Thursday, August 28, 2008

Good Night, Irene.....

I just read a comment on a post by some moron named "Cimarron". Cimarron is a McCain guy.....or at least not an Obama guy.

Cimarron thinks Obama is a Marxist.


I harken back to Barack's speech tonight....where he talked about the importance of education, and supporting our teachers and all that, so that America can compete with the rest of the world, etc, etc.

I will bet my house and 12 acres against Cimarron's clapped out '97 Bronco that Cimarron has never read a word of Karl Marx.

Barack Obama voted to give immunity to the biggest corporate violators of the United States Constituiton in two hundred and thirty two years. The guy went to Harvard, for chrissakes. He married a lawyer. Obama would not know how to dress to crash a Marxist party.

Get a fucking clue, Cimarron....... you useless, dumbass, dipshit.

Meanwhile check out the wiki on "Cimarron":

Cimarron is the title of a novel published by popular historical fiction author Edna Ferber in 1929. The book was adapted into a critically acclaimed film in 1931 through RKO Pictures. In 1960, the story was again adapted for the screen to meager success by MGM. Both the novel and 1931 film have fallen out of favor due to perceived racism.

Or check out the Chamber of Commerce in Cimmaron, NM.

Once the home of Anasazi, Jicarilla Apache, and Ute Indians, Cimarron, located on the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail, became the hub of a vast mining and ranching empire in the mid to late 19th century. The pioneer spirit which gave rise to Cimarron brought the famous and infamous alike. Western legends such as Kit Carson, Black Jack Ketchum, Charles Kennedy, Clay Allison, and Will James have each added flair to the area’s rich history.

In Spanish, Cimarron means “wild and unruly,” harking back to the historical turbulence of this now peaceful community. The area was once part of the controversial Maxwell Land Grant, which eventually caused the Colfax County War in the late 1800s. In addition to Cimarron’s rich Native American heritage, Spanish settlers, homesteaders, trappers, traders, and many other colorful characters made this beautiful area their home.

In the 1800s, few towns had such a reputation for gunplay and violence as Cimarron, New Mexico. Once luridly lawless, today this peaceful town echoes the sights and sounds of its historic past. You can still see ruts of the Santa Fe Trail and our museums and historic buildings offer fun and informative activities. Nearby recreation abounds in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

Cimarron offers a colorful history and plenty to do any time of year. The sparkle of trail campfires and the howl of coyotes remind us that the old west and the new west overlap.

Gunplay, violence, racisim.


Hey, is your health insurance? What is up with your retirement package? How is that '97 Bronco treating you driving back and forth to the unemployment office because you have lost your non-union job to illegal aliens?

How stupid do you feel that some limp-dick, Viagra-swilling, super-rich cocksuckers have convinced you to vote, once again, against your own best interests? Do you realize that if you showed up at the front gate of the fifth least visited ranch of any of the people that John McCain is giving tax breaks would be captured on video by the surveillance cameras, tracked by satellite, and locked up in the local hoosegow as the whack-job menace that the people you vote for know that you are?

Hey, Cimmaron: Fuck you, you dumb-ass. Next time around in the evolutionary cycle, stay awake in English class and History class. You might learn something that might help you in your next trip through.

Meanwhile......get that 11 year old piece of shit you drive off the road. Granted you are contributing to your hero's Exxon stock profits......but GM is struggling since you haven't worked in ten years and can't afford to buy the upgrade. And since you can't afford air-conditioning on your double-wide......your life is gonna get even more sweaty.

And John McCain is pissed that the emissions from your piece of shit Bronco are killing the climate......and his pool boy, Juan, has to use more chlorine in his third back up ranch's pool to keep down the algae....and the bleach is turning Cindy's hair green. This is not cool.

And....after reading your shit....I had the idea that John McCain's chief financial adviser had a point...."America is a nation of whiners." Whining, dumbass, ignorant motherfuckers like you.

So......I took myself back downstairs....opened a half bottle of champagne made just up the river from the real Cimarron in New Mexico....and made myself a sandwich.

I used organic bread, shipped in from a farm in Colorado. My buddy runs 40,000 acres of wheat with one helper, and sells to an organic baker in Trinidad. I sliced a tomato raised by my gay friend John from James Creek Farm above my Store.....and whose legal wedding I cannot wait to attend when he legally marries his legal immigrant Cuban lover.....and laced it with basil raised by a retired Stanford architecture professor.....and layered it up with gorgeous soft mozzarella from my new friend in Concord up the highway. Some Murray River pink salt from Oz, just to prove that I am a global guy.

