Tuesday, October 30, 2007


If I had to pick a ''favorite personal attribute'' it would my ability to absorb languages. I am one of those annoying people that can go to Russian language art film...and after 20 minutes kind of understand what is going on.

This skill has nothing to do with intelligence. In high school, I tested well....at everything. And I didn't know shit. I was the Ultimate Dumb Fuck from Reno.

When I took the SAT Advanced Placement exams it turned out that if you paid for two tests, you could take as many as you wanted. On the given morning, I did my French test, and my German test.....and when I turned the page, there was Hebrew.

Now, I knew nothing about Hebrew....but I had paid for two tests, and the third one was free....so I took it. I randomly marked the answer sheet, pretending I was the New Zealand All Blacks...passing the rugby ball around between A,B,C,D,E and F.

I got a 420 out of 800. This is a pathetic score for someone who actually knows one or two words in Hebrew....but not bad for someone who did not even know that they read the language upside down and backwards.

Meanwhile, my genius brother.....author of two novels, editor-in-chief of Harper Collins....took the math SAT and only got a 380. After 16 years and god knows how many hours of special tutoring and prep.

Still, despite my intuitive language skills....and my obvious mastery of Hebrew...the definition of the term ''Mitzvah" escapes me.

There is Bar Mitzvah. The passing into Jewish manhood of a 13 year old boy. There is Bat Mitzvah. The same thing....kind of. Check this out: the Bat Mitzvah to end all Bat Mitzvahs.

Then there was the day I was boarding a plane at SFO for Philly. An elderly woman was struggling with her wheeled suitcase and her carry-on. I had my own problems...but she was struggling. I dropped my stuff with the steward, went up to the lady and took her bags and got her to her seat, and loaded her stuff in the overhead.

She turned to me, clearly exhausted from her part of the ordeal....and said: "Thanks. I needed a Mitzvah."

So what does Mitzvah mean? Blessing? Favor? The fact of someone going out of their way and carrying your water a tad?

Who knows.

Today was the Monday Night after The End of the Season. Our hard drive from our computer actually failed due to rust last week. It took a Herculean effort just to get out physical printed menus....plus all that actual cooking stuff.

If anyone ever needed a Mitzvah.......

Still there was Good News: Grant Risdon is turning himself into The Victory Mission in Salinas. No booze, no drugs. Turn his genius into helping others get off the booze and drugs. He goes tomorrow.

Tonight, it is pouring rain. Grant has been evicted from Nike's place.....so he sleeps on the bocce ball court behind the Store now.

This was OK in the Summer.....but sleeping in the Creek is not so great when the Creek is actually flowing with actual water.....

I ask Grant to sleep inside the Store and stay dry.

A Mitzvah?

Anyway, today at 4pm...the girls arrive to cheer us up, and change the energy.

Nike, Rachelle, Shari, Gilda

Except that Nike's dad also showed up....dead drunk....and screamed at her for a half hour in public....in the parking lot of The Store. Nike's dad is the normal one of the parenting couple....the mom's idea of quality time with the daughters is driving them to the drug dealer's to wait in the Volvo while Mom has sex with Hoppy Dave in exchange for crack. The dad has an actual job as a contractor....too bad about his anger management issues.

We calmed Nike down.....and got on with Monday Night. We tried to reassure Nike that it is not OK to be yelled at. She had done nothing wrong. It is natural to feel bad about being screamed at, but it is not your fault.

Nike is fifteen.....just. She spends every waking minute trying to figure out safe places to stay with friends. She feels bad because sometimes she eats too much at her friend's houses, and worries that it will make her unwelcome with her friends' moms, and she might have to go home.

Nike would love to be emancipated, and get away from her crazy parents. She can't, because she is on probation. She and her friend Cassady got caught breaking into an empty house to find a safe place. Cassady's dad had just blown his head off with a shotgun, you see....behind his own substance abuse problems.

We would love to adopt Nike....or call her Probation Officer and tell her what is going on....or call Child Protective Services to get some help for Nike.....

Can't do it. If the P.O. or the the C.P.S. decides that Nike is living in an "unhealthy environment" for whatever reason.....even her dad's rage or alcohol problems, or mom's drug problems.....NIKE goes to jail.

The girl has to walk the tightrope until May...when she gets off probation....and can petition for emancipation.

I can't say a thing: the fact of her employment with us...past 8pm on any given night....is a violation of her probation. Her dad knows this....and despite the fact that Nike is the only breadwinner in the family....her dad would rat both of us out to make a point.

At the end of the craziest two weeks of our business life....as I close the door and lock in Grant....safe and dry....into the Store for his last night of non-sobriety....before he assumes the Missionary Position.

I am looking around for my Mitzvah for helping Grant.

And I realize that I just let a completely defenseless fifteen year-old girl walk into a tiger trap.

Abandoned by her parents. Abandoned by the legal system. Abandoned by the school system. Emotionally and physically abused by both Mom and Dad for fifteen years.....

And we drop her off at the end of the driveway?

No Mitzvahs for me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


From Jesus' General:

Dear Lord,

Why is it that every single time there is a strong Pro-Life, Pro-War, Pro-Family Values politician with the potential for propagating our cause, that they either end up in a scandal involving a male-intern, foot-tapping in a restroom stall, or simply lose steam and pull out of an important election?

Do you honestly want a Mormon, a Yankee adulterer, some dirty old man with a sluttish looking young wife, or some hillbilly from Arkansas who couldn’t find his way out of an open refrigerator box, running your chosen nation?
Why have Thou forsaken us like this? Do you want the Demoncrats to win the election in 08’?

