Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Happy 100th Frank!!

Happy 100th birthday to Frank Sinatra.  It is STILL Frank's world.  We just live in it.

"I'm gonna live until I die".

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fuzzy Photos From Great Bars

The Drum Room bar, Hotel President, Kansas City.  One of my top five bars.  Especially in winter. Tell Pam the fellow who drinks Pinch sent you.  She'll make sure you are well toasted by evening's end.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nothing Like A River

When you put your hand in a flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come. – Leonardo DaVinci 

I have always preferred a river to the ocean.  Although the ocean has the glories of moonlight on a vast surface and of the sound of waves at night, rivers are just more...soothing to me. And more interesting. There is always something happening on a river that you can watch.  There is always something happening IN an ocean that you can never see.  And rivers are more safe where I live.  No river ever spawned a hurricane.

But the thing I like most about rivers is how therapeutic they are.  When you release your troubled thoughts to the ocean the tide brings them right back a few  hours later.  When you release your troubles to a river, they are gone forever.  I could sit and watch a river endlessly.  

All rivers, great and small, hidden or historic, know each other and share a common heritage.  They are all of the same tribe, so to speak. I've pulled a big canoe over shallows in the Wisconsin river as a boy, fished Hem's "Big Two Hearted River" and caught a trout, scattered my father's ashes in the Baptism River, had drinks on decks overlooking Bayou Teche in Lafayette and the New River in Ft. Lauderdale, had a love affair with the Seine from the Pont des Arts.  During each experience I felt my life clock winding back a few ticks.  Sometimes a lot more than a few ticks.  

Like yesterday when I spent an hour or two with a new friend, the St. Marks River.  Tucked away in the heart of North Florida, it was the first time I had been to her shores.  It is just the sort of adventure for your Epic these days when time has been brutally compressed and herds of significant problems and issues roam the landscape unabated. But an Epic adventure does not require immense effort or expense.  An Epic adventure requires merely the desire to grab a shiny pebble out of the stream of the day.

The St. Marks is not hard to find. If you look out your car window and see the Florida capitol building in Tallahassee, just keep driving south.  About thirty minutes.  Until the road ends at the front door of a great bar and grill.  The river is right there.

You can sit on free benches without beer but this IS an Epic journey after all.  Order some of the outstanding seafood on the menu.  Let that herd of issues run right past you into the river.  Trust me, the river will take it from there.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

An Epic Photo Shoot

I feel so badly that I was overwhelmed and missed Her 72d birthday on October 22.  But here are Catherine D and Kate M.  The return Epic will recall that I have been a devotee of Catherine D for many, many years.  She is the prototype of a Woman of A Certain Age.  Kate M I can honestly take or leave, certainly not in Catherine D's league, but the photo shoot is certainly worthy of mention in these annals.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

One Epic Evening

"I forget the name of the place, I forget the name of the girl; but the wine was Chambertin"
       --Hilaire Belloc

An outstanding bottle of Burgundy.  My first Chambertin, consumed among great pals during a dinner recently in my honor.  I remember the place too.  And the menu. Lobster, New York Strips done Pittsburgh style, a little creamed spinach, a little bit of potatoes, strong coffee with little fried doughnuts crusted with raw sugar and cinnamon.

And, later, after a lot of laughter and great conversation, the most outstanding Cognac I have ever tasted...

Remy Martin Louis XIII.  The menu said "The youngest eau-de-vie in this legendary blend is 50 years old.  100% Grande Champagne.  Hallmark bouquet of truffles, roasted chestnuts and prunes." Exactly right and exactly perfect.  This elixir is so expensive that I may not have it again for a long time, but it was so wonderful that if I never have it again, I am pretty good with that.

Thanks to the great folks at The Palm, my fine friends who were in either in attendance or who sent best wishes although they could not be there in person.  It was a night I will never forget as long as I live.  An Epic evening, INDEED!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Herself. RIP,

I loved her a long time ago. Now, at 95, she is gone. For all of us who loved her, and who loved and married red headed Irish women afterwards....she is the prototype. The Icon.  Maureen O'Hara. Bless you darling.


