Friday, June 27, 2008

Brief reality check.....

Life goes on.....

Tonight we did a rehearsal dinner for a kid who is such a lunatic that he knows every inch of every trail all through the Ventana Wilderness....even though he now lives in Argentina.

His little speech at the end of the meal talked about his ambivalence and struggle with the history and love he grew up with in Carmel......and how guilty he feels living his new life in Argentina.

Adam was one of my soccer guys....back in the day. I was trying to change soccer in Carmel from a second rate sport to the front row that enjoys everywhere else in the world.....and Adam was almost the only kid that spoke my language.

I met him after high school at Tassajara. I was trying to teach the monks that vegetarian food need not be all in earth tones. We rose at 5...and worked like dogs until 1. We had a break from 2 until 4pm. Adam helped me in my struggle against khaki vegetarianism as much as he had helped me against White Boy Soccer.

Two days into our 2pm.....Adam came to me and said: "Coach....we have two hours off......Wanna run to the Indians?"

Jesus fucking Christ on his sleeping holy mountain. The Indians was six or seven miles distant over a crazy, primitive rocky trail. Adam intended to run up there....and back....on his BREAK from a fourteen hour day in a competitive kitchen.

What the fuck? Running twelve miles over rocks for a break from a fourteen hour day?

I love this kid.

Meanwhile....the "Indians" is the name of the fire that started first. The Basin Complex fire is now thundering down on Tassajara from the the Indians Fire thunders down on Tassajara from the east.

Tonight as we were working Adam's rehearsal dinner....a bunch of old school dozer guys came into the Store......looking for some beer.

They had been working the Indians fire for weeks......cutting firebreaks. They and all there equipment are up on Chew's Ridge waiting to re-open the firebreaks from the '99 Kirk fire and the '77 Marble Cone fire. The firebreaks are in Wilderness Areas. The fire is now five miles from The Store, and seven miles from my house. The dozer crews cannot start work until they hear from the Bush Administration that it is OK to start work in the Wilderness Area.

In fairness.......they never got the OK in 1977 from Jimmy Carter.....or in 1999 from Bill Clinton. Neither of these weasel dicks were willing to violate the sanctity of the Wilderness to save homes and businesses. So....neither is GWB.

No matter. Eventually, the dozer guys follow the community lead and cut the fire break anyway.

So....when the dozer crews came into the Store in the middle of Adam Conway's rehearsal dinner tonight....... feeling thirsty while waiting for approval to save all of our homes and businesses......what do you think happened?

I'll never tell.

General Update.... is a general update.

If you ever wondered....or if outsiders ever wondered....why people fight and struggle to find, stay and live in Big Sur.....

My favorite part of this clip is at the end: Linda Sayre....a touch therapist...will be available to help those affected by the fire.....

I've got updates on the Basin Complex and the Indians fires supplied by the Forest Service. See attached documents.

Now that we know many in media are reading these emails, I have a simple request to make. Please make it clear that most of the businesses in Big Sur are OPEN!
The Big Sur valley, with the highest concentration of businesses on the Big Sur coast can be reached from the north, - Monterey, Carmel area. Tonight there will be plenty going on.
The businesses to the south of Esalen Institute are open and can be reached through Cambria, San Simeon.

Entertainment going on this weekend:

Soul River Studios at the Village Shops will be hosting a benefit for the Big Sur Fire Brigade from 5:00PM -
Fernwood Resort will have the Stanimals, a somewhat local band, performing from 9:00PM - midnight.

Fernwood Resort once again hosts the Stanimals for another performance - with a few new members.
Big Sur River Inn will have music on the back deck from Noon - 4:00PM

Remember, for Big Sur residents and emergency personell, you can pick up your pass to go beyond the roadblocks starting this morning at Big Sur Station. You have to show up in person and have a positive proof of ID.

From Joe Burnett, VWS

Hey folks- The Big Sur fire continues to burn and is still threatening the

two coastal nest sites. The backcountry nest was burned over, but the

redwood nest tree and the grove still remain intact. It is still unknown

whether the chick survived the burn-over, but we have seen GPS data from

female #231 that shows she has returned to the nest tree twice since the

fire burned through. A fog layer moved in along the lower canyon areas

along the coast and has significantly increased humidity and slowed the

burning in the lower half of the canyons, which has been a real saving

grace for the two coastal nest sites. We currently have limited access

along highway one and we have been able to check up on these two nests

daily. If the fire gets closer to the highway, they may keep us out for

safety reasons. Pinnacles has offered up their red-card staff (Scott!) to

assist in the event this fire gets further down the canyons and starts to

pose an emminent threat to the chicks. Luckily, both nests are fairly

accessible from the highway and we should have a good window to get in

there at the current burn rate.

Sadly, we are still missing one adult condor, female #222. All of the

California field sites are on the lookout for her. She is the mother of

our Partington chick and was last seen on the day of the evacuation (June

22nd). We are being very persistent with our daily headcounts and thank

everyone at the other field sites for their help in accounting for all the

birds. This is a very precarious time for the central California flock

and we hope our losses will be minimal. Access is still very restricted

around the fire, it could be weeks before they let us back in to assess

the damage. A big Thanks to all of you for your help and support, we

really appreciate it. I'll keep you posted...Joe

You can see photographs and get information about the Condor rescue facilitated by the US Coast Guard at

You can also donate to the condor efforts to help VWS with this trying situation.

That's all I've got this morning.

Total acreage burned in the Basin Complex fire: 26,763
Percent contained: 3%
Expected containment: Not determined
Structures damaged/destroyed: 16 residence, 2 outbuildings.
Engines: 54
Crews: 24
Dozers: 9
Air tankers: 7
Helicopters: 3
Total personnel: 743

Current situation: The Gallery Fire and the Basin Fire have burned together. The fire activity was relatively quiet during the night. However the fire is expected to burn actively today at elevations above 2000 feet. A wind shift to the S/SE has occurred at some elevations of the fire. Structure protection engines remain in place along Partington Ridge, the North Coast Ridge Road and Highway 1. Crews continue to hold the fire east of Highway 1 and south of the community of Big Sur.

Evacuations: Evacuations remain in place in the Partington Ridge area. Should further evacuations be required the Red Cross is prepared to open an evacuation center in Carmel. The SPCA for Monterey County will operate an emergency animal evacuation shelter for household pets (dogs, cats, etc.) adjacent to any American Red Cross evacuation site. Please contact the SPCA first at 831-373-2631 or at 831-646-5534 (after hours) for information on evacuating horses and livestock.

This morning's Salinas Californian

June 27, 2008

It may burn all summer

Salinas Californian

If the two massive fires scorching Los Padres National Forest merge, the conflagration could grow into the largest blaze ever recorded in Monterey County, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said.

"Expect smoke all summer," said Rich Phelps, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service at the Indians Fire site.

The Basin and Gallery fires, sparked by lightning Saturday, have now grown together into the 26,763-acre Basin Complex blaze.

About 20 miles to the east and in a more remote area of the forest, the Indians Fire is burning as the largest wildfire in the state. The fire, about 71 percent contained, has scorched 59,066 acres and has destroyed two homes since it was sparked by an escaped campfire June 8.

"The area between the two fires is remote wilderness, and the opportunities to control or stop the fire there are pretty limited," Phelps said.

The last great blaze in the Monterey County portion of Los Padres National Forest was in 1977, when the Marble-Cone Fire burned about 178,000 acres.

