Friday, December 30, 2005

Wild Irish Pig Posted by Picasa

Terrorism: Irish Style

Can you tell business is slow? I will do almost anything not to have to chase Brendan's buddy's mom for her lousy grand for her shitty party (you are NOT going to cook that FISH in MY HOUSE!!!). The kid ordered seared ahi, you see….

Set the WayBack Machine for August 1979…..Hey, this is better than Disneyland in 1971!!

The IRA blows Lord Mountbatten (cousin of Queen Elizabeth, nee Battenberg…..a reminder that the current British royalty are actually Krauts...zey ver not dere!) and his yacht almost in half. Better luck next time, lads….but he dies anyway. Cousin Princess Margaret is touring the US to raise money for Covent Garden Opera. In Chicago, she stops long enough to tell Mayor Richard Daley that “All Irish are pigs…….”

At the time, I was Irish…..and I was raising pigs….wild boar, actually. Margaret’s comments seemed somewhat…..uncool.

Margaret’s next step on her fundraising voyage after Chicago was San Francisco. The Fairmont Hotel. My partner Frank and I thought…..hmmmm: “Paybacks are a Margaret-fucker.” We had the idea to take her a Real Irish Pig.

So…..we bundled dear Jiggs up in some towels and took off for The City. Jiggs was the new daughter of Christmas, pictured above. Maybe twenty pounds, and cute as a button. Daddy Christmas had been caught….on Christmas… the Search Ranch in deep Carmel Valley. (The little shed where he was born has still not yet fallen down….it is across the road from Cate and Ben’s house). Christmas was a pure-bred, bad-ass, old-school wild boar.

Frank and I arrived at The Fairmont around noon to case the joint. We had brought cook coats, aprons, tuxedos, suits….all the costumes we thought would get us into the kitchens or dining rooms of the Fairmont long enough to enable us to present Dear Maggie with her Irish Pig.

Turns out….mere weeks after Mountbatten getting blown up, security was TIGHT. Lotsa guys with plastic ear-pieces roaming around everywhere. The Secret Service, the CHP dignitary protection guys, and the SFPD weren’t bad….but the MI6 guys….. They can smell an Irishman at 100 paces. They can smell a CATHOLIC Irishman at 50 paces. Less. We prowled around, tried to be cool. Got scared.

We bailed. Meanwhile, the Irish had gathered. There were crowds in the little park in front of The Fairmont. The cops had also started to gather: horses, guys with riot clubs and shields, battle wagons. Who knew? We just had a pig for the princess.

It didn’t take long for the shit to hit the fan. Usually all it takes is a cop and and Irishman. Oftentimes, they are the same guy. More Irish arrived, and more horses, more shields and more clubs. After all it was a Monday. Which is more fun? TV football or a riot?

Also, it didn’t take long for the Irish to discover Jiggs. “Ooohhh, lads. Whut a loovley peeg!” When we shared our Maggie ambitions, immediately everyone said, “You must speak with Warren!”

Warren turned out to be Warren Hinckle, editor of Ramparts Magazine (Warren Hinckle single-handedly started all conspiracy theories about JFK’s assassination: I think he was pissed about the name of the Commission). Warren wears a patch over one eye, like a pirate. His bassett hound Bentley, also wears a patch. Warren's drinking buddy was Hunter Thompson. Like that.

Right off the bat, Hinckle was on top of it: “We must talk with Paddy!” This was Paddy Nolan, owner of the Dovre Club in the Mission. As an old-time publican, Paddy knew every cop in San Francisco. A plan was hatched.

“Paddy will go inside and clear out all the San Francisco cops. You boys put on yer tuxes, go around the corner, catch a fookin’ cab, tell him to take you to the fookin’ Fairmont. Trust me!! Then… the vicar said to the striptease artist….’It’s joost oop, and in!!’”

So we did. We caught a cab in front of the PU club: “Take us to The Fairmont.” Cabbie:”It’s a block!” Me:”Just do it!”

Jiggs at that point let out a squeal, and freaked the cabbie out. As he pulled up to The Fairmont and saw the massed demonstrators and the lines of cops on horses and all the clubs and shields, he double-freaked. “I can’t do this!”

“Fuck you….here’s a twenty! Just drive!” The cabby actually stopped right next to an armored cop on a horse.

Meanwhile, Paddy was working the door. The lobby bar was open with the game on, so even MI6 couldn’t keep him out. Paddy buttonholed each policeman: “Say….isn’t your name McGillicudhy? Didn’t your father work in the 4th Precinct? Right. Well, listen…..the lads are having a wee bit of fun with the Brits. Why don’t you come into the bar and have a wee dram?”

The cabby punched it and charged the police lines, right into a cue of big limos. He was so freaked that he passed on the right, jammed on the brakes and dumped us right on the red carpet. Just like the Oscars, the TV cameras were rolling. Frank and I jumped out in our tuxes, clutching Jiggsy, as the cab pealed out. Just behind us I could see Clarissa Dyer slinking from her limo….our first real socialite client. She had just hosted a party we did for Jerry Ford and Clint. Oh well! Pigs happen!

Frank and I walked up, cool as can be, through the TV lights and reporters, right past the Secret Service guys and the CHP. We crossed the lobby untouched and walked right up to the door of the ballroom, where the MI6 guys waited. At this point, I was supposed to charge the door and throw Jiggs into the room.... and run.

But….the pig had been soooo nice. Never peeed once the whole day, sweet as can be. I hesitated. Fucking sentimental Irish! Wham!! We were buried in big, strong British assholes.

Long story short: we were eventually released. They gave us our pig back. She lived to a ripe old age. The Chronicle next day had MY picture on the front page, not Clarissa Dyer’s. We never heard from her again.

And….I have never had to buy a drink or a meal in an Irish bar in San Francisco since.

Walt Disney: Terror Master

In my continuing effort to point the NSA at the real threats to our national security, I propose the following question:

What is it about Disneyland that inspires terrorists?

Everyone agrees that Osama Bin Laden doesn’t actually bomb anyone….but he is the inspiration for multitudes. Walt Disney and Osama have more in common than the NSA knows.

Our friend Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping ( ) has just completed his US tour….by getting arrested at Disneyland in Anaheim, accompanied by his choir.

On Christmas, no less.

Here are Sister Marianne's notes:

The Church ended its Tour in one of America’s most ironic and twisted entities.
On Christmas morning we set out for the High Temple of Sweatshop Retail (15,000 sweatshop suppliers). We have been to Disney stores before, but that was small potatoes compared to being in Disney’s Mothership.
We stealthily entered the park in five separate groups of choir members and crew. With our robes in our bags, we maneuvered through the park without consequence.
With timely precision we processed to our designated location: Main Street. I gazed at the Disney Castle looming in the background as my group mellifluously blended with the others, all converging upon Main Street where we would meet Reverend Billy.
We paraded down Main Street joyfully singing "Stop Shopping," "Convenience," and "What Would Jesus Buy." While we sang I believe I heard an announcement stating that our group was NOT the Disney Parade.
Reverend Billy vociferously preached about the REAL Magic Kingdom, imploring our audience to envision a world without sweatshops, without towns in peril, and without a product-filled Christmas.
Before long the guards surrounded the Reverend and pulled him away. The choir followed for as long as we could until the guards told us to stop singing and stay where we were.
Eventually we were all brought behind the scenes of this Disney stage and held while the Disney authorities decided what to do with us.
We were held for just under an hour. The Rev was arrested and the names, addresses, phone numbers, age, and physical descriptions of each choir and crew member were taken. The police explained that we had caused a disturbance on private property and therefore would be asked to leave the park immediately. Our hands were all stamped with some kind of marker that would apparently set something off if we tried to enter the park again within the next week. If we tried to enter the park again that day, we would be arrested for trespassing.
The Rev was released at about 9 p.m. As he left the police station he was met by a lovely candle-lit ceremony we held for him outside. We were all very thankful.
Last night as I sat and wrote out the day’s events from our deserted hotel lobby I thought, "What a strange Christmas!" But as Rev Billy says, sometimes we must get a little strange in order to make a change. We must break out of the patterns that have been prescribed for us and not BY us. We must do this so that we ensure the authenticity of everything we do and preserve our rights in a time when they are disappearing.
Life is not supposed to be like a product that was mass-produced on an assembly line. It is not supposed to be a dull, predictable meal that you get at a fast food restaurant. It is not supposed to be lived under the fluorescent lights of a big box store, where individuals have limited rights and are valued only as consumers. Life is supposed to be unpredictable, unique, creative, and…LIVED.
As the Rev says, we must stop shopping and start living.
Can I get a Change-Aliuia, brothers and sisters?
Sister Marianne

Getting arrested in Disneyland is old-school. I cut my terror-teeth with Uncle Walt myself. I think the count is one arrest and three successful ecape-and-evasions.