Delicious. Life affirming. Life changing. Tastes and textures so overwhelming that I am sure you have never experienced them.....because overwhelming sensation just reminds you of the last time you took it in the ass in Pod A at Natividad on your last meth bust.

Gotta put down that glass pipe, buddy.

Hey, Cimmaron: Any time, drop by, bend over......... and kiss my Marxist ass. I am at 18840 Cachagua Road most days.

Rest easy in the knowlege that you are so fucking stupid it is a miracle you can feed yourself.

Jesus loves you.....everyone else is amazed you can breathe. And we all know that you are an asshole.

Oh....and I am a Republican.......

Yours in Christ,


The Speech.......

All of us watching Obama's speech tonight were left with the final question:

"Why would you NOT vote for this man?"

The corporate media would have me believe that every other person I meet is a McCain supporter?

I know a couple. They are epitomized by one: a crackhead without teeth who will "never vote for a nigger." This is a crackhead without not just teeth, but a job, or any healthcare that does not come from the prison system or the emergency room......

The other one blasts country music while he plays horseshoes in front of his trailer....and likes to get drunk and do diggy donuts in gravel parking lots. He also will "never vote for a nigger." He is also without healthcare, as is his 5o year old mother who lives in another trailer without electricity, and who has never participated in the whole wage/tax thing and therefore has no possible retirement of any kind beyond death.

McCain folks. Well, not the mom.

Beyond the politics and the policies......

I keep telling people that I am a Republican.....but no one believes me. I am theoretically on the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee, but they don't invite me to their they must believe me.

Even as an a old school Dwight Eisenhower Republican.....I would still never vote for John McCain.


I am tired of being lied to.

I am tired of being treated like a dumbass sack of shit.

I am tired of being fed shit sandwiches and being told it is filet on a baguette.

John McCain is despised by other Navy fliers, because he used his daddy and granddaddy to leapfrog him over hundreds of harder working, better qualified guys into a job flying jets...... after he graduated at the bottom of his class at Annapolis.

His fellow surviving POW's despise him. Call up Phil Butler in PG.....the senior commander at the Hanoi Hilton, and McCain's superior officer in the prison camp and ask him about John McCain. Find me one single surviving POW of the 500 odd who will publicly support John McCain.

One. You won't be able to do it. And they are not saying why. Think about it.

McCain was a maverick.....until he got the shit beat out of him by Karl Rove eight years ago. Yes, he sponsored ethics reform......and then voted against the bill with his own name on it. He has done that twice!

McCain goes to the "military hero" well at the drop of a hat.....but has voted against increasing veterans' benefits...... eleven times in a row. He just voted against the first reform of the GI Bill in forty years.....because he thought it treated veterans too well!

Just bop under the Carmel River Bridge on Highway One and talk to some of those veterans.....and see if they feel they are being overcompensated for their service.

Today McCain released an ad on the anniversary of MLK's "Dream" speech supposedly congratulating Barack as making the grade from field nigger to house nigger.....after fighting against the MLK holiday tooth and nail for thirty years.

At Annapolis, McCain was a no-show at classes....and flaunted and shat all over the military traditions he now is supposed to embody.

Similarly, he has been a no-show in the Senate.

In December of 2006, Tim Johnson....the Senator from South Dakota suffered a major stroke and almost died. It took a year of intensive therapy to get him back in the saddle even partially.

Tim Johnson has appeared in the Senate and voted on more bills by far than has John McCain in 2007 and 2008. McCain should reimburse the taxpayers 90% of his salary....since he missed 90% of the votes. Oh, and the guy doesn't work weekends. Even now.

John McCain offers four more years of George Bush in more ways than policy. They are both dumbass frat boys who rode the coattails of family power and prestige into postions of influence that a healthy nation would never have allowed them within missile range of. No wonder Europeans have come to despise America and Americans....not just because of our policies, but because we keep voting against our own interest and electing acutal morons. They are embarrassed for us, and with good reason.

John McCain is the same shit sandwich we have been fed over and over again for the last eight years.

I am no fan of Bill Clinton. Almost as much as George Bush, he sold our country and our middle class and their jobs up the river and over the seas....and is just as much of a corporate whore as Dianne Feinstein. Which is a hard thing to pull off.

But, policies least Bill Clinton had an IQ above room temperature. Bill Clinton could write his own speeches, and speak off the cuff.....and from the heart. Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar......and Daddy can't buy that scholarship. Rachel Maddow is a Rhodes Scholar, for instance.

The speech Barack Obama gave tonight was one he wrote himself. He had a hotel room near his house, and would go there for six or seven hours at a himself. He did not even give it a dry run past his wife.