The next largest fire, the Kirk Creek fire of 1999, charred about 87,000 acres.

Both Marble-Cone and Kirk Creek fires were caused by lightning and were roughly in the same area of Los Padres as the current wildfires.

Like the current fires, Marble-Cone and Kirk Creek each started as separate blazes that eventually merged.

The Basin Complex fire is 3 percent contained and burning on the eastern side of the Big Sur River drainage. It's heading south and to the fork in the Big Sur River, north toward Manual Peak and east into Pine Valley. Tassajara Hot Springs Resort is still under mandatory evacuation.

Mark Savage, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service handling the Basin Complex fire, said fog and high humidity overnight helped slow the blaze Thursday.

"The (fire) activity is going into the higher elevations where we don't have as much population," Savage said.

For the Indians Fire, an evacuation advisory was issued Thursday for residents of Carmel Valley and Arroyo Seco roads to Tassajara Road, and also Cachagua Road from Tassajara Road to the Nason Road turnoff.

Evacuation order remains

Arroyo Seco residents remain under a mandatory evacuation order.

Because the Indians Fire is moving into more remote and steep terrain, fire crews aren't able to reach all burning areas, and more isolated portions will smolder for months, Phelps said.

Fire crews, he said, are focusing on building more containment lines near Arroyo Seco and Carmel Valley roads to keep flames from spreading into populated areas.

Highway 1 remains closed between Esalen to the south and the Ventana Inn to the north. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park remains closed. All national forest lands north of Nacimiento-Ferguson Road are closed, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Curtis Vincent, spokesman for the Forest Service, said many tourists visiting the county will be affected by the Basin Complex and Indians fires this summer.

"It will make it difficult for people to travel from the north or south," Vincent said. "But we are encouraging people to use the areas," because some businesses north of the road closure are open.

Nepenthe hopes to reopen

Kirk Gafill, general manager of Nepenthe restaurant on the Big Sur cliffs and president of the Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, said the area's major businesses remain closed because of the fire and highway closure, though he hopes to reopen the renowned restaurant by Saturday.

"At this point, the only thing that's preventing us from opening is (fire officials) deciding that it's safe enough to bring people down here," Gafill said.

Monterey-Salinas Transit is temporarily suspending bus service to the Nepenthe area in Big Sur on its Line 22.

Air quality will be most affected in areas closest to the fires, according to the Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District.

San Ardo, Bradley and Greenfield have air quality that is "unhealthy for sensitive groups," according to the district, which recommends that people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

The rest of the county is at moderate air quality levels, and the district recommends "unusually sensitive people should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion."

6/27 am Xasauan report:
6:30AM June 27 Update:

The latest satellite pass failed to pick up any new fire activity on the Tassajara/Pine Valley side of the fire, but found the fire actively moving deeper into Hot Springs Canyon (above Esalen) and making runs up the side of Kandlebinder Peak (putting fire, for the first time, at the edge of the Little Sur Watershed). It also found some renewed fire activity in Partington and Anderson Canyons.
The fire is becoming more deeply entrenched in Hot Springs Canyon and appears to be burning very actively there.

8:38 am post by Cynthia Bianchetta (two volunteers arrived yesterday after we reported yesterday that they could use help at their home at Burns. One, Michael Minasian,came from Berkeley.)

I am taking calls when we can hear the phone,
since we're outside, from your people for some neighbors
who may need assistance we will use the help
if folks show our neighborhood, neighbors are
driving up & down across Burns Creek bridge to get info,
seems like communication is essential, so yours, as with
Stan's is much appreciated.

In Gratitude,
Cynthia & Daniel

10 pm
post by John and Corrine Handy, Treebones ( )

Currently Corinne and I are out of the country, we travelled to Canada to celebrate my mothers 80th birthday. We are physically in Canada but our hearts and minds are back with our friends in Big Sur. I let South Coast captain of BSVFB, Crystal Gries know that I will fly home as needed for fighting the fire. We also offer our resources to help as needed. Please call me at 805-927-2820 as additional needs arise. One resorce that may be of immediate use is a large trailer for evacuations. It has a GVW of 8,000lbs and can be towed with a 1/2 truck or larger with trailer brakes.
Sincerely, John Handy

A lot of people have asked about Mary Lou and Magnus. I saw Magnus tonight at the meeting. They're ok.
Gratefulliy the Community Meeting tonight revealed only slow advance by the fire. Movement is the same as reported this morning and last night. Weather is helping. More firefighters are moving to the coast, now numbering almost 700. More details later.

Posted by Betty Withrow (, South Coast 8 pm 6/26

Here at Dempsey Flat we are mobilizing with pumps,
trucks, tractors, etc. and clearing breaks for the
possible need to defend this area without outside
support, if that's how it goes.  
We do have people who have volunteered to come and
help us, good friends that they are.
We are south of Nacimiento Road in the Mill Creek
watershed, and the location name of Dempsey Flat is on
file with 911, including GPS.
We have a reservoir with 12 million gallons of water
which is available for immediate use.  CDF and the
Forest Service have used this water many times.  It
has good clearance for helicopters.
Signage is in place on the roads to help out of area
personnel reach the site if necessary.
My phone is not working but I am checking my email
frequently and can use skype if i need to.
Hope you are having a good evening, thanks

Tassajara/Arroyo Seco and Carmel Valley Road Evacuation Advisory
Posted by Stan Russell

Indians Fire
Monterey Ranger District---Los Padres National Forest
June 26, 2008 3:00 PM
A Fire Evacuation Advisory has been issued for the Tassajara Road and south on Carmel Valley Road

A FIRE EVACUATION ADVISORY has been issued for residents of the following areas:

• Carmel Valley Road (G16) from its intersection with Arroyo Seco Road to its intersection with Tassajara Road (5007);
• Tassajara Road from its intersection with Carmel Valley Road to the national forest boundary;
• Cachagua Road from Tassajara Road to the Nason Road turnoff.

An advisory is a precautionary notice and you should prepare for a possible future evacuation.

Weather predictions indicate the possibility of southeast winds accompanied by thunder storms with lightning over the weekend. The purpose of this advisory is to give residents ample time to prepare for a possible evacuation. Residents who require assistance or would find it difficult to evacuate in a timely manner may want to consider relocating until the threat is diminished. Owners of livestock and large animals should consider gathering and transporting their animals now to minimize vehicle congestion along the roads should an evacuation become necessary.

Fire managers expect that there will be additional fire vehicle traffic along roads in the area as firefighters begin construction of contingency lines west of Carmel Valley Road north of Arroyo Seco Road.

Posted by Margie Whitnah (PelicanNetwork editor-at-large)

2:30PM June 26 Update:

Latest thermal imaging data finds heat only at the extreme southern end of the fire (in the wilderness near Indian Valley). While this is probably a good indication that the marine layer is keeping fire activity relatively low, it should not be interpreted as a sign that the fire is going out. A dispersed and slowly burning fire may not create enough heat to be detected. Clouds (and probably smoke) can prevent the satellite from detecting fire. And, of course, the situation can change very quickly and may well have changed since this data was collected. Here's the overview:

Indians Fire 71 percent contained

The Monterey County Herald
Herald Staff Report

Article Last Updated: 06/26/2008 10:39:09 AM PDT

The Indians Fire, caused by an escaped campfire, continues to burn 10 miles west of King City within Los Padres National Forest, Ventana Wilderness and Fort Hunter Liggett, with 58,872 acres scorched so far.

