Thursday, August 24, 2006

Salmon Story, Part Five

In the continuing battle to expose the asswipes like Gino Pannisi of Royal Seafoods who sell farmed salmon as wild salmon......our grumblings finally got the attention of KPIX TV 5 in San Francisco. They sent a film crew down, and aired a clip last night.

The good news is that we also found a lab in Santa Cruz that will test samples of locally purchased fish. They can determine genetically which creek the salmon was spawned in, from Chile to Alaska.

Stay tuned as our Little Old Lady Patrol sallies forth to get samples from your favorite high-end beaneries...... "That salmon was delicious. Can I get a little piece of raw salmon for my kitty?"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Miserable Failed Whores....

I know something about whores. I worked in one of the most famous restaurants in America....back in the day. The restaurant made its bones by being the place where you brought your kids to train them in fine restaurant etiquette.....and where you brought your mistress for lunch before or after your Afternoon Delight.

The place was called The Colony....Madison and 61st in New Yawk City. (There was a Colony Club around the corner on Park, with a branch in Florida....but that was not the same. The Colony Club was a chick joint). The Colony was the ultimate power joint. By the time I got to The Colony it was a Jacque Kennedy/Truman Capote type place. In fact, my first fifteen minutes of fame was serving Truman a plate of spaghetti (a secret off-menu dish for the cognoscenti) on camera on national TV. It was my first act as a waiter (I was a high level wine-steward, and there was a labor action). Truman was clearly terrified.....The tape ran on Johnny Carson, with Truman reliving his terror at my expense. Cirio Mascione...the famed owner of Le Cirque, Cirque 2000, etc was the maitre d'hotel. (He took the circus theme of his later widly successful restaurants from the striped canvas awnings of The Colony Bar. "Sabrina" with Audrey Hepburn was filmed in The Colony Bar.

My bar. It was the summer of the Watergate hearings, for what it is worth.

The Colony started in 1917.......It got going, as I having good food, and a relaxed sense of standards, for the time. The Vanderbilts and the Morgans and the Biddles and the Dukes could go there on Sundays with their children and be served a proper meal by the dedicated and discreet Italian staff. The men could come back at lunchtime with their girls.....and expect the same discretion. During Prohibition the back bar of The Colony Bar would, at the touch of a button, rise into the ceiling and be replaced by a coffee machine.

Anyway, The Colony was all about the working girls.....admittedly at a high level, but working girls nonetheless. There was even a famous dish: The Egyptian Eye. It was a slice from a loaf of house baked bread with a hole punched in the center. The bread was spread with butter and toasted on one side, then flipped and an egg was dropped into the hole. The Egyptian Eye was served with much aplomb by the captain from the gueridon. There was no charge. Working girls.....very glamorous working girls....could always come to The Colony and have an Egyptian Eye and a glass of champagne and not fear the economic consequences. Meanwhile, the Captains of Industry.....used to bringing their kids there on Sundays would hover about and perhaps make an acquaintence. No money was changed hands directly. If a Captain of Industry had lunch with a girl.....he ordered his calf's liver with bacon, and she her Egyptian Eye. She would rise just before the entrée was served and say she needed to go to the powder room. The gent would bow, and give her a hundred dollar bill. (I got a nice $20 for myself on the side, at a time when my rent was $28 a month on 4th Street, between A and B).

Our powder room was like the Harem of the Byzantine Emperor. There were good scents, good champagne, good spirits.....even good clothes: designer gowns, scarves, gloves, hats, etc to slip into.......The coat check girl (Mimi, a Swiss war bride.....the classiest, most hard-core woman I ever met.......) ran her queendom like Imelda Marcos ran the Phillipines. The working girl would come in, give Mimi the hunsky and go and pee. Mimi would steam her dress, fix her hair and makeup, give her a stiff glass of Dom Perignon....actually La Grande Dame was our preferred beverage, take a $20 cut, and send the girl back to the dining room. If the girl was a super-pro with a tiny little dog......this is 1971 now, not 2006........Mimi would order food for the dog (typically foie gras, La Grande Dame, and beignets soufflée (sauce sabayon) for the doggie and put the cost on the gent's bill. The girl would return to the dining room, finish lunch, and leave with the gent. The $80 was her tip.....the rest of the afternoon was up for grabs.