Thursday, October 15, 2015


He hadn't meant to stay out so late. But in that part of town that is what you did.  All quiet little bars and cafes, it was made for that purpose. And he had nothing else to do.

After what happened a year ago, he had planned to move away.  To a place without romantic places. There were plenty of them around. His only goal the finding of a small room with one good window to look out of.  Where he could sit for the remaining time.

A season and a short street foiled his plan.  Before he could decide on the quintessentially unromantic town, autumnal chill slipped into the night air.  The leaves began their blazing turn. He realized he would never leave. So he stayed.  And he walked down that street again.

The drizzle didn't help.  He sat in an old bar drinking Calvados for quite a while listening to Kind of Blue playing in the background.  Then Lush Life came on and he had to go.  Stepping out into the cold misty rain even the brandy and his ancient Burberry trench coat could not completely push the chill away.  He lit a cigarette with a scarred gold lighter.  The initials, "ML" barely visible after all the years.

A young couple walked slowly by.  Leaning into each other to stay under their umbrella. Heads close, lost in an assumed future. A quiet giggle drifted toward him.  He watched them until they turned the corner. The street remained, lamplight twinkling in the rain like liquid holiday lights.

The image of the couple in his mind, he smiled and turned toward home. It would soon be Christmas. He needed to go buy a turkey.  A bottle or two of Margaux. And a few presents.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Epic Recharging: One Outstanding Song

Today seemed like a pretty ordinary day.  Some work out of town.  Some success. Some failure.  The usual.  When I got back to the house, my son the Future Rock Star asked if he could come along on a trip to the grocery store.  On the way he plugged his phone into my car's audio system.  And he started playing Frank's version of Blue Moon.

"Say Dad, do you think we can cover this?"

A sideways glance from your Epic.


So we did.  We sang it all the way through.  We sounded great.  I don't know what is happening.  I think my life is now perfect.  And complete.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fuzzy Photos From Great Bars

Abe & Louies, Boca Raton, Florida.  A fine steak joint and an even better bar.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

National Rum Day!

As the returning reader will know well by now, I declare the opening of "rum season" in my town each year.  The date of the season opener is completely in my discretion.  I also declare the closing of the season when the time is right and the mood is proper.  Right now, the season is in full swing.

Today is Rum Day in the U.S.  To all dedicated Epics, I highly recommend the rum shown above for sipping purposes.  I also highly recommend the Bacardi web site for its excellent collection of rum cocktail recipes including what I consider the greatest rum cocktail ever.  The Daiquiri.  Made the old way.  The foundation of the drink Hem drank by the dozen.  I prefer the original.  Cheers!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Epic Recharging #4: One Perfect Thing

To understand this story, you must also understand my golf clubs.  And my heritage.  My dad was a golf professional.  One day when I was in my late teens, and probably not going to grow any more, my dad gave me a set of custom made golf clubs.  By THE custom maker of the age.  Stan Thompson.  Of Beverly Hills.  Woods made of wood.  Persimmon to be exact.  The best.  Forged irons of a slender design known as "blades".  A design favored then by professionals and the most advanced clubs available at the time.  I loved those clubs more than almost anything.  Because I hit them well.  Because I love golf. And mostly because my dad gave them to me.

Time passed.  Golf technology rocketed ahead along with everything else. My back became much less limber than in my teen years.  I played golf a lot, then less, then little, as life's duties overtook me.  When I did get a chance to play a round of golf, people would look at my clubs with amazement and ask why I used such "outdated" equipment that "hindered" my game.  My typical reply was that as little as I was playing the clubs were hardly the reason for my ballooning scores.  The real answer was....I love the game, I love the clubs, and my Dad gave them to me.