The fire is 71 percent contained, three residences and 13 outbuildings have been destroyed, 422 residences and 140 other structures are threatened, 10 firefighters injured and suppression cost to date is $33.8 million. On scene are 1,817 firefighters, 57 engines, 12 helicopters, seven air tankers and seven bulldozers.

The Gallery Fire continues to move south into the South Fork of the Big Sur River and north toward Manuel Peak, with 20,600 acres burned so far.

The fire is 5 percent contained, 693 firefighters are on scene, with nine bulldozers, two air tankers and six helicopters.

Evacuations remain in effect in the Partington Ridge area, the Red Cross is prepared to open an evacuation center in Carmel, Highway 1 remains closed between Ventana Inn and Esalen Institute, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is closed, escorted convoys for residents only continue through the closure area.


Post by Linda Parker 2:10 pm 6/26

I heard that the Cluett's home and the Boranda house burned down yesterday. Frank Zabrowski told me this. Great news about the other homes that did not burn, such as Richard Wangoe's old home(he had just sold it) and also great news about Cody Oliver's cabin that also survived on Stone Ridge (it was said to have burned down as well).


Thanks to Stan Russell ( ) for his excellent reports. Here is his 1:42:

Total acreage burned in the Basin Complex fire: 23,563
Percent contained: 3%
Expected containment: Not determined
Structures damaged/destroyed: 16 residence, 2 outbuildings. (I'm trying to get a specific list on this. Frank Pinney is compiling it and I will forward this when he has a minute to sit down and write it out - hopefully by the end of today)
Engines: 46
Crews: 19
Dozers: 2
Air tankers:7
Helicopters: 3
Total personnel: 693 (nice to see this number going up)

Dozers are re-establishing old fire breaks.

A new shelter is being established in Gorda for evacuees. More information on this as it comes in.

This fire is now the highest priority in California which will bring us more resources.

As of 1:00 PM today Ventana Inn is allowing their employees back into employee housing, reabsorbing more than 100 people back into their residences.

Some homeowners on Partington Ridge were able to go up on the ridge with an escort today to get things out.

Web resources:
Here is a website that is posting good maps for us:

Governor Schwarzzenegger was here yesterday and gave a press conference which is posted here:
Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief, Frank Pinney joins in with Arnold.

Monterey Herald has a slide show of Basin Complex fire

Another useful website:

Fire information is beginning to be posted throughout Big Sur Valley at businesses and at public bulletin boards. There will now be color maps, updated daily, with the fire perimeters clearly marked as well as a fact sheet by the Forest Service. I've been told that I will begin receiving these by email in pdf format and if/when this happens, I will forward them through this list.

Erin O'Brian is available to help spanish speaking people and be a liaison to the Red Cross - letting them know what is available.
Telephone: 831.667.2892

That it for now.

1:45 pm 6/26
Jeannie Ford says the Wangoe house is saved, contrary to previous fears. That brings the number down to 14 for structures lost.

It is inspiring to see the strength of character in Mike and Heather Gilson. Their house is gone, they were only able to save some books and personals, but they are open at the Bakery. With Michelle, they're surely losing a lot of money, but for the psychologica well being of the Big Sur community they're open to all showing a strong positiveness, and providing free pizzas to firefighters.
1:15 pm 6/26
Cynthia and Daniel Bianchetta can use help clearing around their Burns Creek home.
It is on west side immediately south of the Burns Creek bridge. The fire is in Burns Canyon. It is not moving fast. But the Bianchettas could be threatened quickly. They need help cutting limbs and cleaning up combustible debris. If you can help, the road block will let you through. You can call Cynthia and Danny at 667 2502.

I was wrong about Esalen. Here is a message from

Just to clarify, Esalen has NOT evacuated. We have removed any guests and non residential or non essential personnel from the property. There are still a number of us here making strategic plans for personal safety, safety of structures and the land here and anything else that needs to done to protect and further the well being of Esalen. We will be closed to guests for the weekend.

Jerilyn Hesse

11 am 6/26
The fire was quiet on the coast side during the night. Still, it is moving south, but slowly. On the north end, the merged fire was moving slowly into the Big Sur River drainage.

From the thermal map imaging at Xasauan:
This morning's thermal imaging data has things looking cooler at the north end of the Coast Ridge (above Nepenthe), but there is still a hot spot in Partington Canyon uncomfortably close to lower Partington Ridge. The fire also continues to burn south along both sides of the Coast Ridge and has now reached the, aptly named, Burns Creek. In the wilderness, the fire threatening Pine Valley has advanced a bit further along the ridge toward Church Creek Divide and the northwest portion of the fire remains active from the top of the Coast Ridge all the way to the Double Cone. Here's the overview:

The Big Sur Valley now smells smoky. Partington is still burning. There is ash around the South Coast, but the mist and fog is cold and wet. Folks are preparing for evacuation, but staying for now. Esalen has evacuated.
I'm going to check around and report back to you.

At the community meeting tonight, the Incident Commander reported on a good day.
The Basin Complex has slowed dramatically. Last night it burned 10,000 acres, but only 1,500 today. It is moving south, but very slowly. Esalen looks safe now, and the crews expect to hold the fire to the east side of Highway One.

On the north side, it is moving faster and heading into the already burned area of the wilderness. Firefighting crews from the Indians area are moving west to fight the Basin Complex.

A home that was considered lost has been saved, reducing the number of lost structures to 15.

Chief Frank Pinney reported several successes. Lynda Sayre, a touch healing therapist, offered complimentary treatments to anyone who has been stressed or hurt by this event. She will do that at the Health Center - call 667 8823

Morning Satellite Pass.....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Fire Without......

Saturday we had a wedding in Corralitos....up Eureka Canyon on top of the mountain.

This is the area that had burned viciously a couple of weeks ago after an illegal burn.....the Summit Fire. Meanwhile, some knucklehead pulled off the road outside Freedom earlier in the week to pee, and watched his catalytic converter set the dry weeds on fire......and burn down 20 houses, kill a dozen horses, a dozen lamas......and who knows how many kitties and dogs.

The fire was still burning as we drove north to do the wedding. Highway One was closed, but mercifully closed at our exit. We rolled on to Corralitos and on up to Eureka Canyon. The sky was glowering, oppressive....the air was humid. In Upstate New York, this would be thunderstorm weather....but luckily we don't have thunderstorms here in California in summer.

As soon as we arrived on top of the mountain at the wedding site.....the sky opened up and started kicking ass. Lightning ripped across the sky. Thunder pounded us flat as we started to unload. Rain soaked all our shit.

Meanwhile, we could watch the lightning strike.....and watch the fires start, all around us. Luckily, every able bodied male in Santa Cruz County was out on the roads ready and waiting for just this eventuality. We not only watched the fires start, we watched the Santa Cruz militia rally and put them out.

Yeah, well......we were on top of the mountain. The house was a cute hobbit-style deal tucked into the hillside. There was a swimming pool at the peak of the hill.....the only flat spot. We put the Webers up there, on the concrete....away from all fire danger.

I was amazed that we even got this wedding. When I showed up for the initial interview, the evil step-mom had a plan in mind.....that I disagreed with in every atom and molecule. She got so pissed that she actually stormed out of the meeting. I drove home and thought: "Oh, well!"

Months later, the bride called up to make sure we were still on track for the date.......

Well, sure.......??!!??