I grew up (well, physically…..) a few blocks from Disneyland. I actually remember opening day. Yeesh...old age. I was a good little boy….I even tried out for the ultimate summer job: being Tom Sawyer on Tom Sawyer’s island.

Until one fateful day: Roger, the high school kid across the street, gave my buddy and I a dollar to dive into the submarine tank and swim a note over to the mermaid. Respect for elders, right? We were twelve, he was sixteen. We got to the mermaid (a high-school girl Roger fancied), but there was no escaping the Cavalry (literally, the Cavalry were the cops, complete with F-Troop uniforms). We were frog marched to security, booked, lectured and banned for the summer. The crowning indignity was that the goody-two-shoes creep who DID win the Tom Sawyer job stood there gloating at us ......with his painted-on freckles..... as we got tossed.

Now we were mad. We snuck back in over the wire immediately. Since we were already wet, we waded and swam out to Tom Sawyer’s Island. We crept through the Indian Village to the mouth of Injun Joe’s cave. When the coast was clear we grabbed two sticks and sprinted into the cave, smashing light fixtures as we went. With the cave filled with screaming tourists, we grabbed two empty popcorn containers, filled them with river muck and dumped them down the cave ventilators that they disguise as rocks. We hid in the labyrinth till the Cavalry came, then slipped around to the Landing. Sure enough, there was "Tom", the prick. We grabbed him, slammed him into a utility closet and locked the door from the outside. We jumped on the next raft back to the mainland, innocent as apple pie, and headed for more trouble.

At that time they still had the mine-train ride. Tourists would sit in the open cars and marvel at geysers, bubbling hot springs, Indian attacks, precarious balancing rocks and such…..all triggered by pressure switches on the tracks. We crept up the berm behind the Carnation ice cream stand into the ride proper. We hid in one of the caves, and took turns hanging onto the back of the mountain lion there. When the train hit the switch on the track, the mountain lion shot out of the cave on a catapult, to growl at the tourists….complete with sopping, grinning twelve year old, hanging on for dear life.

A couple of turns each, and the Cavalry was on to us. There was chaos in Frontierland by now. Pissed off tourists, Cavalry everywhere. Back to the bushes, hide in the rushes of the nasty ‘river’….where no sensible adult would ever go, especially one dressed in Cavalry blues. We waited until dark, then “Bye, bye, Disneyland.”

It turns out that we moved away that summer, so I never got back in until years later. We were touring the US one summer on motorcycles…..Nortons, not Harleys. Still, we were burned black, and I had long enough hair that they thought I was a girl. (Long hair was banned, and only uniformed soldiers and sailors were allowed to dance at the Park concerts. This was the height of the Vietnam War.) Still, all of us got in, except Peter….our straightest buddy, later to become a doctor. His pants were torn, you see.

What to do? I repaired to the nearest men’s room, handed out my Levis to Frank, who got his hand stamped and went back out of the park. Peter put on my pants, and…….They still would not let him in! Apparently even OWNING a pair of jeans with a tear in the knee was politically uncool. They also would not let Frank back in.

By now the Cavalry had figured out that there was a biker in the park with no pants, and a massive search ensued. Meanwhile, I was trapped in a stall on Main Street. No graffiti in Disneyland to entertain. At one point a little kid came and stood in front of my stall. Daddy hadn’t told him to go into ANY stall, so he stood there dancing from foot to foot for a while. "Psssst! Kid! Use the next stall! Go away!"

Meanwhile, the rest of the crew went to buy pants at the Pendleton outlet. Too late. The Cavalry were standing at the registers, waiting…..

The doors crashed open and I saw Cavalry boots stomp through the rest room. Luckily, they were too uptight to check the stalls. As soon as they left, I pulled on my Levi jacket upside down, with my legs through the arms. It buttoned almost to my crotch. I asked one of the dads washing his hands: “Does this look indecent?” He sprinted from the bathroom.

I waddled outside and sat on a bench next to Jane, and we opened up a big Park map. Just then a squad of Cavalry, accompanied by my dad friend, came crashing into the mens’ room. This time they kicked open the stalls….you could here the doors crashing against the walls, and little kids screaming.

By some Irish blarney miracle, Frank had talked his way in. He put my pants on underneath his, and allowed the Cavalry to pat him down and search his stuff. Moments after the Cavalry left the bathroom, we went in, shared a broken stall…..and emerged transformed.

Victory over The Oppressor! Walt Disney is my Osama. Thanks for setting me on the Right Path.....

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Eat Free or Dye.......

(The SalmoFan is a color wheel to help salmon farmers determine the level of dye in their fish feed).

Letter To The Attorney On Salmon Color Suit

Knoll Lowney
Smith and Lowney
Mr. Lowney:
My name is Bill Waknitz. I'm a Research Fisheries Biologist with National Marine Fisheries Service. I work primarily with issues relating to ESA and salmon. I have some questions about your recent lawsuit
against local supermarket chains. I often receive calls after articles on salmon farming are in the news, and I'd like to have the answers on hand. I am also providing you with some information to correct a few misconceptions in your press release.

Your suit states that the SalmoFan is used by salmon farmers to program the final color of their product. In fact, the SalmoFan can be used only to grade the product after harvest. Given the multitude of factors involved in carotenoid deposition in salmon (species, size, water temperature, carotenoid level in the diet, amount of diet fed per day to name just a few,), it is impossible to pre-select final color to a particular shade on the SalmoFan. In fact, the SalmoFan carries no instructions for doing this. It turns out that grading color in farmed salmon is very much like the process used in grading color in wild Alaska
salmon. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute offers an "Alaska Salmon Buyer's Technical Kit", available from their web site. The kit includes color swatches for grading wild Alaska salmon. These color swatches are very similar to the color swatches on the SalmoFan. Therefore, the technology used by salmon farmers to grade their product after harvest is hardly new or unique.

Also, the flesh of farmed salmon would not be gray without carotenoid added to the diet. It would range from a color similar to farmed rainbow trout to a color similar to pink or chum salmon.

Speaking of farmed rainbow trout, are you going to include them in your lawsuit? Some of the rainbow trout sold locally is fed diets containing the same carotenoid additive, canthaxanthin, found in salmon diets. I've had several calls on this already this morning.

Another caller asked me about the canthaxanthin routinely added to chicken feed to color their flesh and eggs. Since poultry diets are regulated by the same FDA rules as diets used in salmon farming, are you going to include chicken in you lawsuit? My caller said he looked at packages of chicken and cartons of eggs this morning, and none carried a label stating "color added". This caller also asked about smoked salmon, to which color is often added at the processing plant. I can recall buying some Alaska smoked salmon that was almost fluorescent in color. Will painted-on color in Alaska salmon products be part of your lawsuit? What about such products as imitation crab legs, which has Red Dye # ?? painted on during its journey down the conveyor belt.

