Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Hell of regrets....



With all the flap about North Carolina and Mississippi legislatures taking a Jesus stand against LGBT folks…and completely missing the irony of the fact that they have already been serially on the wrong side of history for generations….I give props to PayPal and Bruce Springsteen and Charles Barkley for drawing a line in the sand, pulling up stakes and moving on to more rainbow pastures.


What I object to in this whole deal is the term “homophobe”.


Today we had a black guy come in and share what life is really like in the Carolinas.  As a musician he is used to moving in all kinds of circles.  In the Carolinas there are many, many restaurants and bars that he still can’t go into with his white friends.  Still.  This is not just racism... it is race hatred.  


“Homophobe” means “afraid of homosexuals or homosexuality”.  I submit to you that the folks in Mississippi and North Carolina have gone way past fear and are into full on hatred.  Not sure the Latin term for “hatred of homosexuality” is.


My dear departed brother, Rob (whose 62nd birthday we just didn’t celebrate) was gay My dad, Roger was gay, it turns out. .  Good on them.  They were originals way back before it was “OK” to be gay.  I mean, my dad was a NYC banker.  I remember the day he wore a blue striped Brooks Brothers shirt to work. He was shitting himself with worry.  Rob was the first secretary of ActUp in New York, etc.


Funny how Rob always had the hot, smart girlfriends in high school.


Anyway….based on my genetics….I have a little homophobia.  Lurking fear that….well?  


I am also kind of scared of depression, alcoholism and anger related issues that have popped up for generations in our family.


Locally we have very little actual race hatred…and a declining amount of actual LGBT hatred.  We still have homophobia.

Lots of the local general pop are afraid of homosexuality.  Unsure, worried, not understanding…..but not hateful.


I feel sorry for the Miss/Carolina folk.  I think they will live to regret their hatred and their actions.  Jesus actually always in all situations loved all his people…..and all his critters and plants, for that matter.  Anyone have a count of the gay, hermaphroditic, etc plants and critters around us?


Our local folks I worry more about.  I don’t’ see hatred.  I see fear. Still, there is a curse to come for these folks, too.  And Jesus has nothing to do with it.


When you turn your back on your beautiful, hard-working daughter…and her love choice (who is also gorgeous, genrous and hard working to a fault) when they choose to expose their love to public scrutiny by getting married….you are going to cursed.


Not by Jesus.  By your own self, and your regrets as the world passes you by, and you lose track of the best people in your life.


In twenty years, when you are sharing a room with your buddy Jim in the Heavy Equipment Operators Rest Home (for some reason, none of the available women are into you anymore) and your grandchildren are confused and scared by your attitude to their moms…..


You will be boiling in a hell of your own regrets.  I promise.


Guys….women:  don’t be afraid!  It’s OK.  These are great, great girls….and if they have a connection and want to make a life together…..support them. 

Heroes are made not born.  You can do it. .  


Go with hope…and faith.  Duh, love.


Jesus would approve. That’s what he did.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Single Payer is not the Devil......

Folks who rail against single payer health care have clearly never actually experienced it.
There are two ways of looking at single payer. As a recovering multi-generation Republican (my people go back before Abe Lincoln, so shut up) the practical aspects of Single Payer are the first things I think of.
As I go through my day-to-day life, driving, shopping here and there, selling beer and cigarettes at my Store, making sandwiches and potato salad for sale there, catering in people’s houses, carrying around my iPhone, plugging in my Fire thingy into my plasma TV, toasting myself a bagel and smearing it with butter stored in my Kenmore fridge, grabbing a quick bite at Ocean Sushi……I am covered by literally dozens of insurance policies to guarantee my health and safety….and care, even long-term.... if everything goes pear shaped.
Fridge supports a black mold because the subcontractor fucked up the gasket that seals it, or the other sub-contractor fucked up the frost-free fan….or the sub-contractor of the sub-contractor fucked up the bearings in the frost-free fan. Safeway, Valero, and Ocean Sushi have slip and fall insurance…and product liability. All of the folks who sell all of the things that are for sale at Safeway, Valero and Ocean Sushi have product liability insurance. As do all of the folks down to the seed supplier for the farmer that grew the onions that wind up in your Sarah Lee frozen dinner.
Forget dozens….I am insured by hundreds of policies every time I leave my bed….which is also insured….manufacturer, subs, etc….plus by homeowners in case the ceiling falls in. No worries, the Ingram’s who did the sheet rock work had liability insurance 35 years ago, as did Adrian the electrician from Prunedale who put in the lights, and Phillips Eindhoven with the bulbs, etc, etc.
If there is single payer….ALL of these costs go away. One guy pays if and only if someone gets hurt by something somewhere.from the giant cascade of products and services that surround us.
Car and homeowners insurance only covers negligence and malicious damage….and then only for “pain and suffering.” Good luck with that.
All of all these insurances go away……Product costs drop, service costs drop, rents drop….It is such a no-brainer that even the most economically conservative magazine in the world…The Economist from London…agrees.
All that money that was not given to lawyers and insurance companies can go to actual people, services, investment.....
Open your eyes!  Bernie is not Stalin.  

