November 18, 2013
It Can Happen to You
This is a piece i wrote for the Citylife that never ran...
When I moved to the Arts District several years ago, my neighborhood was in the early phase. A few art galleries, a few thrift stores, the old-school family-run restaurant and the two dive bars – but even more vacant storefronts, abandoned motor courts and fly-by-night businesses. Now Main Street is lined by windows full of starburst clocks and art deco coffee tables, as attractive young couples in fedoras wander along, smiling at their reflections. At night, the sidewalks are wide and brightly lit, the sounds of cocktails being shaken as you pass an open door, the distant music from a gallery opening floating in the air.
Gentrification is usually a consummation devoutly to be wished, whether you see it as an opportunity to change a neighborhood for the better or a chance to buy low and sell high, or a bit of both. I spent years in lower Manhattan, moving from tumbledown tenement to semi-finished loft and back again. As I came to each place, they seemed to change in ways that were initially pleasing, but ultimately disheartening. The thrill of finally having a “cool” coffeeshop nearby gave way to the dismay of passing an atelier specializing in high-end custom wedding dresses on the way to my $11 an hour job. The “established in 1964” drugstore and the stationary/ notions store run by the little old man who seemed to have everything “in de back, somevhere, I check” disappeared, but a mega Duane Reade popped up. I didn’t like it, but I also knew it was somewhat my fault: Me complaining about gentrification is like Typhoid Mary bitching that everyone around her dies.
I made the mistake of visiting my old NYC neighborhood on a Saturday night recently – an experience best described as cognitive dissonance horrorshow. In the past, the changes has made me a bit melancholy, mostly bemused, but suddenly it seems the whole Lower East Side has turned into the Las Vegas Strip, packs of out-of-towners teetering on high heels or back-slapping their “bros.” The punk rock bar has been a tiki bar, a pool bar, a martini bar, is now an oyster bar; the current iteration of the Polish diner I used to eat breakfast at is French bistro -- after Mexican, Latin fusion and retro Continental. Let us not even speak of the John Varvatos boutique where CBGS’s used to be. There’s nothing wrong with change, but wiping out longtime small businesses for an endless turnover of flavor-of-the-month doesn’t feel quite like progress, but more like running in place. Like on a treadmill. And we know how interesting that is.
I suppose that’s why gentrification unnerves me. You can’t throw on the brakes and say, “We stop here! Right here! With only three bars, five boutiques and somewhat improved but still cheap housing!” But you can’t. It’s hard to push a community up to a new level, but once the highest point is reached, the ball just keeps rolling downhill. Las Vegas has enough neighborhoods designed for people who don’t live in them: Let’s hope mine won’t be one more...
July 23, 2012
I have been doing more blogging on movies here:
It's more frequently updated than this one, but it is only movies....
August 17, 2011
Queen of Outer Space
Along with the end of the school year, June offered drive-in trash cinema on TCM. Introducing crap like The Giant Claw, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero and Mars Needs Women was clearly a strain on Our Host Robert Osborne, but some flicks he clearly relished. Queen of Outer Space was one of them and, i've got to say, it's made a believer out of me.
It has Zsa Zsa Gabor. And crappy special effects. And ridiculous dialogue. And strangely fabulous outfits. And terrible acting. And lame monsters. And Zsa Zsa Gabor. Eric and i did some furious texting during the film, some of which i am passing on here, for his comments are too good not to share and i would never dream of stealing material from Mr. Diva.
So, here we go. These three fellows are going into space. They wanted to go to Mars, but they have to give this scientist cat in the brown pajamas a ride to the space station. Bitching and moaning ensues. Note the Star Trek logo in the right-side background. Note the 70's phones. Note the costumes hijacked from Forbidden Planet.
"But, Larry, spaceships are dangerous! What if you blew up or something?"
Hey, it's Sinatra/Welles playmate and James Ellroy fetish object Joi Lansing! Nice to see her here. But why is she wearing an evening gown made of lettuce and gloves from the "Razzle Dazzle" number of a touring company of Chicago?
Zsa Zsa Gabor and Joi Lansing actually co-starred in another film. Touch of Evil. Oh how the not particularly mighty have fallen...
So, off we go into space, with stock footage and Joi Lansing blowing kisses the whole way.
Mr. Diva: Kudos to the set decorator. That is the smoothest aluminum foil wallpaper i've ever seen.
