Thursday, June 05, 2008

My Thoughts: Dr. Dog & Hot Dog Safari

Dr. Dog at John Harvard's
Unintentionally, there was a 'dog' theme to my weekend. I was interested in catching the Dr. Dog Block Party, so my lady and I met in Harvard Sq on Saturday. It had rained earlier, so they moved the performance inside John Harvard's Brewhouse. We walked in during Cassavettes' penultimate song. It was too loud for the venue, but it was good ol' rock 'n roll ringing and smashing through the place.

One half of the dining area was nearly empty while the the other half and the bar were jammed. I tried to get in front to snap a few photos, but my camera skills aren't to force my way through the crowd. Any comfortable spot close to the band had no line of sight, so we heard everything splendidly at a quiet table in the back of the bar area.

It was a great set! When a band like Dr. Dog blends late-era Beatles/Beach Boys and Flaming Lips, there's nothing for me to dislike. For some reason, I had a feeling they would be a "jam-band" in concert, but there were no "extended grooves". There was nary a superfluous moment at any point in the set. Of the songs that were familiar, the performance had more muscle than the recordings. A new CD is coming out soon, and we heard a bunch of excellent new tracks. A highlight was seeing John Malkovich walk in. Thankfully, most people didn't notice him.

Hot Dog Safari, Suffolk Downs
"Hot Dog Safari" is an apt title, because it was a friggin' jungle there. I expected it would be crowded, but it was crowded. The food is set up inside in front of the grandstand's betting windows (and the gambling took place outside). About 15 booths of different companies perpetually handed out food products of the meaty variety -- maybe one tofu thing. Besides hot dogs and sausages, there was pulled pork sandwiches... pot-pie... something Chinese... I didn't see everything offered, because I gravitated towards whatever meat in a bun that was easily available. The diversity was actually a pleasant surprise. Soft drinks were also free, which I expected where Suffolk Downs was going to increase their take from the non-gamblers.

The beverage counters sat along the opposite wall, so the food & drink lines met in the middle of the long, thin, overcrowded room. With everyone shuffling around aimlessly in their own sausage-fueled haze, it was frustrating walking anywhere inside -- and it wasn't much better outside. It took much deep breathing and meditating on the Serene Buddha for me to stay calm.

I bet on a couple races, but we left after the lady bet on the horse that broke its leg and had to be euthanized... It just put a damper on the day. I think the horse's name was Malaika -- maybe it means "creature with big body who runs on thin, fragile legs" in Hawaiian...

Good points: It was easy to eat way more than $12 worth of food including free soft drinks. It was a beautiful day. I only lost 80 cents. There were activities to keep kids occupied.

Not-so-good points: It would be Hell on Earth for agoraphobics. I wish I had brought a machete, because I get frustrated when people don't move efficiently and courteously. (Did I say I stayed calm?) It took more time than necessary to get food & drinks. It would be impossible to enjoy yourself if you had kids; I'd freak out if I lost sight of my kid at this event (if I had one).

In retrospect, adults unencumbered by children might have a good time by going in multiples of four. If you found a spot in the seats upstairs, you could use a simple strategy:

-- One person gets 4 dogs, two people buy 4 beers, and one person stays at all times to watch stuff and save the seats.
-- Wager on the ponies in between trips.
-- Rotate duties as necessary.

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