Help us out here, Father, and send us a man with morals, a case full of automatic weapons, a closet with no skeletons, and a wife who knows how to dress and keep her mouth shut.
Otherwise, Lord, I dare say we may end up with that pro-baby killing, pro-sodomite, anti-America, militant-feminazi Hillary as President.

And just what do you think that will accomplish?



Your Friend and Biggest Fan
Mrs. T.D. Gaines-Crockett

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Worst Person in The World......Catering Style

This should be different......

Chloe....and Mother Earth.... finally got revenge on me for my Diet Coke aberation. An old, flat, lost can of sticky formaldehyde dumped all over my former computer right at 6 o'clock on Monday Night, with a Store full of whining Carmel altecockers.....

As they say in Boston: "My hard drive.... shit the bed!"

The computer died just post food menu....but before Lee got out a wine menu. Lee had arrived at the last minute from his real job of winemaking, still wearing rubber boots and soaked in Pinot Noir....."Hmmm. No wine list? Well, I guess I could just ask them to trust me, huh?"

The look that passed between us was one of the saddest I can remember, given its brevity: "Yeah, like rich white goyishers would trust the opinion of a hardworking young winemaker who just drove there over two mountain ranges after a ten hour day....and who is at their table not for the money, but because he loves all aspects of wine and wine service and just wants to do a good job for its own sake.....in the cheapest restaurant on the planet......well, in California, anyway.

Like that should ever happen.

Our real clientele don't even order wine....they just let Lee bring it....I mean, really. He knows the wine; he knows the people; he knows the food, he is fatally honest and efficient.....why not let Lee deal with the wine? But these folks don't come in until 8:30. A long two hours......

Anyway, my friend Horace sent along one of those internet survey chain letter things....where you write down your favorite movies, books, TV shows, vacation spots, jobs, places you would rather be, people you would rather be with, etc.

The email went all around the world. There was one woman who kept popping up as the one a bunch of folks would rather be with....but that is another story. The TV show that everyone watched was Keith Olbermann....a Cornell guy I must point out.

Keith has a segment each night where he nominates "The Worst Person In The World". It is usually Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly.

Last week one of those studies came out about depression, suicide and substance abuse in the workplace.


The number one worst job in the world for depression, suicide and substance abuse........

Restaurant cooks....

Followed closely by bartenders, waitrons, etc.

And you thought it was being a Christian Republican Member of Congress.......

Anyway, those of us in the midst of depression, suicidal tendencies and multiple and various forms of substance abuse were not surprised in the least.

And, after a long discussion.....we realized that it is not the job....or the pay....or the long hours....or the brutal working conditions......or the fact that our art is temporary and ephemeral....and when the moment of joy is past....a pile of shite remains that we then get to clean up while everyone else is sleeping.

No......It is you fucks. Well, not you guys that are actually reading this.....but all those other people.

So, we have been considering our version of The Worst Person in The World.

Some nominees:

LA Art Guy:

I am tending bar in the Creepiest House in the Universe.....(all grey and black; unsealed granite in the kitchen so that WATER stains....and we have to cover the entire kitchen in linen to protect the counter tops and floors from H20.....a known stainer.

The hostess and the architect must be from the W.C Fields School of Liquids. (When offered a glass of water by an anxious hostess, the great man replied: "Madam, I don't touch water. Fish fuck in it.")

I am working off a four foot table, which is covered in crazy expensive martini and champagne glasses the host supplied. He has his own martini mix, pre-made. He has insanely expensive white and red wine, and stupid champagne. A little gin....4 oz for 40 people....no bourbon, some scotch and an ocean of vodka. Two bottles of beer.

His daughter comes up to the "bar".

"I'd like a Chambord Kir Royale."

"Well, Sweetie.....I'd like a cure for AIDS, but it is not likely this evening...."

"You don't have Chambord?" Sniff....exit stage left.

Obviously I have a tiny little penis.

I used to tend bar at The Colony in New York City.....in three years, no one ever ordered Chambord....and even us Future Alcoholics of America never bothered to taste the dusty bottle we had on the back bar. Even the handbag designers and the fag hags never ordered it.

I should have it on a four foot bar covered in glassware, though.

Next up....The Sister of the host: "I want a vodka gimlet."

"Yeah, well....I am rooting for the Eventual Success of the Revolution of the Proletariat...........that is more likely, Sweet Cakes."

Vodka gimlets require Rose's Lime Juice....of which, of course there was none. I squeezed limes, added in aloe syrup, shook it like a fucker in a shaker.....and made something close.

"When I go into MY neighborhood bar....there is always a proper vodka gimlet waiting for me...."

There goes that tiny little dick thing again......I should have pulled that one out of the ethos...or my ass..... even though the last vodka gimlet I made was at John Gardiner's Tennis Ranch in 1978 for Ethel Kennedy. One should be prepared, I guess. Ethel and The Sister are both from Virginia.

I should have known.

Now I know why I get all those Penis Extender emails........

The capper, though: Hollywood Art Boy,

"I want a Pina Colada."

"Yeah, well.....I was thinking about a blow job right about now.....neither one is likely."

"Well, then....how about a Mai Tai?"

This is an adult human being.....looking at another adult human being....standing behind a four foot table covered in glassware, with three bottles on it.....none of which are rum...and none of which are any sort of fruit drink of any kind. I mean....WATER stains this kitchen....what would coconut milk do....or pineapple juice. Jesus Christ, the architect would shit the bed.....


