Here we G(en)O(‘s) again

Fuck. usually one to abstain from profanity, i feel obligated to utter such uncivilities. i beg you to pardon my Freedom.

It’s Wednesday, and with Wednesday comes another delightful issue of every indie rocker’s favorite rag, The Portland Phoenix! What tidings do you bring us, O Phoenix, revealer of all that we should know? Much. Well, this post is not intended to slight the Phoenix, we’ll leave that to some other posts. But, we were titillated when we saw word of a Phantom Buffalo show this Friday (speaking of, PB, how come this is the first we’re hearing of it? where’s the PRO-MO?)

In 8 Days A Week (trying to find a link to that article is like trying to find an affordable beer you want at Novare Res – you know it’s there, well, you think it’s there, but you just can’t find it, and you know it’s not your own fault), Chris Gray mentions the indie rock show at Geno’s and says “call for cover.” Call for cover? In 2008? To quote myself, “fuck.” Or more specifically, “fuck that.” To the internet! You Portland Point fans know we just love to find shit on the internet! Alas, it is with a heavy and deflated heart I must report, Geno’s does not have a website. A myspace, yes, but a website? Like a proper night club? No. Is the ‘cover’ information anywhere on the internet to be found? No. So I literally would have to call to get the information. But I’m not going to. I’ll get an intern here at the Point to do it. And tell me the odds he or she will get a receptive, friendly voice on the other end of the line? Who knows, because we don’t even have a phone in the office here because it’s 2008. We have high speed internet access. Lord, why isn’t that enough?

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Published in: on September 3, 2008 at 11:20 pm  Comments (2)  
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User Submission: ALL I WANT IS A QUIET COFFEE SHOP THAT HAS WIFI AND DOES NOT CLOSE EARLY!

Guest submission, which we encourage at the Portland Point (email portlandpoint@gmail.com with your story):

I have to work on a big writing project Friday night. Where’s the best place to work on a big writing project?

A remote chateau in France. Obviously. But I cannot afford such things, and besides, I live in Portland. So! Portland it is. My apartment is disqualified on the grounds that, well, I want a change of scenery. I know! A coffee shop. I’ll go camp out in a local coffee shop after work on Friday. Put in a good four hours on the ol’ laptop. Yeah. That’ll be great. Let’s see, where can I go? There’s a Coffee By Design branch on India Street. No, they close at 7pm. Hmm. What about the one on Washington Ave.? Nope, closes at 5:30pm.

Okay. So I could hike all the way down from the East End to the CBD on Congress Street which is open till 9 (according to their website) (kudos to CBD for having a website). Do they have wifi there? I’m trying to remember. I’ve seen people using laptops, but I’m not sure if there’s wireless. There must be, right? No? I don’t know. Their website doesn’t say. Dammit, do I have to pick up the phone to learn this?

Moving on. There’s that JavaNet place in the Old Port. That place has internet access, it’s right there in the name. How late is that JavaNet place open? OH I DON’T KNOW, THEY DO NOT HAVE A WEBSITE. JavaNet, would you like me to go into your cafe and use your own wifi to make you a website? Come on! YOU HAVE INTERNET RIGHT THERE IN YOUR CAFE. MAKE A WEBSITE. PUT YOUR HOURS ON IT. Fine. Fine. I’ll call Javanet. I will Google them and get a number. Here is a number. Dial. Ring. Ring ring. An automated voice answers! This number is no longer in service.

Is JavaNet in the witness protection program?

Well, there’s that other coffee shop, the one down the street from JavaNet, that used to be something else and is now, I believe, called Common Ground. I am perfectly happy to work in the company of youthful hippies, provided people are discreet with their hackysacks. Oh this is hopeless. No website. No hours anywhere. Do they have wifi? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe they communicate via incense signals. There’s Arabica, closer to downtown… another fantastic coffee house, with friendly baristas and a fine selection of beans. Another fantastic coffee house with no website. I can find their Yelp listing, but that doesn’t tell me their hours. HAVE I MENTIONED HOW MUCH I HATE WASTING MY PRECIOUS CELL PHONE MINUTES ON FINDING OUT YOUR HOURS WHEN YOU COULD JUST TELL ME VIA THE INTERNET?

