Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Don't Call Me Joe

BENNINGTON -- The Intelligentsia arrived yesterday while Art Gallery Dude was reading the Paris Review Q&A with Nabokov. 

The beans in the red-orange package labeled "El Diablo Dark Roast" were harvested near the equator in Latin America, between 1,350 and 1,450 meters above sea level, or just over 4,000 feet, not quite a mile high.

First thing AGD noticed about the package was ...

... wouldn't you know that as AGD begins to write on what typically is the quietest day at Fiddlehead at Four Corners, Wednesday, this disheveled fella just walked in ...

... and AGD did a double-take because the color of his Costanza'like Adam Bauer coat looks kind of like the color of the Intelligentsia package. Tell me the colors aren't similar.

O Coincidence, My Coincidence! Wherefore art thou Coincidence?

Mr. Dishevely passed AGD with a grunt of acknowledgement and slowly walked along the counter looking at Fiddlehead's jewelry selection of handmade rings and bracelets and necklaces and mezuzahs and chokers and cool things and neat things and pretty things. The counter ended and he stopped in front of an easel for a second or three to gaze at Brian Hewitt's new oil painting of a farm house on the backside of the Park-McCullough estate in North Bennington, but instead of continuing to see the art wares on the back end of the gallery he turned around and shuffled back to the center of the gallery then stopped in front of the new NameTrains display on the church pew. He stood there and stared for 5 seconds then turned and walked to the vestibule door, opened it -- a-ring-a-ding-ding went the tin bell -- and shuffled into the sunshine of downtown Bennington. Goodbye, forever.

Explain that one, bubba.

So Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast -- "This blend presents a caramelized sweetness with a low acidity. A lasting impression of molasses and malted barley linger in the smoky finish." -- offers coffee rules on the side of the red-orange package.

But first, another visitor to the gallery: the mailman who just delivered a Priority Mail package from San Diego, paradise on earth. Inside were 22 new pieces of ... 

... come on and guess ... ... jewelry!

Here's an example of the hand-cut crystal and quartz necklaces from LeightWorks ...

AGD will write about them later, or tomorrow.

But check out the color of the heart in the last photo ... yeah, it kind of resembles the color of the package of Intelligentsia "El Diablo Dark Roast" which has coffee rules ...

By rules we mean "Fresh Brewed Intelligence" but AGD doesn't follow many of them most days. Shit, he just grinds the beans then pours them into the filter, then pours the bathroom sink water into the Hamilton Beach coffee maker and hits the on-switch.

* brewing equipment spotlessly clean? No.
* freshly drawn filtered or bottled water? No.
* grind coffee just prior to brewing? Yes!
* correct grind? Wait, there's more than one grind?
* rinse paper filter with hot water before use? Seriously?

Thing is, AGD resembles Intelligentsia's description of L.A. (because he's from L.A.) ...

Here's today's photo journey of AGD brewing his first pot of Intelligentsia (click on the photos to really get a close-up view) ...

Newly opened bag, beans not sweaty like most

Going to dump yesterday's leftovers ...

... and fill the pot with bathroom tap ... is that wrong?

It only looks wrong in the sunshine

It pours a lot cleaner

Wet the filter, huh? I guess I can understand why;
it kind of looks like a big piece of Jeebus ...

This grinder looks fine, right?

Raven's Brew sticker on the grinder;
Raven's Brew is among the best coffee in the world

Not filling higher than the suggested limit

Kinda looks like shredded tabacky

Into the coffeemaker it went and began to brew.

Meanwhile, the morning sunshine continued to flush through Fiddlehead's windows and illuminate the gallery. As the coffee brewed AGD snapped away ...

Magnetized NameTrains for kids 3-older

Books! AGD sold a copy of Chalk It Up 2! yesterday

Gail Chavenelle's metal horse on granite base

Brian Hewitt's "Harrington Road Farm" ... for more HERE

Glass piggy and fish

Maple syrup from Corse Farm in Whitingham

Making sure the glass obelisk
doesn't fall into Guido the Killer Pimp's hands

Mark Rosenbaum glass vases from Nawlins

Caitlin Burch glass vases from Putney

Frog-stemmed martini glasses from Boise

Sylvia Grantins' wonderful acrylic "Flowers" from Virginiatown

Right about now the coffee finished brewing. Here's the review ...

Sorry, but not yet. 

Because the vestibule door just opened.

And an elderly man by the name of James Pierce and his wife just made a cursory walk around the gallery. Long story short ... he told AGD he worked in the gallery when it was Vermont National Bank. This was the '70s. AGD showed James a black and white photo of the building when it was VNB and asked him to tell a story from those days. Except his wife all but yanked on his sweater sleeve and said that they had to leave for his hearing appointment a few doors down at Beltone's.

James said he'd come back later yet by now we all know the Beback odds ...

Anyway, back to the first pot of Intelligentsia.

Fresh aromatic steam

And the muddy grounds

First pour

And the verdict is ...

... El Diablo Dark Roast is decent. The first taste is somewhat sour, in a good way, and the caramelized sweetness that comes from the molasses hangs on the back of your tongue for a bit. Not quite as robust as AGD prefers his coffee -- Raven's Brew and Jamaican Me Crazy remain atop the list -- but the taste of Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast grows on you with each gulp, and you definitely want a refill soon as you finish the first batch.

Intelligentsia's website is strong and includes videos. Here's one called "Don't Call Me Joe" ...

NOW THEN, guess who came back? James Pierce.

Beltone's was locked even though James' wife insists they called the house today to remind him of his appointment. Mrs. Pierce said Beltone's is only open on Tuesdays.

"It's weird that they would call you today and remind you of an appointment today when they're only open on Tuesdays," AGD said. Mrs. Pierce looked confused and shook her head.

James agreed to that photo-op and held a picture of Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery when it was Vermont National Bank. He was the head teller. Back then, he said, bankers got only 30 minutes for lunch so he usually ate at the dinette a few doors down (where the arrow is pointing).

James agreed to tell a quickie about his banking days on video, and by a quickie we mean 6 minutes, during which he corroborates what AGD always tells gallery customers vis-a-vis the bank's reasoning for closing in '97 after 68 years in the old marble building ...

It was time for James and the Misses to leave.

AGD extended his hand and James asked "What's your name again?"

"Joey. But you can call me Joe. Actually," he told James, "a lot of men refuse to call me Joey. Mount Anthony's wrestling coach refuses to call me Joey -- he said Joey is a kid's name so he calls me Joe."

"The name on my birth certificate is Joey," AGD told Mrs. Pierce. "My parents went to Vegas a lot and loved the Rat Pack and they named me after Joey Bishop. But I'm not funny."

"Oh, I liked Joey Bishop," Mrs. Pierce said.

"It's funny," AGD continues to tell Mrs. Pierce. "When someone calls me Joe in front of my mom. She gets all 'Don't you dare call him Joe!'