After we had set up our tables and chairs....and our cooking zone on the concrete next to the pool.....the heavens opened up like the Taliban in Kandahar. Lightning was striking all around us. I have to admit, I was wishing for my old scapula.....or a Miraculous Medal. In Catholic lore, if you die wearing them, you go straight to heaven.

Brendan came up to me and pointed out that I was standing next to two metal objects at the absolute peak of the mountain during an electrical storm. "Dad, get the fires lit, and get out!"

Well, if the lightning hits....I don't have to worry about lighting the fires!

I got my fires going.....even while cowering under the barrage.

Meanwhile, the evil step-mom had decided that the pool at the top of the mountain was not clean enough for the invited wedding guests. She sent the idiot step-son and his girlfriend to deal with it. The girl got in the pool with a net and started scooping up the floating oak leaves, while boyfriend got out the 12 foot long aluminum pole attached to the brush/vacuum and started making the pool perfect.

In a lightning storm.

I was worried enough standing next to a 30 inch Weber.....while this idiot is raising up a 12 foot pole to the heavens, with his girlfriend glibly floating around the pool snaring bugs with an aluminum net.

I finally went up to him: "Dude. Blame it on me. No one gives a shit about the pool and how clean it is. The mountain is burning down around us. Tell your step-mom that I made you stop. She already hates me........"

The guy was clueless and continued his chore.

"I tell you what: I have some garlic and onions, and some prawns and crayfish and some salmon. I'll just toss it all in the pool.....and then later, when the lightning hits, we will have bouilliabaise! I am going below and cowering under some wood."

The guy just stared at me......holding aloft his 12 foot length of aluminum.

There was no lightning strike at the pool. God loves idiots, drunks, and Irishmen. Apparently.

Lee Trevino has the most mature and evolved attitude towards lightning strikes.

Lee was nearly electrocuted in Ohio when lightning struck the fairway a couple of hundred yards in front on his foursome during a major tournament. He got burns and all that....and had to recuperate for some weeks, and lost a ton of money.

Upon recovering, he came to Pebble Beach....and somehow wound up playing a round during one of our extremely rare electrical storms. The foursome had almost finished.....they were at the 18th tee, and at $600 a player for 18 holes, you want to finish the round.

Lightning started striking all around, and his friends immediately became protective: "Jesus, Lee....let's get over it and get a drink."

Lee stood at the 18th tee with an iron held high over his head.

"Lee, what the hell are you doing!!!"

"Relax, boys. Even God can't hit a one-iron!"

I am carrying a one-iron around with me everywhere until November

The Year of The Salamander.......

Salamanders are native to our little valley.....and somewhat endangered. At Hastings Reserve they even have DayGlo "Salamander Crossing" signs on Carmel Valley Road, strategically placed way the hell up in the trees so I can't steal them....

Salamanders are associated with fire.....and hell. The gnarliest, most bad-ass broiling heat source in the kitchen is called a salamander.

Meanwhile, salamanders seem to actually live under my deck in the dark and moist, and under rotting logs. Why the fire association?

Whatever, it is working......our whole, salamander friendly world is being consumed by fire. Even with the wind blowing SSE, the smoke is so dense that any vestige of mountains are lost in the haze. It is like living in Kansas.

Actually, it is like living in L.A. in 1960. Back then I was in 7th grade, and a track geek. Forget track, there were many, many days when the air was so bad and so thick with toxins that it hurt to breathe.....and we were kept inside. It is not quite that bad here....yet.

Here is the latest map. The Cachagua Store is about an inch above the top margin. China Camp campsite is about 10 miles by road. Pine Valley campsite is the home of Jack English.....bowmaker to Yo Yo Mah.....80 or 90 years old, and refusing to leave. Notice that the fire is about 200m from his home. Go Jack!

Here is the latest Forest Service report on the Basin Fire......

Basin Complex

Monterey Ranger District---Los Padres National Forest

June 26, 2008 7:00 PM

Los Padres NF Fire Information Center: (805) 961-5770 (8:00am to 8:00pm)

Fire information: (see “Current Conditions”) and

A Public Meeting was held tonight at 7 PM

Big Sur Visitor Center/Multi-Agency Facility

Fire location: One mile south of Big Sur, Los Padres National Forest

Date/time started: June 21, 2008 / 12:56 pm Total acres burned: approximately 26,763

Percent contained: 3% Fire line to be constructed: unknown

Expected containment: not determined Expected control: not determined

Suppression costs to date: $1,964,700 Structures damaged/destroyed: 16 residences, 2 out-buildings

Cause: Lightning Structures threatened: 575


Engines Crews Dozers Air Tankers Helicopters Total Personnel

54 24 9 7 3 743

Terrain/vegetation/difficulties: Steep rocky terrain; heavy fuels—chaparral, grass, trees; limited access; drought conditions; dry gusty winds.

Current situation: The Gallery Fire and the Basin Fire have burned together, therefore a single acreage and percentage of containment will be used in future updates. The fire continued to burn actively at the higher elevations today, exhibiting extreme fire behavior. It continues to move south into the South Fork of the Big Sur River drainage, and north towards Manuel Peak and is also moving E/NE into Pine Valley and southwest into the South Fork of the Big Sur River. The fire continues to back down towards portions of Highway 1. Structure protection engines remain in place along Partington Ridge, the North Coast Ridge Road and Highway 1. Crews continue to hold the fire east of Highway 1 and south of the community of Big Sur.

Evacuations: Evacuations remain in place in the Partington Ridge area. Should further evacuations be required the Red Cross is prepared to open an evacuation center in Carmel. The SPCA for Monterey County will operate an emergency animal evacuation shelter for household pets (dogs, cats, etc.) adjacent to any American Red Cross evacuation site. Please contact the SPCA first at 831-373-2631 or at 831-646-5534 (after hours) for information on evacuating horses and livestock.

Closures and road status: Highway 1 is closed between Esalen on the south and the Ventana Inn on the north. Esalen can be accessed from the south. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is closed. Escorted convoys continue through the closure area for residents only and are subject to change based upon fire activity. Several businesses along Highway 1 in the fire area are closed. All national forest lands north of Nacimiento-Ferguson Road are closed to public access.

Agencies: U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE, Big Sur Volunteer Fire Department, California State Parks, California Highway Patrol, CalTrans, Monterey County and other agencies.

Incident Management: Unified Command with Mike Dietrich (California Interagency Incident Management Team 5); Chief Frank Pinny (Big Sur Volunteer Fire Department); and Monterey County Sheriff. The incident command post is located at Andrew Molera State Park.

Here is the State wide report.........

The CAL FIRE Mission

The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection protects the people of California from fires, responds to emergencies, and protects and enhances forest, range, and watershed values providing social, economic, and environmental benefits to rural and urban citizens.

Wildland Fire Information

Statewide Fire Map (Google Earth)

Statewide Fire Map (06/26/08 - PM)

National Fire News

Wildland Fire Occurances for State and Local Government (CAL FIRE DPA)

Governor Directs Coordinated Firefighting Efforts and Resources to Combat Wildfires

Northern California Wildfire Overview

Current Situation: State and Federal firefighters continue to battle hundreds of wildfires throughout Northern California and are preparing for light to moderate dry thunderstorm activity beginning tonight through the weekend. Fires are activity burning and continuing to spread. News fires are being identified on a regular basis. Priority of firefighting effort is for the protection of life, property and natural resources.
Download the latest fact sheet.