I’m really thinking now. There is one cafe near me that’s open late, quite late by Portland standards, but every night it has a lineup of singer-songwriters performing, that or spoken word events. I’m sure if you’re into these things it’s great, but if you just want a place to sit quietly and drink coffee and read or get some work done, this is pretty much the opposite of what you want. There is another excellent, performance-free coffee shop just a few blocks from my apartment. Look, it has a cute website. Sadly, the website is more cute than informative, in that it does not list the shop’s hours. I’m fairly certain they close around 7, though. I guess I could walk over there… and ask…

In conclusion, and in the spirit of supporting local businesses i.e. not going to Starbucks, you will find me with my laptop in my local bar on Friday night. At least that will be open until 1 a.m.

Portland, why do you want to eat up all my cell phone minutes and also destroy my liver?

Published in: on August 27, 2008 at 5:40 pm  Comments (4)  
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Shhhh, rock and roll show, don’t pass it on…

I picked up this week’s Portland Phoenix and read the review of the new disc by Dominic and the Lucid. Very favorable review. I’ve heard great things about them, and am interested in checking out the CD release show. Awesome! Ok, I see it’s at the Empire. That’s a good club, I’ve been there before, let’s just jog over to their website… oh no, my heart just sunk. Please tell me they have a website! I plug in my trusty search into Google: “empire portland maine” Success! Oh joyous light shining from above, narrowing your heavenly beams on me and my hip mac laptop (cut out the glare, though, seriously). The very first hit on Google is the website for the actual EMPIRE club in Portland! My faith in humanity has been restored.

Let’s give it little click-aroo.

No.

No, please.

This … no, this isn’t happening.

Please, I encourage everyone to go there now. As of this posting, which is 3:40 PM on August 22, 2008, the first thing you read on the Empire’s website is “Cool show on Sunday” posted on May 2, 2008. Over three months ago.

30 PM - 8-22-08

Empire Screen Shot - Main Page - 3:30 PM - 8-22-08

Ouch. That is painful. But, hey, I’m forgiving, I’m sure they at least update their calendar! Who wouldn’t update their online calendar? Click on “Live Schedule” (if you have a steel encrusted stomach).

30 PM - 8-22-08

Empire Screen Shot - Live Schedule - 3:30 PM - 8-22-08

Speaks for itself, doesn’t it? “Stay tuned for updates shortly.”  This gets the all time WTF.  Let’s weigh the pros and cons of not posting your establishment’s events on your website.

Pros

  • Undesirable patrons (drunks, hippies, bad tippers) won’t stumble across the event during their e-searching – at the public library – for places to raise rucki
  • Hipsters may think they are the only ones in the know about your secret event and will have falsely raised opinions of your club
  • Okay, I’m reaching here, I can’t even think of any good funny “Pro’s”. On to the Cons…

Cons

  • People with internet-adoring ways may not think your club is open, and won’t come and give you their money
  • It looks like you have your head firmly up your ass
  • Someone Googling a band that has played there won’t stumble across your site and now know about how cool your venue is for having had that band play there
  • Someone wanting quick info about the show – at your venue – won’t be able to get it from – your site
  • You’re ostracizing the 2-300 internet using Portland denizens
  • You’re contributing to the social acceptability of not using the internet as a means of promotion
  • You’re doing a disservice to the bands that play there by not doing the simplest means of getting the word out
  • If you have your events listed, the only possible difference conceivable is that MORE PEOPLE MIGHT COME. That benefits you financially, the band financially, the people who come entertainably
  • It benefits all the same parties longterm because when more people attend the event it builds a bigger scene and the comfort with, and even an expectation of, going out, and seeing, and being seen on the scene

In conclusion, what is wrong with you people! In the time it took me to write this post, you could have the whole next month up there. Did you lose the password to your admin site?

