Catching Up With The iPad, Al Stewart and Oregon Pinot Noir.

Time for a quick update on the Digital Tavern. Pardon the diversion, but this post will focus on some personal and business items that I hope you’ll find interesting or at least somewhat amused.

First, it’s all the hype and there’s no doubt you’ve seen it on the news, heard strangers talking about it in line at Starbucks or the grocery store or you’ve perchance caught a glimpse of one at your favorite taco stand. I’m talking about the iPad. Apple’s PR machine has leveraged it’s best secret weapon–the use of its infamous secrecy shrouded in air of mystery and intrigue. From the cover of Time Magazine to Colbert’s ginsu knives demonstration of the iPad’s surprise use as a vegetable chopper to Letterman and…well you get the idea. If you weren’t aware of the iPad’s impending blitz before, you’re knee deep in it now.

I waited 15 minutes to get my hands on one at the local Apple Store. In a word: stunning. One truth is self-evident, what the iPad is NOT is just an oversized iPod Touch. Such a statement is an oversimplified spew of nonsense. What I don’t know, is where the iPad will end up. Nobody does. But it will organically morph into the lifestyles and lexicon of more people worldwide than any analyst can imagine. I do see it breathing new life into the dying media of print. And this I’ll watch with anticipation.

Some see it as a great alternative for reading books. Akin to the Kindle or e-reader or nook, the iBookstore is as intuitive as to walking around your local Barnes & Noble. But my brother has his doubts. He finds that reading the Amazon Kindle easy on his eyes, noting that he is adverse to staring at glossy computer screens. His short time with the iPad yesterday raised doubts.

The nine-year-old standing next to me at the Apple store ignored his Dad’s suggestion at “let’s just see what it can do,” as he flipped through and played all the demo games. And my friend Aaron was taken back by how beautiful and functional the calendar application looked at worked. “It’s actually a calendar, Allan.”
I don’t have one yet. Not sure if I want the 3G / GPS enabled version. What do you think. I will get one soon enough. For what will I do with mine? I imagine I can do perhaps 50% of my daily computer work on the device, things like e-mail, research and writing. There’s no question in my mind that this iPad is so well designed that there’s barely any need for training, a manual or even help file. It’s so intuitive and with a user interface that is so well thought out. The way computers ought to be. And the way Steve Jobs always dreamed they should be.

On other notes, I had a chance to see Al Stewart on Saturday night. He played the venerable, if not tired and worn Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. Accompanying him on lead guitar was Dave Nachmanoff. It’d been some time since I saw Al and Dave together. But I was taken back not by Dave’s new goatee, but by his trim body. Now Dave is no tall guy. He’s probably about 5 feet 3 or so. The last time I saw him he weighed over 200 lbs. Last night he told me that he weighed in at some 130 pounds. Good for him.

Al Stewart

Dave Nachmanoff

Al played to a sold out crowd and beyond his hits Time Passages and Year of the Cat, he played a great versions of “Clifton in the Rain” a folk number he wrote in 1970; and “Don’t Forget Me” and led off “Like William McKinley” with a charming story of sitting on a porch and waiting for lovers to come to him. If you haven’t seen Al Stewart Live, it’s his passion for history and gift for storytelling that makes the experience more than just live music. Here’s a video I shot of Al when I was recovering from my broken leg.

A night with Al of course isn’t complete without wine tasting. Dennis Overstreet, the properieter of Overstreets in Beverly Hills, a friend of Al’s and mine also joined the gang backstage. The wine of the night? Two. The first, a 2000 Château La Nerthe Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée des Cadettes and an estate Pinot Noir 2007 from the great Patricia Green Winery in Oregon.

I continue to be in awe over the 2007 Pinot Noirs from Oregon, and I’m sure I’ll post more reviews on these gems in the future.

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