I noticed that your web site stated that the USDA found that farmed Atlantic salmon had more fat than wild pink and chum salmon. What you didn't mention is that this same USDA report found that farmed Atlantic salmon had less fat than wild chinook and coho salmon. I should think you might want to correct this misconception before the court date. NMFS has recently published two reviews of salmon farming in the Pacific Northwest which examine many of the concerns expressed on your web site. They can be found on the list of pertinent web sites listed below. Also included below is a calculation I did last fall for Dr. Volpe concerning the amount of farmed salmon one must eat to ingest the same amount of anthaxanthin found to cause eye problems, which would be about 24 lbs per days for at least several weeks As you can see, it would be virtually impossible for a human to eat this much.

If I can provide you with more information, please contact me.

F. William Waknitz
Research Fisheries Biologist
National Marine Fisheries Service
P. O. Box 130
Manchester, WA 98353
206) 842-5435 ex 8322

Dear Dr. Bill:

Happy Holidays....

I am a chef in California, recently fighting a battle over fresh farm fish being marketed as fresh wild Puget Sound fish. In December! It turns out there are no labeling or marketing laws forbidding this practice. Oh, well!!

From a strictly empirical analysis, it seems to me that farm fish are much more fatty than the wild fish we have available to us. In fact, one of the prized aspects of the wild Monterey king salmon was a somewhat dry, dark red flesh. The frozen filets from Oregon, Washington and Alaska that we are able to buy this time of year actually require special handling because of the lack of fat. We gently poach servings in 120 degree fat...either olive oil or duck fat to preserve tenderness and moisture.

I have no particular axe to grind one way or the concerns are technical. Could you refer me to the USDA study, or other studies you site in your letter to the lawyers in the coloration lawsuit?

And, by the the hands on end of the food chain, we chefs are very concerned about coloration additives in all products......eggs, smoked salmon, surimi, farm fish.......I would support labeling for those products. I mean, why not? Our business balances on subtleties more delicate than dye, and we need all the help we can get.

There are crazy modern restaurants that use all manner of additives, mostly natural (squid ink-dyed yucca root with sea cucumber at Mugaritz in Spain comes to mind). The additives are on the menu, though. I just want to know, so I can decide for myself.

Please don't buy commercial flourescent smoked salmon. I would be happy to send you some of our wild, cold-smoked fish to help wean you away....


Michael Jones
A Moveable Feast
Carmel Valley

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bad news......GWB is the Grinch.

Friend Nigel calls.......

Nigel has.......''intelligence'' experience......

Nigel is a leftie.....and passionate about most things in life. He is still looking for the pill that will turn off that passion.......Poor bastard.

He is in the web-design biz, and his wife is a graphic designer. His passions and her practicalities have brought some strains to the relationship....but, ultimately, Nigel is the consummate technician. He drives an Alfa Romeo....need I say more? His job in Vietnam was to make sure that the head of the KGB's car wouldn't start first-time every morning.......''Click.........'' I asked him how that was possible. His reply: ''They were paying security $50 a year and political platitudes.....I was paying $50 a minute.....and babes!"

Every time Nigel left town, his computers would crash. His wife was first annoyed, then began to think it was a relationship a time when Nigel could ill afford relationship issues. As a technical purist, he was seriously irritated. Turns out that the problem was the big tape connector to their hard drives was a little loose. Could happen....they lived outside Pasadena, in a quaky type area. After the second time, when Nigel had screwed down the inputs like you have to on an Alfa......he realized that he was getting swept by THEM. Guys were coming in when he was out of town, unplugging his hard-drives, sweeping his drives....and (being dumbshit GM guys), not rigorously screwing down the connections when they left. This is three years ago.

Nigel is a passionate guy, but not a criminal or a rebel. He is, in fact, a patriot. In a purer world, he would be a Republican.....advocate of free enterprise, a fan of market forces, huge fan of technology, etc.

So, today.....he gave me the inside update on The InEbriate-in-Chief's Extra-Legal spy policy: Our Feckless Leader is not just reading the mail of a few hundred Arab suspects who have contacted other suspicious Arab suspects........the NSA is sweeping EVERYTHING, looking for keywords.....all 280 million of us...all phone calls, all emails, everything. That new Morrocan restaurant is the BOMB! Start a file, Jim!......

Nigel's suggestion......use every keyword you can think of in every communication. Overwhelm the system.

For example...his comment on my ''Flambée'' post: C-4, explosives, Vietnam.......

So.......Freedom, ACLU, Black Panthers, Chechnya, terrorism, IRA, Democrats, SDS, gelignite, electrical banana,....

Hi, guys!!!!

Salmon Clause

I was gonna have a nice day.........

Kim England was having her Christmas Party for her staff....we could do whatever we wanted, and she wouldn't care.....she would actually LIKE it. We could flex our stuff, and people would appreciate it. What a concept.

First step: the salmon. Our salmon guy was not delivering on Wednesday. The meat guys (Sierra Meat, Marina) had an offer for Puget Sound Wild Salmon........$6.50 per pound, fileted. Awright. We pay $4.5o normally....but after 26 parties in 21 days...why not?

Their drivers are immigrants, and so illegal that they haven't yet figured out how to use cell phones. This is not third is fourth or fifth world. (The last time I couldn't figure out my cell phone esoterica, I stopped a vato and he hooked me up). I finally find the guy and load up my meat and fish. I fail to register that the fish comes in a plain waxed box, covered in crushed ice.

When I got to the kitchen and unloaded, the box collapsed, and dumped fish juice all in the Jag. Grrrrrr. Then I noticed that the fish was FRESH!!!! In December. Gotta be Farm Fish. I called Sierra. The sales lady reassured me that all was good. Puget Sound, wild, fresh, legal. I called my regular fish guys: they said '' Fish and Game.'' I called Sierra back, asked for the owner. He claimed ignorance, and bumped me to the buyer, Bob Furter. (Really, Bob Furter is the meat company buyer.....not his brother Frank). Bob reassured me again.

I called Fish and Game. They had no clue about anything beyond California. So, I called Washington. Six numbers later, I got the Salmon Guy. Nope, no fresh salmon in Washington. You can't even POACH it....there are no fish. Once and a while you get an Indian with a lost steelhead. I had 3.5 pound fileted sides, pale pink, each side exactly the same size as the others. Not steelhead. FARM FISH!!! The devil!!!!

I called Furter back. He swore up and down it was legal, Puget Sound, wild fish. I demanded to know his source, and mentioned Fish and Game. He gave up Royal Seafood in Monterey......Gino. Gino was a standup guy and would call me. Gino did call. He also swore up and down: legal, Puget Sound, wild, fresh. I mentioned that there are no legal, open seasons in North America. He said I was wrong. I mentioned Fish and Game. He hung tough. I mentioned the Department of Agriculture, our Congressman, the local sheriff, the city police. He finally gave up his source, Ifama Seafood in San Jose. ''Fuck you, I have an invoice that says 'Wild Salmon'. Fuck you and the Fish and Game.''

I called local Fish and Game and got enforcement. I told my story. The guy asked me to describe the fish: ''Pale pink, uniform side, no labels, fin erosion?'' Yup. He said he had no real jurisdiciton....out of state fish. I said, ''I know, but this guy is a motherfucker, and could you just roll up with your lights and badge and fuck with him?" The F&G guy said, "Yeah, why not? He is an obvious asshole. Everyone knows there is no legal, fresh, wild salmon in December." Your tax dollars at work!

I called Ifama, and got the owner, Kevin.... at lunch. He was reluctant to diss his big customer at first. When I mentioned that Gino had bumped the blame to him.......he said, ''Fuck him for being a lying cocksucker.....'' It turns out that Kevin works regularly with Fish and Game enforcement keeping things kosher.

I continued calling: Rep. Sam Farr; the County Ag Commissioner; USDA; Department of Consumer Affairs; Federal Trade Commission; Monterey County Sheriff Fraud Squad; Monterey City cops; Monterey City business license; local TV, local newspaper, local radio. No one had any jurisdiction or interest in pursuing a guy selling an utterly fraudulent product on a masssive scale.