Binga’s Wingas: Gross thingas

And the next day, the hurt lingas…

We at the Portland Point love wings, but that doesn’t mean we have to love all wings. Or even Binga’s Wingas. The immediately egregious mistake made by BW is that you either have to order the wings grilled or covered in a oily breading that fills you up faster than you can say “Kobayashi has to eat all the buns too?”

Look, wings are not a difficult cuisine, and it’s fairly simple to make serviceable wings.  In fact,  I can flip off a list of places where the wings are better than Binga’s Wingas, a place which (to beat the point home) has the word Wingas (meaning Wings) in its name.

1.  Sebago Brewing Company

2.  The Stadium (note: I’m providing link even though the site seems to have expired. C’mon people)

3.  Rosie’s Bar and Grill (do they have a website? what did I say about this!)

4.  The White Heart even makes delicious wings

5.  The Great Lost Bear

Right. Not saying these are all top caliber World class wings, but no question more delectable than BW’s mock-able wings.

In closing, the all you can eat (does that feature still even exist?) is only for one style of wing, the sauces are plentiful but you can’t mix and match quantities and sauces… it’s far too limiting to be a wing joint.  Let us order what we want, and deal with it.  You’re a wing establishment.  And there has to be an option for those of us who like fried wings but not your terrible batter.

Published in: on August 19, 2008 at 8:28 pm  Comments (2)  
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Great Works Internet Doesn’t Works so Great

Dear mom,

I strive to buy local like you raised me to do. I love it. I love Coffee by Design, not Starbucks. I love Ruski’s, not TGI Fridays. I like Miss Portland soon, not Denny’s ever. Ok, mom, seriously, don’t you get the point? I freakin love buying local.

Maybe the only thing I love more than that, however, is super duper fast internet. So much as show me that ‘loading’ bar and my blood pressure rises like an upside submarine. Internet cuts out mid-download? I will bite the head off a headless horseman. Yeah, I take it seriously. More seriously than Mother’s Day, and remember that time I surprised you on Mother’s Day with three clones of myself to cook you breakfast in bed while I spun a round of Frisbee golf but it’s the thought that counts and cloning isn’t easy? Remember?

Great Works Internet, or GWI, is a Mom and Pop internet provider. Now, you might think that’s a bad idea, after all, how can your parents provide you with blazing hot internet access? Well, you’d be 100% right. It’s a bad idea. Some things are not meant to be Mom and Pop. NASA space shuttles. Skimpy undergarment manufacturing. Elevator repair. Leave it to thems who know what’s up. The Portland Point was notified of GWI’s sub-par (see: Frisbee golf reference earlier!) by a local Portland Tipster (you can be one too!). I will quote, and even though I will type it in quotes, it is paraphrasing as God himself intended paraphrasing to be when he invented the word ‘paraphrasing’:

“Portland Pointster, I gotta tell you, GWI sucks. Okay, so you know how you want internet to be consistently available? These [upstanding gentleman who perform maritals with women who have had children] give me all sorts of [shit] when i call them up to complain about the absurdly slow speed and spotty service. What do they tell me when I say that I am not get the 5 MB/sec download speed I’m paying for but am instead suffering through lowly ~1.5 MB/sec? What do they tell me? They tell me: ‘yeah, you’re definitely not getting 5 MB/sec.’ What do they say when I ask why? ‘Oh,’ they paraphrasingly tell me, ‘yeah, internet is slower in the East End. Bad wires. Yeah, just some bad wires up there.’ And then I says to the admittedly nice and respectful gentleman on the other end of the phone – and that is something you can expect in Portland for the most part – ‘and another thing, what’s up with the “no bills” you’re not sending me and the automatic charging of my credit card?’ The ANARGOTOEOTP says: “yeah, we don’t do bills, we’re an internet company! How could we provide you with a bill? And haven’t you been getting all those emails we been sending you to your spiffy GWI email? And do you have a problem with us just auto-charging you?’ At this point,

Sorry, I have to take a break from paraphrasing. This is getting tiring.

