Belgian pop, onion-tear pics, pepper-syrup drinks

This week I wanted to start with a long rhapsody on libraries, since the new North Beach branch just opened, but I fear I've already gone a little hogwild with links to share. Instead, come to my housewarming party May 31 to hear that story in person!

And if you're in North Beach, check out the new library on Columbus at Lombard. They did a pretty nice job with the building, and there's a lovely little plaza with steps on one side.

Lastly, my new piece for Her.meneutics is up today. This time I tackle the ever-complicated question of male-female friendship. Maybe I'll have to see if the library has When Harry Met Sally in...

:: events ::
:: tunes ::
Sure, it's a shtick, but they do it very well and many pop songs prove surprisingly singable when you strip away the top-40 production. Buy their album from various digital vendors. And if you'll be on the East Coast or in Europe this summer, you might even catch them live.
  • Australian band worth checking out: Lately I play a lot of jazz radio at home, but the other day in the car I had KFOG on when the kind of song began that made me listen eagerly for the end to hear the credits. I didn't write it down, but I'm pretty sure what I heard was Australian band Boy and Bear's song "Southern Sun." Check them out if you like Ivan and Alyosha or the Jayhawks. They don't seem to tour the U.S. much, but they'll play a handful of shows here this summer (note that "CA" on their calendar signifies Canada, not California, alas).
  • The Black Keys' new album Turn Blue just came out. In this NPR interview, the musicians talk about their songwriting process and working with producer Brian Benton (aka Danger Mouse). Story includes a couple new songs.
  • New Katie Herzig: The Ten out of Tenn alumna recently played her song "Walk Through Walls" on VH1. (Herzig's one of several musicians Charlie Peacock has mentored or produced. In 2008, Paste magazine featured her as one of 22 new artists to watch.) "Walk Through Walls" is the title track of her new album.
  • Andrew Bird to play Saratoga: Of all the Bay Area music venues I've been to, Mountain Winery might be my least favorite. It's beautiful, sure, but the narrow road up to the venue quickly backs up and parking costs $20/car. BUT, for Andrew Bird -- who plays there Saturday, Aug. 2 -- I just might make the trek. Paste reports he's touring with a "Hands of Glory" band this summer, musicians to include Tift Merritt. Hands of Glory, which draws on the American folk songbook in sound, was my favorite of his last few albums. And if his December SF set with Tift and bassist Todd Sickafoose is any indication, this summer's shows should be a real treat. 
  • Belgian singer to watch? My neighbor's son introduced me to Stromae the other night. I'd never heard of him till now, but he's apparently developed a huge following in Europe, which this PolicyMic story puts in the larger socio-economic context. He was also on a recent Time Out cover. Though he seems to sing mainly in French, I wouldn't be surprised if you start hearing his songs in hip clubs, restaurants and tapas bars.
:: visual art & design ::
:: reading/food for thought ::
  • Finding humor in injury: Falling beneath a subway train has brought unexpected attention to a New York comedian, who recently performed a routine that drew heavily on her many surgeries and months in the hospital.
  • Vocations in media: My friend Joe Kickasola was recently featured on the Center for Faith and Work site. One of some of my dearest friends in New York, Joe leads a Baylor semester-in-the-city program for communication students.
  • 'There's more to love than "True Love"' - Alissa Wilkinson on friendship, love and romance in the movies and life.
:: food ::
Several months back, I tried a recipe that called for black pepper simple syrup, which involved filling a plastic bag with pepper corns and whacking them several times with a cast-iron skillet. Literally. Unfortunately, I didn't love the cocktail that much, so I'm left with a lot of simple syrup. Fortunately, you can use black-pepper syrup in other ways, though it may threaten your non-hipster cred:
And if black-pepper syrup bores you, check out these recipes:

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