One of our working girls was a famous model with a split between her teeth. Her guy was a Revson.....head of the Revlon cosmetic empire. He was so infatuated with her that he stayed in New York with Lauren while his wife died slowly of cancer....lunch every day. Lauren was way beyond the Egyptian Eyes by that point.

Another of our girls was a redhead....kind of fleshy, but with perfect porcelain skin. She had a suite at the Pierre on the next block, and a house on Long Island with a masonry channel that brought the tides into the house to re-fill the pools and hot-tubs.

There were a legion of others. I am a NYC Local 7 Union bartender. Everyday I slaved away at my bar.......I even pushed the button on occasion and let the booze float up to the ceiling when I got over the bullshit and served coffee. The early seventies were the beginning of the time when it became OK to be gay. The old-school Jewish guys who ran the garment and fashion industry were being replaced by young, dynamic, creative gay guys who could do in a minute what the alte-cockers could put together in a year. My bar would fill everyday with gorgeous models: handbags, hands, foot, lingerie, runway......who would come and order Egyptian Eyes, Sidecars, Pink Squirrels and pop poppers under my nose as a tip while their ''dates'' groped each other in the booths of The Colony Bar.

The girls that failed fell hard. No more Colony. They would still come in and eat their Egpytian Eyes and I would buy them champagne, but there were no takers. I was too young to comprehend what had caused their fall. A little cellulite.....a tooth problem that caused an unfortunate bad breath......a problem with the booze, or heroin (this was before cocaine....) indiscretion with a rival. Bad clothes or bad shoes.

Or Sugar Face, as the gay guys called it: a little pudge, a fading of character.......

It was pitiful to watch the fall. The girls would come in, and no one would talk to them. After a while, it was clear that I was no longer cleared to be nice to them.....they had failed some test. Some of them, like the Redhead Tide Queen, would strike out on their own, and bring in new girls, and pretend that it was all fine. But the guys they brought had bad suits and bad teeth and bad shoes.....and failed to recognize Mimi and play by the rules. The girls wound up in the French Ghetto, and I would see them at Tout Va Bien after midnite.....and they would turn away, embarrassed.

This brings me to Joe Lieberman.

Joe is the Redheaded Whore of Connnecticut. He had the villa where the tide came in and replenished the hot-tubs. Joe Lieberman has eaten more Egyptian Eyes than anyone in Government this side of Rusty Cunningham and Tom DeLay. He fucked up, though. The cellulite set it, and the halitosis. He became the sloppy second backup whore to the pharmeceutical industry and the insurance industry, and actually kissed George Bush on national TV. He was so focussed on his cash handout in Mimi's powder room that he failed to notice that he was pimping away the lives and profit of a generation in a stupid, greedy, fucked up war.

If he was a working girl in New York in 1971, Mimi would have beat his saggy ass with a sap and dumped him in the alley by the dumpster. We all would have pissed on him as he struggled to pull the lettuce leaves off pathetic balding dome.

Joe got dumped by his regular stick of faithful....who are not the brightest to begin with.....and thinks he is going to set up on his own.

Yeah, Joe......what a class act. But, if your society had standards, you would do what the redheaded whore did.

On the last day before the lease ran out on her suite at The Pierre, she rang down to The Colony for a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of La Grande Dame. I ran it up to her......I even opened the matchbook, folded it back, tore of the first match and tucked it behind the first row, ready for action. The cigarette pack was opened, with the first butt pulled out.....the whole thing propped against the matchbook.

I poured her a fat glass, and bowed out. She gave me a sweet smile and a hunsky.