Okay, back to the paraphrasing, um, at this point, I’m thinking, wait, hold the phone, hold the sluggish internet, why can’t you send an e-bill? Do you… my internet provider… know what that is? The only payment option is “automatically charge my card without sending me a bill.”

Back to me. As I was absorbing this anecdote, which was sent to us at portlandpoint@gmail.com (just saying), I started realizing that sometimes you just want something reliable, and sometimes it’s worth not going local. GWI, if you provide internet service, you better have online e-bill paying, you better have a sweet email server if you expect people to use it, you better have ‘as advertised’ internet speed no matter where in Portland we live. Portland ain’t all that big, you can provide reliable service anywhere or you’ll die not trying. The anonymous tippers assure us that they chose GWI because of its being a local business. But you can’t expect us to blindly Go Local with crappy service. We may value all things Maine, but we have some standards.

Published in: on August 19, 2008 at 1:17 am  Comments (2)  
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Why bother with a website when you have foot traffic?

And another thing – websites are impossible to set up. Cumbersome. Send away a check, wait 6-8 weeks, finally you take your screwdriver out – and always end up losing the screws – open the casing, install your photos you just got back from the developer, let it sit over night, and bam, if you’re lucky, a website. Well, I can’t see any benefit to having one to begin with, I don’t need someone at home looking at my stuff or my store or my restaurant, I need them here, shopping, purchasing, consuming. Fiddlesticks. Down with new, up with old.

Right, so, it’s 2008. If you’re a business, if you’re an artist, if you even so much as ‘like stuff,’ you should have a website. No, I take back “should” (if only there was a way to go back and edit my own sentence!). It’s absolutely imperative. Any place I’m about to visit or check out or think about giving some of my money to, I go right to google and type in the name of the place and “portland maine” (gotta add ‘maine’ otherwise you get all the delectable options from across the country). Anything more frustrating (in the realm of establishment google searching I mean) than finding simply a bunch of references in local papers ABOUT the place? Get a website. Even if it’s just a virtual business card, get your info up there, it’s not expensive. 50-60 bucks a year, with full hosting, probably even cheaper if you’re just getting a web presence up. In 2008, there’s no excuse.

What prompted this? My last post about late night food. I added a link easily for Becky’s – I googled “becky’s diner portland maine” and the first hit was their site. Excellent. Then I googled “hot suppa portland maine” and got a ton of references in MaineToday and other online review sites. No official site. I was trying to find the name of the head chef – it was in the original Phoenix article – I wanted to use it. No, nope. Bummer. It’s a shame that the internet police keep such tight reigns on who can and cannot set up websites. If not for them, just anyone could create online content. Then what use would the World Wide Web be?

Too bad Hot Suppa is ineligible for website activity, it’s got some awesome corned beef hash.

Late Nights, Hungry Bellies, Still Hungry Bellies

Anyone interested in a late night snack, and you ain’t talking about the ageless rotating hot dog at 7-11? Anyone? No, me neither. Thank goodness, because the options are stark. However, I did find myself at Becky’s late night window recently. The memory is hazy, but I distinctly recall standing in the back, perusing a list of familiar foods, telling the gentleman within “double bacon cheeseburger”, and devouring it like I’m at a company-funded lobster bake. Thank you, Becky’s Diner. Other than that, what do we have? Denny’s I’m ruling out not only because I’d have to drive there, also not only because it’s a chain (buy local of course), but also because box-eggs with paste tasting potatoes and disastrous service is not what I’m thinking of at 2 am.

I was reading the framed Phoenix article about Hot Suppa at the restaurant and was surprised to hear that the original business plan was to first take over its predecessor and then to expand to include a dinner menu and then even… and then even… yes – to be open late or all night. The article was dated from December 2005, and needless to say, the goal has yet to be achieved. We can still hope – that would be a perfect late night spot. Of course, let me caveat by fully recognizing that with a population hovering at 65,000, we can’t possibly have a sustainable demand for a 24 hour diner. I can only imagine this fact of logic has contributed to the shoving aside of this intriguing idea.