Then 2014 happened.  The return reader will recall that last year was brutal for me and my family. After returning from a particularly harrowing out of town medical trip with my wife, I sat down one night and promised myself that I would start playing golf again on a regular basis.  Just one round per month.  I had to do something for myself and it was a small step in the right direction.

And I kept my promise to myself.  One round at a time.  One month at a time. I even tried to practice once in awhile inspired by my son finding it fun to go to the driving range.  A strange thing happened.  Even though "hindered" by my clubs by my age and by my general state of deconditioning my swing felt better than it ever had.  More compact.  More....systematic.  At times I found myself hitting shots that I had never been able to hit before.  Some really great ones.  I was still playing pretty mediocre golf overall, but ...there was something there I had not had in the past.

Advance the clock to earlier this month.  I had the opportunity to play a round of golf at one of the great golf clubs in the Chicago area with some very good pals.  I admit I was pretty burned out and frazzled when the trip began.  Once we arrived however we found ourselves in a beautiful day out on a classic golf course.  I was playing a mediocre round, typical for me these days.  Somewhere on the back nine we came to a long par four which was pretty much straight away.  I managed to block my tee shot to the right.  WAY to the right.  Off-the-correct-hole-onto-some-other- hole kind of right. Using the fancy pants new metal driver my brother was kind enough to give me last year.

When I got to my ball, I found myself looking at a shot over some bordering trees about 195 yards to the green.  I am not generally recognized as a tremendously long hitter of the golf ball so I was pondering what club to hit when a couple of college golfers came up.  They were actually supposed to be on the hole where my tee shot ended up.  Nice young fellows.  Sharp looking.  Sparkly new style clubs.  Gentlemen, they stood back a bit to allow me to hit my shot first.  I needed a wood to cover the distance to the green but an iron to get over the trees.  I decided to hit a three iron, my longest distance iron club and one of the hardest of my clubs to hit.  A bit short for the distance at that.  The college men eyed my club as I pulled it from my bag.

"Say, sir, are those blades you're hitting?"

Yes, they sure are.

"Those are antiques aren't they?"

Politely said and a legitimate question.  Chuckling, I had to agree.  The thought had never occurred to me before.  Of course they had been in my bag for several decades when they didn't qualify as antique.

I took my stance and addressed the ball.  Put my good tight swing on it.  Kept my head dead still. And I flushed it.  As soon as I hit it I knew it was as good as I could do.  I followed through to see the ball arcing high over the tree line straight at the flag on the green.  The green on the hole where I was supposed to be playing. It settled down quite nicely about four feet from the cup.  An electric thrill shot through me.  I couldn't help it.  I stuck that antique three iron in the air and just stared upward for a moment in triumph.  A fifty-six year old showing off to his Dad.

"Sir, that was one GREAT shot."

Two thumbs up from the college varsity crowd who then went on about their way.  I missed the putt for birdie, but I was completely rejuvenated by hitting a perfect golf shot.  One so pure, so fitted to the need of the moment, that I am confident I have never hit one better in my life.  That moment took years off of my emotional fatigue.  Due to the magic of One Perfect Thing, for one perfect moment, I felt like my Dad.  

That golf shot was fortuitous.  When you are strung out and feeling low I cannot recommend the deployment of One Perfect Thing highly enough.  It may be a great tie you haven't worn in a long time.  A scoop of your favorite ice cream in a flavor you haven't had in ages. A long look into the eyes of a loved one.  Or just getting lucky while doing something you love and being in the moment enough to recognize it when it happens.  Find a Perfect Thing.  They are out there for us all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Epic Boozing: Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum

The oldest rum producer in the world.  A double distilled effort in charred barrels. I find it a classic sipping rum with lots of smoke, vanilla, oak, caramel.  A boozesnob marked it off for being "an obvious attempt to lure the cross over bourbon drinker".  That sold me.  Rum season is in full swing. Try it and you will be sold as well.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Republic

Lady in the street (1787):  Doctor Franklin, is it a Republic or a Monarchy?