"I ALWAYS drink Pina Coladas......Why can't you make one?!!!"

Well.....I have two of the ingredients.......a glass......and ICE!!!"

The Worst Person in the World?

OK....Nominee Number Two:

We like to serve Oysters Laura England at The Cachagua Store. These are oysters on the half shell with an arugula leaf underneath, napiered with porcini cream....dosed with asiago and fucked under the broiler. We normally serve six.....for about six bucks. Our cost per oyster is about 80 cents....so this is a suicidally stupid dish for us to serve. 80% food cost gets you thrown out of the Cornell Hotel School. But.....we like the dish; we like the people that order it.....and I am still a little in love with Laura England....the homewrecker in an ultrasuede pants suit that helped me develop the recipe one New Year's Eve.

One Monday, we had 59 oysters that passed muster. We could do 11 orders of five....and have four left over....or we could do ten orders of six and short someone one oyster. As if we would ever sell ten orders in Cachagua on a Monday. We went that direction.

Our buddy, Mr. Reese came in with a festive table. They ordered six orders of oysters, which wiped us out. They got the short order, and we forgot to tell them.

Mr. Reese is cool....he would not give a shit. His guest, on the other hand.....

"I only got five oysters."

"Ahhhh....damn. These Cachagua guys.....can't count above four. We'll take a dollar off your bill."

"No....I ordered six oysters. I want six oysters."

"Well, steal one of your buddy's. That is the last oyster in the house."

"No....I want my oyster."

"Yeah.....Well, I want the Eventual Success of the Revolution of the Proletariat......I will take a dollar off your bill. It is OK."

"NO!"....pipes in the wife....."It is NOT OK! He ordered six oysters....and he only got five!"


The Worst Person in the World?

Nominee Number Three: Donation Man

A guy shows up at The Store. He bought dinner for two at a silent auction for Bill the Saddle Guy....something that the Queen of Cachagua and Jamesburg......Joleen Lambert.....put together for some poor old working class artisan without insurance who got sick.

The guy came with his wife, and announced his victory in the auction. He paid $80 for dinner for two, with wine......that we had valued at about $100 for auction purposes.

Then he told us that he was desperately allergic to sugar, and fish, and milk and cheese. He got very angry when he discovered that we brine our chicken and pork.....and that Micah uses a pinch of sugar to jump start the yeast in his home-made bread.

End of the meal came.....and his bill for two amounted to $80.....just what he had paid at auction. And pretty much everything on the menu that did not involve sugar, fish or dairy.

We, of course....had donated his meal to Joleen and her sick saddlemaking friend.

Fuck-wad now demanded his change from the $100 estimated value of the meal, and the $80 he had paid.

"I want my money!"

Yeah, well.......You know the refrain by now.

Turns out it was his wife's birthday. We all sang "Happy Birthday, You Asshole" as they left......

And, of course.....no tip for the girls....

The Worst Person in the World?

Nominee Number Four: Hillary Clinton

We struggle to adhere to an organic standard....for the sake of our own souls, and the sake of the planet.

More than that....we try to buy stuff that is from within a hundred miles....and we like to put a face to the farmer.

We worship Joel Salatin and his Polyface Farm.....even though Joel is a Christian fundamentalist. (Joel is the only Christian fundamentalist we know that does not owe us money.)

Joel believes in sustainable agriculture. He is intensely technical....in an old fashioned way. He has studied the carrying capacity of his land, and only asks of it what it can give him. He knows his nitrogen uptake....and the amount of nitrogen his various critters produce. He matches them all up exquisitely....and even build Rube Goldberg machines to make it all happen. Joel grows heirloom varieties that match his local micro-climate and the local micro-economics.

We believe that our work and our food match Joel's attitudes perfectly.

The exact business opposite of Joel is a company like Monsanto. Monsanto is changing world agriculture by patenting genetically modified seed stock that will not reproduce itself.

In the old days.....farmers harvested most of a crop, but let a portion go to seed so that they would have seed stock for next year's crop. In a passive natural selection process...the crops that flourished in the particular local environment provided ample harvest and ample seed to be a self-sustaining enterprise.

Monsanto patents its seed...and its seed supposedly does not reproduce. Each year the farmers can't use stored seed....they have to repurchase everything from the lab. Their most famous product is RoundUp Ready seed.....where the plants can be sprayed with RoundUp herbicide and only the weeds die.

RoundUp Ready seed stock actually does spread, though....pollen blows around, you see.......to the point that we have had to relax the organic standard in North America to allow for the more than five percent RoundUp Ready gene stock that is now endemic in all our fields. Monsanto even sued an organic farmer in Canada who they found to have a certain amount of RoundUp Ready grain in his fields....despite his best efforts....and WON. A large enough judgement to put him out of business. Fuck that hippy bastard anyway.

Last Friday, Hillary Clinton.....her erstwhile adopted Arkansas twang rampant....finally announced her "Rural America" policy paper in Iowa....where the primary struggle now rages.

The venue for her announcement?

The office of the registered Iowa lobbyist for Monsanto.........

The Worst Person in the World?

Dipshit 1, 2, and 3 are not going to change my life......

This chick is a menace......

Fuck Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Things We Carry......

This title just popped into my head. No disrespect to Tim O'Brien. "The Things They Carried" is in the top 5 books about war anywhere....This book actually saved my son from hating school by being simple, real, and raw.