The guy has a heart. He has a brain. He can speak like an angel, and communicate both his thoughts and his feelings. He can think on his feet....and he is not a phony.

Much is made of the legacy of John Kennedy, and there are lots of comparisons between Barack and JFK.

My reverence for JFK is not based on his inaugural speech, or any of his other famous orations. Or the fact that he was tagging mob molls and Marilyn Monroe, even with a bad back.

Back in 1961, Jack flew to Vienna to meet with Khrushchev in one of the early "Summit Meetings." When they were shown into the same room and shook hands, Jack pointed out that Nikki had a chest full of medals. He asked what they were.

Khrushchev ran down the list: Industry medal, Soviet Hero, etc. Jack pointed to the biggest one and asked: "What is the big one?"

Khrushchev replied: "Oh, that is the Lenin Order of Peace. I just received it last year."

Jack: "Well, that is very nice that you got it. The bigger question, though, is: 'Can you keep it?"

Ooooo. Gotta hurt, Nikki!

A year later, Khrushchev and Kennedy were thrown into the middle of the Cuban Missile crisis. Kruschev blinked, as we all know.

No one can tell me that his blink was unrelated to his experience at being personally outwitted and dissed by the smarter, quicker Yank the previous year.

Much has been made of the "3am phone call" bullshit....but there is some truth to it.

McCain is Khrushchev. He will take off his $600 Ferragamo loafer and whack somebody or something, or push the button and blow something up by way of making a decision.

Nuance is lost on this old geezer.

Whatever Barack Obama's policies are.....and I disagree with many of them.....I want the smarter, quicker guy in charge of my life.

Vote Obama.

Monday Night Music

Some art from our music boys. Dave is a therapist from Esalen, who plays the congas. Pat is Pat Clark from the Cachagua Playboys.

A therapist on congas and a steel guitar guy.

The perfect band for The Cachagua Store

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Darkness and light......

Puppy did it again.

Monday Night was glorious.....from a food standpoint. Brendan was back. In tribute, our crew rallied behind him and knocked it out of the park....

And then the guests failed us.

As they had all weekend.

The Rich Surgeon left 12% after being a whiny dick....and grabbing the microphone and subjecting everyone to old frat boy rock-and-roll before leaving. Meanwhile, his cool, beautiful wife slipped me a C-note for the Cachagua Volunteers.

Moral dilemma: stiff the Volunteers to take care of the girls?

No.....a douche bag is a douche bag. Gotta pity the poor wife, and we love the Volunteers. They get the C-note.

A guy who owns a winery up the Road and three restaurants in Carmel left exactly 14% on a table of ten. Everyone else at the table was cooler than he.....and tips way better. Every restaurant in the world adds a fixed gratuity to tables of more than six...including his...but we decided to trust him as a fellow restaurant guy. The bill for his table in his own restaurant would have been approximately triple our fees......and anything less than 20% on the triple would have him hamstrung on the way out by his crew. We love his family.....actually everyone BUT fuck him, anyway. I feel more sorry for his poor family than I do our girls. They only had to deal with the douche bag for one night. How do you say "douche bag" in Belgian, anyway?

This all led to a nice late night dinner with our bunch.....some nice wines......a big wind down with a lot of soul searching.......

And a long discussion of Mickey Finn's.

In New York in the old days there were basically two styles of mickeys: the Italians and the French.

The Italians, at the Copacabana on 60th Street around the corner from us at The Colony on Madison and 61st went in for chloral hydrate. Chloral hydrate would drop you in your tracks....the douche bag would take a sip or two of his mickeyed drink and drop like the sack of shit that he had proved himself to be.

The bouncers would be waiting and grab the guy after his face-plant, drag him out the front door, and toss him out onto 60th Street. Fuck you.

Meanwhile, these bouncers/doormen were large enforcement types, and obviously packing serious heat, despite the expensive tailoring. The Copa clientele got both a little rush from their attentions, and a sense of security.

The French style was different. We preferred to avoid you got a dose of extremely strong veterinary laxative. French tailoring...and smaller automatics.

The douche bag would have a few sips of his mickeyed drink, and continue to embarrass himself.....until he felt the overwhelming urge, and would sprint for the gent's. At which point, a gauntlet of pissed off workers would be waiting for him just outside the men's room. The maitre d'hotel would stop the guy, brush his lapels, button the buttons of his jacket, pat him on the shoulder in passing......and then jerk the jacket down over his shoulders, imprisoning his arms.

