When Jonny asked me back in March if I wanted to drop $300+ on floor seats to see the Rolling Stones with him and Uncle B at Levi’s Stadium, my first reaction was…eh. I saw them back in 2005 at Soldier Field in Chicago with Derse and it was an amazing show and an even more amazing weekend with friends in Chicago. Seemed hard to top. Especially, considering how much older the Stones are now. I mean, they’re really getting up there. Mick Jagger is 76 and Charlie Watts is fucking 78. But then again, I thought – this might be my last chance to see them. Besides, how many chances in life do you get to see the Stones with your buddies? So I made the correct decision and ponied up for the tickets. Then, about a month and a half before the May concert date, news broke that the show was postponed because Mick had to undergo surgery to replace a valve in his heart. This sounded pretty scary and made me wonder if I’d actually ever get to see the Stones again. Fortunately, Mick made a full recovery and the concert was rescheduled for a Sunday night in August. Not an ideal day off the week to see a show, but I was happy that Mick pulled through and the Stones marched on. Here are a few pics from that night.
Conclusion: The show was amazing. The Stones played rough and kind of sloppy (as usual) but that’s what makes them so appealing to see live. If they were too polished, it would be boring. Keith fucked up a bunch of times and missed some guitar solos and stuff. That was expected and he doesn’t give a fuck anyway. What wasn’t expected was how good Mick looked. He was on fire – dancing and doing his normal peacock strutting across the stage like he still had his old heart valve. It made me tired just watching him. I’m not sure how long they’ll be able to keep this up, but Mick showed no signs of slowing down.
Update: It sounds like the Stones weren’t fans of Levi’s Stadium either.
“A lot of people assume that I’m a wastoid or that I have a drug problem or something. It’s pretty funny.”
Huck Magazine just posted a pretty good interview with Ty Segall where he talks about being a normal person, moving to Topanga Canyon, and releasing too much music. I really like Ty, but I admit I sometimes have problems with his quantity vs. quality approach. His best album in my opinion is 2018’s Freedom’s Goblin. That record really slaps. Especially, this song:
Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities in Europe and I was fortunate to travel there for business last week. Even though I spent most of my days working, I still had plenty of time to explore one of the most charming cities on earth. Molly and I last visited Amsterdam nine years ago, so I had a lot of catching up to do.
OK, let’s get this out of the way and talk about the wooden shoes. Every gift shop in Amsterdam sells these and I almost bought a pair to bring home because…why not? I was told by a local that they traditionally wear these to keep their feet dry while working in the soggy fields. Kind of like gardening clogs. They take time to break in and will eventually custom mold to your foot like a nice leather shoe.
Amsterdam is also famous for canals. The city was built on the water and the canals were used for flood control and transporting goods. I’m not sure how many there are, but basically every other street is a canal. It’s very popular to tour the canals in a glass top boat because it rains a lot and the glass keeps you dry. We took one of those tours when we last visited and really enjoyed it. I didn’t take a glass top boat this time but instead opted for an open top boat that offered all-you-can-drink Heinekens.
This is one of the most famous locations on the canal because you can see seven bridges at once. I took this photo from my tour boat, as you can tell by my fellow tourist’s phones. The canal is about ten feet deep and the water is surprising clean considering all the Dutch houseboats that probably empty their shitters in it.
The canals and streets of Amsterdam are all tightly lined with neat rows of attached houses, most of which date back to the 1600s. These homes are very narrow because they were originally taxed based on how much space they occupied on the street. Almost all of the houses also have a lift beam installed at the top near the roof. This is because the narrow houses were built with narrow stairways and the beams were used to hoist furniture into the windows. Amsterdam residents still move furniture into their houses like this today.
Amsterdam is known as the bike capital of the world and it’s one of the best cycling cities on the planet. The 300-year-old streets are so narrow and congested that it’s much easier to get around by bicycle than it is by car. There are thousands and thousands of bikes covering every street, sidewalk, and bridge in the city. This photo above is a common sight outside of most train stations and office buildings – bikes as far as the eye can see. A popular pastime for locals is to get drunk and find unlocked bikes to throw in the canal. According to a local I talked to, the city of Amsterdam pulls an average of 10,000 bikes from the canals each year.
The bike that I rented in the picture above is a great example of a typical Amsterdam bike. Features include an all black paint job, fenders to keep your legs dry, beefy chain guard, cargo racks, and a low top bar to make it easy to get on and off. Purely functional but also beautiful. There are thousands and thousands of identical bikes like this in Amsterdam. I actually had to take a picture of where I parked it outside of my office so I could find it when I came back out. The Dutch don’t use u-locks like Americans to lock their bikes because they say they are too easy to compromise. Instead, each bike has a claw-like lock integrated into the rear wheel. To provide an additional layer of security, and extra thick chain is also used to secure the front wheel and the frame to any nearby bike rack or canal railing.