It is just that at this time of year....after a couple of months of 100 hour weeks....our life feels like a war. See, we didn't actually have to go to war.....because Bennie and Horace and Trevor....and Tim O'Brien.....took care of that for us......

Still...that is our frame of reference.

In the past two months, while working our asses off trying to do good, we have lost two long-time clients who we actually counted as friends. One, because I pointed out that Hillary Clinton is just Walter Mondale in a pants suit, and the scumbags surrounding her need to stuffed in a bottle and floated out on the Japanese Current. Two, because I stopped a wedding invaded by drunken 15 year old skaters in the middle of one of the last towns in America to finally and reluctantly allow alcohol to be served anywhere in town.....and lost my temper because the biological father of the bride thought he could treat me like a dick because I like his ex-wife and I wear an apron.

And this was in the middle of the High Holy Days.....and they were both Jews. Maybe I am supposed to reflect on my own sins.....and their effect on others....and the clients don't have to.

Believe me, I have....and my sins don't include Hillary....or fearing to protect my business and my workers' livelihood from frivolous adolescent misadventure in the middle of a tiny, highly efficient police state. I do feel bad that I only let the little prick ex-husband call me a thief four times.....I could have hung in there one more round. I was weak. I am sorry.

I am pretty sure my real Jewish friends have other things on their minds during the Holy Days....and have much thicker skins. There is repentance.....and then there is forgiveness, too.


It was with some trepidation that I got this email from a client of equally long standing as the two we lost.

We have been doing the annual barbeque of the signature local Trail and Saddle Club for about ten years. We do tri-tip and salmon...the quintessential "Santa Maria Barbeque"...plus all the seasonal vegetables....Roman beans from San Juan Batista, heirloom tomatoes from Cachagua, field mix from the Odello Ranch at the Mouth of Carmel Valley....farro or wild rice or Kamut or quinoa for the carb balance.....and we do it for about 50% of cost because the outfit is a longstanding local institution.

To top it off....the most recent president of the outfit is one of our oldest clients. His wife went to school at an equally early age as my mom at the same obscure Catholic boarding school in Menlo. Her dad is my restaurant godfather:
Cornell, Hawaii, Carmel.......He was in the room just down the hall at Liliokalani Hospital on 22 September 1949 when I was being born...victim of a wayward coconut fall while he was manager of the Royal Hawaiian. We did the wedding of the "kids" thirty years ago...the wake of my godfather....all the anniversaries.....and the wedding of the KID's kids.....and THEIR anniversaries and baptisms.

So....I trembled a bit when I got this email:

"We have some cowboy members who've commented on the "frou-frou" food, so
for the menu this Saturday let's go ranch style - chili beans, beef and
chicken, and what else would you suggest?"

At the same moment, I got another email from another board member worried that there would not be vegetarian options for her and her friends. Maybe we could have some grilled portabellas.

Even though we charge very little by our standards....there are people who work for less. Our tri-tip is all Niman Ranch organic...the other guys do Commercial or Cow or Cutter….stuff I would not give my dog….and I don’t really like my dog right now. Our produce is all contracted a year out from local organic farmers who are taking a beating this year from the fucked up weather.....the other guys just buy shit at Costco, or worse. Brendan makes all his own stuff....like sauces and dressings....and stays up worrying about it....and throws out half the organic stuff I go to great lengths to buy because it does not meet his standard. The other guys just buy barrels of Ranch Dressing from Costco....or worse.

We were sorely tempted to let these guys drift. They could save money.....and they could get what they ordered. If they don't know the difference......what the heck?

But....we have already lost two old clients this year. And George Bush has fucked the dollar so far that it is now worth HALF what it was when he started back in 2000.....and I must go to
Spain in January or my head will explode.

We had a long debate: take the job and serve shit food for the money.....and make an actual profit for a change......or tell them to fuck off......or tell them how it is .....and risk them dumping us like Hillary Clinton did, and the PG Drunk Teenager People.

After long debate....here was our response:

"Mixed signals here: Manly meat and beans.....frou frou vegetables.

We stopped serving beans a couple of years ago because nobody ate them.....well, 10% of the crowd even puts them on the plate.....and most of those are the vegetarians trying to build a complete protein from the available amino acids.

The way we work is that we have standing orders with our growers for x amount of produce per week for the season. Right now it is heirloom tomatoes, roman beans and watermelon.....plus the herbs, lettuce, etc. Spaghetti squash. Which means that if we go down-menu to keep whoever these cowboy purists are happy we will just not be bringing the organic food that we have already contracted for and have in house to the picnic......and from the feedback we get.....this stuff is much appreciated by 90% of the crowd.

Are we talking iceberg lettuce in bags? With shredded carrots and red cabbage? Ranch dressing? Is it OK if Brendan makes the dressing, or does it have to be commercial? His stuff is not exactly like the Costco version.

Plus, I will remind everyone that our recipes....such as the panzanella....the farro.....are actual cowboy food....just not on the Central Coast of California of 50 or 100 years ago. Cowboys in Tuscany and Umbria eat this stuff.....and the cowboys in Spain....and their beef is still pretty damn good. They eat this stuff because it is what is grown locally.....and this stuff is often actually brought to market with horses and cows.

And they still have giant cocks and huge balls......

A final reminder: the number one cause of death in the Portola and deAnza expeditions of discovery in early California, and among the early Spanish and Mexican sailors to California from the west coast of Mexico, and amongst the early Californio ranchers.....was scurvy. The DeAnza's died like flies in the Santa Cruz mountains within sight of the San Francisco Bay....and couldn't do shit about it.....surrounded by wild sorrel, ferns, miner's lettuce and all that frou-frou stuff.