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Journalism..



Journalism….actual journalism….is really boring.
Like being a cop, or a spy….it requires a ton of work 95% of it really boring.  For cops and spies it means filling out endless paperwork or sitting with cold coffee and full piss-bottles on a stakeout for hours and hours….that will mostly end in meaningless nothing.
Journalism is like that….you have to talk to multiple people, get everything right that they say, spend hours and hours on-line or in musty libraries….or bars, or on boats or in pilates courses verifying that what you are about to put into print is true.
If you give a shit that is.
I started working for newspapers when I was 14.  I was a stringer for the New Jersey Star Ledger covering sports and I had a sports column in the local Chatham Herald.  I also worked in production and delivery in Chatham.
I got paid 35 cents a column inch at both papers.  For the Ledger, I would scout basketball and football games and call in my copy from pay phones.  I had a weekly column in the Chatham paper….so I made maybe $3-4 from Chatham, and I’d get about a buck for each game I could cover for the Ledger.
Back in the day in Monterey I had a job as a food writer for a local coffee table magazine: The Pacific Monthly.  I wrote about food and food related stuff in general.  I demanded $9 an hour for my work, which made me very unpopular at the magazine…but they liked my stuff….and it worked out to be about the same pay scale as in New Jersey,
There was constant pressure from the struggling monthly for me to write nice things about advertisers.  I understood.  Money talks, bullshit walks. $.35 a column inch.
Except in critic lands.  I was trying to build a brand of actual facts…so that people could read my material, trust it, have a good experience based on that trust…and buy the magazine next month.
My $9 an hour did not include any budget for the cost of the meals I would incur.  That was on me.
After a few months, everyone knew who I was and what I was doing (along with running my own restaurant, catering company, soccer league, etc)…so it was not like Ruth Reichl from the New York Times disguised in a wig, etc. . Everyone knew me, knew what I was about, and why I was there in their place.
I would never ding a hardworking, owner-operated place….unless it was a clear and present danger to public health. 
I am still proud about having written a puff piece about two local bakers who used to deliver to me at 4am at Silver Jones….and who got together, got married, and had wonderful kids.  My article is still up on the wall at their place…..Paris Bakery.
But, I was not for sale…..If something sucked, with the owners, waiters, cooks, etc knowing that I was a food writer there to write about them…….sorry, guys.  No amount of advertising pressure from the editors would make me say nice things.  The integrity of my writing and the integrity of the magazine depended on honesty….and hard work.  I knew my shit.
Integrity in journalism!...What an idiot.
My last article for those folks was about a major advertiser.  Great new restaurant in a new space…the manager was a friend, the wife of another dear friend.  I knew many of the wait staff, and all of the dishwashers.
I went there for lunch, and my friend was obviously so coked out (this was the 80’s) that she had no clue.  I ordered a calamari steak. It arrived, beautifully browned on the properly floured, egged and panko-ed outside……..still frozen solid in the middle.
The start of my review:
“Watching the staff at The Ryan Ranch Rotisserie is like watching a monkey fuck a football.  This lunch spot’s apparent popularity is proof positive that Salinas produce brokers will crawl through broken glass to have their Tanqueray and Tonics delivered by a pretty face, no matter the devastation happening all around them.”
I got fired.  Thirty years later, though….people know that I don’t lie.
Back to “Raising The Bar In Carmel Valley”…..
If you are an actual journalist writing an actual critique of a restaurant you talk to the owners, the chef…maybe the DR manager or wine guy.  Also, you ask around: the Mission Linen guy, the fish guys you have relationships with…because you are a pro.  The meat guys, the high end produce guys….and the low end produce guys.
The top ingredients available locally are in very short supply to our 500+ restaurants.  Those of us who plan, drive, bargain and overpay all know who each other is.  Our suppliers of one thing know the suppliers of the other thing.  Our competing chefs and managers know all of this.
The neighbors also know what you are up to…..They watch your delivery trucks. Eighty footers full of frozen food?  Extra time while the driver has to go on and hunt down a COD check?  Does the guy receiving look like he has a clue….or is he a Craigslist temp?  Is the chef constantly unloading stuff from his or her own car after competing for ingredients?  What kind of vehicle is he/she driving that they are willing to get soaked in fish, blood, poop, raw milk, etc. What kind of cars are the workers drivng?
Who is the chef?  Where is he from?  Do we know him?  Where did he train?  Who is his sous?  What is his team like?  Is he getting paid….or is he a “partner”. How many chefs have been there before and for who long?
It is like baseball…..It is fun, and intensely competitive.  And, like baseball…everyone knows what is going on.
How much are the waiters making in tips?  Which wineries are they supporting…and how much are they buying.  How much linen are they using?  How big is their dumpster…and how much re-cycle do they go through, and how do they handle it?  How much empty wine and beer bottles are there, really?  Are they paying their bills?  Who is on COD, which winery is carrying them because the wine/vintage sucks and they have to move it no matter.
This info is readily available to every single worker in every restaurant in every town in town, including the girls at the pet store, the veterinarian, and the clothing outlet workers 50 feet away. Let’s not even talk about social media.
If a professional journalist can’t do better…. Yipes.
Supposedly in our modern world….money is speech, as said recently departed Judge Scalia.
 Much less recently departed Abe Lincoln said: “You can fool some of the people some of the time, and all of the people some of the time….but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
Money maybe speech, but speech is not necessarily truth. Journalists are supposed to be the ones that arbitrate this fine line.
Good luck with that in the Herald….enjoy your commercial Rykoff salad dressing in your sulfite soaked lettuce at the place that is “raising the standards in Carmel Valley”.
No, really….it’s great!  It said so in the newspaper!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Horse race....or not