The crew would then take over. Smack, smack. Bundle the guy up and out the back door into the dumpster. Fuck you.

The nice part about the French method was that it was out of sight of the guests, did not involve actual weaponry.....and by the time the mook dragged himself out of the dumpster he had usually shit himself so there was no more confrontation.

I gotta talk to our mobile vet about some medication.

It would be perfect for the Surgeon Guy from last night......since he now runs a weight loss clinic.

Physician heal thyself.

Anyway, the after-work buzz took us until 2:30 am. Wakeup is at 6:30.....and Tuesday means trash, re-cycle and compost duty. On four hours' sleep.

I was so looking forward to a nap this afternoon.....but there was Puppy. He was already wearing a collar, but he went and found his backup collar and brought it to me. He pulled my compost jeans out of the wash and brought them to me. He ran down to the garage and got my compost boots and brought them up. Then he started barking and biting.....and dragging my office chair towards the door. Puppy wanted to go for a hike.

So, dammit.....I went. After 90 hours in five days on my feet....let's go for a hike. What could be better?

In protest, I went in my pyjamas and a pair of Croc's.

It takes about five minutes to climb a couple of hundred feet out our back door....even in pyjamas and Croc's.

The Old Dog and I climbed protest. Morgana is still on point, though....despite her age. She is famous for once having brought home a human hand from a hike. She had found a plane crash that had escaped Search and Rescue......and was very proud of her trophy. When we do our Tuesday afternoon protest hikes with Puppy, she drags her old bones up the hill....always staying uphill and upwind of me, to protect me from lions. So far it is working.

Puppy meanwhile was ripping through the woods like a ghost. He moved so fast that Morgana and I were fully amused. A feeling like "joy" hit I felt on Carmel Beach on Saturday when I simultaneously nailed seven last minute dishes for fifty people for an old friend.....with only a broken Weber and a broken propane stove for help. This joy required no effort......just watching a free spirit ripping unrestrained through the woods at high speed......just for the pure joy of being able to rip through the woods at high speed.

Morgana and I poked along, pretending to hike. Despite our weak efforts, we came to a place where a big oak had fallen last year and left a hole in the oak envelope. A glimpse off to the north changed my whole week.

Our property is on the shady side of Carmel Valley. The sun goes away at 3pm, even in the summer. The north facing side is sun-blasted until late. The Valley walls are steep, and in a very few feet of climbing your whole perspective changes radically.

Once again, the difference in perspective of our cool, dark, sheltered cove in the oaks vs. the sunblasted northside hills was stunning.

Georgia O'Keefe was back. The hills marching above Rancho Chupinos defy comprehension in my little world. Are they folding....or unfolding? Standing there in the midst of the poison oak and looking north I get the same feeling I get gazing upwards in a great cathedral in Italy or Spain. I can't quite absorb the perspective.....I can't quite make the distance of time an space ....and the effort required to create this thing of beauty into something I can grasp.

Both Amanda and I have made the rookie error of trying to climb Mt. Toro and the hills above Rancho Chupinos on foot. It seems so close, and so accessible. Right. Hours later, after the moon has risen and fallen, and you are out of water and completely exhausted.....and you have not even managed the first wrinkle in the Georgia O'Keefe serape....and a different kind of respect dawns. "You mere mortals cannot walk this land."

Each year Amanda and I scrimp and save to desperately escape California and spend a month in Spain in the mountains by the Northern Coast. We don't go to movies, we don't eat out....we don't even rent movies. I realize that we are not seeking to escape the Country....we are getting away from the country.

Today I was trying to figure out why. People from Spain should fly here to hike my mountain and experience the view of Rancho Chupinos in Summer....or Spring.....or dead Winter, for that matter.

Plus, there is something about looking from shade into sunlight......experiencing beauty at a distance.

It is not coincidental that we came back down the mountain from our hike in time to listen and watch Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic Convention.

I have not been of fan of Hillary.....but for me she brought all the chickens home to roost. For eight years.....actually more like 28 years.....we have all been standing in the shade, admiring that golden vision of beauty from afar. And, believe me....we are all at least a couple of days hike with no water from experiencing any of it.

America used to be a vision of joy and possibilities, and limitless potential....that real people could actually grasp in real time.

America has become a venal, crude, wasteful, cynical caricature of a failed state in the last eight years.

Listening to Hillary speak I had the exact same emotions that I had looking out at Rancho Chupinos.......I can barely appreciate the beauty of her vision, because it is so far away.......

And right in front of something we can almost grasp.


Vote Obama.

Or I will sic my dog on you for a play-date.

People with houses......