They found her the next morning....Marilyn style, dead of barbiturates.

Well......she was getting kind of pudgy.

Sugar face, as the gay guys say. When it is over, it is over.

I came back for my champagne bucket and glasses the next morning and saw her there with the detectives, laying in the bed in her suite.....

She looked beautiful.

Give it up, Joe.

Sugar face.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Tale of Two Weddings....

The weekend before last will go down in infamy. On the way to our Saturday wedding, the external thermometer read 112 degrees at The Bucket in Carmel Valley Village. Normally, temperatures at The Store in Cachagua are a full 10-15 degrees hotter.

How hot was it? During the reception, the sun's rays hit the wineglasses laid out on the bar and were focussed by the glass, like a future serial killer frying ants with a magnifying glass. In this day and age of 60/40 Visa tablecloths, the stuff just melted.......real linen would have probably caught fire and really heated things up.

Anyway, the reception went fine, and all was well. Well, almost everything went fine. The house up on top of Tierra Grande was a loaner from Doris Day's son's ex-wife to the mother of the bride. Got that? Doris is a famous animal lover (her hotel in Carmel has a weekly Doggie Tea party) and the son was a famous character in the sixties: a sometime Beach Boy and even a target for Charles Manson of all people. A nice guy, now passed on to the next world. The wife is a super-paranoid fruitcake who, despite being a recluse, rents out her house for parties. Go figure.

The ex-wife is also embroiled in litigation with the estate and all the other ex-wives and is short of cash to the point that the house is unfurnished and has no working oven. Plus, the house came with biting dogs that even Doris would have put to sleep. At the second chomp, Brendan picked up one of the little assholes, bit it back and tossed it down the cliff.

Post reception, the bride's dad was walking the family dog at their nearby house when a rental car roared into his driveway, almost flattening him. The dad is a real ex-CIA guy, not your pretend Porter Goss type guy. The driver of the car was full of attitude and demanded to know where he was: "Is this 22875 Tierra Grande, or not?" Pops ejected the guy just before the family dog did some munching of his own.

The frantic, pissed off driver then roared up the hill to the wedding reception house, where he encountered our Alex (a winery worker at Heller and brother of the bride), the groom (a winery worker at Quady Vineyards) and the groom's brother, all deep in the Quady Orange Muscat. Freako Woman was still roaming around somewhere with the biting dogs, so the boys immediately went over to the rental car to get rid of the intruder.

The guy was still full of attitude about being lost: "Is this the fucking Bachelorette Party or not?" "Dude, you gotta get out of here....this was a wedding, not a Bachelorette Party." "No.....It is the Bachelorette Party and you guys are fucking with me. I am the stripper and I am late!" Turns out the guy was imported from West Hollywood for wherever the event was supposed to be....

At this point the groom reached in the rental car, removed the keys, and invited the stripper to step out. The stripper charged the groom, who threw the keys down the cliff, tossed the stripper after them and jumped off as well. Brendan's biting dog was probably still down there, as there was a huge commotion in the brush.

Long story short: the battle of groom vs. stripper went on for a while, with several iterations around the rental car. The stripper finally left: battered, bloodied, fancy Hollywood tear-away clothes all wrecked and torn.

I don't know what to say about the prospects for THAT marriage: groom battles lost stripper on wedding night..... forward one week to the next wedding. These were a crew of professional party girls. No....not hookers: waitresses, bartenders, caterers, etc. Even the girls that were now accupuncturists and such had worked for me in high school. Safe to say, no bottle of champagne was safe for more than a the grapefruit mojitos, and the tequila soaked strawberries, etc.

Around about midnight there was a fight: the brother of a bridesmaid got into it with the ex-boyfriend because..........who knows. Probably champagne and mojito related. The two got all tore up.