What i want to know is why the scientist is lying down? And why is he strapped in bed like Christopher Crawford?
So before our heroes -- and i use that word tenuously, because these guys are kinda douchey -- arive at the space station, a cartoon line seems to attack their cartoon space station and blow up some kind of plastic model under a red lightbulb. Zoinks!
Mr. Diva: Like the space station built by dudes is a vadge and the lasers fired by the women of Planet Player are sperm?
Oh. So i wasn't the only one who immediately thought that. Good.
Mr. Diva: No. John and I said it simultaneously. Then Little Mildred shushed us.
Mr. Diva: Isn't this the one where Spock gets attacked by a flying Stilton cheese sandwich and a redshirt dies?
Why are they all carrying yoga mats? First, if i could take one thing with me while exploring an unknown planet that would not be it. Two, these are not yoga type of guys. I bet they've never even been to Park Slope.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Mandrell Sisters!
Finally, the Venusian milita and their cool little dresses and their groovy plastic shoes and metallic leather holsters show up and arrest these assholes. I am telling you, if Alexander McQueen had ever seen this film, that would've been a collection right there. Keep that in mind as we watch further...
And so they are whisked off to the capital city of Venus. Or i assume that's what's happening while we look at this leftover Arabian Nights backdrop. If you took all of the stock footage out of this film, it'd be a good 15 minutes shorter...
The running of the estrogen gauntlet doesn't involve any vintage NYPD-style ultraviolence, but i'll settle for ogling that fab turquoise sparkle wall finish and the groovy frocks. Dig the neckline on the chick on the left.
Ah, the Queen of Outer Space. Or at least of Venus. It's nice that the Venusians are such a classless society that even their monarch isn't afraid to get down with the glitter and pipe cleaners on planetwide craft night. Perhaps Etsy is the fourth largest business on Venus. Would make sense.
Anyway, the Queen thinks the Earthlings have come to destroy her planet. They say that's not true, but she's sticking with her thesis.
Mr. Diva: TITS IN SPACE!
If Zsa Zsa Gabor is their greatest scientific mind, this planet is doomed. She sets aside her beakers of colored water and stops fiddling around with her plant to "go see if they can be trusted." The douchebags. Are they trustworthy?
Also, i believe that Anne Francis wore the dress on the right in Forbidden Planet. I guess we know where they money they saved by not having a decent script or special effects that might fool a toddler wasn't wasted in the costume department either.
"Why don't you girls knock off all this Gestapo stuff and try to be a little friendly?"
Yep. He just said that. The condescending idot comments are only really beginning. I guess i shouldn't have been calling them douchebags until i got everyone caught up to the fact that they were.
Mr. Diva: Are you joining me in hoping these jerks wind up castrated?
I always wear intergalactic couture when i cut off balls.
Mr. Diva: And eyeliner.
Anyway, the Queen still thinks they're going to invade, so she's going to torture them until the confess to the plot that exists only in her mind. In other words, she's following the Bush/Cheney military policy. Go, go Gitmo!
So, the scientist and the Fake Leslie Neilsen speculate on whether it was the ladies of Venus who operated that laser that took them out. Which provokes this reponse from Douchey and Dopey...
"How could a bunch of women invent a gizmo like that?"
"And even if they invented it, how could they aim it? You know how women drivers are."
Yes. They just said that. See: I told you they were douchebags! Seriously, these women blew up your space station, fucked up your rocket and have you locked up and awaiting torture and you're still talking smack about them? Okay, maybe the comfortable-if-minimalist mid-centry decor of your cell seems a little soft but, still, don't push it.
And here comes Zsa Zsa in an evening gown bearing cocktails. You can tell this is a planet ruled by women because the drinks match her dress. She offers to help the douchebags escape, even as one leers at her and calls her "baby." Seriously, i'd be all, "Go ahead, see how your chauvinist ass feels after a few hours of waterboarding."
Anyway, Zsa Zsa provides some exposition (men had a war with another planet, blah blah,vast destruction, blah blah, the Queen of Outer Space led a revolt, blah blah, men dead or in prison, blah blah, Queen of Outer Space wants to destroy the Earth now since she thinks it's a threat, blah blah) until the queen sends some minions to round up Fake Lloyd Bridges and bring him to her quarters. As Scientist says, "You know there's a certain irony in the fact that our lives and the lives of everyone on Earth may depend on Captain Fake Lex Barker's sex appeal."