Not just an utterly fraudulent product. Farm fish is the devil. I am adding the Salmon Nation link to our blog......check it out.

Let me summarize:

1)Crowding: Fish are packed in cages at 100 times the natural density. The resultant stress affects the quality of the meat of the fish, and severely suppresses the natural immune system. Constant banging and bitining of close kept carnivores leads to open wounds that become infected.

2) Poop. The cages rest in quiet bays. The salmon excreta from a typical farm is equal to the untreated sewage of a city of 7500 souls. The oxygen is stripped from the water; toxic algae blooms are common; e coli, salmonella, etc contaminate local ecosystems and other fisheries.

3) Toxins. Salmon are fed fish meal and oil, considered by the European Union to be the most heavily contaminated feed materials. Farm fish have ten times the PCB, dioxin and mercury content of wild fish.

4) Disease. In 1997, before the industry took off, in British Columbia alone farmers used 6.4 metric tonnes of antibiotics. These are water-distributed, and wind up in smaller concentrations in other fisheries, crabs, oysters, etc. This increases the anti-biotic resistant bacteria in all species, and in humans. Pesticides are used to kill rampant infestations of sea lice, to little avail. Sea lice infestations escape to the wild fish. In Ireland, the wild trout have been wiped out in half the west coast rivers by sea lice from salmon farms. Infectious salmon anemia (ISA) is another beauty that escapes from farms into the wild....kind of a Salmon AIDS. In nature, sick fish are eaten by predators. In farms they are kept alive by antibiotics and chemicals. Increasingly virulent strains of disease and parasites are amplified in farms, and transferred to the wild.

5) Dye. Wild fish eat krill, which is rich in natural coloring. Farm fish eat other fish, no coloring. Their natural coloring is a disgusting blue-gray. Dye is added to their feed.....enabling us to track illegal cocksuckers like Gino at Royal Seafood in the lab with the dye markers.

6) Invaders. Salmon Farmers like east coast salmon....Atlantic Salmon. They fatten faster. Unfortunately, the fish escape. Now we have a significant portion of farm bred fish competing with their wild cousins. In the East, there are virtually no wild fish left. 99% of the ''wild'' catch is domestic raised stock. Kind of like going to Montana to shoot a wolf.....and finding poodles.

7) Killings. Salmon Farmers shoot mass quantities of sea lions. Come to think of it....fuck the sea lions.

8) Less food. Salmon farms are a rich-country conceit. Salmon require 3 pounds of fish for every pound they produce. The fish the farm salmon eat are lower on the food chain, and lower on the economic chain: mullet and trash fish, diseased fish, cannery by-product. Almost all come from third and fourth world sources. The more farm salmon we consume, the more fish we are a factor of THREE. In a given ecosystem, 68% more fish need to be destroyed to support a farm fish.

Other scary shit: The natural wild salmon cycle is controlled by a million different things: weather, sea conditions, krill, fresh water sources......on and on. The population swings up and down based on these natural factors. The farm salmon population is affected only by commercial demand: the more demand, the more fish produced. The more trash fish swept out to support an artificially high harvest, the more toxins and excreta into the ecosystem, etc. The economic effect is hugely unstablilizing to the ecologic system.

Local economics: Because of dumbshit motherfuckers like Gino at Royal Seafood and innocent (?) dupes like Bob at Sierra Meat.....local fisherman specializing in wild fish are forced to compete against farm fish. The cost of diesel to go out and search for wild fish forces the local guy to catch a certain amount of fish just to break even. If Cocksucker Gino and Innocent (?) Dupe Bob are buying farm fish for $2-3 a pound, it trashes the value of our beautiful wild fish. If the value of the wild fish is trashed, so is the income of our local fisherman.......source of a large part of our historic and cultural history.

Ten years ago, I got pissed at this. Salmon fisherman were being paid $1.17 a pound for wild fish. I said ''Fuck it!'' and said I would pay $5 for wild fish. Everyone laughed at the the hippie from Carmel Valley.....while fish were plentiful. When fish got tight, I got first choice. Ted from PassionFish joined us. Before long, you finally saw a disconnect between farm and wild fish prices. In the old days, when fish were cheap, a typical restaurant portion might have been as much as a pound of least a half pound. We serve 5 oz, perfectly cooked. Therefore, I can afford to pay three times the price as the pound-a-serving-guy. Revere the food, take care of it, teach your customers to revere it as well. How hard is that?

But, if the suppliers who we trust to tell us the truth don't know wild from farmed (Right!!), how is the consumer to know? I had to spend four hours of a busy, hectic day to find the truth about my supplier.....and I am an informed, motivated professional with decades of experience on the battleground. And the cocksuckers almost got me! What is the consumer to do?

Call Sam Farr. This is bullshit. Sam is a standup guy, and the only man around that can cut through the shit. Call the office. Ask him to make it a crime to misrepresent the origin of food fish. How about an economic tax on farm fish to ameliorate the negative effects of farm fishing?

Alright. I saved the REALLY scary shit for those that are still with me. There is an industry called OOA....Open Ocean Aquaculture. Like miserable bitch DiFi, they seek to pretend to embrace coastal environmental concerns while pursuing an amazingly destructive long term plantery goal: Control of the oceans.

Three to 200 miles off the coast of our shores is a zone known as the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Open Ocean Aquaculture consists of floating or submerged net pens moored to the ocean bottoms. Key federal policy makers envision OOA as the future of aquaculture.

The policy as it currently is managed envisions deeding permanently parts of the EEZ to private companies. Fish farms are given permanent rights to the entire water column.....floor to surface. The ocean, like space, has always been considered part of the commons.....something to be shared by all mankind. This is the thin edge of the wedge...dividing up the ocean for commercial the expense of the commons.

Check out the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy:

'Tis the Season.....

Oh, Jesu......Joy of man's desiring.....Happy Birthday, Dude.

Meanwhile, back on the Planet: I spend at least three hours a day driving around buying stuff. AM radio rules, with brief commercial breaks for NPR, etc. This season it seems the War is in the air. The Inebriate-in-Chief can read our mail and listen to our phone calls, because we are at War.

Really? Did Congress declare War? Did I miss something? Who did we declare War on? Iraq? How do you declare War on an Idea? I think Japan was the last outfit we went to actual war with.......a while back. Meanwhile, there have been lots of Wars: the War on Poverty (anyone remember that one?), War on Drugs, and now, the War on Terror. Somehow now I should give up the personal freedom my ancestors have struggled for millenia to achieve because four and half years ago some crazy Arabs killed .001% of our population. Hmmm.

That is not the only War....Apparently, the Left.....or those damn Jews....or the ACLU.....have declared War on Christmas......

And Christmas.....there is something to go to war over.

I have already gone off about this......''Happy Holidays'' is not an anti-Christian insult!

In December alone we Christians have: Saint Nick (Dec 6), big in Holland; the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec 8), holy day of obligation; Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec 12), big in Mexico; St. Stephen, first martyr (Dec 26) and Boxing Day, big in Canada and England; Feast of the Holy Innocents...the babies killed by Herod...on Dec 28. And do we ignore St. Francis Xavier (Dec 3), Thomas á Becket (Dec 29), and St. Ambrose (Dec 7)..... HUGE in Milan...I have checked out his dried out corpse!! Nice shoes!!.....?? And then Jan 1, Mary Mother of God (holy day of obligation); Jan 2, Ephiphany; Jan 6....Twelfth Night. That is a lot of damn holidays. Why not be happy about all of them? This is IGNORING the Jews.......

Christmas a few years back did it for me. I was in Macy's on Christmas good knife broke and I had to fly to Philly and cut things, so I needed a Henckel.......On my way out of the store I ran into Milton Bonilla, one of my soccer kids. He was about 14, and he was desparate. He needed to find a present for his mom. He had twenty bucks, and he was in Macy's on Christmas Eve.