Total Fires: 1,090
Acres: 165,091
Contained Fires: 241
Personnel Committed: 12,512

Resources Committed:
Fire Engines: 933
Hand Crews: 288
Dozers: 262
Water Tenders: 303
Helicopters: 68
Air Tankers: 14

(These numbers are totals from state, local and federal firefighting agencies. Updated 6/26 at 9:00 p.m.)

Items of Interest:
Highway closures: State highways and local roads are closed throughout Northern California due to wildfire activities. Closures are in place for state highway 32, 36, 70, 89, 96 and 299. Numerous county and local roads are closed as well. Travelers are advised to check with law enforcement agencies and transportation departments prior to traveling.

Evacuations: Areas of Butte, Shasta and Trinity counties are under evacuation orders at this time. Precautionary evacuation orders are in place for areas in Lassen, Modoc, Mendocino, Trinity and Shasta counties. Residents are advised to monitor the fire situation in their areas, check with local law enforcement agencies for information, and be prepared to evacuate when necessary.

Structures Destroyed: 20 residences, 1 commercial, 20 outbuildings.

Summary of Fires by Unit

Butte Unit: The Butte Lightning Complex consists of 31 fires, which have burned 7,500 acres. Click Butte Lightning Complex for more information. The Butte Fire Information Number is (530) 538-7826.

Mendocino Unit: The Mendocino Lightning Complex has reported approximately 121 fires that have burned approximately 27,000 acres. 34 of these fires are contained. Click Mendocino Lightning Complex for more information. The Mendocino Fire Information Number is 707-467-6426.

Humboldt-Del Norte Unit: The complex has 58 fires that have burned for 1,125 acres. There are currently 13 active fires in this complex. The Paradise Fire is north of Shelter Cove and is 825 acres and 40% contained. The Humboldt-Del Norte Fire Information Number is (707) 726-1225.

Shasta-Trinity Unit: Over 158 fires for a total of 30,000 acres. 68 of the fires have been contained. Click Shasta and Trinity Lightning for more information. Incident Command Team #10 has been assigned to this complex. Shasta-Trinity Unit Information (530) 225-2510.

Lassen-Modoc Unit (including Plumas County): The Lassen-Modoc Lightning Complex consists of 49 fires burning more than 5,050 acres. 47 of these fires have been contained. Click Popcorn/Peterson Complex for more information on this incident.

Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit: The Sonoma-Lake-Napa Lightning Complex consists of 19 fires that have burned a total 19,500 acres. 18 of these fires have been contained. Click on Wild Fire Incident or Walker Fire Incident for more information on these incidents.

Tehama-Glenn Unit: The Tehama-Glenn Lightning Complex consists of 43 fires. 39 of the fires have been contained, while two remain active. The Antelope Fire is 3,000 acres with 35% contained and the Mill Creek Fire is 11,360 acres with 30% containment. Click on the Tehama-Glenn Lightning Series for more specific information on these incidents. The Tehama-Glenn Unit Information Number is (530) 528-5193.

Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit: The Oliver Fire is located in the Ponderosa Basin and is 2,200 acres and 20% contained. Click Oliver Fire for more specific information on this incidents. The Madera-Mariposa-Merced Fire Information Number is (209) 966-4784.

Santa Clara Unit: Click Whitehurst/Hummingbird Incident for more information on these fires.

Siskiyou Unit: All fires in CAL FIRE jurisdiction have been contained.

San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit: All fires in CAL FIRE jurisdiction have been contained.

Amador-El Dorado Unit: All fires in CAL FIRE jurisdiction have been contained.

Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit: All fires in CAL FIRE jurisdiction have been contained.

Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit: All fires in CAL FIRE jurisdiction have been contained.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

While we were out.....

......feeding the convict fire crews in Big Sur:

George Carlin died.

Everyone had their two cents (Olbermann, O'Reilly, Fox, Jon Stewart).

Far and away the best and most touching was Stephen Colbert. In his anti-hero role he pretended to think that Carlin was reponsible for having the famous seven words banned. His "Word" segment pointed out the absurdity of "tits" being banned, while "boobs" is fine. At the end of his bit he turned to a picture of Carlin and said: "Thank you.....and goodbye, motherfucker!"

"Motherfucker" was not bleeped.

George Carlin Quotes

1. Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.
2. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.
3. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
4. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?
5. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.
6. What if there were no hypothetical questions?
7. If a deaf person swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?
8. If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there is no woman around to hear him... is he still wrong?
9. If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?
10. Is there another word for synonym?
11. Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do "practice"?
12. Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all?"
13. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?
14. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
15. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
16. Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?
17. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
18. Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?
19. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
20. If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
21. Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?
22. How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
23. What was the best thing before sliced bread?
24. One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.
25. How is it possible to have a civil war?
26. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown, too?
27. If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?
28. If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
29. Whose cruel idea was it for the word "lisp" to have a "S" in it?
30. Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?
31. If the "black box" flight recorder is never damaged during a plane crash, why isn't the whole airplane made out of that stuff?
32. Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?
33. If you spin an oriental man in a circle three times, does he become disoriented?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ahhhh........Finally figured it out!

Austin Kline strikes again.....

This is a pin being handed out at the Texas Republican State Convention....

Sorry, folks......I am trying really hard to write about food. I have been plowing through three new books about food policy recommended to me by BOTH The Economist and The New Yorker.....proof positive in itself that the end is nigh: ......but it is so depressing that I would rather turn compost. (Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel; The End of Food by Paul Roberts; In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan)

My compost is in fine shape.......check out the hollyhocks in front of the Store! Reality is so much more troubling: farmer suicides (pesticide ingestion is the fourth biggest cause of death in India, Sri Lanka and Korea); NAFTA-spurred destruction of the corn genotype in the mountains of Mexico (heirloom corn varieties disappearing week by week....and along with them the Monarch butterfly; for the first time in human history the number of obese people now equals the number of starving people on the planet.....both in the billion person range.

Sheesh. If you want to borrow any of these, give me a call. Trying to read all three at once makes me want to go get a sign and stand on Munras Avenue outside Whole Foods......and I feel like that ANYWAY!

Anyway......back to Politics.

Ever since I got semi-privileged information from former Vietnam era POW's that NONE of them were supporting John McCain I have been trying to figure out why.

I mean.....these guys all come from privilege and money.....very few po' folks in the Naval Academy and West Point, and very few dummies.....American military policy of the last sixty years notwithstanding. These guys all served in a highly structured, privileged environment....and went on to become even richer, more powerful and more privileged. None of the former POW's are CodePink types.....and John McCain seems like the quintessential proto-type. Why the aversion? It did not make sense..... And why the total aversion?

I finally got a whisper in my ear.

John McCain was.....and still is.....a fuckup. Not quite on the George Bush level.....but close. The guy was the descendant of his seat at Annapolis was always guaranteed. Source of friction and contempt #1: almost everyone else has to compete visciously to get in, no matter how privileged they start out.

Once in Annapolis, McCain showed utter contempt for every and all tradition and discipline in an institution whose very essence is tradition and discipline. I am sure the true story of all his fuckups and violations would make hysterical reading.....but his classmates were not amused when his dad and gramps pulled his ass out of the fire time and time again for misdeeds that would have the regular midshipman canned in a heartbeat. McCain eventually graduated in the bottom 1% of his class.