The early ranchers sat here chewing on beef raised on thirty feet of gorgeous topsoil in the Salinas Valley...... and avoiding greens until their teeth fell out and their gums bled and their hearts stopped pumping.

One last point: because of the early rains, the next two weekends are it for heirlooms and the various seasonal greens. From here on out we are back to root vegetables and squash until spring. Unless you want to buy your food from the Chinese, of course.....and the Red Chinese connection to Western (as in Cowboy) culture is somewhat vague to me. This is the last chance your cowboys will have to see locally grown produce....produced by local farmers who actually have dirt under their fingernails.....and who, by the way....actually know which end of the horse and the cow is which.

Let us know your thoughts....we will can and compost whatever you guys don't want us to serve."


We await the decision of the board.......and Yom Kippur was already last month....

Atonement comes easy to us Irish.....just give me a chance...for chrissakes.

Dear Arnold, Take 2

Mein Schnooki-putzi Arnold:

I am writing to ask you to please sign AB 821....the State bill banning the use of lead ammo in the range of the California condor.

I am a hunter. I do not understand the objection to requiring non-lead ammo. All of us ethical shooters have been doing it for years.

OK....I admit it: I am a Mitt Romney kind of hunter. My last hunt was in 1977....but it was a good one.

See, our friend Marc had given us a fat check to start this catering business in Carmel Valley....and he wanted to have a big party in December to prove that his investment was sound, and we knew what we were doing.

And he wanted venison to serve to his friends that were flying in from all over.

This was before New Zealand venison was available. America was still in the grip of Bambi-mania....if you wanted a deer, you had to shoot the fucking thing yourself.

So, my friend Chester and I went out deer hunting in early December. Oh you say....not exactly deer season. So sue me. We had a party to do.

We failed in all aspects of our hunt. Garrapata. Long Ridge. Guerrilla runs into Rancho San Carlos at midnight, sleeping on anthills in the full moon. Nada.

Finally, at 7am on the Sunday before the big party, we found ourselves at Hurricane Point: exhausted, disgusted....smoking a fatty and drinking Heineken's.....for hydration, you see.

There below us, walking calmly across the ridge above the sea......Bambi, his brothers.....and Bambi's mom! We ran to the truck to retrieve our weapons. I took responsibility and grabbed my .243. Chester ran interference: Waving his Heineken bottle, we whipped out his Little Soldier and ostentatiously peed onto the roadway....scaring away any early morning tourists that might have been tempted to stop for the view.

The .243 was a beautiful machine: Sako action and competition barrel; some crazy telescopic sight I got from an IRA guy in The City. Good enough for James Earl Ray.....Sad, but true. Martin never had a chance.....

I had to prop the rifle between my feet as I lay on the slope below the vista turnout. I got a decent glimpse of the doe. Downhill, 200 meters.....drop the muzzle a tad to compensate.....


The doe disappeared.

Chester and I stashed the guns, and climbed down the mountain. When we got to the ridge below Hurricane Point, there was nothing in sight. Fuck....

Then we checked the cliff below us....and there was a scrub oak still gently bobbing up and down....with a weight of....something.

We scampered down the cliff and climbed across....and there was the doe. Shot through the throat, hanging upside down as in the best abattoir.....bled out.

At huge risk to life and limb, we got a line on her...and a come-along....and eased her out of the tree and into the arroyo nearby.

By now it was 8:30, and Highway One was buzzing....even in 1977. We gutted the doe, and took turns carrying her on our shoulders as we crawled up the arroyo to the road. The ticks and fleas she carried climbed all over us in turn, and were Nature's funeral choir....and then some.

It took three hours to climb the arroyo. Three long hours with the ticks and fleas.

We hung the doe......salted and smoked the hams...made sausage of the forelegs....and hung the saddle for 10 days. I still have the aroma of the fermenting meat in my nose.....not a bad thing: a rich, wonderful, earthy fragrance like no other.

We wrapped the saddle in fat back, and put it in a super hot oven. When the meat hit 115, we pulled it.

To this day....the best piece of meat I have ever eaten....second only to Don Butt's Dall Sheep loin he suffered for in Alaska and gifted us in a moment of generous insanity.

Apparently, the Indians would thank the deer for the gift of its life, and revere every part and portion. Chester and I did the same.....We really did worship that deer. She saved my economic life.

Anyway, Governor...times change, and now I now longer need to hunt. I have guys bring me stuff....more than I can deal with....but I am still ready. We still have the weaponry. We still have the skills. We have the gun dog. We pray for the day off when someone will take us somewhere where we can use them.

My friend Jake Butts, and his daddy Don.....have this kind of time....and put it to good use. They have noticed that a small piece of projectile will kill most gamebirds. Birds are small fragile creatures. We could shoot them with wood pellets, and they would still make the dinner table. We don't need lead.

For Christmas last year, we bought Jake and Don specially spiced pepper loads for their Purdy shotguns that start seasoning the bird as soon as it is hit. Fennel/Rosemary; Garlic/Mushroom....like that.

Why the freak-out about lead ammo?


Is it cost that is the problem? Do you have any idea how much my guns cost? And my house is worth about what one of Jake's Purdy's is worth!

And time? Like I could get a day off to go shoot something! If I could...I would throw rocks at the bastards.....or load my old Hawken black powder rifle with some no-longer-useful wedding rings......

