Back Issue 3 (8.8.2004)
FIVE ALBUMS TO LISTEN TO WHILE PREPARING DINNER: ONE BACHELOR’S ARBITRARY LIST, Part II
by Matt Testa
4)The Fugees, The Score, beef tacos.
This album sizzles with adventurous beats and deft rhymes. Accordingly, you should begin by sizzling your ground beef with some chopped onion and green pepper and the soulful beat of “How Many Mics.” While that’s browning, heat some black beans and garlic until it bubbles like the rhymes from “Ready or Not.” By the time you get to the flavorful hip-hop of “Fu-Gee-La,” you know it’s time to stir in your own flavor to the beef; a packet of McCormick does the trick just fine. Let Lauryn Hill testify through her sexy cover of “Killing Me Softly” while you salsa-fy your taco before wrapping it up.
Chow down and chill out to Wyclef’s “No Woman No Cry”—if you didn’t bother to make guacamole, you’ll be regretting it by the time the album reaches this tropical point. Open another Corona, drop in a lime wedge to defend yourself against scurvy, and nod through the additional Caribbean aroma of “Manifest/Outro.” Unfortunately, the Fugees went their separate ways after this album, but you can use any one of their solo albums while you heat your leftovers over subsequent nights.
5) The Dandy Warhols, Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia, peanut butter sandwich with pre-washed bagged salad. Even (especially?) urban hipsters have their nights when they’re not in the mood to fuss around in the kitchen. This album’s catchy hooks and ironic lyrics will get inside your head and make you smirk at your own existence. Be sure to stop by your neighborhood yuppie organic bakery for some overpriced whole grain bread on your way home from your job as a data entry temp. Ideally, the bread should cost as much as the one 12-ounce peanut butter jar you’ve been using for months, or about what you earned in half an hour at work. In the kitchen, let your serrated knife slice through the bread like the trumpets cut through the soundscape of the opening track, “Godless.” The low, snarling guitar noise of “Nietzsche” will make you tempted to use the same large knife to spread the peanut butter, but you’re better off with a conservative butterknife even though it will be one more thing for you to wash when you’re done. After that’s ready, pour your salad into a bowl when you’re not clapping your hands along with “Country Leaver” and wishing that you too were on your way to Amsterdam. Hold back your jealousy when you hear Courtney Taylor speak-singingly brag about his “beautiful new Asian girlfriend” on “Solid”; you’ll want to channel that energy to stirring in some olives, croutons, and low-fat vinaigrette. At this point, you’re ready to pour yourself a glass of seltzer, open up your local free alternative weekly, and nod your head through “Horse Pills” and “Get Off.” If you’re still hungry by the time you get to the radio-friendly and über-sardonic “Bohemian Like You,” spread some Nutella on what’s left of your bread or crack open a cup of yogurt—unless you’re vegan, of course. Even after the album ends, it’s important to remain as cynical and ironic as ever and deny yourself any sincere emotions (or health insurance). If you feel like you need emotional support, there’s a hotline you can call that connects to a semi-employed twentysomething blogger/aspiring writer in Williamsburg.
Honorable mention: John Coltrane, A Love Supreme, Sunday brunch.
If you can’t make it to church in the morning (either because you were too busy or just couldn’t wake up), this album is the next best thing. If you’re just coming back from church, it certainly doesn’t hurt to get some extra J.C. in your morning. There’s nothing wrong with fresh bagels and coffee and the newspaper, of course, but it’s worth doing some heartier cooking for an experience that’s extra fulfilling (and just plain filling). Nothing sets the mood better than the opening motive of “Acknowledgment.” If you’re cooking for yourself, you can have your potatoes washed, peeled, and sliced before McCoy Tyner even begins his solo. The repeated incantations and transpositions on “a LOVE su-PREME” will make your frying pan come alive and accept the glory of your vegetable oil and potatoes. Upon the ascending fourth that begins “Pursuance,” you should be ready to wash and slice your green pepper. For an extra challenge, try to chop in Elvin Jonesian polyrhythms. Be sure to stir your potatoes regularly to assure that they cook evenly. Coltrane’s solo, however, can cook as asymmetrically as it wants to. I mean, it’s John fucking Coltrane we’re talking about. Try not to get too awestruck by Elvin’s three-minute freestyling solo to open “Resolution/Psalm” and add some sliced sausage or wieners and a scrambled egg when the potatoes and pepper are almost fully cooked. This will complete your meal in time for you to start eating to the transcendent finale. Praise God, Coltrane, and your cast-iron frying pan.
(reprinted in its entirely at his blog: http://manicandpedantic.blogspot.com)