Episode 146: Mike D, Taco USA, and Ballet Lessons

Mike D

This week: The Beastie Boys’ Mike D injects life (and caffeine) into museum-going… Lizz Winstead, comedienne and co-creator of the Daily Show, exposes herself… Gene Ween plays Rod McKuen… The descendants of Emily Post on cupcake etiquette… Ballet Lessons from a dancer-director… And a little piece of Heaven, courtesy of The Walkmen. Plus, genius delinquents, Eiffel Towers of booze, and a joke about burning ambition.

Icebreaker: Seth Greenland

Seth Greenland’s new novel, The Angry Buddhist, has earned raves for its farcical take on a political campaign in California. Here’s a joke that’s native to that place.

Small Talk: Josh Wolk

Josh Wolk, editorial director of New York Magazine’s culture site Vulture, tells us about genius delinquents’ latest scientific discovery.

A History Lesson with Booze: Gustave’s Monument and “The Eiffel Tower”

On May 6th, 1889, the Eiffel Tower opened to the public – it served as the entrance to the World’s Fair in Paris. The tallest structure on Earth at the time, it still failed to impress many of France’s most famous artistes, who considered it a dark stain on the City of Light. The Tower nevertheless endured long past its original 20-year expiration date… a fact we celebrate with this summery Francophile concoction.

“The Eiffel Tower,” as engineered by Alan Walter at Iris restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans, LA:

In shaker over ice add:

  • 3 oz. Lillet
  • 1/2 oz. chartreuse
  • 1/4 oz. pine needle syrup (or substitute simple syrup infused with a green herb, like basil)
  • 1 egg white
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon

Shake hard until the egg white forms a froth. Strain and serve in tall, fluted, upside-down-Eiffel-Tower-esque glass. Garnish with ennui and chase with endless, endless cigarettes.

Guest List: Gene Ween plays Rod McKuen

Aaron Freeman aka “Gene Ween” co-fronts the cult pop band Ween. He’s also an unabashed disciple of Rod McKuen — the poet and musician whose work has been recorded by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Madonna. As he readies to release the tribute album “Marvelous Clouds” (out in May), we asked him to list his favorite tunes by the venerable songsmith.

Guest of Honor: Mike D

In 1981, Michael Diamond aka Mike D founded a punk band that became hip hop trio the Beastie Boys. They’re still together, and in December they were inducted into the Rock n Roll hall of fame. His latest role, though, is “curator”: he’s handpicked the entries in the massive art, music, and food exhibitionTransmission LA: AV Club.” It opened this week at MOCA — the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Mike tells Rico about shopping-mall-museums, a meaningful accolade, and his coffee-centric universe.

Eavesdropping: Lizz Winstead

Lizz Winstead is a successful stand-up comedian and co-creator of The Daily Show. But before she made it in showbiz, she was a fledgling comic living in Minneapolis. Here’s the jaw-dropping story about the gig that first exposed her to a broader audience. You can find it – and other comic essays – in her new book, Lizz Free or Die (out May 10).

Main Course: How Mexican Food Conquered America

Today Mexican food is so ubiquitous that it barely registers as foreign cuisine. But obviously that wasn’t always the case. Writer/columnist Gustavo Arellano (“Ask a Mexican”) digs into the origins of Mexican-American food in his just-released book “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.” Brendan met him at landmark LA restaurant Guelaguetza where – over mole and (lots of) mezcal – they talked about 19th century hot tamales, exotic vanilla, and ‘secret’ Mexican sweets.

Etiquette: The Posts

When the punk rock legends and Starship captains just can’t cut it, we turn for advice to the gen-etiquettely gifted team of Lizzie Post and Daniel Post-Senning, the great-grandkids of Emily Post herself. Lizzie and Daniel help run the Emily Post Institute in Burlington, Vermont, and they recently put out the 18th edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette, a manners manual. This week, they school us on the ethics of wearing sunglasses on your head…and bashing cupcakes.

Chattering Class: Ballet Lessons

The winning new documentary First Position (premiering May 4) follows a group of unnaturally talented (and limber!) ballet dancers competing at the Youth America Grand Prix. As you might expect, their lives are chock-full of both sublime moments and major sacrifices; the trick is in finding balance. Rico asks director Bess Kargman, herself a former dancer, to teach us some lesser-known things about the world of high-flying, high-stakes ballet.

One for the Road: Walkmen – “Heaven”

Here’s a little piece of “Heaven” … a new song from indie band The Walkmen. Their full length album, also called Heaven, comes out May 29th.

Other Music in this week’s show:

The Sea & Cake – “The Argument”

Aphex Twin – “Boy/Girl Song”

Tipsy – “Liquordelic”

Gus Viseur et son Ensemble – “Jeannette”

Air – “Transmission”

Detektivbyran – “Om Du Motor Varg”

Terry Jacks – “Seasons In the Sun”

Rod McKuen – “Seasons In The Sun”

Glen Yarbrough – “As I Love My Own”

Aaron Freeman – “The World I Used To Know”

Beastie Boys – “Shake Your Rump”

Prince – “Superfunkycalifragisexy”

Robert Johnson – “They’re Red Hot”

Noble ‘Thin Man’ Watts – “Hot Tamales”

Fun. – “We are Young” (instrumental)

Gravenhurst – “She Dances”

The Walkmen – “Heaven”