And the goddam dog, who even now..... at this moment....despite two walks in the woods for two hours......thinks he needs more attention from me....at 10pm? After four designer, organic Niman Ranch beef and pork meals?

Like I need a second wife! Copper ammo is the least of my worries, for chrissakes..... Forget the gun dog....I would be better off with a Byelorussian mistress with a cocaine problem. Or no problem at all with cocaine......


Like George Bush and the ATF are somehow gonna get one up on me if I can't get lead? The Black Helicopters are gonna land and the U.N. will take over?

Sir, as a semi-retired revolutionary....let me clue you in: when push comes to shove you want to shoot the other dude with steel ammo. See, the steel round passes through the guy, and he stops shooting at you and freaks out at the ensuing hydraulic leak.......and it takes 20 other dudes and a mountain of machinery and a huge pile of money to save his ass. The lead round, on the other hand, blows up and kills the guy......and those other 20 dudes are now free to use all that machinery and money to hunt you down and shoot you.

Finally, Sir: Last month I was teaching a class in deep Big Sur.....(well, basically I was cooking for a class, but I have my pretensions). I took a break in the middle of the day.....and went down to the beach for a nap with the above mentioned dog....a German Wire-haired pointer if anyone cares. The dog actually let me nap! Jesus wept!

It was magic: Big Creek flowed in from the Big Sur mountains, conveniently chilling my bottle of Gruet; the sun drifted lazily towards the horizon without a care in the world; the surf banged away on the stone beach, just as the creek rustled along the stones and baby bay trees to confront it; a little breeze wafted in from the redwoods along the creekand the sage up on the canyon sides......Dreamy....

When we awoke....Puppy and I...... On a rock above us on the beach...... was a giant condor. Jus chilling....looking at my lame, bright white Irish ass, motionless on the beach. Thinking about lunch, no doubt. It was not worried about puppy. At all. I took some fotos which I am not allowed to send you because you don't accept attachments. What a magnificent creature! Fucking huge...... Creepy....

Did you ever see Beastmaster? You could have landed the lead role, trust me. Then Tanya Roberts would have a real job, instead of trying to get me to go to Vegas......

I did some checking, and the science guys think that condors probably hang out at creek and river mouths waiting for meals....seaborn or landborn...... but they have never observed the behavior. The science guys had killed a calf, and left it on the next ranch over near the coast to try to coax a condor or two towards the water to see if it was a real behavior or just a theory.

I got proof!

Anyway, Sir: This bird is doomed if all these other shooter dummies won't get with the program. They are like the people that think that banning smoking in bars will cause the Constitution to crumble.

Get a grip! Their buddy George Bush has already fucked over the Constitution to the point where the lead ammo thing is meaningless. And since they can no longer smoke in bars...the money they save now will more than pay for copper ammo.

Also....though this is a minor point: the women that study the condors are very hot. Bird Nerds are hot. Maybe you should check it out.

So......Please, sir.....Sack up. Grow some balls. You can get past that steroid thing. Really.

The NRA are not the only hunters. The rest of us will appreciate your courage and foresight and honesty if you sign this bill.

I will even remove the curse I put on your family for killing Tookie Williams.

Well, maybe.....


Michael Jones

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Wind That Shakes The Barley......

Every two or three months we get enough time off to watch a film. I joined NetFlix, and ordered that cute "Sunshine" movie three months ago.......It is here on the desk somewhere.

I am the reason NetFlix is profitable.

Well, this week I stopped by Valley Video (it is next door to the liquor store that sells Gruet....) and got "The Wind That Shakes The Barley". My professionally subversive friend Bennie recommended this film nine months ago....and I could never find a screening or a copy anywhere. Palme D'Or, Cannes 2006. Best Film Venice 2006. Highest grossing independent film in its country of origin.....ever. Hey, this is America here. That foreign shit......Who needs it?

So.....The movie is about an intensely localized culture that is dominated by a foreign occupying power. Said power, in the name of security, bans all public gatherings of certain sizes, suspends habeus corpus, rights of privacy, and search and seizure, etc.

The beginning of the film shows a village game and much hilarity. The occupying power decides the game is a security problem, shuts it down, confiscates the play equipment and interrogates the players. The one who doesn't speak the language of the occupying power is beaten to death with rifle butts inside his mother's house for being difficult.

This atrocity radicalizes the entire village. Everyone becomes insurgents.... and it gets ugly. The occupying power randomly imprisons, tortures and shoots whomsoever the fuck it feels like. The insurgents get stronger, and sort of win.

Eventually, the occupying power appoints a local "independent" government and steps back from the violence. Half the insurgents buy into the program.....half continue the struggle. Atrocities mount on both sides. Friend kills friend. Brother kills brother. Widows abound. Local culture is essentially destroyed, along with families, businesses, villages....the whole nine yards.

Sound familiar at all?

No....it is not about Iraq.

It is about Ireland, and Ireland of recent memory. Well, my recent memory. My best friend in grade school's dad was an insurgent and fought against the Black and Tans. (The Black and Tans were so named because after WWI, the Brits didn't have enough whole uniforms to go around, so they equipped their Irish security forces with mix and match outfits). Mr. Donovan trained us to try to kill any Airedale terrier we saw.....because this was the dog the Black and Tans used to terrorize families in his youth. And this was Anaheim, California in 1961. The Home of DisneyLand......

By the way....it is REALLY bad form to order a Black and Tan in an Irish bar....or even in The Cachagua Store. How about: "Light and Dark"? Unless of course you are being deeply ironic, and you have earned your stripes....possibly by blowing something up. Just remember Don Imus with his "nappy-headed ho's" comment if it doesn't work. Nigger.