Said quarters are, decorated quite stylishly in the Hollywood regency manner. Let's take a moment to appreciate before we get back to the torn scrap of cocktail napkin that constitutes a plot....
So, anyway, he comes on to her, she comes on back. Then she ups the fliratious ante by showing off the Beta Disintegrator! Her planet-destroying machine, or at least that's what she says the big sparkly box with chicks in miniskirts wandering around it is. Apparently it destroyed the space station.
Yes, the Beta Disintegrator! is impressive indeed. You know what's even more impressive? The gold-plated flatscreen she uses to show it to Fake Guy Madison.
Also, when you have armed guards bring someone to your room, you can't complain that they came unwillingly. Anyway, blah blah, full of hate, blah blah, you need a man's love, blah blah, let me see your face -- WHOA!
... and so did I until I found Proactive!
Anyway, yeah, radiation burns, blah blah, caused by men and their wars, blah blah, you must pay, blah blah...
She has him hauled back to the game room or wherever it is they're staying. Then two more chicks come in and bring them to the lab, where Zsa Zsa awaits...
You know, maybe pushing the "you get to wear evening gowns to work" angle would help get more little girls interested in science. Also, what the hell kind of science is she doing in there, with her leaves and sponges and colored water? Please don't tell me that the most advanced scientist on the planet of women is a cosmetologist.
So, as they make good their escape, let's review our main characters
Douchey & Horny
Bashful & Dopey
Zsa Zsa Gabor and two motherfuckers who better not get anywhere near her goddamn key light.
So, after being chased around by armed miniskirts, the ladies and their assholes flee into a cave. No, this still did not just catch Zsa Zsa posing like she's at a Palm Springs cocktail party and Rubirosa is on the prowl: She does the whole film like this. Also, note the streaks of spray paint on the walls. That's supposed to be "gold." Because all alien planets are always made of gold or diamonds or iPods or whatever. Also, note that the douchey-est of the douchebags is not depicted. And you're thinking, "Gee, i hope something shitty happened to him, like a zombie bit him or a spider ate him or a dragon burned him or that big angry redhead worked him over but good..."
So, he lives. And learns nothing from his near-death experience. Everyone hangs out in the cave some more, despite it being the home of giant rubber attack spiders. We are treated to pillow talk between Zsa Zsa and Fake Jeff Chandler during which she points out that "I zink if a girl vants a man, she zhould tell him zo." I'm not sure if she's laying down the Venusian credo, but it sounds suspiciously like the philosophy of a woman who has been married nine times. A woman like Zsa Zsa Gabor. And the lovebirds continue...
"You're very beautiful."
"I'm glad you noticed. It took you zuch a long time." Ah, so i'll see you your misogynistic douchebag and raise you my narcissitc bitch. I think these crazy kids may have a future together after all.
What? No trim for the doctor? Or are we supposed to ascertain that he'd rather they'd landed on Mars...
Anyway, the miniskirts finally catch up with them, the ladies decide to pretend they've captured the assholes are are going to turn them over to the Queen of Outer Space. It finally dawns on me the the Queen of Outer Space has been doing a big ol' scenery-chomping Norma Desmond impersonation this whole time...
Except that even i have to admit that "We had faces then!" is not quite as intimidating as "I'm going to allow myself the exquisite pleasure of watching you while I obliterate the Earth. Then you'll be executed."
Although breaking into hysterical, repentant sobs on your satin sheets just so you can distract the fools while you grab the firearm hidden underneath a silken pillow is very Sunset Boulevard...
But, of course, the Queen of Outer Space is overpowered and Zsa Zsa steals her mask in order to impersonate her in order to turn off the Beta Disintegrator! But, before that can happen, the troops still loyal to the Queen of Outer Space find her behind the small paper screen where she has been inadequately hidden... blah blah, i'm going to destory the Earth, blah blah, you're all gonna watch, blah blah....
... but first...
... yeah, not even the ones on her own team thought that was cool. You know what, though, upon surveying these last three images, i finally figured out what they spent the budget on. This flick has more sequins and glitter per square inch than a Liberace biopic. The costumes, the walls, the curtains, the furniture, the burn victim masks -- all encrusted with sparkle. I guess that accounts for a few hundred bucks, anyway.... Regardless, on to the Beta Disintegrator!
Work the runway, ladies. Work it! Show me fierce! I'm telling you, Marc by Marc Jacobs Spring 2012.