I can relate.......I graduated in the bottom 1% of my class at Cornell in Electrical Engineering......117 out of 118 with a GPA of 1.86. My real major was motorcycles, food, and a beautiful woman. Alcohol may have been involved......but it was French, and aged in oak.

Upon graduation I was barely able to get a job in London making lasers in a lab for fifteen pounds a week. My rent was seventeen pounds a week......but I had both the motorcycle and the beautiful woman, so who gives a shit anyway? Pints of William Younger's Tartan Bitter were 15 pence.

I lasted six weeks as an engineer, wrecked the motorcycle, got the beautiful woman arrested and eventually labeled as a fugitive terrorist.....but that is several other stories. I wound up working in France for eight bucks a day. No one was asking me to run Itel.....or IBM....not even my Daddy.

At Annapolis on the other hand, the arguably most competitive pricks on the American landscape fought each other tooth and nail for four years for the honor of being top dog. The guys at the top of the class got to pick their assignments. In the sixties, the big catch was Naval Aviator.....Top Gun. Only the elite of the elite got to become aviators.....the top couple of percent. The elite of the elite of the elite got to be carrier pilots...

Except John McCain. This bottom-feeder again got Daddy and Gramps to go to bat for him....and got a pilot's seat. Still, he did not focus and finished training at the bottom of his flight. He wrecked three planes: one in Texas, one in Spain (the Spanish press got it right as usual and identified the culprit as the son of an admiral), and one on his unsanctioned way to an Army-Navy football game. Wrecked three planes....and still continued to fly.

Once assigned to an actual fighting unit, McCain got assigned to slow, dependable A-4's....already outdated. The actual real Annapolis aviators got Phantoms and Crusaders. This is not to denigrate A4 flyers. My friend Doug Meador from Ventana Vineyards was an A-4 flyer with a million billion flights into harm's way and as crazy and brave a motherfucker as one could ever find.

Anyway.....turns out there were different ways of being shot down. The best guy could get caught by accident, equipment failure or bad luck. Then there were the guys who were slow, stupid, hung-over or basically incompetent. McCain has never released his military we can only speculate. It is not hard to do.....the form is #180, and all it takes is a signature. John Kerry signed his 180 twenty years ago.

Once captured, McCain enters a fog of silence, discipline and honor of the type that he had heretofore skirted and mocked. The other POW's are not talking. The Vietnamese, however.....from Jeffrey Klein's article for Mother Jones this month:

"The genius of McCain's mythmaking is his perceived humility amid perpetual defiance. Having been a rebel without cause, and often a rebel without consequences, McCain apparently was not surprised when his Vietnamese captors went relatively easy on him compared to his fellow POWs. The Vietnamese military secretly and frequently filmed the American POWs to learn their propensities. Col. Pham Van Hoa of the Vietnamese People's Army Film Department was in charge of the filming. Asked recently for his dominant impression of McCain, the now-retired Van Hoa said that McCain "seemed superior to other prisoners." How so? "Superior in attitude towards them.""

Upon return, with his obvious physical problems related to captivity, etc......McCain was grounded. Once again he used his inherited position to get a plane and take a flight. Guess what? He wrecked it.

McCain has only released 17 pages of more than 600 from his military record. Those 17 pages are all awards. One can only imagine what lies in the other 600.

Now I understand the POW aversion to McCain. Here is a guy who has.... for his entire career....joked, ridiculed, flaunted and abused the kind of real hard work, intelligence and sacrifice it takes to become a United States Naval Aviator by using family connections to cover his many failings. And now, the guy is using the value of everyone else's skill, hard work and honor to inflate further his own inflated self-image and sell it to the American people and the world.

I would be pissed, too. Fuck this guy John McCain for a whiny, burned out, douche-bag wanna-be, spoiled brat fuckup.

And finally........this was largely un-reported. was completely unreported, and I check these things constantly.

In the Media.......the fact that Denis Kucinich put forward a resolution to impeach George Bush was put out as the wacky act of a whack-job lunatic vegan whose taller, younger wife has a tongue stud.

Check it out. Sixty percent of Congress voted for the articles of impeachment to be forwarded. Who knew? Our elected Representatives actually checked their oath of office and voted on the side of the Constitution?

The Kucinich Privilege Resolution

On Motion to Refer
House Roll Call No. 401
110th Congress, 2nd Session

Passed: 251-166 (see complete tally)
Agreed to refer H. Res. 1258, impeaching George W. Bush, President of the United States, of high crimes and misdemeanors, to the Committee on the Judiciary by a yea-and-nay vote of 251 yeas to 166 nays, Roll No. 401.

Vote Map
: House Roll Call No. 401
Votes For : 251
Votes Against : 166
Not Voting : 16

Friday, June 13, 2008


Today I got a check from a homeless guy for $2,000.

Go figure.

Dave was one of our human pets that I have written about. In Cachagua, it turns out that from time to time.....or all the time......there are people at the stark end of the wire. Homeless, penniless, clueless, friendless, hopeless.

You can either turn away.....or dig in.

Dave is an ornery fuck. He has lived in Cachagua for a million years....or at least long enough to have pissed off almost everyone out here.

Dave likes cribbage....sudoku.....Coors Lite.....bitter humor.....and possibly some scheduled pharmaceuticals. Not necessarily in that order.

Dave's bitter humor and cranky intelligence endeared him to Amanda from the get-go. The two of them were part of the community wide love affair with Store Kitty....and they further bonded over Dremel tools and their artistic uses.

Dave takes care of all our, cardboard, plastic, etc. Dave keeps the property clean and raked. Dave makes sure the water bottles are filled and cold for Monday Night. Dave lives in the trailer that Officer Cocksucker is trying to condemn and haul away. Dave rides along with Amanda on her shopping runs to Costco for The Store.....and indulges her in her quest for the perfect Wendy's hamburger......They actually schedule their Costco runs around the personnel schedule at the Seaside Wendy's......

Dave is just a year older than me.....but has been ill-served by time, and some personal life-style choices. Five years ago, we realized that we either support Dave......or Dave would die.

Dave's needs are simple: a 12 pack of Coors, a pack of smokes.....some carbo/fat heavy microwaved food. Figure $25-30 a day. 365 days, five years......The bill comes to $60,000. I mentioned this in the blog once.....not to shame Dave, or to sparkle up my own Jesus image.....but to point out at least one of the holes in our social set up.

I mean, really........Sixty grand buys a Hummer! And Amanda and I were happy with a bitter homeless Sudoku guy?

The blog post got back to Dave, and hurt his feelings a tad.

Meanwhile, Amanda pushed on with trying to get Dave back into the Program: Social Security, Medicare.....all that.

Dave's previous health care program was similar to mine: Something hurts......apply alcohol and Vicodin and try to ignore it; you can't breathe or the ambulance. When the bill comes for the ambulance......fucking sue me. (That is a new Japanese dish......very popular in Cachagua).

Amanda drove Dave back and forth to various doctors and bureaucrats in Salinas in search of a Social Security check and Medicare. Dave indulged her......but:

Dave was over it......his experience with government and society was such that he had decided he would actually prefer to die, rather than jump through hoops. You have heard of Suicide by Cop?.......Dave chose Suicide by Cachagua.

Meanwhile....the guy had worked a ton of years, and paid into the system. Dave worked at Digital Research.....and knows a ton of dirt about Gary Kildall. Dave worked at the Monterey Plaza in the opening phase.....and knows a ton of dirt about the local mafiosi who pulled that deal off. Dave worked for Coast Produce in Watsonville....and in Seattle, and San Diego......