The family is from El immigrants from the old bad days: War on Communism, probably. They live in a converted motel by the DMV. Genius soccer players. Heroes all. Dad works three jobs, Mom works two. Milton had just been assaulted by six weeks of TV propaganda: buy, buy, buy! ''Your worth and your love can only be demonstrated by the size and quality of the gift you buy!'' He had bought into the whole deal....hook, line and sinker. And now he was in Macy's with twenty bucks, and twenty minutes.......What was he going to buy? A coffee cup?

He was completely distraught. The lesson of his utter personal worthlessness before the American Christmas juggernaught sunk in like a driven nail. I watched every bit of self esteem we had all worked on for years on the soccer pitch drain out of the kid right there on the floor at Macy's. Fuck. I gave him all my cash, and sent him upstairs to buy a shitty sweater.

Who needs this? If there is a War on Christmas, where do I sign up?

Merry Christmas from the Family.....

Robert Earl Keene has said it all:

Ma got got drunk and Dad got drunk
at our Christmas Party.
We were drinking champagne punch and homemade eggnog.....

Little Sister brought her new boyfriend
He was a Mexican......
We didn't know what to think of him
Til he sang ''Feliz Navidad''........Feliz Navidad

Brother Kim brought his kids with him
The three from his first wife Lynne
And the two identical twins from his second wife Mary Nell
Of course he brought his new wife Kay
Who talks all about AA!
Chain smoking while the stereo plays:
''Noel Noel''.......the first noel

Carve the turkey, turn the ball game on
Mix Margaritas when the eggnog's gone
Send somebody to the Cachagua Store
We need some icing and extension cords
A can of bean dip and some DietRite
A box of Tampons and some Marlboro Lights
Halleluiah, everybody say ''Cheese''!
Merry Christmas from The Family!

Fran and Rita drove from Harlingen
I can't remember how I'm kin to them
But when they tried to plug their motorhome in
They blew our Christmas lights.
Cousin David knew just what went wrong
So we all waited out on our front lawn
He threw a breaker and the lights came on
And we sang ''Silent Night''.....oh, Silent Night...
Oh..Holy Night....

Carve the turkey, turn the ballgame on.
Make Bloody Marys.....cuz we all want one
Send somebody to the Cachagua Sto....
We need some celery and a can of fake snow
A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprite,
A box of Tampons and a pack of Salem Lights.....
Halleluiah everybody say ''Cheese''!
Merry Christmas from The Family!
Feliz Navidad.......

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dear Arnold...

Sorry, guy. You are done. There was no pressing reason to kill Tookie. You could have waited....delayed. Considered. Thought. Examined. Been courageous. Even partly as courageous as the man you killed. He knew that if he copped to something he didn't do, he would be spared. You used his own claim of innocence against him for your own political gain. What a piece of shit you are....

The world is not better now that he is gone. It is even possible that you have killed an innocent man.

I, and my family, and our friends will not rest until you are driven from office in shame and humiliation. The way you are going, it won't take much.

As a fellow Catholic, I must assume you have been asleep the past 50 years at Mass when the priest talks about redemption and forgiveness......Ever say the Lord's prayer? Recently? Do you understand the words? "As we forgive those who have trespassed against us......." The whole point of the Eucharist was the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. What kind of sins do you think He was talking about forgiving? Grabbing Amanda's tits?

Well, I guess you know better. The next line in the prayer is: "Deliver us from Evil." Amen, brother, Amen.

May you suffer the same intolerant, superficially judgemental and politically expedient justice you have meted out to a fellow human being. And may that same superficially expedient justice follow your wife and family as well.....say for a couple of generations. What the hell......

You are a grotesque embarrassment to every Californian, everywhere in the world. It is difficult to travel anymore and admit to our home address. It was barely tolerable when you were just a caricature buffoon. Now that you have turned lethal, the fun is over.

Rot in Hell. Oh, and Merry Christmas.

By the way, I forgive you. I just despise you.

Michael Jones

Monday, December 12, 2005

DiFI is a slimy maggot...

Dear Senator Feinstein:

Re: Your Bill S-1874 Alien Torts

I am a Democratic precinct chairman. I am utterly appalled at your bill S-1874. This is something worthy of the worst, most cynical Republican troll....not my Democratic Senator.


Your bill would absolve any American company of any wrong committed anywhere in the world, unless the afflicted could prove that it was intentional.

Do you think that Union Carbide intentionally killed 30,000 people in India? Of course not. Do you believe that those people are owed no recourse under American law? Why do we have insurance? Why do we have and promote competent managers?

I am a business owner. I am insured against the worst, but I bend over backwards to make sure that nothing I do
hurts any of my clients. Imagine this: I actually try to PLEASE my clients. If I fail in this, I expect to lose business. If I hurt or kill them, I expect to be sued...and possibly driven out of business.

We Democrats have been pilloried for being weak on security and defense, too touchy feely about social issues, too secular in the new hyper religious world. Fine. In the face of the most incompetent and corrupt Administration since Warren Harding, who cares? It never occurred to me that my Democratic Senator would acutally be supporting a bill more corrupt, more self serving, and more despicable than anything even these incompetent, corrupt political Neanderthals could devise.

I am appalled....and ashamed that you are half of my representation in the Senate. I cannot wait for the Central Committee meeting on Wednesday.

SHAME ON YOU!! You need to not only repudiate this bill, but apologize to all for even thinking of trying to pull something like this.

Michael Jones

Carmel Valley

I called the office. Transferred four times. The first three aides expressed no knowledge of a bill DiFi had INTRODUCED! I finally got the right aide. He was totally blasé. He said that DiFi was in negotiations with human rights groups to reword the bill......that nothing would be done until both sides had input into the bill.

I pointed out that the bill specifically torpedos any suit that cannot prove that a government or a company did not deliberately commit a tort. ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF BHOPAL!!! It is clear Union Carbide did not deliberately kill 30,000 Indians. But can they not be sued for negligence? Isn't that why we have insurance? And competent managers?

Personally, I don't give a damn about the human rights aspects of the bill. I don't really care about some third world guy tortured by his government for voting the wrong way......really. You know, in the course of things....fuck 'em. What scares me is the way she used the ''human rights,'' ''anti-torture'' lead in to a bill that absolves her corporate clients of eveything in the world.

Extending total immunity for everything that can possibly be done to anyone in the world by any American company.....HOLY SHIT!! Butter would not melt in this rotten old hag's mouth.

I asked if Rick Santorum is a co-sponsor. After all he is a psychotic Republican fuck.

Chevron and ExxonMobil are major DiFi contributors. Perfect.

Who the fuck are these people? Are we actually supposed to support and vote for them? Or throw cream pies and rotten tomatoes? Are the Republicans better? How could they be worse?

Here is the full text of this shit:

Call the hag.....(202) 224-3841. Ask to talk about HER OWN BILL S-1874.........She needs to not only repudiate the bill, but she needs to, grovel......for introducing it to begin with.

In further news, Hillary Clinton has introduced a bill, co-sponsored by a Republican, to ban flag burning. Can you spell ''pandering''? This is worse than John Kerry going goose hunting.

Can anyone remember the last case of flag burning, this side of Gaza or Teheran? Are we being swept by flag burning incidents? I guess I missed it on the news.....too many kidnappings of white girls....... In a further absurdity, the bill only bans flag burning on federal property, since the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that flag burning is free speech, and banning it is unconstitutional.

So, if you had holiday plans to go down to the post office, mail some packages, and burn a flag......forget it. Hillary is protecting you from yourself. And protecting The Republic.

Wow. Lieberman as SecDef; DiFi pimping for Chevron in the name of torture victims; Hillary pandering to Archie Bunker.......Al Gore is looking all bright and shiny.....