Probably our best bet is to plan ahead and have the eggs and bacon waiting for us at home. You know, someone should open a late night breakfast sandwich place out of their kitchen, laws be damned. You’d make a killing. No, a better idea: breakfast sandwich cart. In the Old Port. I’m happy to share the idea, so that someone else does it – I will benefit appetitely, if not financially.

One last thought, the reopening of the Miss Portland among the eyesore construction on Marginal Way is a much welcomed bit of news. Let’s join in prayer that it will be all-night. Why do I know it will close at 10?

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 3:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Big Easy – How about hearing some songs someone else wrote

We only have a select few venues for live rock and roll in this town and we are lucky that they are run well for the most part. It’s distressing to see the direction taken by The Big Easy of late. Never mind the aesthetic disaster of a calendar that dittos itself for its Monday-Thursday columns, but please do mind the prevalence of cover bands. Sweet mother Mary. A Portland music scene virgin would question whether this town produces anything Made in Maine at all – or if we’re even capable. The Clash of the Titans (which purports to showcase the local talent but instead showcases a select A List of local talent) isn’t going anywhere as it packs the place every Tuesday. You know, that’s fine, I like the Clash, it’s fun and the energy is totally positive. Now imagine it in a context where every other night original music is supported and the Portland Public comes out to hear what its membership was creatively up to. Unfortunately, imagining is what we must do.

Ok, let’s have a gander at the Big Easy calendar coming up; let’s see if we’re getting original music or our local boys and girls performing music someone else wrote. Tuesday, the Clash of the Titans. Covers. Wednesday, Strange Pleasure. Cover Band for the most part, some original tunes that blend in with (and sort of sound like) the covers. Thursday, Band Beyond Description. A Grateful Dead Cover band. Friday, the Awesome. 80’s covers. These guys have been at it for a long long time – can they still enjoy it? If so, good for them, no disrespect, but this shtick has been played out. Maybe they still draw an audience, the Big Easy I’m sure hopes so. Saturday, Hutch Hats Release Party. I’ll give the Easy the benefit of the doubt and dub this one a night of original music. Hopefully it means hearing Hutch Heelan play. 1 to 4, a .200 batting average. Sunday, all ages show, bands TBA. This doesn’t even count. It’s a week before the show and the bands are TBA? That’s not fair, it takes way more than a week to properly promote a show. Nothing Monday. The next Tuesday, another Clash – cover music. Wednesday, Strange Pleasure. Again. Like last week. Like the last X weeks. Thursday, Band Beyond Description. Again. Like last week. Like the last XxX weeks. Friday, Tony McNaboe. Drummer from Rustic Overtones. I imagine this will be original music. The one-name, expect a full-night of music thing befuddles me – three sets? two? Why not put on an opener for exposure? Who knows anymore. So, then round out the month with … an actual… I can’t believe my eyes… a normal 3 band show, like we’re supposed to have. Spose, with Luch and Eliza. Alright Big Easy! Granted it’s Hip Hop, which is not good old fashioned rock and roll, but at this point, beggars of original music cannot be choosy.  These three acts are all from Maine.  At the midpoint of the month, we can look forward to One real show of original music, two shows that are probably original but tough to parse, and then a whole mess of other people’s songs.  For the record, no shows of original rock music.

What does this all mean?

This town has an insatiable appetite for Cover Music, and the Big Easy is cashing in like it’s going – and before it goes – out of style. We should be so lucky.

It’s a Catch-22 of course, why should the club deny shows that will be packed, and why should the bands refuse to play the cover tunes? They shouldn’t. But let’s have some moderation, people. Let’s go see the bands when they’re in their natural / actual environment, let’s have the Cover nights truly be a fun break from the norm, instead of the norm itself. We can do it, we owe it to ourselves to do it, but we probably won’t.

Speaking of the Big Easy – remember when a pint of beer was 16oz? Just saying – a “pint” isn’t an arbitrary thing, it is a unit of measure, with a specific definition.

For now at least.

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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