I kept seeing bikes around Amsterdam with one blue front tire. There were seriously thousands of these everywhere. I asked a local about it and they said it was for better visibility at night. This didn’t sound right to me, so I later asked someone else and they said it was the marketing tactic of a very dominant local bike leasing company. All of their bikes have a blue front tire so they are instantly recognizable. Free advertising. Genius.
If you know anything about Amsterdam, you’ve probably heard about the famous coffee shops where you can smoke dope. Marijuana is legal in the Netherlands and this is where it’s sold and consumed. These cafes are on almost every street corner and overrun with tourists and young stoners. I didn’t have any interest in visiting a coffeeshop on this trip, mainly because it’s legal in California these days and the novelty has worn off. I’ll have to plead the fifth if you ask me about my previous trip when I was here nine years ago.
I was fortunate that my hotel was located on the canal almost next door to the famous Westerkerk church. The church was constructed in 1631 and the Dutch painter, Rembrandt, is buried somewhere inside (they aren’t sure where). The church is a popular tourist destination because it’s located next to the Anne Frank museum and you can climb the bell tower up to a magnificent observation deck. From this deck you can see the entire city. Molly and I tried to do this when we visited last time, but the tours were sold out. I was sure not to miss the opportunity this time and the tour did not disappoint.
To get to the top of the tower, you have to climb multiple levels of stairs and steep treacherous ladders. There are a few landings within the tower where you can stop and admire the internal architecture. The photo above was taken of one of the bells inside the tower that still rings on the hour. The bells are so larger that they would crack the tower if they were mounted directly to the brick. Instead they’re mounted to a free-standing wooden frames that date back to the 1600s.
The view from the top is totes worth it. The deck actually isn’t at the top, but about halfway up. Still, you can see 360 degree views the entire city. The guide who took us up there let us wander around for about 10 minutes and snap photos. He took this photo of my fat ass after climbing up all those ladders.
Anne Frank wrote often in her diary about seeing Westerkerk’s clock tower from the attic window where her family was hiding from the Nazi’s. She said the chiming of the bells gave her comfort. When I was up on the tower, I could amazingly see not only the secret annex where she was hiding (see the blue arrow above), but also the small window that she used to look out on the side of the attic.
This is the Anne Frank House as viewed from the street in front of the canal. The house has been restored and turned into a very popular museum. Molly and I toured it the last time we visited and it really left an impression on me. You can visit the secret annex apartment where Anne’s family hid from the Nazi’s and even climb through the original bookshelf they used for a hidden door. I remember our tour guide called it “the most famous bookshelf in the world.” At the end of the tour her original diary is on display. In hindsight, I kind of wish I had toured the museum again this time.
Aside from cheese and stroopwafels, the Dutch aren’t really known for a specific type of cuisine. Nevertheless, Amsterdam has a pretty legit food scene. One night for dinner, I wandered outside of the city center to an old train station that had been converted to a street food hall called Foodhallen. Inside there are a few dozen vendors selling all types of delicious food and booze. They served everything from local seafood to California burritos.
In the land of Amstel and Heinekin, I was astonished to find Lagunitas IPA on tap at many of the bars in Amsterdam. Now that Lagunitas is a subsidiary of Heineken, it’s contract brewed in the Netherlands at a local brewery. As a frequent drinker of this beer back in California, I can report that The Netherlands version tastes slightly different. It has a little less bite and crispness. I’m not sure if this is intentional to closer match European beers or if maybe the water is just different.
One of the restaurants I really loved was De Kas, which sits inside an old renovated greenhouse in the middle of a city park. The restaurant isn’t strictly vegetarian, but serves mostly plant-based dishes using vegetables they grow on-site and on their nearby farm. The menu changes constantly with the season and the vegetables are picked the morning they are served. Our prix fixe dinner included seven (!) courses and lasted four (!) hours.
Finally, what trip to Europe would be complete without a little shopping. I visited several great street markets including the Albert Cuyp Market in the De Pijp neighborhood. This came at the recommendation of a friend, Jonah, who used to live in Amsterdam. It was here that I found a beautiful wool scarf to bring home to my love.
I finally got a chance to watch the new Peter Jackson documentary about WWI, “They Shall Not Grow Old.” The film is almost entirely composed of restored BBC footage of the war with voiceover narration by actual WWI veterans. The most impressive part is how elaborately the footage was restored and modernized. Not only was it cleaned up and colorized, but they also fixed the frame rate and speed. This makes the previously jerky 100-year-old footage smooth and natural as a modern HD movie. Since the footage is also silent, Jackson had voice actors read the lips of the soldiers in the footage and dub exactly what they were saying in real life. It’s pretty astounding. The movie itself is a bit slow, especially in the beginning, but it’s effective in bringing the soldier’s stories to life so you can understand how truly awful of an experience WWI was.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the trailer.
