Thursday, March 24, 2005

My favorite things.

Other the years I have had various and sundry "collections." I don't have enough of an anal-retentive personality to have ever gone wholehog in these ventures. It's why I'm perfectly happy to own paperback editions of my books, and why I stay away from collecting rare expensive objects that one doesn't use in their normal fashion (say a Shakespeare Folio or a rare original Sun records 7" 45). In some ways my collections are populist, ephemeral, and quixotic, not unlike this collection in that way. What follows are some highlights of my collections of drinking vessels, matchbooks, badges/buttons, and beermats. Music related items might run in a later column.

Here are photos of some of my favorite things

Drinking Vessels

The technical name for this object is a Toby Jug. Although in this case, Royal Doulton really made this likeness of Long John Silver as milk or cream server. I have a full sized Doulton St. George and the Dragon Toby Mug as well. Logically, you might think Toby Jugs were named after that famous Shakespearean sot, Sir Toby Belch. But you'd be wrong, sort of. Not unlike Delft Jugs, Toby Pots date to their 1762 creation by Staffordshire potter Ralph Wood. he based his original design on a popular 1761 song "Dear Tom, This Brown Jug" about one Toby Philpot, a character who obviously is inspired by Belch.

This "shot glass" is actually a 0.1 liter glass used at annual and semi-annual events in the Freiburg region known as Weintage or Weinstube, where vineyards come and set up stands and you buy a glass and then for a small fee can sample their various wines. This one depicts the historic Kornhalle of Endingen am Kaiserstuhl.

The Kaiserstuhl, or Emperor's Chair, in Baden-Württemberg is the remains of an extinct volcano that is dotted by small villages and mainly covered with vineyards.

The region is the sunniest in Germany and even a number of Mediterranenan varietals prosper here. It is most famous for its deep amber reds and specializes in Burguny varietals: notably Pinot Noir (Blauer Spättburgunder) and Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)


Yup. That's a Bohemian Club matchbook. Nope, I've never been in the club building or to the redwood grove. My connection also was an SF local not a world changing powerbroker. Easily the rarest matchbook I "own."

Another pretty famous club: the St. James in London, which backs onto Green Park and not St. James' as you might expect. I ate lunch with my father here not too long ago, as he had visiting privileges from the University Club at FSU.

Even good restuarants come and go fast in SF. I loved Geordy's, tucked in a dead end alley just off Grant Avenue, near Union Square, and behind the Compton Place Hotel; they did make a fine martini. Ivy's was long a pre-symphony or post-opera staple, famed for their venison dishes. But the neighborhood hit tough times post-'89 Loma Prieta earthquake, as it lay in the shadow of the condemned Oak and Fell St. on- and off-ramps to the downtown 101 spur. Now it's a trendy French bistro Absinthe, with bad food and crappy service. C'est la vie.

Three favorite seaside or near restaurants. Nepenthe is atop a crest in the highway in Big Sur; long a favorite of the beatnik writers and artists who frequent the area.

This is the view from the edge of Nepenthe's big redwood deck looking south over the Pacific. The Moss Beach Distillery is a fabulous and fabled old haunted restuarant (and former prohibition-ear speakeasy/brothel). Get there early enough to sit downstairs on the headlands, have a drink, and watch the sunset over the ocean. if it's cold, they provide Hudson Bay blankets gratis. Just off Highway 1 (28 miles from Palo Alto/Stanford, 25 miles south of San Francisco, 6 miles north of Half Moon Bay, where they filmed the American Pie 3 wedding scenes). The Lark Creek Inn was made famous by Chef/Owner Bradley Ogden and features fabulous holiday and weekend brunches.

The historic inn is nestled in a redwood grove at the foot of Mount Tamalpais in southern Marin County.

Sri Siam might not be the best Thai restaurant in London, but their Soho location is one of my favorite places for lunch near Theatreland.

Dave's Dark Horse Tavern is the first bar I ever visited when I moved to Starkville in August '96. That night I met Señor Nashville StandupBasso and saw his band the David C. Trio, which was, of course, a quartet at the time. Dave's has great burgers and pizza and has become my regular, nice because it's also the closest bar to my house. Until last December, Dave had a second larger club downtown, the International Bistro, where I've seen such live acts as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, celebrated New Year's, Halloweens, and weddings and even watched one year's Egg Bowl 2nd half there out of the rain. The building was one of Starkville's original movie theaters (Jaws ran there back in the day). Before becoming the Bistro, it also served temporarily as the local Catholic Church, while they were rebuilding their place of worship after a fire.


Former Florida Governor Reubin Askew ran for President in 1984, but dropped out after a weak showing in Iowa and a 9th place finish in New Hampshire. There's no truth to the rumor that he was depicted in Joe Klein's Primary Colors as Governor Fred Picker. Even moreso than Jimmy Carter, he was the first and best New South governor. A 1981 Kennedy School of Government study named him one of the Top 10 American Governors of the 20th Century. He and LeRoy Collins were my two earliest political heroes.

"We try harder" in Welsh. The local Avis dealer used to give out these badges as a promo. I've also got Norwegian, Japanese, and Spanish.

"Creative Playthings" are actually purveyors of fine wood playsets. I visited their newly opened store in San Francisco in 1973, when I also got Willie Mays' autopgraph at Candlestick park. Who knew this badge would come to have such different connotations?

The Frito Bandito: The famous Warner Brothers cartoonist Tex Avery developed this corporate icon who lasted into the mid-1970s. Cultural sensitivities then placed him in the dustbin of history along with all those Speedy Gonzales cartoons. Maybe this theme song had something to do with it. The Green Hornet first brought fame to Bruce Lee as the karate kicking chauffeur and sidekick for Van Williams' Britt Reid/The Green Hornet. Speaking of Green Hornet collectibles I have a near mint Black Beauty Corgi #268 with its original yellow box (if I can just find the flying plastic red thing in my office); I've had it since I was a kid. I also have 267 (The Batmobile in its original packaging) and 270 (The James Bond Aston Martin DB5 in original packaging) plus a fully working Yellow Submarine without box. Kevin Smith is supposedly currently drafting a screenplay for a Green Hornet movie, but whether or not he'll direct remains a mystery.


Timothy Taylor Landlord is a famous Yorkshire Real Ale that often wins beer competitions, twice being named Supreme Beer in Great Britain at London's annual Great British Beer Festival.

The Dirty Duck is a landmark gastropub housed in a 15th century riverside building in Shakespeare's hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon. Situated between the RSC's three theaters and the local actor's digs, The Duck, also confusingly signed as The Black Swan, is a frequent haunt of actors. Often after a performance, actors will show up in the bar for a drink and some gossip. Keep your ears and eyes open. The Avon River chain ferry is just across from the pub.

Hausbrauerei Feierling was celebratings its centennial anniversary when I lived in Frieburg-im-Briesgau during the summer of 1977.

1 comment:

Brinley Hawkins said...

Thats not a toby jug, toby jugs are shaped like a whole person, what you have is called a character jug, equally collectable, but not quit as old, first produced by Doulton in the 1930's