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Masked Man, Part II

Brendan's lightning run to the Great Socialist State of Cah-lee-fornia (Why does everyone make fun of Arnold's pronunciation of California. I am no fan.....Amanda was a gropee on ''Twins''....'Arnold, you are a sex pig!'.......but all the Latinos that live here (30%?), and everyone in the Latinate world (Spain, France, Italy, Mexico, all of South America, etc. pronounce it Arnie's way. I mean, the word itself is Latinate, for was not thought up by the marketing department at Pfizer....).

Anyway, in the course of his seven days here this was his schedule: prep and perform four dinners for us at Lizardo's, all with new appetizers and entrées; Monday night dinner at The Store with a new entrée, sauce and presentation; pull a well with Duncan in the pouring rain......and party like a mad weasel every night.

The change in his work ethic wrought by six weeks at Mugaritz is amazing. People accuse me of being a demanding, high pressure kind of boss. Forget it. Brendan has gone beyond: he made us carry everything in from the street at the Hatfields'.....for fear they would see the recently washed and waxed (but not clean enough) van. And, the top of the ice chest was a little dirty....banished to the garage. Fuck...

Brendan came from a place with 31 20 year old chefs....I am by myself, for chrissakes, and I am 56.

He was also the timing Nazi. Timing on dishes was neurotic......beating me like a dog: "Dad, check the fish.....Dad, check the filet.....Dad, check the venison...." Shopping was neurotic as well. Combing Whole Foods for heirloom soy sauces and weird shit....six different Asian places for dried bonito.

The biggest changes were visual and gustatory. Every cut of every piece of meat or fish or fruit, and every vegetable, was carefully thought out. It reminded me of a jeweller sweating over breaking down a big diamond. Presentation is king in Spain-land.....not too much stuff on the plate.....nice colors....everything arranged ever so......

And the flavors.....very simple and very subtle. The revelation sauce for Brendan was a dish from Akelaré in San Sebastian (the only course he liked out of nine, of course). It was over monkfish.....tomatoes roasted over charcoal, and left to drain in a colander. The sauce was collected.....and that was it. Another was a Mugaritz sauce: caldo del dia with a little dried bonito. The caldo and bonito are not heated, just warmed for a few minutes and the bonito strained out. Add excellent soy sauce. That is it. Remembering back to my early days of reducing stocks for demi-glace, rubbing leeks through chinois, sweating and praying over egg-bound dishes with massive flavors.....Old School, Pops. And check the venison......

I was afraid our locals wouldn't get it....that the flavors would be too subtle, portions too small. The Cachagua ethic is ''Pile it on!" No.....people freaked. It was culinary ju-jitsu: the right flavor in the right spot, and bam! Down goes the bully.... Quality is quality, Cachagua or Barcelona.

As partial pay-back for his efforts, we went to dinner at ''Bouchée'' in Carmel....our local source for high-tech, small-plate foods. We brought an '81 Mouton Rothschild along for giggles.

As always, owner David Fink was beyond gracious. Our Mouton was comatose......we kept waiting and praying for it to come around....but no. We decided it was the Terry Schiavo of wines: locked in a persistent vegetative state. David treated us to a raft of wine pairings as we mourned the Mouton.

Still, the food was just OK.....nothing special, despite two guys from Jean Georges in the back. The deconstructed gazpacho was cucumber and tomato brunoise....that's it. Chopped cukes and tomato scattered under overcooked tasteless prawns with the asses torn off!! Aaaaack! Brendan had spaghetti-o's with a nice broth and baby herbs. He had a pig snout fritter, nicely done....but still: it was pig snout, truffles or no. I had skate full o'bones and tortellini as comatose as the Mouton. Jeez. The chocolate beignet was the bomb, though.

The kid flew out the next day for New York. See yez. Still trying to find culinary recompense for him, I ordered up a dinner for him and a friend at wd50. His friend Sam Mason is the pastry chef, and another Mugaritz survivor, Francis, is a line chef. Success at last! The best meal of his life....worth flying to NY, eating, and flying back. The normally reticent Brendan was effusive......even a week later. So, there!

So.....the difference between the Spanish and everyone else is, They have an entirely new way of looking at food.....and it can rub off in a short six weeks. to check this out, short of flying to Spain or New York. The hot new food books among the best Spanish chefs...and the kids in their kitchens doing the actual work....are the two newest books by Xabier Gutiérrez.

Xaby is Juan Maria Arzak's food lab rat.... the concept guy. Like Wylie duFresne at wd50, he pulls in ideas from everywhere. The food tastes, it moves, it smells (there is one dish that is just aroma!), has colors and textures that are beyond the beyond. For a real foodie, the best Christmas book ever.

The two titles are 'El Bosque Culinario' and 'Asfalto Culinario'. They are not recipe books. Instead, Xaby walks you through his thought processes and his book is about natural inspiration, the other industrial/urban. The result is Arzak's unique mix of high technique and beautifully inspirational ingredients. Oh.....they are in Spanish, but it doesn't matter. I would think even a non-cooking art head would appreciate the trip. Even a non-Spanish speaking art head.

Available from de re coQuinaria ( along with every other hot new Basque food book. Shipping is about 5 days. Amazon may have some lame translation.

Political sarcasm returns tomorrow: DiFi sponsors a bill exempting ExxonMobil from foreign tort claims in industrial accidents (poor Peruvian miners and a mercury spill)!!!!! SB 1874: Foreign torts. On the anniversary of Bhopal! Aaaaaack! Do they have no sense of irony?

We need to get a bigger bag: Hillary (no flag burning bill....seriously!), Howard Dean (spinning fool), Lieberman (right with Britney in ''Support Your President, No Matter What", the next Rumsfeld, only incompetent, and possibly incontinent), Zell Miller (the Phil Spector of the Democratic Party), and Harry Reid (yay Mastercard and the bankruptcy bill!).....stuff these fuckers in it and float it out on the Japanese current......

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Who was that Masked Man? Part One.

Brendan hit town for a quicky. Surprise visit. One week, all expenses paid visit to: Land of Your Fore-fathers, Dear Old Carmel.

As resident conquering hero of the culinary world this ranked as a state occasion beyond the normal prodigal son-type visit. In fact, we were all laughing because it was not so much a prodigal son-type visit but a prodigal Dad-type thing: "Ohmigod! My parents just called and they are coming back two days early from the cruise! We have to clean this place up! Help!"

So, we threw out magazines. We scrubbed floors. We painted the scrubbed floors. We scrubbed the hood over the stove. We sort of scrubbed the stove....ahh, fuckit. We charged into the walk-in and tossed and scrubbed.

I mean, the kid had been working in a Michelin two-star joint with 31 chefs with virtually nothing to do but talk shit and scrub things. And he liked things just so before he even got there.....

Struggling to find some meaning in his month plus servitude at Mugaritz, I had financed a meal at Zuberoa, a Michelin two-star across the street from Brendan's dormitory in Oitzarzun. "Not bad, but kind of Old School....." was the verdict. (I ate there alone in January and actually shed a tear at the simple magnificance of the food). He ate at Akelaré in San Sebastian, also a two star. ''One good dish. Nice view.'' So, what to do as a welcome back in San Francisco? We all agreed that our family touchstone, the Zuni Café, would not really cut it.

The Zuni is a tradition. We have learned to not enter with credit cards. They have the best champagne by the glass, and far and away the best oysters on the planet. Tiny little bays scattered through Oregon, Washington, and BC are represented on their daily list. Billecart-Salmon is the pour. Also, great tiny potato fries. Bring $100 or so per person, spend it and get the fuck out. The other draw is The Golf Club Bum. Eschew the valet parkers. Just cruise up the block and look for The Golf Club Bum...a slender black man with a 3 wood. Roma-style, he organizes the available parking spots in the neighborhood. He will even stop traffic on Gough so that you can sneak the half-block the wrong way up the one-way to hit the parking lot 100m from Zuni. Not your average valet, not your average bum. And don't mention Tiger.