I come from a long of racing horse racing folk.  My great, great grandfather had Callaghan’s in Dame Street in Dublin, a kind of Brooks Brothers for horsey folk.  Saddles, bridles, boots, blankets, coats….For fox hunters, steeplechasers, jockeys, etc. To this day, the scents loose in Callaghan’s compete with the same in the cellars of Romanee-Conti in my memory world for best ever.

My grandfather Jack was born into a family of 16 kids, with four sets of twins.  He was way down on the list when it came to the money….Ireland is still a primogenitor society.  The oldest son gets everything….and Grandpa Jack was far from primo.

Typically in Irish families the downstream kids go into the Church, become lawyers and accountants…or work their way into the business…..hoping for deaths from their older siblings.

My Gramps Jack…….I can’t think of him as Gramps because he died when he was thirty….Jack was shipped off to Boston to work and Sussex Downs to learn the business from the bottom up.

Jack was cool with the bottom.  He spent his wages on horses, whiskey and women….. and definitely did not learn much about the retail end of the horse business..

Jack pissed away his inheritance, wound up as a journalist in the US Army in WWI in Paris (close to Longchamps), and met my grandma on the race train to the real Derby….in England.

My mom inherited the love of horses at the track.  She grew up in Redondo and she flat out loved Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. She loved the pageant, the colors, all that bullshit….but she knew her horses.  Who ran well in the wet, who ran well on a dry track.  Who was better with a heavy jockey with no weights than a light guy with plates in his gear.  My mom loved Latin jockeys.  Till the end she would bet the farm at the Fairgrounds on any California horse with a Latin jockey….well, a good Latin jockey and a good California horse anyway. 

Eddie Arcaro…..Be still, my heart.

And a good trainer, of course.

It is genetic.  I am a terrible gambler, like Jack.  Both my mom and I share weird genetic things: we both sneeze when walking into sunshine from shade (WTF?)….and we both reflexively tear up watching any horse race….even on TV.

When you go to the track with folks who hang out with the trainers, jockeys, muck-rakers, etc you are hanging with serious people who make their money from the horses and the races.

Parimutuel betting runs differently.  This system runs by taking the aggregate of all the bets on a given race, dividing up the cash, subtracting the costs….and allocating odds to each horse based on the number of folks betting on him or her. If everyone bets on Goldilocks, the odds are very short.

Idiots who come to the track and bet on horses because of the colors of their stable, or the sheen of their coats, or based on their name (Goldilocks to win, place or show in the fifth race!)….fund the profits for the pros who are there every day.

“Honey, put $100 on Shambles….his colors remind me of the ocean in Tahiti last year.  And his jockey is so cute.and a Virgo. And the trainer was on Ellen.  

Regardless that Shambles is limping up to the post.

This is what is going on with the Republicans right now.  Not just the candidates….but the voters that are apparently choosing them. No one is betting on policies or character or hard work or information.  God forbid any possible future ability to govern…..

Cute colors……sexy jockey!  Hello, Mr. President!

Great work with the whip down the stretch, Mr. President!

2.01 to win
2.35 to show
2.60 to place.

No money in those odds….

None of these idiots are going to be in my Trifecta….and definitely not in my Pick Six.