Franklin:  A Republic madam.....if you can keep it.

Lets keep it.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cartier Short Films

I have mentioned these short films that promote Cartier products before, but the new one is just spectacular.  I miss Paris so badly these days. These little "gems" help assuage my longing for a bit.  I think you will like them too.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers' Day: The Best That I Could Do

Here is the link.  Over the past couple of years I have been unable to come up with anything more. Or better.  My Dad has been gone almost fifteen years.  The Future Rock Star is 18.  Tonight will find me in one of my favorite places in New Orleans, You'll know me when you see me. I'll be the Dad at the Bar. Out on business on Fathers' Day. Staring into my glass.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Epic Recharging #3: Cook Something Great

When you love to eat, and you feel a little low, you need to regroup around the stove and make yourself happy.  Whipping up an easy and delectable meal while still keeping a weather eye on the calories is a perfect answer.  Thus, I present The Greatest Breakfast Sandwich Ever. Courtesy of your Epic.

The ingredients are shown in the photo above. Potato Roll Sandwich Thins, thick cut bologna, extra sharp cheddar cheese, whole eggs and Tabasco.  But the secret to this recipe is the cooking device. Something I actually saw on television and then bought at the local Massive Chain Drug Store.  The Chinese microwave oven...

This little thing is amazing and works just the way the infomercial said it would.  I have no idea why. It looks like something that one of those ancient Chinese ceramic soldiers they dug up a while ago might have had kept in his backpack.  The inside of it [after a cloud of cooking spray] looks like this...

Simple and easy to clean in the dishwasher.  It being an Epic fundamental to keep the hand washing of things to an absolute minimum. Such as fancy drinking glasses and the Christmas dinner service.

The first thing you do is to line the bottom of the little oven with a slice of bologna...

...crack an egg on top of it...

...you will want to take a fork and break the yolk of the egg and stir it around a little so you get the yolk in more than just the center of the bologna.  Then, add a good portion of cheese on top of the egg...

The Epic recipe calls for shredded extra sharp Cheddar from Wisconsin because as the return reader remembers I am from Wisconsin and that is how we roll.  Next hit the cheese with as many dashes of Tabasco as you like.  An Epic tip is to add Tabasco in direct proportion to the number of martinis you have had the previous evening.  The Epic recipe calls for Tabasco because the return reader will recall that I live on the Gulf Coast of the USA and that is how we roll.  Then put the lid on the cooker and gently place the gizmo into the microwave...

Two minutes later you are across the finish line my friends.  GRATUITOUS LEGAL WARNING....be CAREFUL when you take the gizmo out of the microwave because IT IS HOT.  AND THERE IS STEAM COMING OUT THE TOP OF IT. USE POT HOLDERS TO TAKE IT OUT OF THE MICROWAVE.  DON'T BE A MORON AND TRY TO BARE HAND IT EVEN IF YOU ARE MORE HUNG OVER THAN A SAILOR THE FIRST DAY AFTER A FOUR MONTH CRUISE. The prior legal warning is included in this recipe because as the return reader will recall your Epic is in the legal business and that is how we roll.  The steam coming out the volcanic vent at the top of the gizmo is probably the key to why this thing works so well but what do I know.  What I do know is that  you will not believe how great this dish looks when you take the top off....the cooking spray might make the dish look a little "wet" when you open the gizmo but it really isn't...

Ease this concoction onto a potato roll Sandwich Thin.  You can toast the roll beforehand if you like, but I like them soft.

You can top it with a little A-1 sauce or ketchup if you like or eat this sandwich as is.  Add a cup of strong black coffee and some fresh orange juice and you are ready for the day.  You can send your gift cards and thank you notes to me at the Epic email address listed elsewhere.

Even better and more restorative than cooking and eating The Greatest Breakfast Sandwich Ever is sharing it with you. Bon Appetite.