"One touch of a tiny red button and Earth will become a wasteland!"
"It'll be destroyed in a matter of seconds! Watch it!"
Nope, still there.
Now we hear a funny noise and begin looking around for IT.
In the meantime, the Venusians loyal to Zsa Zsa have gathered at the doorway. Apparently in the Rebel forces, you can choose your own outfit and are not restricted to the solid color minidresses of the Royalists. I mean, it still has to be a minidress (only Zsa Zsa may wear evening gowns; only the Queen may wear metallic toreador pants). Still, being able to have options like sequins or color-blocking or a scalloped hem would certainly help recruit me for the side of liberty.... Anyway, as the Queen looks frantically for a techie or a fire extinguisher, the Rebels attack the Royalists. And that means... GIRLFIGHT!
In the meantime, the Queen tries to save her machine, fails, perishes in a hail of sequins, glitter and cake-topper sparklers.
So, after all that, we return to the throne room to find that Zsa Zsa has donned the Imperial lame. (I actually really like Bashful's black minidress with hint of silver sparkle and Angry Redhead's boho draped mini. Those are wearable....) We wait eagerly for her to pronounce something like , "Ah, ze foolish, foolish men. You have helped me deestroy ze Queen and now I am Queen. Zee broken machine waz just a trick. Now, ve vill deestroy ze Earth! HA HA HA HA!"
But, no, Zsa Zsa is benevolent and merciful and so, so sad that the menfolk have to return to Earth.
But then Earth calls on the skype and says the guys have another year to dawdle around while Earth sends a shuttle. Joy!
Joy also in the many embellished neckline styles available in the new Gabor regime!
I guess old dick is better than no dick.
And that's our film. For those of you who sense a certain chauvinism in the film, let me remind you that it was the fifties. And also perhaps the backstory is in order here. Legendary producer Walter Wanger made films such as Cleopatra, Joan of Arc and I Want to Live! He married movie star Joan Bennett (of Little Women, Scarlet Street and Father of the Bride) Bennet had an affair with agent Jennings Lang. Wanger shot Lang in the groin. After Wanger got out of prison (not a long sentence; he was a Hollywood producer after all), he could only get work with lowball outfits such as Allied Artists. Wanger brought them a story by Ben Hecht (of His Girl Friday, The Front Page and Scarface) about an all-female planet. Several years passed, Wanger and Hecht dropped off of the project to be replaced by people known more for their work with the Bowery Boys and the Three Stooges. Finally, after this convoluted history of violence, betrayal and failure, Queen of Outer Space was made!
But that's just backstory. What do you really need to know about Queen of Outer Space? Just this...
April 07, 2011
This Week's Line
This Week's Diva, Murderpanties Edition
Many a writer -- particularly a crime writer -- has taken inspiration from real life. Rarely, however, does real life follow the writer. Especially when there's no sign that the person living out the novels has ever read them. Such it was with Anjette Lyles, a 1950s murderess whose story was 40% Mildred Pierce and 50% The Postman Always Rings Twice.
But, anyway, to the all-too-true story of Ms. Lyles. She was a vivacious n' fetchin' Southern belle in Macon, Georgia. Her first husband owned a popular local cafe, a place as well-known for it's outgoing proprietress as its food. The talkative, buxom Anjette loved the business, the people, the attention, the money.
But her husband didn't: He sold the diner... and then became suddenly, horribly, violently, fatally ill. Soon after the restaurant re-opened, now re-named Anjette's, with the widow putting on a brave, even smiling face as she served her customers. And the lovely lady wasn't the restaurant's only attraction, There was also the location near the courthouse and county buildings, which brought in a steady stream of policemen, prosecturors, judges and jurors, none of whom suspected a thing. (In this aspect, she was also a bit like Bonnie Parker, another courthouse diner waitress whose seemingly golden heart shielded a less charming nature.) When Anjette began keeping company with a dashing young pilot who frequented the restaurant, everyone was delighted and, i'm sure, gossiped about it in the nicest way possible. Within a few months, Anjette and Buddy were married. Within a few more months, Buddy was dead. Not long after, Anjette's mother-in-law shuffled off this mortal coil as well.
But still, no one wondered about any of it. Bitch must've made one hell of a cup of coffee. Then one of her daughters took ill and was hopspitalized. The child seemed to rally and was taken home. The family received an anonymous letter warning that the child was in danger and Anjette was shopping for tiny coffins but, well, who wants to get involved? The child died soon afterward and, finally, someone thought that after four deaths of people in close proximity and four big insurance payouts, well, maybe we should look into this....?