Anyway, the movie.....oops:film..... is powerful. I wept, but then again....I am Irish, and I am a weeper. Amanda watched it under protest, and mostly from under the covers......and she learned to hate the Brits.

Next morning we rooted hard for Chelsea to beat Valencia in the Champions League. And for Liverpool to beat the fucking Frogs. Go figure.

What is my point?

Watch the movie. Film.

Ask yourself: "If the film depiction of the various atrocities is more moving to you than fact of the acknowleged atrocities that inevitably take place under our watch in Iraq....or wherever we go with guns and poor people. When the answer is "yes"......and the answer IS "yes"....does that make us racists?

Well.....what else is new? Another thing to work on.

Ask yourself: "If the emotions stirred by a film depiction of injustice and atrocities can stir strong emotions across ninety years, three generations and nine thousand kilometers, and even jump across ethnic divides to rile a peace-love-tie-dye Buddhist who just happens to be in the room.......What do we think the effect of real injustice, atrocity, violence and general mayhem will be in Iraq.....across one generation and maybe a hundred kilometers?

And I still don't trust myself around Airedales.......

This cannot end well......

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Day In The Life......

A long while back I was going to publish a post: "Moms Of The Year". This was about two of the girls that work for us.....Rose of '5150 Hold' fame.....and Nike, the New Girl.

A close third in the race.....Kyla's mom.....I think I did write about. In my Dive Rescue mode back in the day I actually saved this woman from Poseidon at Point Lobos......so she could go on to live the life of a crack whore in Cachagua and never speak to her little daughter again. Good move, Michael. In gratitude the two women I saved gave me a little statue of a diver that I now realize is made out of pieces of crack pipes. Sweet. And, how ironic is it that in mythology Poseidon is the uncle of Athena. Ooops! I forgot I am pretending that the New Girl's name is Nike, and not Athena.....

Anyway, Rose's Mom got her nomination by evicting her beautiful talented daughter from her house on the morning of her graduation from high school. Seems the girl did not get along with the step-dad, a reformed coke dealer who found Jesus upstairs in his roofing business or somewhere. The parents used to bill Rose for any extra Snapple's she drank on her weekend competitive horsey endurance races. We love Rose for, among other things, her habit of painting her horse pink for Code Pink in her cross country races. When the horse got sick, the parents refused to pay for the vet bill, and I had to come with two grand cash to save the critter's life.......and horses instinctively hate me.

The morning of Rose's graduation, we had to rush the van back from a party and get all Rose's stuff: clothes, dolls, childhood memorabilia, etc....to get it out before the parents threw it in the trash. Seems they had rented the room out to an illegal Mexican roofing worker who had agreed to do chores around the property in exchange for rent. Kind of breath-taking when you realize that the property includes Arabian stallions, half million dollar mobile homes Willy Nelson would be comfy in, giant cigarette boats.....stuff like that. "You owe me five dollars for those two Snapples!"

You would think that Rose's Mom had this title sewed up......but not so fast.

When little Nike came to work for us.....at the ripe old age of 14.....I took her aside and had my little talk.

"Uh.....Nike. We are really happy that you are going to work for us, but I have to warn you. This is a tough workplace. We work long hours and there is lots of pressure....and it is very competitive. Sometimes there is a lot of screaming and yelling and throwing things. Nothing personal.....just the stress of the moment, you understand.....but it can get a little abusive. I just want to apologize in advance if it makes you uncomfortable....."

"Hmmmm. Abusive. Uncomfortable. Will it be more uncomfortable than having to drive in the Volvo with your Mom every night in your pajamas so that she can go to the drug dealer's van and have sex with him while you wait outside? Will it be more uncomfortable than that?"

"Uh.....Well. I am thinking probably not. You may just fit in here......."

Nike is preternaturally smart and constantly, neurotically busy. She reads the crowd better than the adults, and never stops working. She is deeply ironic.

Nike is also so drop-dead gorgeous that it is a problem late in the day at weddings. We have to move her to the back to get her away from the drunks and the pervs. Even my Amanda brought up the subject the other day: "Is there an appropriate way to tell a 14 year old girl that she has the prettiest tits in the history of tits? And it doesn't help when she stuffs her cell-phone in there......." Uh......I am thinking not. Let that one go.

Nike no longer lives at home. She was renting a house with Brendan and my kitchen crew, when we got scared of the legal implications. Now she is doing the "Perfect Houseguest" routine.......staying with friends, trying to get to school, and trying to stay away from Mom. I think they call that "homeless".

No Child Left Behind? Get a fucking clue.......Is Nike even technically a ''child'' anymore? How do you tell?

Dad meanwhile is a nice guy. Really. Hardworking, honest. The family house burned down last year, and he has been re-building it himself. He is trying to keep his family together. Last month he fell behind in the building schedule.....Mom got ahold of the building funds and ran off on a toot. The house is 80% complete, but the bank cut off all funds until it is done. So.....now Dad has no money to complete the house until he completes the house, and his only job is completing the house.

Meanwhile, the family's house charge at The Store is pushing the thousand dollar mark....mostly beer and wine, as Dad tries to self-medicate...and Mom buys treats for Hoppy Dave, the crack dealer. And the little sister buys "snacks" on the weekend with her friends and pretends it is not dinner.

And Nike, working an adult job every day, and all day and night on weekends, is owed a couple of grand by us. She wants us to hold her money for her until she is old enough to get her own bank account. Next September 12th.

