Breaks

I am going on a holiday and you will not hear from me for a while. I am driving the Alaska Highway all the way up to Anchorage. I will be back in early to mid September with more posts.

(pic thanks to slice.seriouseats.com)

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Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm  Comments (3)  

Slice of Hair

high-top fade barbershop

“…even the dopest rappers get haircuts, like Epic, Public Enemy and Big Daddy Kane”


You may have thought that I was joking. Fair enough, so did I.

This is a new semi-regular feature in which I review Edmonton Barber shops. If you are familiar with Slice of Life, then you know that by “review”, I mean that I will write about Edmonton barber shops and will usually include  (uninteresting) personal anecdotes and (dated) rap references.

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Ted’s Gold Star Hairstyling

11103 95 St

In a recent effort to get to know someone better, I went for a haircut with a new friend. You may be thinking that getting a haircut and chatting to a barber, while your new friend reads magazines in the waiting area, would not lead to a lasting friendship. You may be wrong.

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Ted used to cut hair for a hair dressers in Londonderry mall, but decided to go it alone and open his own business. Ever since then (unsure when exactly), Ted has been doling out fine cuts under his own name on 95th street just north of 111 Ave. Ted’s Gold Star Hairstyling (actual name, not just my interpretation of the sign above) is a simple and relaxing barber shop with great staff, which may consist entirely of Ted.

The waiting area has great leather seats and the magazine selection was fairly typical, but the large pile of Old Nat’l Geographic was a nice touch.

Ted is great. Our conversation was pleasant, his cut was near perfect, and his hands were (almost too?) gentle. When I pointed to the hair between my eyebrows and asked if he “could take care of this”, he did so without missing a beat. The only downside of the cut was that he managed to shave an oddly shaped bald spot into the back of my head, which he blamed on my oddly shaped skull. Fair enough.

The most endearing thing about Ted’s shop is his no-frills payment system. He does not accept plastic, he does not have a cash register and every transaction is delicately penned into a leather bound book. Price is pretty standard.

I am pretty certain that my friend had a good time also.

On an almost unrelated note, I once bought a copy of “Direct from the Backstreets” by Totally Insane at the A-1 Trading Post pawn shop next door to Ted’s. The Oak-town group’s debut release (1992) has an amazing cover and is surprisingly very good. Even though dead-stock copies of this CD could be purchased though popular web distributors as recently as “7/14/2009”, I was still blown away that a copy of this album turned up in Edmonton.

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Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 2:30 pm  Comments (2)  
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“Jam Pony Express”

Unfortunately, this place is not in Edmonton. It is was in Redwood City, California, which is technically the Bay area except that no good rappers are from there. You probably figured that out from watching the video.

Published in: on August 19, 2009 at 11:59 pm  Comments (4)  
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City of Champignons

Vic’s Pizza
10132 156 Street Nw

The legacy left behind by the Boys on the Bus is a hard one for this city to let die. We’ve painted murals, we’ve built statues, we’ve re-named streets, drives and trails, and we’ve blogged (albeit shortly) in tribute to the Oilers’ glory days. Within the last 3 years, we have even erected a giant replica of a trophy that has not been ours in almost 20 years on the main road from the airport.

For the 156th street block just north of Stony Plain Road, the issue of dying legacies is nothing new. The never-leased and always-vacant (not for long though) Jasper Cinema occupies a large chunk of the block, and the once legendary Victoria Pizza closed its doors nearly 3 years ago. Soon after the restaurant’s closure, a new pizza joint popped-up in its place. With its just-slight-enough-because-it’s-mandatory name change and its nostalgic, never-give-up-hope-because-it’s-mandatory slogan, Vic’s Pizza:  Pizza of Champions seems to be having a hard time letting go of the past.

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Before it closed, Victoria Pizza used to rank as one of Edmonton’s best pie holes, so on the way to deliver birthday wishes to my father last night, I decided to finally see if Vic successfully filled Victoria’s shoes. Answer: he did not.

The decor and staff at Vic’s Pizza are lovely and, given the right company and occasion, it is possible that a great dining experience could be had. Rolling solo and going on taste alone though, Vic’s is not very good. Cheese was crusty and the sauce was tasteless.

The best part of my evening was hanging out in Vic’s parking lot, which also belongs to a fighting gym called Tha Dogg Pound. Speaking of which, Dogg Pound rapper Kurupt recently teamed up with America’s Most Complete Artist to release your new favorite rap album, BlaQkout. Like the Edmonton Oilers and Jasper Cinema, these 2 artists should be the poster-boys for washed up and left for dead legacies. Kurupt has yet to release a solid album since Dogg Food, and DJ Quik’s is just too damned old. All this aside, they were able to join forces and release a more-or-less relevant record that is both exciting and daring weird.

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Not loving the pizza at Vic’s. Currently loving “a new breed of fighter”.

Published in: on August 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“….intelligent too, like a real thoroughbred is”

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(Peace to Wilfred L. RIP)

Santo’s

10821 95 St NW, Edmonton

The Canadian Derby is coming to Northlands Race Track on August 22nd and win or lose, I guarantee a good-time. If you cannot wait (or if you miss) the madness, you can always get your horse-racing fix at one of the many off-track betting sites this city has to offer. One such joint, Little Italy’s Santo’s, doubles as a pizza and pasta joint. While I am sure that most off-track betting bars in this city serve some version of pizza, I will put serious monopoly money on Santo’s pizza being the best.

Scenario: A goodbye lunch for a friend returning to his current, non-Edmonton, city of residence.

Across the street from the Italian Centre (the real Italian Centre), Santo’s serves pizza and pasta to Edmonton’s discerning Italian community. The joint is made up of a lounge, a restaurant, and a betting booth, all of which are great. The beer selection is standard, the pizza selection is not, and the espresso is European. Santo’s staff are very lovely and the lounge’s decor – complete with a Molson-sponsored ceiling lamp disguised as an Oilers score board – is perfect.

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Between 3 pizza eaters, we split a Mediterranean, an Italian Sausage, and a Plain Cheese, with a plate of gnocchi for the lady. The Italian Sausage was great, with finely chopped sausage and tasty rapini. The bruschetta-smothered Mediterranean was a serious highlight, while the johnnycomelatlely Plain Cheese – ordered as a kind of barometer – was light on the cheese and heavy on the ‘plain’.  Overall the pizza was fantastic, the only (very minor) downside being its less-than-spectacular crust. I was really impressed by this place.

Our lunch conversation, which began as a discussion of Edmonton’s arts community and ended up as a heated argument about politics in Alberta, was reminiscent of the recent beef between rappers Rick Ross and Fifty Cent: predictable and uninteresting. Related, I think Rick Ross wrote a love song to a race horse (always put your money on ‘The Boss’):

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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