Episodes

Episode 115: What if the DPD was an hour-long show?

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The Dinner Party Download/Image by David Heatley

This week, we’re giving you a glimpse of what an hour-long version of the DPD might sound like. You’ll hear some familiar content, and some new pieces. Please let us know what you think…or what you WISH you’d heard instead. Without further ado, THE DINNER PARTY is served…

Welcome to The Dinner Party – a culture show that gives you everything you need to win this weekend’s dinner party. On the menu: Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan quacks us up, comedian Demetri Martin takes us on a dietary journey, and we pose our burning etiquette questions to Broadway sensation Elaine Stritch. Plus, an interview with breakout actress Greta Gerwig, poetry from Billy Collins, and lots more.

Icebreaker: Jennifer Egan
Author Jennifer Egan, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her rock ‘n’ roll novel A Visit from the Goon Squad, nails us with a duck-duck joke.

Small Talk: Stacey Vanek-Smith, Sean Cole, Madeleine Brand
We make the rounds to our dinner party people across the country: In New York, Sean Cole braces for the world to come to a screeching halt when poets go on strike…for a day. Stacey Vanek-Smith ponders pelicans and evolution in Idaho. And in Los Angeles, Madeleine Brand mourns the end of Nordstrom’s live pianists.

A History Lesson with Booze: Psychedelic Cycling and “The LSD-25”
In 1938, Dr. Albert Hoffman synthesized a bunch of compounds based on the fungus “ergot.” His hope: to stimulate the human circulatory system. The 25th compound – LSD-25 – didn’t seem to have much effect on lab animals, so he chucked it. But 5 years later, on April 19th, 1943, Hoffman was gripped by what he called a “peculiar presentiment,” and made another batch…which he sampled. We commemorate the ensuing bike trip with this drink laced with entirely legal acid and fungi.

“The LSD-25,” as invented for the DPD by Daniel Hyatt, bar manager at Alembic in San Francisco:

Into champagne flute, place:

  • 4 drops white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 drop truffle oil

Then slowly pour in the following — over the back of a spoon — to create separate layers:

  • 3/4 oz. crème de Cassis
  • 1/2 oz. Campari
  • 1/2 oz. Absinthe

Finally, slowly pour in:

  • 3 oz. chilled sparkling wine (Gruet demi-sec, or slightly off-dry Prosecco)

Trip out on the colors as the liquors mix. Toss in a twist of lemon peel. Sip. Wait at least an hour before attempting to operate a bicycle.

Guest List: Steve James
Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Stevie, The War Tapes) is one of the pre-eminent American documentarians. Many critics consider Hoop Dreams, James’ multi-year saga of inner city kids and basketball, one of the greatest documentaries ever made; Roger Ebert even named it the best film of the 90s. James’ new film, The Interrupters, follows a group of gang interventionists in Chicago and is playing the festival circuit in advance of a summer release. Since a fair number of folks *aspire *to watch docs – and rarely get around to it – we asked James for a quick list of docs that’ll stir you to action.

  1. American Movie
    A hilarious cult film about an amateur director…filming an indie horror flick…to finance his great American epic.
  2. The Staircase
    A riveting verite miniseries that follows the sensational murder trial surrounding Kathleen Peterson’s death in 2001.
  3. Inquiring Nuns
    Two Chicago nuns in the late 60s ask strangers, “Are you Happy?” in this quirky film, set to an early Philip Glass soundtrack.

Food for Thought #1: Billy Collins
Former poet laureate Billy Collins revels in the springtime by reciting a verse from Frost. His new collection (the slightly less cheery) Horoscopes for the Dead came out this month. April also happens to be National Poetry Month, so we’ll forgive his random outburst in verse.

Etiquette with Broadway Legend Elaine Stritch
Elaine Stritch made musical theater history portraying Joanne in the original Broadway cast of “Company” — recording the definitive version of the tune “Ladies Who Lunch” — and a new generation knows her from her role as Jack Donaghy’s mom on NBC’s “30 Rock.” She’s dated Brando, dissed Sinatra, and conquered the Great White Way. Not exactly known for mincing words, she sets us straight on the true meaning of “ladylike,” decries the evils of practical jokes, and reminisces about a four-martini dinner party with Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Dinner Party Ruminations: Demetri Martin’ Diet
Comedian Demetri Martin has made a name for himself with his witty, word-smithy stand-up and with his work on TV’s “The Daily Show” and “Important Things with Demetri Martin.” Today, he reads a choice selection from his new book, This is a Book, which chronicles his dietary adventures.

Food for Thought #2: Terry Allen
West Texas Renaissance man Terry Allen translates a bit of canine morality for us. (The quote was inspired by a song that Terry co-wrote with Guy Clark called “Little Queenie.”)

Main Course: Foodapalooza
Farmers’ markets, once the haven of early-risers and foodies, just got a whole lot groovier with the advent of San Francisco’s Underground Market. The event brings together food vendors, live music, alcohol, and thousands of people one Saturday a month for ‘organic’ carousing. Rico followed the throng to the April event, and quickly learned why it’s such happening happening….

Guest of Honor: Greta Gerwig
Don’t take our word for it, the New York Times said 28-year-old Greta Gerwig might be “the definitive actress of her generation.” Closely associated with “mumblecore” – a group of micro-budget films populated by twenty-somethings who often don’t speak clearly – Gerwig crossed over into mainstream movies with her co-starring role in the remake of “Arthur.” She talks to Brendan about cat puns, Joan Didion and colorblind love.

One For The Road: Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
The bearded boys from Seattle are back, this time injecting some Simon & Garfunkel into their soaring Beach-Boys-meet-Appalachia harmonies. This week’s follow-up album “Helplessness Blues” features an amazing title track that’s perfect for picking up the pieces when you come to a shattering conclusion.