Dave is not a bum.....just a guy who gave up.

Amanda found him and kept him as a pet......and eventually revved him up and put him back in society.

It has been a long month.....and I am struggling to make sense of this post. Today, Dave got his bank his check from Social Security........the check that he had earned for all his work all those years.....

His first act was to write me a check for two grand.

His second act was to invite Amanda out for a lunch date.....his last lunch date having been twenty-five years ago.....

His third act was to buy a Dremel router table.

His fourth act was to knock down all the plywood and bamboo we had used to hide his trailer from Officer Cocksucker.......and start sprucing up his home zone......

Dave is now a Citizen.....

This morning, the Steelhead Rescue guys came and parked next to Dave's house, and saved another 200 baby steelhead from the Cachagua Creek.....the Creek that Dave keeps clean and clear of debris. That brings the total for the year to over a thousand.....just at Dave's Trailer.

As I left work tonight, I thought I heard a wild cat screaming. I stopped the car and rolled down the window. I realized it was Dave......and his Dremel tool router table, working on some driftwood......making art.

Who needs a Hummer?

Sunday, June 08, 2008


We got to work at Ansel Adams' house last week, for the first time in probably fifteen years.

His son Michael has remodeled a bit. I was afraid the character of the place might have changed.....but no worries. The big gong was still over the fireplace.....the cutting table was still in the living room. The Steinway was gone.....very sad. The workshop/darkroom was completely unchanged, however.

I was stressed to not find my favorite artifact in Ansel's domain, though. I looked all around the remodeled kitchen to no avail. I finally gave up and asked Michael.

There in a recessed nook......was my old friend. Everyone has seen Ansel's photography. This little thing tells you all you need to know about the private guy.....That is a twinkle you see in Ansel's eye in Jim Alinder's 1984 photo above.......

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Keith Olbermann tonight voted Rupert Murdoch as The Worst Person In The World.....for firing Jane Freedman as chief of HarperCollins.....

This seems really obscure....but it hits close to home here in Cachagua.

Supposedly Jane had got on Rupert's bad side by shit-canning the OJ book...."If I Did It". You may remember that Judith Regan was fired by Harper for the egregiously uncool notion of giving OJ Simpson money for writing a book about how he murdered his wife and her favorite waiter......and for promoting a book about what an asshole Mickey Mantle New York City. A no-brainer for the rest of the world.....but apparently a problem for Rupert.

Judith Regan then accused Harper of being anti-Semitic.....and blah blah blah.

Jane Freedman is not a Catholic.......and Rupert Murdoch has probably never been inside a synagogue.....but nevermind.

Jane hired my brother Rob as Editor-in-Chief of HarperCollins. Rob had started off in her mail room, but was a real writer himself. Rob brought her actual Anne Patchett, like Russell Banks, like Denis Johnson.....writers that actually wrote....and required inter-play with actual editors who would refine, support and inspire them to further heights.

If you are a literary fan.....stop by sometime and I will play for you Rob's memorial service where Anne, Denis, Russell, Oscar Hijuelos, Armistead Maupin, John Colapinto, Sebastian Junger and Anthony Bourdain all spoke about art and inspiration.....

The wake was at the University Club on Fifth Avenue.....the after-party was at Jane's penthouse on the Upper East Side. The food was OK....we still use the risotto cakes idea I stole from that night....but ours is better.

Jane's apartment really impressed me, though. Not because of the address.....not because of the penthouse.

Jane was the CEO of HarperCollins....a multinational corporate entity. Owned by Germans. One would expect a hard-edged, corporate type, bloodless apartment.


The walls were covered with bookcases. In every room.

And.....the bookcases were deep....Eighteen inches for sure.

All of them were stacked two deep. There were the visible books, and then the books stacked behind the visible books. The idea had never occurred to me. I was stacking my extra books and pretending they were end-tables. Jane should have a show on HGTV...Book Design........

Jane had an entire 3,000 sq ft penthouse with every wall stacked to the ceiling with great books....most of them signed......TWO DEEP! Who else do you want running your book business?

Jane Freedman is the quintessential book oriented executive. She took risks, and nurtured authors and editors that have informed our world in ways that we have not yet figured out.

No one needed more evidence to know that Rupert Murdoch is a complete fucking scumbag.....but firing Jane Freedman is a tragedy, a travesty.....and a huge loss for our culture, and sadly.......the net intelligence of our species.

The death of a thousand cuts.......

Thanks, really are The Worst Person In The World.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Job opening.....Declaration

Uh.....I just read that Hillary Clinton is "open to" the Vice Presidency..

I want to make it perfectly clear to all and sundry.......

On a day when Mark Hughes has been chosen Manager of Manchester City......when Ronaldinho is confirmed to be moving to the same Man City.....

The world needs some stability.

I, Michael Howard Jones.....Hereby declaare: I am open to the position of Attacking Midfielder for Real Sociedad.

Some would say that my over dependence of my dominant right foot would disqualify me from contention. I say to you.....who better to work with his back to the goal....... on the left side of the field?

Age....I am only 58. I am applying for the position of midfielder on a Second Division team in Spain.... John McCain is applying for Manager of the United 72.

And....I am completely familiar with every bar in San Sebastian.....What I may lose on the field, I will make up in the streets and the lavatories. grandpuppy is named for Xabi Alonzo. The orginal Xabi is from San Sebastian, and I have met his mom and drunk many bottles of wine in her local bar. Not to mention the wild mushroom surtido and the persebbe.

I feel that my long term association with Spanish soccer, and my fine sense of humor and knowledge of public houses in San Sebastian uniquely qualify me for the position of Attacking Mid-Fielder for Real Sociedad.

My agent awaits your replies.

Please contact Terry McCauliffe at the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Breathe history......

Americans are obsessed with History......mostly because we don't have much, on a global standard. In Carmel, our oldest church doesn't make it past the American Revolution.....there are junior executives in England living in re-constructed churches a thousand years older...... is one of the hottest websites......find out who, when and where your ancestors were from.....

Tonight a man of mixed ancestry was nominated to run for the Presidency of the United States. Someone to potentially hang with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelts, etc.

When I was in high school in 1967, Barack Obama's mere existence was still a state crime in Virginia.....miscegenation......and Obama was already in day care. And this year, Obama won Virginia in the primaries.....and is poised to win them in the national election.

My best friend in high school, Steve Kinnaman......had a granny from Virginia who had a farm that still employed "darkies". She was still bitter at times and harked back to an era when the darkies were not so uppity.

So....take a breath everyone. A black man is in shouting distance of the Presidency. You are part of History.

Your descendants could look it up. They will find your voter registration card, and all the voter logs you signed when you voted, and which party you voted for.....on line. I am still thrilled....and creeped looking at my Irish grandfather's draft card (he lived in South Central, and worked in a restaurant)......and Will Chesebro's great grandfather's draft card (he lived four blocks from my grandfather in South Central). In 1917.

Now.....Will works for me, and Brendan works for Will's dad in the winery.

So, our history will be completely transparent......You better fucking vote.......your great-great grand children will know you were a hung-over, lazy sack of shit a hundred years from now.....

Breathe the history....

In Europe......This is all dumb. Despite some flare-ups here and Bridgit Bardot getting fined for hating Muslims for killing sheep.....Europeans are miles ahead of us.