Alex the bartender (brother of the bride from the previous week) was chatting with one of the bridesmaids. "What is it with these boys fighting at weddings? Gosh, just last week we tried to have a bachelorette party, and this really expensive stripper we hired in Hollywood arrived two hours late, all scratched and bruised and fucked up. He didn't want to strip.....he just wanted to use the phone to call the we threw him out and watched pay-per-view."

Postscript: The stripper is suing Doris Day's son's ex-wife for getting tossed down the cliff at the party house.


A Tale of Two Roadhouses.....

We just realized that we have worked an event every day for the past 18 days. Yeesh. Plus, Brendan and Alex have been pulling eight hour days building a vineyard in 120 degree heat, BEFORE they go to work. So yesterday I turned the phone off and took a nap for two hours......and a producer from PBS calls to see about doing a food show. Thanks, are a bitch, but I love your sense of humor.

Roadhouse #1:

Monday Nights we always rename The Store based on our mood and the day's events. Monday was kind of a no-brainer: we had to listen to the MadMel drama all day on CNN. We thought it would be appropriate to call it "Mad Mel's Jewboy Warmonger Roadhouse".

You can see why Mel is upset: The Jews have TWO whole months in the middle of the summer named after them, and the Catholics are stuck with crappy little days, like St. Eustace Day and Saint Hubert Day. (The Friday of his arrest was St. Samson Day.....and Monday night was Martyrs of Syria Day.....yipes!) It must be frustrating for Mel to have to say: I am flying to Ibiza in late JEW-ne or early JEW-ly....."

And what kind of Catholic names his kid Melvin, anyway? When is St. Melvin Day?

Turns out there is a Saint MEL: St. Patrick's nephew. Mel lived with his aunt in a situation that caused some scandal back in old Eire. Patrick had to intervene with the injunction to Mel to "do your plowing on the land" and move to his own cabin.

And, sorry Mel: as Bill Maher and others have pointed out.....the Jews may not have started all the wars in the world, but they HAVE greenlit every Hollywood movie ever made........And as Jon Stewart said last night: After the Betty Ford Clinic, you might think of trying out the Henry Ford Anti-Semitism Clinic.

Anyhow, most people get it that we re-name The Store with tongue firmly in cheek. We did have one table of Stanford research kids and advisors from Hopkins Marine Station. They had not seen the news all weekend.....and were completely non-plussed at the title. They thought we were upset at the Israeli's for invading Lebanon or something.

Irony may not be dead......but it definitely needs some blood work.

The Second Roadhouse:

Just as we got settled on the name of the Roadhouse, both busgirls Rachelle and April called in sick. They are real cowgirls, and had been on a 50 mile endurance ride through the Santa Cruz mountains on Saturday in 100 degree heat. They had to sleep in Ana's Ford Exploder on Saturday and got eaten alive by mosquitos. The itching didn't stop Monday they were both covered with hive-like welts and texted me that they could not work due to ugliness.

Meanwhile, we had 100 reservations in our pathetic little store, and really needed the help....welts or no. The girls responded to my guilt trip by going on-line and researching their joint malady: welts, swelling, itching, headache, mosquitos, Santa Cruz.........

Presto!!! They had Dengue Fever!! Travelers bitten by mosquitos in Santa Cruz came down with those exact symptoms and were later diagnosed with Dengue Fever! What boss would make little girls work with Dengue Fever?

I did a little double checking on my own. Yup.....the girls were right: travellers bitten by mosquitos in Santa Cruz get Dengue Fever. Why hasn't there been more press? A right wing plot to eliminate marijuana growing in Santa Cruz?

Oh.....fine print. Santa Cruz, BOLIVIA.

This was the most creative sick-call ever. Blows the doors off the previous models.....when hungover waitresses would pop a couple of niacin tablets and in mid-flush give me graphic descriptions of their female problems.......

So, half the menus went out: Rachelle's Santa Cruz Dengue Fever Roadhouse.

The girls worked.....we did 100 dinners.....and Gilda only tipped them out twenty bucks.....

That is worse than real Dengue Fever........