Culinary Notes:
1. Calorie count for this tremendous sandwich is 380.
2. I might try adding a slice of really great fresh tomato on top of the cheese before cooking which I suspect would be outstanding if one could get hold of tomatoes that had any flavor any more without having a friend or relative who lives off the land.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A View Of Hats

Today work took me well through lunch.  I am not a person that enjoys missing my lunch. The event makes me rather grouchy.  Seeing my mid-day repast, I was strolling down the main street of my town and noticed a young family walking toward me.  Mom and Dad looking at a map and a young boy, perhaps six years old, walking along side.  Both Dad and boy were wearing identical camp shirts and matching straw pork pie hats like this one.  As I passed them the boy gave me, of course the only man on the street in a suit and tie, a half grin and a little wave. I gave him a little salute.  One dandy to another.

I recall only too well the oh so brief period of time when my son wanted to dress just like me.  When his most prized possession was a linen double breasted jacket.  That time did not last long.  And I miss it. And him thinking that I hung the moon. As all fathers of boys know, the tumble from demi-god to mortal is rapid, steep and long. As it is meant to be.

I went and got a drink.  Stared into it.  Reminded myself, again, that the important thing isn't whether he ends up learning how to dress from watching me but that he learn how to act from watching me.  At least on my good behavior.  But there are times like today.  Times when I really miss that little double breasted jacket.  My meal arrived.  I ate. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Epic Recharging #2: Fix Something

It is a funny thing. My son is soon to be 18 years old. In a blink of an eye things turned 180 degrees from him running up to me saying "Daddy, look what I can do" to me hoping to get his attention and at times trying to illustrate the notion "Son, look what I can do". One of those "great circle of life" things the great sages of toddler dinosaur stories speak at length about.

When I was a Senior in High School, they had a couple of classes that were actually useful. Like electronics. Where we learned how to solder [do they even DO that any more?] and wire a lamp. Things like that. They don't "waste" their time on this sort of thing any more it seems at least where I live. In the event, as I was sitting in a sort of blue funk a couple of days ago, the Future Rock Star came up with one of his stereo speakers. Both wires connecting it to the stereo unit had broken in some teen misadventure or another. [Do they even MAKE speakers with WIRES any more?].

Dad, is there any way this can be fixed?

Sure. Shouldn't be much of a problem.

How much do you think the stereo place will charge to fix it?

Oh, we don't have to take it anywhere....I can fix it.

You CAN?

Um, yes. Actually I can.

He peered at me suspiciously apparently waiting for the punch line. When none arrived he handed over the speaker. Both wires broken VERY close to the cabinet as you can see in the photo above. Microsurgery time. So I got out the roll of electrical tape [they DO still make this but it isn't easy to find] and a needle nose pliers and I went to work. Oh, and of course as opposed to the era of my High School electronics adventures I now had to get my out glasses too. After a few failed attempts to wind the short stubs of wire together and then a few more failed attempts to get small slices of tape around the twisted wires to bind them the surgery was a success and the patient actually survived to pump out old school rap music for another day....
The FRS was very appreciative and if I do say so, somewhat amazed. I felt about a foot taller. See? I can do things. I can also make a perfect martini. Which I am now going to do. Two tangible things accomplished in ONE day. I am climbing out of the fog.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Epic Recharging #1: The Great Drinking Accessory

Hello Epics! I am glad to report that my demise was greatly exaggerated. I have been rather swamped with personal and business issues of late and that is the only lame excuse I can make for not posting before now. I have actually been a bit blue of late. An odd sensation for me I will admit. So I decided to pull myself out of it with a few Great Things which I will highlight in my next few posts. The first G.T. is the small leather case shown above. I was wandering about Brooks Brothers in a funk a few weeks ago and it just caught my eye. At a shade over two inches long, they had them in green, yellow, bright blue and red leather, embossed with the BB logo. But the best thing is what is inside...