Still, the Zuni is definitely Old School. For dinner, lots of wood roasted stuff, fried stuff, and normal old salades. Meticulously prepared from exquisitely selected ingredients from a woman chef who has committed the last twenty years or so to the spot......but, still. It is comfort food. We needed un-comfortable to welcome our hero.

Hit or Myth:

To find a spot I flailed at Slanted Door (8:45 earliest rezzie); Quince (one month out, easy); Gary Danko (please dress elegantly...right. I was with a Banana Slug and a cage fighter from Humboldt.....) I called Ted from Passion Fish while having the Jag detailed for the airport run. He suggested Myth, but like me, he never gets out from behind the stove. He had heard something something. Amanda discovered that the Myth chef was an ex-Gary we bit. No mention of elegant attire. And a table!

Myth is a nice spot near the financial district. Big bar...good sign. Old warehouse building, nicely fixed up. Faux-cloth paper towels in the gents won over the Banana Slug. Mis-matched chefs in random tractor hats scared me. Even a Bosox fan!

It turned out to be Near-Past Post-Old School: salades pressed from ABS rounds. Everything cooked to a fair-thee-well. In fact, the menu looked a lot like Cachagua Store: Cream of Pumpkin Soup with Confit of Duck.....!! Pumpkin Risotto!! Someone was reading my lines.

Or not. The soup was watery. The Risotto was like a giant fandango...a cheesy, greasy mass fit mostly for a frozen alcoholic golfer just off the links, something to offset his martini olives. Like nachos. Nick the cagefighter and I had Beef Cheeks.....cooked to death, then pan fried to try to bring back some flavor with acrylomides, accompanied with basmati rice so clean and flavorless that I suspected ''The San Francisco Treat". Brendan's skate was also deeply denatured.

The good news was the waiter noticed our quiet dismay. He brought dishes HE liked. Which were also greasy, overcooked and pushed from ABS tubes......but it was nice to be noticed. The china was beautiful, and the presentations solid. Good waiter. Good doggy. And he brought us the best Malbec ever made. (California, too). Hey, what do you want for $350? For four. In San Francisco.

On the way out......a table of six female twenty to thirty-somethings. Googoo eyes at Brendan and Nick. "Uh, Dad......Maybe I'll stay in The City tonight, and catch a ride in the morning?"

Welcome home, Son.....

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Jesus and the Yule Blog

Joys of The Season:

Our new outgoing message on voice mail:

"I'll be happy to address your concerns after the next natural disaster re-calibrates your priorities....."

Is that too bitter?

The perilous life in the Valley of Perception:

"I can never get ahold of you......I am going with someone more attentive to my needs." Message received after spending three hours on the roof installing the new fan motor. Installing, un-installing, re-installing, un-installing, re-installing so that my legal, licensed, insured kitchen can continue to function. Oxygen is important, I have found. The person my angry Mom O'Bride is going with? Illegal, unlicensed, uninsured....working from home. Her Jenn-Air fan probably still works fine, as does the refrigerator in the garage. Thank you, Jesus for dodging that bullet.

"The goddam caterer is using the whole workspace. Where am I supposed to put my coat? You would think THEY (read: us) would have some consideration!" (At the olive harvest party.....guests were supposed to come help pick olives. Everyone else's coat was on the ground, fence or haybale. We were working in a greenhouse on potting benches.)

Pull off a successful dinner party for 27pp in a 150 year old space with one small functioning oven and no exhaust fan. Two curtain calls from the guests. Did I mention the $11 lunch for 60 earlier in the day? Accidentally mix the rental company's two table cloths with ours.....Ten phone calls on my day off. Apocalypse beckons.....We are, in fact, pieces of shit.

Museum fundraiser for 400. Donate all food.....staff paid only. New catering coordinator attempts to take the Director a selection of hors d'oeuvres in her sweaty palm on a two-ply bevnap. I grab her wrist....insist on a properly garnished platter (for a gay man who is director of an art you think he is visual?) and deliver the goods within a minute. Enemy for life........Not the Director, of course.


And....will someone please explain to me how Jesus wound up in the tannenbaum? Christmas tree vs. Holiday tree? As an unreconstructed Celt, I thought the whole greenery thing was a nod to our old pagan spirits alive in the various trees.....especially in mid-winter? And don't the the Christians remember the whole thing about moving Christmas from March back to compete or replace the old Roman/pagan Satyricon? (?? of those 'S' holidays. Samhain? Saturnalia? Santa Claus? Oh, Soi Invictus.....). I know these fundamentalist whackjobs believe that all history started 6,000 years ago.....but this is recent stuff....say only 1,600 years (Pope Julius I, 336). The closest evergreen to Nazareth, other than sagebrush, would have been the erstwhile Cedars of Lebanon. Damned hard to decorate with your Christmas ornaments, those cedars. And what does Jesus have to say about mistletoe? We have hidden the mistletoe Paige Burks gave us for The Store. In principle it is fine......but picture the demographics of the kissers and kissees in Cachagua. No offense, people........

The reminder that Cachagua is a hotbed of paganism takes only a glance out my window. Some years back, a local absentee billionaire ranch owner stiffed us on his Millenium party. Whatever. As a ''good'' Catholic, though, he put up a Jesus-in-the-manger scene in front of his gate. While I was out of town, some nameless former employees kidnapped some of the principles of the manger scene. On New Year's I got an IM that they had machine-gunned a couple of the ''Three Wise Guys'' in my back garden....(who says Carmel High does not give a complete cultural education?) The remains of one of the Wise Guys is still there, by the sorrel. Hey, some people have St. Francis, or Buddha in the garden. In Cachagua, I have a Wise Guy with .45 cal holes all in him.....The sorrel seems to like it.

And speaking of Tannebaumen....I received the ultimate Christmas card from my brother Steve decades don't bother anymore. It was a hand drawn pen-and-ink folded card, with a typical Christmas scene featuring a dog. Steve was studying dead languages at the time, so it was written in Mittelhochdeutch:

"Oh, Doberman. Oh, Doberman. Du hast meine Hand gefressen."

Turn page. New drawing, dog with Santa's hand in mouth.

'' Oh, Doberman. Oh, Doberman. Ich muss das Klavier vergessen.''

Heute muss ich diese blog vergessen.

And remember Jesus when you burn that Yule Log.

Heilege Nacht!

Nothing to do with food

A friend writes about Al Gore.....what do I think?

From my position high atop the pillar of civilization known as Cachagua.......

''I have been mulling over the Al thing since you wrote. First day off!

Starting with his Current TV, and moving on to that killer speech this fall. He is tearing up college campuses (campae? campii? campi? If plural for alumnus is alumni....)

I think he is far and away the best MAN (.....uh, PERSON...) for the job. Smart, forward thinking, concerned......with impeccable moral credentials (Does anyone remember Tipper's campaign against nasty rock and roll?). In a perfect world........

But.....can he get elected? Probably not. I just see the Republican Media Death Machine grinding him up with all the old bugaboos: invention of the Internet; Old Stone Face, '00 loser, etc.

Still.....who else is there? Kerry? Already destroyed. Biden? Proven plagiarist. Edwards? Too pretty? Hilary? Please...the Rush Limbaugh dream ticket. Barack Obama? The racism of the unwashed unleashed at last. Gore may be the fallback guy because Democrats are stubborn idealists at heart. Still, I like him as governor of California. He is now an SF resident.

Or, as Amanda points out......Al Gore would be the perfect Cheney figure for our side.....the puppetmaster for the Electable One, whoever that might turn out to be.

Still, I am already despairing. This is the era of The Big Lie. It doesn't matter what you do, just how you spin it. Look them right in the eye and lie, lie, lie. Republicans are all about it...perfecting their skills peddling imperfect products in the retail world all these years. (e.g. Bill Ford asking for Congressional help for automakers.....after generations of fighting average mileage increases tooth and nail? Puh-leeeze!)