My favorite neighborhood in Cincinnati is Over-The-Rhine. It’s an urban historic district in the middle of downtown that was settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800s. It was originally located north of a canal that resembled the Rhine River in Germany, so locals described it as being “over the Rhine”. The streets are lined with beautiful 19th century Italianate architecture which makes it feel very much like Greenwich Village in NYC. The city has invested significant money into restoring (and gentrifying) the neighborhood over the last decade and it’s become real hipster hot spot. We recently spent a perfect morning there.
We started off with a light breakfast at Brown Bear Bakery on E. 13th Street. They had an assortment of mouthwatering muffins, cookies, and scones and we sampled a few varieties. They were also baking focaccia bread and it smelled fantastic. The inside was beautifully restored and the staff were super friendly. The drip coffee was probably the best I’ve ever had in Cincinnati and was on par with the better coffee places in San Francisco.
From the window of the Brown Bear Bakery, we had a nice view of Old St. Mary’s Church across 13th street. This is the oldest church in Cincinnati and was opened by German immigrants in 1842. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. We didn’t get a chance to visit, but I’d really like to go inside one day.
After breakfast, we stopped next door at a cool little plant store called Gia & the Blooms and Molly picked up a small heart-shaped succulent for my mom. We later found that Gia had a second location at Findley Market.
After leaving the plant store, we stumbled across Ziegler Park a few blocks away near Pendleton. Named after Cincinnati’s first mayor, David Ziegler, the park had recently been completely renovated with a new swimming pool, playground, basketball courts, and grass field. I’ve never heard of this park before, but it was gorgeous. It was a hot day and we considered coming back later with our suits so we could try out the new pool.
A trip to Over-The-Rhine wouldn’t be complete without a stop at historic Findley Market for some shopping. Opened in 1852, it’s the oldest public market in Ohio. Inside and around the market, you’ll find dozens of vendors selling all types of food including meat and produce. There are also a lot of cute gift shops and merchants that sell things like home decor, and pottery.
This is likely to be one of the only football-related posts you’ll see on this site.
This summer, we visited our friends in Canton, Ohio, which is home to the Football Hall of Fame. By coincidence it happened to be hall of fame induction weekend (or the “enshrinement” as the NFL calls it), so our friends took us down to see the activities. The NFL filled the parking lots outside the hall of fame stadium with fan activities and attractions. It was similar to the Super Bowl Village that was installed on the Embarcadero a few years ago when the Super Bowl was played in San Francisco.
For a non-NFL enthusiast like myself, the HoF fiasco seems a bit like false idol worship and I didn’t find much of interest there beyond the $10 beers. The exception was John Madden’s old “Madden Cruiser” bus that the NFL had on display in the parking lot. As the story goes, John Madden didn’t like to fly so he traveled to all of the games that he announced via this converted greyhound bus. The bus is in its original condition and the interior had the musty smell that you would expect of a 30 year old motorhome. It was a neat automobile time capsule from 1987.
I keep an old school Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp Face skateboard at my parent’s house in Ohio so I’ve always got something to skate when I go back to visit. I originally bought this as a complete setup from good ol’ Zumiez in the mall. I upgraded the wheels from Slimeballs to Spitfire Classics, but otherwise it’s “factory stock.” The board rides fine, but the factory griptape always looked kind of cheap and crappy. The last time I was visiting I had some free time on my hands, so I decided to upgrade it with an old school 80s griptape job.
To accomplish this, I purchased two sheets of griptape – a regular sheet of black Mob Grip and a green colored sheet of Rick and Morty Pickle griptape. I’ve never watched Rick and Morty and really have no idea who the pickle guy is, but the green tape matched the colorway of the board.
I didn’t have much of a plan when I started creating the design, other than I wanted the angles to generally be either 90 or 45 degrees. I started with the green and black strips that extend from the tail across the rear bolts. After that, I just started filling things in. I cut everything with an old pair of scissors and a razor blade. I originally didn’t cover the section across the middle, but I ended up going back and filling it in with the pickle character’s white eyeballs. I cut each eyeball in half and they kind of look like sliced apples now. I call this the green apple board. It kind of has an 80s art deco feel to it, if such a thing exists. Griptape art feels like a lost art form, but I’m here to bring it back.
Transworld Skateboarding magazine announced on Instagram today they will stop publishing the print version of the magazine after 35 years. They will continue with digital projects only.
This is a loss for skateboarding and sad for me personally. Although, I haven’t picked up an issue in decades, I was a diehard Transworld subscriber circa 1989-1992 and it was my window into the world of skateboarding. It also provided me with a glimpse of magical sunny life in Southern California. It’s probably indirectly responsible for my decision to move to California from Ohio after college.