Four perfectly machined stainless steel shot glasses!!!  Has there ever been a more Epic travel accessory?  Just the thing for four pals to have a quick tot before the steeplechase begins.  And just the thing to discover upon my annual declaration that RUM SEASON HAS BEGUN.

First Class.  The only way to fly folks.  There has to be blue sky up there somewhere.  Hang in with me and we will find it together.... 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Epic Coffees

I love a cup or two of coffee in the morning and I enjoy a cup after a good meal but other than that I am not very knowledgeable about it.  I would make a lousy barista.  In any event, like a lot of folks I have fallen in love with my Keurig coffee maker.  Nobody at Chez Epic drinks enough coffee to use my full pot percolator any more and the Keurig system is easy and neat to use even for my father in law who has significant eyesight problems.

I like strong coffee.  Or as Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks would say "a good strong cup of Joe".  My cupboard currently stocks the following "bullets" for the Keurig. 

Community dark roast because I love New Orleans and I love the old time NOLA coffee company's products.  Bustelo when I want a great espresso type of coffee after dinner or with an after dinner drink.  French Market dark roast for the same reason as Community although to my taste it is a little bit richer flavor.  And, finally, Peet's Major Dickason's Blend which is the best cup of "Joe" I have ever had. It wouldn't surprise me if the good Major's first name WAS "Joe".  It is the Peet's all time best seller, and I can see why. 

I hope you will enjoy these suggestions.  What are your favorites?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Very Fine Day It Is

Me: "Have you got any Powers whiskey"?

Great Irish Bartender:  "Only the bottle with your name on it."

Here is a wonderful commercial I saw yesterday for another fine Irish whiskey...

And time to once again celebrate my favorite movie...

And, finally, Happy Birthday to one of my heroes, Mr. Bobby Jones, golfer, attorney and gentleman.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fuzzy Photos From Great Bars

In honor of the upcoming holiday, one GREAT Irish Pub. In Ft. Lauderdale of all places. Fine whiskeys, the appropriate stouts, etc., on tap, and very good food. HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Really Nice Men's Magazine

I have long lamented in these pages the sorry status of publishing for men circa 2015.  Men's Vogue was a great but short lived effort. The December 2014 issue of Playboy was actually pretty good. But the pickings are certainly slim.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email notice of the spring edition of John Craig magazine which is published by a very fine small chain of Florida clothing stores.  I have been to the John Craig store in Winter Park, Florida many times but I had never seen their magazine.  I was so delighted by this effort that I made an extra martini and sat down to read it all through at one sitting. And it did not disappoint.

First, the clothing they feature is of the finest quality,  Seasonal and traditional with just the right amount of individuality.  For those of use who recoil at the notion of being "fashion forward".  Added to this sartorial cocktail recipe are the following:

-- a Q and A on etiquette [Made me almost sob with glee];
-- fashion tips from four experts who are sales people at John Craig stores;
-- a great wing recipe from Guy Fieri;
-- travel features on Iceland [amazing photos] and golf in Barbados;
-- thoughts on men's accessories;
-- a feature comparing the different styles of Bar B Que;
-- a profile of the stylistic influence of James Dean;
-- an amazing automotive report and photo essay on the electric super car the Renovo Coupe;
-- a discussion of the proper recipe for Summer Shrub cocktails.

Sixty-eight pages of pure bliss, this magazine hits it out of the ballpark.  I was so happy about it that I wanted to put it under my pillow when I went to sleep.  I was only precluded by the fact that it is an electronic publication and my Kindle is a bit lumpy for the back of the Epic cranium.