Democrats are: a) right about everything....the economy, the war, the environment, the food supply, social security......everything; b) naive and weak in the public eye. Somehow truth and sincerity have come to equal naiveté and weakness. You believe your high school biology teacher when she tells you we are destroying the planet...but you don't want her negotiating with the Chinese about emission controls and tariffs.

How has this come about? Do you have to be a scumbag to be successful anymore?

Think about it: our most recent, most successful Democratic politician was Bill Clinton. A more genial scumbag never walked......well, except for Al Sharpton, perhaps.

I am already mentally preparing for the McCain Presidency. But, I will go to the Democratic Central Committee meeting tonight......

And I would vote for Al Gore. Maybe we could get him to beat up a hooker. Or Charles Hurwitz, speaking of hookers......


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Crépe Creeps

First off, let me say that I know that Crépe is supposed to have a circonflex over the first ''e'', not accent ay-goo, however the fuck you spell it. Lighten up.....Blogspot doesn't have the full international keyboard. I had a guy get in my face last week because the Monterey Institute people inserted an ''e'' in ''Poivrade'' (Poiverade) on a printed menu for a dinner. Jesus. What did it taste like, dude? How did the spelling affect that, prick?

Anyway, the whole flambée thing of the last post was for me like the whump whump whump of helicopter blades to the Vietnam flambonic stress disorder.

My very first hour of work in a real restaurant (L'Auberge du Cochon Rouge, Ithaca, 1971)......the French chef (Etienne Merle) had just run some lame fucker off the extensive property for presenting himself as an expert in 'flamBEAUX'. He actually ran him in screaming at him and chasing him up the long country driveway. Knives may have been involved. No, they were......

So, I started off leery of the whole flaming thing. I was relieved to be in the kitchen, far from the faux flames.

After a long and disgusting process at Auberge, I was finally able to extricate myself from the kitchen for the pleasures of the dining room. The chief skills involved there were serving everything from the aptly-named guéridon (war wagon). Almost everything was done in front of the guests: salads tossed tableside; ducks, trout and filets were boned and carved; side dishes served onto plates, sauces flamed, etc. And the desserts: Bananas Foster, Crepes Suzettes, Cherries Jubilee....the lot. When in doubt, douse it in Cognac and fire it up....... It was big in Upstate. Big in the 70's. (Though part of the reason we flamed everything was to cover the copious amounts of cognac and Grand Marnier we were guzzling like mad weazels).

In all fairness, Crépes Suzettes is a nice dish, when done right. Rub sugar cubes with lemon and orange. The rubbed sugar is then caramelized at the table, a little butter, flame with Cognac. Squeeze the fruit into the caramel. Stir with a half lemon stuck on a fork. Add the crépes, fold in quarters with your fork and spoon...flame with Grand Marnier. Serve.

Simple. Fragrant. Attentive. Nice. Maybe even romantic.

Anyway, Etienne was humanitarian enough to eventually secure me several jobs in The Big Apple. I finally stuck at The Colony, at Madison and 61st Streets. This was a Jackie Kennedy/Truman Capote-style place....lots of velvet, lots of history, lots of crystal. And lots of flames. Life was bright.

In August, however, New York empties like a sinking ship. Everyone leaves. Only tourists from New Jersey or worse ever darken anyone's door in August in Manhattan. (This was the summer of Watergate, and we spent lots of hours watching the Presidency come apart, while waiting for action..... Kind of like now....)

One night we had no reservations on the book. Zero. At Madison and 61st Street. In Manhattan. At four o'clock the phone rang. It was a couple from Atlanta. They had been in New York for their honeymoon, and were flying out on the family jet.....but they had not had a real New York dessert. Could they get an early table? Say, five?

Shit damn...why not? They arrived, and we seated them in the bar, to hide the empty dining room. We dropped the salad girl and the coffee guy at a table in the corner to further hide the emptiness.

I started on the ''Real New York Dessert''. I got strawberries, crépes, oranges, lemons, limes, piles of sugar cubes, a pillar of butter. Polish strawberry liqueur, cognac, Curaçao, Grand Marnier, Strega, Hexengeist.....151 Stroh's. I rubbed sugar, I caramelized.....Bang! Flames..cognac. Butter. Bang! Polska. I marinated the strawberries. I whipped the cream. I folded in Tuaca. I squeezed citrus. More flames.....Grand Marnier. I popped in the crépes. More flames...Hexengeist. I folded the strawberries into the cream. I pulled the crépes, unfolded them, plopped on the cream, folded it all up, put it on the plates.....and flamed it all again with 151.

As I approached the couple...with my best faux-French accent......"Madame, for the fuhst time ayny-way-yehre....Just for you......Crépes......excuse me, but what is your first name?''



Without a blink......"For the fuhst tam anywhay-yer.....Crépes Edna!''

Yeesh. The things we do.

Three weeks later I was fired for refusing to apologize to a Stock Exchange seat holder (who owned the next block) that I had thrown into the dumpster....a long story.

Two months later I was working in France....I got a call from my buddy still at The Colony: "Michael...what the fuck? I have this couple here from Atlanta. They just got married and they came here just for our famous Crépes Edna.......What the fuck did you do?"

Whump whump whump whump whump.......


I am not sure of the politics and legalities of publishing someone else's stuff in your own blog....but I couldn't pass this up. This is by Jon Weiner, a Nation editor. Found on the Huffington post.....

I can't decide if it is real or not.....You see: I have, with a perfectly straight face, explained to a multitude of people that there is no coffee because the historical wiring of the particular venue is not up to the 16 amp task of the modern percolator. Not because we hate night-time coffee drinkers....Oh, no. Perhaps the cruise dudes feel the same way about flaming crépe-ers.

Still....I have waited in line for two hours for the security check at a ball game. Guards searching for penknives and scissors and booze.....On BAT DAY, for chrissakes!! So anything is possible.

Irony may not be dead....but it is certainly in the iron lung.......

The annual Nation magazine Seminar Cruise sailed a couple of weeks ago from San Diego for seven days of panels, talks, and stops in Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. The 450 subscribers on the cruise were not just liberals and progressives, but also people with an activist bent, always ready to organize a protest.

I was one of the eight speakers, and our duties included hosting nightly group dinners. The first night, and at my table, when the crêpes flambée arrived, they were not flaming. They were just lying there.

As the host of the table, I complained to the waiter, who said, “we are not allowed to flambée the crêpes at the table any more.”

Why not? “Too dangerous,” he said – adding, “terrorism!”

I reported this to Robert Scheer at the next table, one of the featured speakers, whose syndicated column appears at He said, “they are afraid terrorists will attack the ship with flaming crêpes suzettes?”

But the waiter was firm: “It’s against the law.”

It seemed unlikely this prohibition would be part of the USA Patriot Act, but I checked with our resident expert on the food portions of the Act, another of the featured speakers, Calvin Trillin, The Nation’s “Deadline Poet” who writes often on food for The New Yorker. Trillin told me he was “a little surprised you haven’t heard about this” -- although he did concede that the prohibition on cruise ship crêpes flambée was “one of the lesser known provisions of the Patriot Act.”

Arianna Huffington, another featured speaker on the cruise, founder of the, explained that the provision was added to the Act because of false flambée threat stories published in the New York Times by Judith Miller.

My table, eight long-time readers of The Nation, decided to take action, and organize a legal challenge seeking to seeking to overturn the “forbidden flambée” provision of the Act. We asked another of the cruise speakers, Georgetown Law Professor David Cole, Legal Affairs editor of The Nation, to represent us – he’s an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has litigated other parts of the Patriot Act.

David asked what the constitutional basis of our challenge would be.

We turned again to Trillin. He suggested that serving crêpes which had not been flambéed “could be considered ‘cruel and unusual.’”

We announced our plan to all 450 people on The Nation cruise, after which one man came up to me and said, “if you’re serious about this class action suit, I’d like to join it.

“But I wasn’t sure whether you were kidding.”