Chicken?!  It was one of the greatest trips of my life. And it sincerely made me reflect on my heritage, my patriotism, and my PRIORITIES.  In the wake of those terrible shootings in Orlando, I am realizing more and more than our days might be numbered as a species and that we SERIOUSLY need to come together as a country.

But best of all, this trip to Washington gave me a good reason to return to my puppetry.  No, really, blame my wife for this.  It was Nic who wholeheartedly encouraged me to pick out a puppet from my vast collection and bring it along with us.  So I could present the adventure through HIS eyes on my Facebook and Instagram.

I had so much fun with this project.  And I think I wisely chose the best candidate for the job: A little bath mitten I used to make other videos with called Chuck Duck. 

So here is a “highlights” video for you to enjoy from my…er…Chuck Duck’s visit to Washington.  Just click the pic below and GO.  

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WINE PAIRING: Our friend Tracy, who lives in Virginia, hooked up with us for supper one night at Graffiato in DC’s Chinatown and told us all about Louden County’s Stone Tower Winery, where she is a club member. I can’t even tell you how desperate I am now to hit Virginia wine country now. I anxiously await the 2013 Estate Wind Swept Hill, a blend of Merlot and Cab Franc. 

That was the ONLY real frustrating aspect of our trip. You couldn’t find any local wines anywhere. So I was stuck sticking to lagers and cider. Oh, the things I endure…!


Black Celebration: The Cure LIVE at the Bowl

I finally saw The Cure Tuesday night at the Hollywood Bowl! 

I will be honest. It’s kind of been a lifelong dream of mine to see them live. I have all their records – my favorite being Bloodflowers – and have been listening (brooding) to them since high school. I hung out with the drama geeks back then, sure…but I also rolled with a coupla goth kids who turned me onto them. Namely, Marco and Brenda. It was Marco who introduced me to clove cigarettes and TUK Creepers, which I continue to wear to this day. And Brenda, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Siouxsie Sioux, shamelessly shared my love and appreciation of darkness, death, and cemeteries. We took a modern dance class together and once or twice went to pout about Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, after dark. The Cure, Bauhaus, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Joy Division, Black Flag, Violent Femmes, Soft Cell, and Echo & The Bunnymen always provided the score, albeit on our shitty Walkmans.

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Funny thing about the wife, me, and live concerts. We’d all but given up on them. Especially after the Roger Waters Pink Floyd: The Wall show at Memorial Coliseum, where I almost murdered each and every drunk, stoned, and screaming sing-alonger within a 12-foot radius. Oh, I’ve almost gotten in fights at shows, taking on the rude, selfish and inconsiderate like a burdened, battered, balls-out BEAST. A bucking black bull, if you will…the arrows of ill-manneredness pierced in my neck, hell-bent on justice against people who only go to shows to shoot them with their smartphones and steal seats. I mean, this is also why I barely get out to movies in theaters anymore. Unless it’s some “event” film I’m interested in. Which is rare. But I did enjoy Spectre, Creed, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens in public very much.

So we made a rule: LESS concerts. But exceptions were made. The Cure was a whole different deal. They NEVER come to town. And they were playing the Bowl, a venue we are willing to hit at least once a year. Best of all, the show was a very special gift to me from my wife, who splurged for box seats. MUCH better than rubbing shoulders with members of the rabble who are only there to vape, jibber-jabber, and shout “Lovecats!!!” all night long.

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I never know the Bowl’s policy about bringing in your own bottle(s) of wine anymore, so I just sat back all night, nursing 32 oz. Dos Equis beers, which Nichole was kind enough to keep bringing me. WITHOUT ASKING.

The opening act was the Scottish post-punk band, The Twilight Sad, and they were fantastic. The PERFECT mood setters for The Cure. So we just chilled and enjoyed them, watching all the vampires, death rockers, and Hot Topic rejects slowly creep in. Oh, I was having so much fun. In the words of Cure frontman Robert Smith, it was Just Like Heaven. My people!

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Another colorful character who actually joined us in our box was a chick I wound up referring to as “Baked Potato Lady.” She was from Texas and told us this was her NINTH time seeing just this particular tour alone! And then she also ordered up a giant cup of suds and simply sat silently for the entire 3-hour show! Didn’t ONCE get up to pee! How perfect is THAT? No trouble at all. Even when I asked her if she courted a “dark sensibility”, she smiled and replied with a gentle “yes.”

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This was one of the greatest concert experiences of my life. The Cure played perfectly, gave us three hours, including three ENCORES, and I never wanted them to leave the stage. I was transfixed. And Robert Smith is a startling performer. He is SO about playing the songs. I think he’s almost AFRAID of his audience. His rare, between song banter was downright unintelligible. I think at one point he mumbled something about only being “half-way up the hill”, which gloriously got lost in the purply glow of despair. There were also zero close-ups of Smith on the monitors. I think he might be a little self-conscious about his appearance these days? Or not. It didn’t MATTER. He was beautiful to all of us. And his voice was as strong and passionate and iconically Robert Smith-ian as ever. And, WOW, can the dude play guitar.

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Recent pic I found of Smith on the web.

And the visuals! At one point, a gorgeous, colorful scene of a tree, surrounded by vibrant green grass and flowers slowly (bleakly) turned to a deathly, haunted black and white. And then during another song, the walls began to bleed. BLEED! For such a moody, misery-drenched night, I was the happiest I’d been in ages! Even my wife was into it, and she was no fan of the group by any stretch. Think she might be now.

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I’ll admit. I got a little weepy sitting in that box, drinking beer, just enjoying The Cure and the NIGHT. I felt so LUCKY to be there. So grateful for the experience. I seriously hope to see them again someday. In the meantime, check out this acoustic “perfect version” performance of A Forest I found on YouTube the next morning. It gut me good.

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WINE PAIRING: It’s Memorial Day weekend! Raise many glasses to those who fought and died for us! Wine! Beer! Shots! 

(Okay, specifically, I suggest you pair the 2015 Gothic TellTale Rosé from Oregon’s Willamette Valley with a coupla choice Cure songs of my choosing. Namely, The Hanging Garden, Charlotte Sometimes, and Icing Sugar…all the while dressed in black from head to toe…)

Cheers.

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Schnebly Redland’s Winery

I just HAD to quickly tell you about Schnebly Redland’s Winery. This place was extra special and we managed to hit it on our way down to Key West.

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On the Schnebly website, they instruct you to “Uncork. Unplug. Unwind.” And that is EXACTLY what we did. And what’s SO exciting about Schnebly is all of their wines are made from…are you ready? Tropical fruit! I’m talkin’ mangos and lychee, guava, avocados, and – my most favorite, by far – PASSION fruit. Liquid sex, sister!

Here. You gotta check out our visit to Schnebly in Part ONE of the newly-posted “Max Koch Goes to Florida” video. Oh, and wait’ll you see the big ol’ brown iguana they got runnin’ around down there. Click the pic below of the winery’s breathtakingly-stunning fountain and GO:

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WINE PAIRING: Most definitely give the Schnebly Sparkling Passion a splash. We bought a couple bottles with us down to Key West when we stayed at the Parrot Key Hotel & Resort and they most perfectly punctuated our sunsets.

And special thanks to Ernesto and George at Schnebly for being so cool to us and letting us film!