If you have been as starved for a really classy, well done men's magazine, you need to check out John Craig.  But there is one overarching question. This admittedly great chain of men's clothing stores probably doesn't have a publishing department so this magazine was probably done by an independent company through John Craig's advertising firm.  Why can't some mogul or oligarch get interested in putting out a similar magazine on a monthly basis?  Throw in a little literature perhaps. A poem or a cartoon or two. Maybe a restaurant review.  We would be back in men's magazine heaven.  One of the great unanswered questions to be sure. Until that day, I am certainly looking forward to the next issue of John Craig. If you look it up through the link I have inserted above, I am certain you will be as well.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Last Tequila Day...For Now

It's a funny thing. Over the several years that I have been writing The Epic I have published some things I thought were great, some good and some just OK.  It depends on my energy level at the time.  Like most things. But it has always amused me that my "most read" post of all time, by a huge margin, is Tequila Day from July 2009.  I guess it just struck a chord with a lot of people. Or a lot of people love Tequila. Or whatever.

But a central feature of that chapter of The Epic was a cement block Mexican joint buried in the depths of the Florida panhandle.  An Impenetrable Hideout.  It even has its own little motel. Provisioned with barrels of freezing cold Dos Equis Amber on tap and all kinds of Tequila for use as a medicinal chaser. And the finest carne asada steak, beans and rice I have ever had. All essential for an effective I.H.  In case the real world lays siege to the outer walls.  I have spent more than my share of time in hiding behind those walls, I can tell you. 

So it caused me the greatest degree of dismay last week to see that this old joint is being knocked down as part of an insidious plot by the Department of Transportation to make some road alteration.  You can sum up much of the sorriness of our times by the increasing number of road alterations and the declining numbers of Impenetrable Hideouts.  Particularly Mexican food and boozing joints.  But there it was.  The formerly unbreached walls in ruins.  I felt like a crusader viewing what was left of the walls of Arsuf. 

Oh, they say they will reopen next year in another location.  Probably with a brand new building.  And shiny new tables.  And overdone lighting in dining rooms that are laid out in a planned manner, not a dim rabbit warren of anonymous dining bliss like the old place. The new place will probably even have windows.  Fiasco.

But I must remain strong. There is hope that the new location will have something of the old magic.  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, I am staging an orderly but hasty retreat behind the ramparts of a bar in an old house on a hidden waterfront in plain sight of a major thoroughfare.  That very few people know about including only a handful of the most trusty sorts in my occupation.  No food, just stiff drinks and odd nautical characters drinking them.  If you need me, find me there.  Last bar stool, back left.  If you can find me, we can talk.      

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Summer Is Coming!!!

I promise that the snow will melt.  Summer will be here soon.  Better yet, Desi Arnaz says so too.  This album is crazy good. Get it and see.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ribbons Every Day

I admit, for many years I was not a fan of Valentine's Day. For a lot of reasons I have written down before. But for the past twenty-eight years it has been one of my very favorite days. This is, as ever, for the Irish Redhead. Mr. Wonder says it best.

My Epic wish is that each of you finds someone that makes this song as special to you as it is to me.  No matter what day of the year it is.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Epic Listening: Uptown Lounge [Various Artists, 1999]

Some years ago, there was this great bar in Las Vegas called Hamilton's.  The motto of the joint was "where it's always midnight".  And it was an outstanding place.  Big drinks, good music, quiet sophisticated decor, great service. Hamilton's is gone now, but you can re-create the atmosphere with this great ensemble album.  This is in my opinion a particularly strong antidote for the current wintry deluge afflicting much of North America.

While the snow drifts down from the sky, imagine slipping into your smoking jacket, pouring a big whiskey on the rocks or a strong martini, plunking down in a good chair before a crackling fire in the grate and putting on this play list...

1. A Kiss To Build A Dream On - Louis Armstrong
2. My Baby Just Cares For Me - Nina Simone
3. Manhattan - Bobby Short
4. You Stepped Out Of A Dream - Sarah Vaughan
5. Confessin' The Blues - Joe Williams
6. Baby Won't You Please Come Home - Gloria Lynne
7. The Very Thought Of You - Arthur Prysock
8. Sufferin' With The Blues - Nancy Wilson
9. Walkin' My Baby Back Home - Nat King Cole
10. The Lady Is A Tramp - Della Reese
11. Lush Life - Sammy Davis Jr.
12. Unforgettable - Dinah Washington
13. You're The One - Lou Rawls
14. Crazy He Calls Me - Dakota Staton
15. Stormy Weather - Lena Horne
16. Exactly Like You - Carmen McRae
17. Taking A Chance On Love - Billy Eckstine
18. Girl From Ipanema - Esther Philips