Anjette was found guilty of murder in the first, but authorities declared her insane, specifically paranoid schizophrenic, thus avoiding the death penalty. She died in prison in 1977. But was she really insane? She claimed to "see" angels and demons and hallucinate. Which brings me to that 10% i left unaccounted for earlier: It's straight-up voodoo! No, for real, not only bumping people off, but burning black candles and stabbing voodoo dolls while totin' a Bible type of stuff!
Then, of course, it is also rather like the end of the original story of Double Indemnity, where Phyllis has actually bumped off a few other people besides her husband (annoying older relatives, first wives, babies... the usual) and dresses up in some bizarro red cloak of death before she and Walter Neff committ double suicide on a freighter bounds for the Far East... yes, I know, very different from the movie. But even Cain himself acknowledged that Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler's ending was better and if it's good enough for him.... I'm sure even he would admit he sometimes wrote a bit on the operatic side....
This Week's Catfight
Thanks to the Las Vegas/Clark County Library District, i have the first two seasons of Wonder Woman spinning through my DVD player. Its magic is vast, too much to go into here. But suffice to say the pilot has this climactic brawl between Lynda Carter's All-American Amazon and Stella Stevens' Nazi Bitch. Stevens launches the throwdown by announcing that "I don't need a gun to defeat you, Wonder Woman: I was Nuremburg judo champ!" And it. Is. On.
This Week's Recipe... Recipes
I made these for a Beyond the Valley of the Dolls screening a while back, having people over always being a good excuse to finalize one’s recipes. Or vice-versa. Anyway, sliders. While i’m not crazy about the weird way the American food landscape is becoming obsessed with the gigantism of the quadruple Whopper and the six-pound burrito, neither does the corresponding teenytude of mini corn dogs, personal pizzas and tapas. Sliders, however have their uses. First, as a New Yorker, I’ll always have a soft sport for the White Castle. Also, sliders can be a good way to experiment with flavors and toppings that might be too overpowering in a full-sized burger. Hence, the recipes below. Layering ingredients above and below the patty as it’s done here helps the burgers remain properly aligned. I also strongly suggest using toothpicks to spike the little suckers together -- just make sure enough toothpick stick out that people don't eat them by accident. Better safe than sorry. Live and learn. Whatever.
½ lb. ground beef
½ lb. Italian-seasoned ground turkey
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. black pepper
12 dinner rolls
4 oz. Mozzarella cheese
3 slices pancetta
2 Roma tomatoes
6 large fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1. Mix together the beef and the turkey with the garlic powder, oregano and pepper. Make sure you mix the meats thoroughly -- with the little patties, you cannot have the big separate chunks. If you need a food processor, use it. I probably would if i had one. Shape into small patties about 2-3 in. across and 1 in. thick.
2. Cut the mozzarella into slices slightly smaller than the patties. Cut the pancetta into slices about 1 in. wide and 3 in. long. Tear or roughly chop the basil leaves into somewhat smaller bits, but not so small that they just float way. Maybe you can get some of that microbasil stuff. That would be optimum.
3. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet to medium-high heat and cook the patties. Turn once, should be about 4-5 minutes for each side. Say, put on earrings and pour yourself another glass of red wine timing. Put the mozzarella slices on the patties after you turn them. Remove from pan.
4. Assemble the sliders. Put a slice of Roma tomato on the bottom bun, then the patty with mozzarella on top, two pieces of pancetta, then a few slivers of basil and a splash of balsamic. If you can lay hands on some tomato chutney or relish, you can put that on somewhere, or if you want to ketchup it, do that now because there's no adding condiments once they're assembled. Position the top bun. Consume.
1 lb. ground beef
12 dinner rolls
6 slices center-cut bacon
3 ripe bananas
2 tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. salt
¾ c. peanut butter
1. Season the ground beef with salt and pepper, maybe a dash of chili and/or garlic powder if you're nasty. Shape into small patties about 2-3 in. across and 1 in. thick
2. Cook the bacon and drain, reserving the grease. Cut each slice into 3 pieces.
3. Cut the pointed ends off of each banana and cut into four pieces. Using the bottom of a coffee cup or the palm of your hand, flatten—it’s okay if they go sideways or whatever, so long as they’re fairly flat and basically in one piece. Sprinkle the banana slices with flour and salt.