They all knew that George Bush was a fucking idiot in 1999. The worst part of a memorable hangover in November of 2000 in Italy for me was waking up and having to explain George Bush to a passel of Italians.

Europeans have known for years that Ford and GM are fucking idiots. For twenty years in Europe, you could drive cars with better handling, more props.....and double or triple the mileage of American cars ......all while the Big Three American automakers were fighting tooth and nail in Congress to delay better mileage standards for American cars.

This fall it was a huge victory to pass a law requiring 25 miles to the gallon in 2020......


In Europe it was a joke. The law passed while Amanda and I were driving an Alfa Romeo 147 diesel five-speed through crazy mountains at crazy speeds with my foot flat to the floor for days at a 50 miles to the gallon.

A car that actually laughed at me...... in Italian, Spanish and Catalan. When the temperature dropped below -5 Celsius and I continued to drive above 100km per hour the digital readout said: "Buen Suerte"!

Good Luck!

The news that GM and Ford are closing plants and firing people.......and discontinuing the Hummer......Europeans knew this ten years ago. The picture of Arnold driving a Hummer elicited the same reaction you get when you see a National Geographic foto of a Nubian sucking drinking wildebeest blood.

Ancient culture. Possibly cute. Kinda boring.

George Bush turned America into a Third World country......if we are generous. I am thinking Fourth World. Our medical services rank below Costa Rica, after all......I have trouble attracting kids from Spain to work for me because their parents are worried about medical care.

Meanwhile.......A black man was nominated for President? Get over it. Women running countries in Europe are almost achieving parity with men. Spain has a woman Secretary of Defense.

In Kitzbuhel, Austria in 1971....the mayor of the town had a super-hot daughter. She married a black GI she met in Munich on leave. The wedding was a huge social event. No one commented on the race of the groom. Not one person....once. In Arnold's home country.......37 years ago. And my boss at the hotel had been a guard at a concentration camp. He was happy for the young couple.....

Last January, everywhere that Amanda and I went in Europe we were accosted by people who took time out to tell us how important it was that America elect Obama. Some folks took time to actually grab my arm and shout in my face: a mechanic in a garage south of Roses in Spain.....and a sheep farmer in rubber boots at a traffic stop in Urepel, France.......1 km from the Roncevalles Pass of Roland fame.

I can't figure out why Americans think we are superior.......or why Europeans still look to us for leadership and guidance.

This whole Obama/Hope thing is not bullshit. Not in the world's eyes. There are people all over the world rooting us on and trying to partake of the energy of the moment.....

Breathe the history......

Your descendants are watching.......

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Good Dog.....Bad Dog.

Speaking of justice.....

Monday morning, Xabi the Puppy and I went down to Carmel Beach with mineral water, champagne, ice, glasses, a table and linen to mark the passing of a Carmel icon......Simone Cryns.

Simone was one of the iconic bartenders in Carmel in the Seventies and Eighties......the General Store, Maxwell's, Sadie's......Bud's Pub, the Red Lion. Even A Moveable Feast.

Along with Helen Randall Bell, Slab (aka Steve Thomas), the Sweet and Hot Connie's, and Slab's brother Bitter Phil, Simone was always behind a jumping bar.

"Can I get a Dos Equiis and........ a book of matches?"

"That will be fifty-two dollars........."

That kind of jumping bar.

Simone worked for us a few times.....when we needed a super-pro. She worked for us when we did a party for Gerry Ford in Pebble Beach, and I later in her apron found a mash note and a card from part of Ford's Secret Service detail.

She went on to become a manager at Whole Foods.....and quit eventually after encountering the same kind of ethical problems that we find all through the store.

One thing she did not quit, though.....was the booze. Simone liked her NASCAR, her Jack Russell's.....and Ketl One.

We contacted her about working on Monday Nights at The Store.....who better to enable our dark side in the dining room........and she was all set to start. Once she finished rehab.

We talked about it and joked a bit: "I'll be a much better bartender if I don't outdrink the customers!"

Simone checked herself in to rehab......and then checked herself out after a day or so. She wrote everyone notes, and took her little car, her Virgin Airways sleep mask, and a half-gallon of vodka out to Arroyo Seco.

She was supposed to work for us on Mother's Day at Paraiso Vineyards......she would have been perfect with our crew and the Paraiso Crew. Jen Smith and Trina at Paraiso have that same wonderful tough on the outside, soft on the inside, growly aura.

On the way back and forth to Paraiso we drive out the Valley Road and over Cahoon Grade....and we always stop at the Grinding Rock above the site of the old Schoolhouse. There is a single oak in the pasture and a big flat rock covered with multiple grinding holes left from the native Americans back in the day. The vista is of the entire Arroyo Seco and the east side of Chew's Ridge......the oaks, the craggy mountains.....and the Salinas Valley and the mountains beyond. I always make the kids stop there and take a few breaths, look around, and picture what the culinary life was once upon a the kitchen of the Ohlone.

Little did we know that we were driving by Simone......sleeping the Big Sleep in her little car, safe behind her Virgin Air sleep mask.......

Anyway.....the wake was Monday on the beach at 13th Street.

I brought all this stuff because I was afraid maybe no one would come......I mean, Simone seemed depressed about her station in life after all.

I need not have least 80 friends showed up. Father Scott burned some herbs and did his thing....

Meanwhile, my grandpuppy was fractious. He chased his Frisbee, humped a few dogs, barked and whined and chewed on his leash. Finally, I decided that the distraction was too much and walked him back up to the car. As we hit Scenic and the path I ran into Clayton and Linda Anderson and we chatted about Memorial Day two years ago when we all put 2500 crosses at 13th Street beach. Puppy pulled on the leash and snapped it, but I didn't worry since the car was just across the street....and this is his home turf.

Next thing I knew there was a horrendous screeching.....a dog in pain.

I ran over....and there was Xabi in the jaws of a pit bull. The pit had him by the jaw and was tossing him around like a shark with a porpoise, trying to get the kill. Fuck.

I ran over and grabbed Xabi by the head and stopped the to and fro. Onlookers ran over to help and started beating on the pit bull with flashlights and kicking it. Each kick and blow jerked the pit bull's head and threatened to tear Xabi's jaw I got them to lay off.

The owner of the pit produced a can of mace: "Here....I have this stuff for these situations......spray him in the eyes...." and handed a squirt tube to one of the helpers.

No effect.

I held on to Xabi's head and watched the pitbull. He was trying to get a better grip and jockeying for a better position. I waited until he relaxed for a split second and snatched Xabi's jaw back and out of the way.

The pit bull snapped forward......and got me, munching my finger.

Xabi and I stood back while the lady struggled with her pissed off pit bull. Blood was pouring from my hand, and Xabi was shaking.

The lady was screaming: "His dog attacked my dog. My dog did not bite him.....he put his hand in my dog's mouth!"

Cops came. Fire trucks. Ambulances. The cops stopped me from washing my hand off in the dog fountain. Instead I waited for twenty minutes for the ambulance to.....wash my hand off with water.

Result? Loss of all feeling in my index finger. Loss of a few days work....Sorry Dave Potter. Xabi is fine.....with some gnarly scars on his throat.....millimeters from his jugular and carotid.

And.......I get a citation for "Dog Running at Large".

Next time you are on Carmel all costs, don't put your hand in any passing pit bull's mouth.

It is so unfair to the pit bull........

And so unfair to those pit bull the lady has to go buy a whole other can of mace before she can go walkies on the beach.