Each track is superb, but my very favorites are Manhattan by Bobby Short, The Very Thought of You by Arthur Prysock, and, without equal, Sammy Davis Jr.'s crushing version of Lush Life.  If I am ever in need of walk up music for some reason, this Lush Life may well be it.  I do not exaggerate when I say that this album is so good that you may never want to listen to it other than alone.  With a cocktail.  I can't imagine hearing some of these heart wrenching songs without libation.  This is the album you listen to after you lose her.  Or when you think of her years later.  And it's dark and snowing outside.

You can still buy used copies of this wonderful album on Amazon.com.  For a quarter.  Do what you like, but don't blame me if one day you find yourself in need of one of the best Epic albums ever and they are all sold to someone else. As for me, I'll be where it is always midnight. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Epic Drinking: Great Cider

Since last Autumn, I have delved deeply into ciders. You can't turn around in a pub or store these days without bumping into quite a few. Some are just awful. Some are Epic.  Winter Chill by Woodchuck is my current favorite. Oak aged.  Wonderful.  Just the thing to drive off the snowfall. Try it with a float of Crown Royal Maple.  Thank me later--when it is Spring.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Movie Star Treatment

I am not much for Los Angeles.  But I like Beverly Hills a lot.  That said, some years ago when I first stayed at the Beverly Hilton I admit that I was in awe.  The famous hotel in Beverly Hills, California was iconic in every way.  I was acutely aware of the inexpensive rental car I was driving when I pulled up to the valet stand.  Immediately, however, the hospitality and professionalism of the staff removed any self consciousness on my part. Every guest is treated like someone special. Like a movie star. I have found this to be the case at truly great hotels and restaurants wherever they are located.  That first visit to the Beverly Hilton was during the holiday season and the stunning lobby was capped off with a huge tinsel Christmas tree sparkling with lights and a gingerbread mansion created by the hotel restaurant staff.

Since that first visit, I make the Beverly Hilton my home whenever I find myself in Southern California.  The last time I was a guest there, I finally gave in to the temptation to buy one of the superb robes that the hotel places in guest rooms. This is without a doubt the best robe I have ever worn. It is a sateen cotton on the outside and a luxurious, absorbent cotton terry on the inside.  And those shawl lapels!! And the classic hotel logo!! The word "swanky" does not begin to do it justice. When you put this robe on you feel like Bogart.  No, like Douglas Fairbanks.

In other words, like a movie star of the first rank.  Trust me, finishing your preparations for an evening out in a robe like this, in a suite at the Beverly Hilton, an icy silver shaker of martinis at hand, is just the way to sally forth to dinner at Morton's [on Melrose, in the old days] or to La Dolce Vita [my favorite hangout, one of Sinatra's places].  Putting on a fine garment, whether it be a suit, a favorite pair of loafers, or a bath robe, is both transformative and transportational for the Epic. It will create happiness and also take you to memories of another time and place.

The vicissitudes of business and personal time have kept me away from Beverly Hills of late. But whenever I put on this fantastic robe, I am right back there. Pampered. Surrounded by graceful luxury. A movie star.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Joyful Noise

As I have mentioned before, 2014 was a tough year for everyone in my family.  Including my son, The Future Rock Star.  He has been in a really great spot of late, not the dour clouds of months past. Yesterday I was outside in our Southern version of cold weather, sipping a Scotch and just taking in the night sky.  When I heard a sound.  Then another. From the direction of the window to the FRS's room. Whistling. A random tune but a very happy one. So I took my Scotch and sat down in the flower bed beneath the window.  Leaned back against the bricks.  Closed my eyes.  And listened.