And people constantly tell me that I need a bookkeeper to help me. I don't need a fucking bookkeeper. I need the Dalai Lama to kick it with me for a week.

Last night, at 10:30 pm during Monday Night Dinner, Nike bit the bullet and called her Mom for a ride home. Her brother was in town from San Jose State, and she figured it was safe to go home for a night and be with the family.

"Hi, Honey. Are you home from school? Do you need a ride from the bus?"

"Uh, Mom. It is 10:30 at night. The bus was six hours ago. I am finishing work."


How can you not notice the absence of sunlight in relation to time?

We brought Nike back to our house......and got her on the bus to high school this morning.

But wait......There is More! This is one of those really dumb posts. Obviously no editor. Mark Twain is spinning in his tomb. So is my brother Rob. "I am sorry this is so long.....I didn't have time to make it short....."

Grant Risdon is one of our Pet Humans. You read sometimes about the Social Security Safety Net? Well, it hasn't worked out so well.....since Ronald Reagan brought his capped whiteys and his tidy tighty whiteys into the White House.

In Cachagua we are at the far end of the social whirl. We are at the edge of Indian Territory. People wind up here because there is nowhere else. We are the only business. We have the only food, beer, wine, candy and cigarettes for twenty miles. Every day we face the dilemma: give this person groceries.....or turn them away and watch them.... and their children.... starve.

Our Principal Human Pets are Dave Fox and Grant Risdon, and Sleepy John. Dave lives in the trailer cleverly hidden behind the compost piles. We buried the extension cord that runs his life, and we try to keep him to $25 a day. He organizes our re-cycle, and takes care of Store Kitty. He is also responsible for filling in the Herald and the New York Times crossword every day. He also rakes the yard.

Sleepy John lives in the trailer of an insane person dying of AIDS. The guy bleeds from all the holes he has and screams long into the night and shoots guns and slashes around with knives and machetes and refuses all medical treatment. John brings him beer and some food, and wipes up the blood. John spends his days sitting in the rocking chair in front of the Store...reading a book a day. I can barely keep up and keep him supplied.....And Brother Rob told me that I read more trash than anyone in publishing. I don't have Sleepy John's motivation.....

Grant is a more independent person. Do a search of this blog "Grant Risdon" and catch up. Go to YouTube and do a search under "jackabdiel" and look for him under Granting Rant and Monday Night Dinner.

Grant gets about a grand a month from Social Security and an ages old police brutality settlement. It seems that the Sheriff was called to arrest Grant and his horse Cachagua for disturbing the peace or some such....down at the Ranchers' Days at Trail and Saddle.

The Sheriff failed in this original mission, and got ankle roped by Grant and Cachagua....and dragged up the road for his trouble. When Grant finally stopped hootin' and hollerin' and turned Cachagua around, the other Sheriffs grabbed him and beat him into a six-month coma. Like that.

Anyway, we tried to handle Grant's money for him. The little numbers on pieces of paper made no more sense to him than they do to me, and there were misunderstandings towards the end of the month.....when Grant had drunk or given away all his money. And a bunch of our money.

Grant found a pretend job helping Nike's dad build the house, or at least watch the horses and keep an eye out. Taking in Grant, proves that Nike's dad is a man of god, despite all. Grant got a trailer, and could ride his bike downhill to The Store every day. We moved Grant to a cash basis, and tried to refuse to let him buy things for other people. Grant became the resident expert on Failed Cachagua Winery Vintages......$4 a bottle, thank you very much.

Then, last month.....Nike's Mom caught Grant right after he got his check. She spun him a sob story about the bank, and the lack of funds, and the beautiful daughters starting school with no clothes and no food.......and Grant lent her half his money.

Which she immediately took to Hoppy Dave and went on a ten-day bender.

Nike's dad found out that she got the money from Grant.....and evicted Grant.

Grant now lives in the Creek behind the Store. The Creek that starts running with water in about three more weeks.

Two weeks ago, Grant came in for coffee on Sunday morning. Rose brought him his normal Eggs Benedict, and Grant was embarrassed. "I don't have any money. I didn't order food, just coffee."

Eat the fucking food, Grant.

Grant milked the Stanford kids for a couple of four meals by being charming, and came in late on Monday for an employee meal or two that he earned by playing castanets completely out of rhythm.

By the end of the month, he was very weak, and very pale. We tried to find reasons to invite him in for impromptu meals....but the guy has pride. He would always tell us a story first, and we would pretend to be so grateful we would fix him a plate.

Maybe we were.

Last Sunday was the last day of the month. I knew Grant was at the bitter end....the check comes on the first.....he gets his money on the second or third,, and he had been broke for two weeks. After a long, bitter weekend of 18's and 20's.....and a late night on the beach the night before..... I got my brunch together at 8am.....thinking of Merle in Ithaca, cooking for his fraternity. I went looking for Grant in the Creek..... not there. I looked for Dave, and Sleepy John....who can't have brunch anymore because MediCare went up forty bucks a month last year. Nobody home.

I finally rounded up my crew at noon. We had a Bum Brunch, and discovered that October First is Grant's 65th birthday.

We cooked Grant brunch.....and bought him some beers and a pizza that night.....and Brendan made him Birthday Breakfast on the first before he did anything else for Monday Night......and we bought him dinner on Monday Night, and sang him a song in the middle of service....while the Carmel folks looked on.....puzzled at the fuss made over a smelly bum with no rhythm.

Nike gave him a big hug.

Nobody cried.