4. Heat up a little of the bacon grease in a heavy frying pan. Cook the bananas on medium heat until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes, turning once. (Think of it as singing "Suspicious Minds," flipping the burger, then singing the "Trouble"/"Guitar Man" medley from the '68 Comeback Special. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. Turn the pan up to high-medium heat and add a little more bacon grease. Or a little more than a little more, your sliders, your aorta... Cook the slider patties, turning once, for about 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let rest briefly.
6. Assemble the sliders: Put a swipe of peanut butter on the bottom bun, then a piece of bacon, then the patty, a piece of banana, another piece of bacon, another swipe of peanut butter and the top bun. Thank you. Thank you very much.
March 20, 2011
A Best-of Booze List, Somewhat Belated
Not a picture from the convention, but certainly from Las Vegas...
I always look forward to the Bar & Nightclub Convention. Sure, Vegas has the Electionics Convention, the Porn Convention, the Rockabilly Convention, the Fashion Convention, the Burlesque Convention, the Lounge Convention, the Roller Derby Convention.... but the Bar & Nightclub is always a winner. Unfortunately, my day job issued one of its usual authortarian demands that I must be present for 150% of my work day during that period, so i had to catch what i could when i ran in at the last minute. As always, there were some standout products, some dire poisons and, of course, all kind of wacky shit. First, to the good booze...
Corsair Distillery is three guys from Kentucky. Don't let their pseudo-Entourage/semi-Resevoir Dogs bottle label fool you: This is not a gimmick. Nope, it's some damn fine liquor, made from organic products and treated with a creative spirit. What made me stop by their booth was their Pumpkin Spice Moonshine, which managed to carry the spike of 'shine without being too sharp and the sweetness of the pumpkin without being cloying. Even more delightful is their Red Absinthe, whihc has some kind of wormwood variety called dragonwood and gets the coloring from red hibiscus. It's a trace more floral and less sharply herbal than traditional absinthe. Corsair Distillery isn't available in Vegas yet, but they were meeting with people during the convention, so keep your fingers crossed.
I also had a taste of Bird Dog Blackberry Whiskey, which was quite nice indeed -- the blackberry is just a subtle finish, rather than blended in, so it works nicely. Could probably do something interestingly Manattan-ish with it (a berry instead of the cherry, perhaps add a dash of something to the Vermouth...). Another enjoyable product is the Adult Chocolate Milk, which sure as shit does taste like chocolate milk, except with 40 proof. I could drink a lot of it. And, between this and the alcoholic whipped cream, the spiked milkshake just got a lot more powerful.
Also earning it's own portion of the floor was the craft brewery section, with some fine candidates from the microbreweries of the Northwest. Bridgeport Brewery is affilated with a restaurant/brewery in Portland and they make some nice beers. Their Kingpin balances between pale and dark brews, with a sweetish finish and whopping 7.5% Hop Czar is also a high-octane brew, but it's a little more obvious and, as you may have guessed by the name, "hoppy." Nice label, though. Also represented was Moylan's, based in northern California. They had a number of libations, two standouts being their Barleywine Ale, a rich, heavy brew that's almost like an after-dinner drink and the Kilt Lifter, their sole Scotch-style ale. Again, they are working on getting these availabe in Vegas: Apparently we do not make it easy for these people to bring us the oh-so-tasty-fruits of their labor. As always, it's the small American businessman (and the humble consumer) who get screwed.
What blew? Gimmick vodka, as usual. There was Devotion Vodka, augmented with "lacto-protein," 'cause protein makes your body metabolize faster, hence get drunk faster and juiceheads like both alcohol and protein. No wonder it was endosed by The Situation. (He was there, but i missed him. Missed Dave Navarro shilling for Monster Energy Drink as well. Woe is me. If I had a few dozen rotten eggs or a Kalashnikov, i might've made more of an effort.) Suffice to say, it was not smooth and should be honest about itself and come in a plastic bottle. The other lousy trick vodka was Cougar Juice Vodka, pushed by a toned, tanned woman in her late 40's who drew a surprisingly consistent crowd of younger dudes. Which made me assume it might be good. As we get older, we appreciate the finer things in life, like high-quality booze. I mean, my liquor cabinet brings all the boys to my yard. But nope. This is still the same sorta shit you'd pour into the punchbucket at an undergrad sorority party.