Sunday, November 15, 2009

Eating at 8 1/2, Seeing Pirate Radio

I have never been the slavish fan of Mama Zu's and Edo's Squid that most of Richmond is. Chalk it up to my compromised palate or perhaps my lack of appreciation for good Italian, but I would not put either restaurant on my top 5 list, nor tell an out-of-towner that they were required eating. Since I'm in the minority on this, clearly I am the misguided one.

But I'd never eaten at 8 1/2 and not because of anything to do with the other restaurants; it's just not often I'm over on Strawberry Street. I corrected that tonight and ended up quite pleased with my simple meal. I got the Italian Hero, which was served on a proper crusty roll and loaded with peppers and more meat than anyone needs on one sandwich; the accompanying potato wedge was an unexpected treat. To justify my meat feast, I got an order of broccoletti, which was divine. I'd have ordered a dessert, too, but they were sold out of everything. Ah, the perils of going for takeout on a Sunday evening. Now I need to go back and try their white pizza... and I will definitely go back.

After stuffing myself, I was looking for a lazy way to spend my evening. I'm an admitted documentary dork and "Pirate Radio" is not a documentary, but I very much wanted to see it anyway. It's based on real events, it has a huge and talented cast and the soundtrack contained dozens of songs, albeit ones I've heard a million times at this point in my life, but which serve the movie well. I went, too, because of Philip Seymour Hoffman and while he was great, as always, the ensemble cast was the true highlight of the film. The idiosyncratic characters came alive with strong performances by every single member of the cast.

The movie is a tribute to music lovers and especially the die hard DJ's who made Radio Rock possible back in 1966, when the BBC was refusing to play the "new" music, even as 25 million people were tuning in every day to the pirate radio ship. The movie is raucous and fun, women definitely play all secondary roles and it's impossible not to get caught up in the story. And the 60s costumes are way cooler than I can describe; they alone are worth seeing.

I'd recommend 8 1/2, but I'm undoubtedly the only person in rva who doesn't already know and love it. So, instead, I'll recommend "Pirate Radio" as a excellent amusement and a fascinating glimpse at a brief but shining time in radio history.

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