Image by Austin Cline, from a Spanish Civil War poster seeking help for victims of German bombings in Madrid in 1936.

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

--Anatole France

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Football is life.....

OK....Soccer....... for you infidels.

We will ignore the fact that the weird distance of the marathon is because of Royal English politics in the earliest modern Olympics......

Games of Life and Death

Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 10:07:59 AM PDT

Watching the beauty and grace of the athletes at the Olympic it is easy to forget that these games were developed to fight wars. The hammer throw, discus throw, javelin throw, boxing, fencing, and wrestling were all important in ancient warfare.

You may have wondered why the marathon is 42.195 kilometers (26 miles 385 yards). It's a strange and awkward number. According to one legend, it is the exact distance from the battlefield at Marathon, Greece, to the Senate building in Athens. A messenger named Pheidippides ran the entire distance without stopping, burst into the Senate and declared, "Nenikékamen ('We have won')" before collapsing and dying.

The Mayans took the seriousness of their games to another level. This game, played for thousands of years, was some combination of racquetball and volleyball. The winners became heroes. The losers sometimes became human sacrifices to the gods.

But its not ancient games I want to talk about. It's a much more modern one that interests me.

Not Just A Game

"Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that."
- Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly

Football, or soccer as it is called in America, was an extremely popular, state-sponsored sport in the Soviet Union in the 1930's, especially in the Ukraine. The strongest football team in the Ukraine at the time was the Dynamo Kyiv (out of Kiev), which consistently ranked in the top-tier of competitive teams.

Early Dynamo team

When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, several members of the team went off to fight. The Wehrmacht almost completely overwhelmed the Red Army, took Kiev, and many members of the Dynamo Kyiv wound up in POW camps.
That's when things got interesting.


Josif Kordik was sitting in a cafe' in the center of Kiev one day when he recognized a familiar face walking by.
Mykola Trusevych, was the old Dynamo's goalkeeper, and had just gotten out of the POW camp. He was living on the streets. Josif was a huge fan of the Dynamo's and decided to give Mykola a job sweeping at his bakery. The day he showed up for work Mykola found himself surrounded by old teammates. It seems that Mykola had already hired several other members of the Dynamo's, all of them struggling to feed themselves in war-torn Kiev. In early 1942 Trusevych began a search for former teammates and former members of the Lokomotiv Kiev, a former competitor.

Kolya came to me at Kreschatick Street where I was living illegally at my former mother-in-law's house. He came to me to have a chat about this idea and to find some of the other boys. We got in touch with Kuzmenko and Svyridovskiy and they contacted some of the others. - Makar Honcharenko

Mykola was about to realize a long-time dream - being the owner of a quality football team. It was renamed the FC Start.

On June 7, 1942, the Start began playing against other local teams. They crushed their opponents despite the players being malnourished.
On June 21, they played their first match against soldiers from an occupying Hungarian garrison, and won 6-2. A few weeks later they beat a Romanian garrison 11-0.

They played four more matches that summer against occupying troops and crushed them each time. Eventually the Germans administration noticed and became concerned that the these victories might start giving the local Ukranians some hope. So they matched up their best Luftwaffe team, the Flakelf, against the Start on August 6.
The Flakelf got crushed 5-1.

The master race had just been humiliated by an inferior race. The German administration could not let this stand, so they arranged a rematch for three days later.
This time the Germans would leave nothing to chance.

The Death Match

"I am the referee of today's game. I know you are a very good team. Please follow the rules, do not break any of the rules, and before the game, greet your opponents in our fashion."
- SS officer and referee to FC Start members

With the excited crowd watching, the two teams exchanged greetings, Flakelf crying 'Heil Hitler' to shouts of German approval. However, as the FC Start players raised their hands aloft instead of giving the expected salute they brought their hands back to the chests and shouted the Soviet slogan, "FizcultHura!", or Physical Culture Hooray! To the Germans' dismay the Ukrainian spectators cheered their rejection of the Nazi slogan.

As soon as the whistle blew the Flakelf team tore into their opponents with tackles and physical challenges bearing scant regard for the ball, whilst the Nazi referee exhibited an almost Wenger-like ability not to see the incidents. With the FC Start goalkeeper seeing stars, Flakelf netted their first goal. Start rallied however. Riding the challenges they pushed forward. When the referee was finally forced to award a free kick to the baker boys, Kuzmenko scored a stunning set piece. Next Goncharenko, a talented winger, took on the entire Flakelf defense before tapping in a second. A third followed and the team retired at the interval 3-1 up, with the Ukrainians in the crowd rapt with jubilation.

"You really cannot expect to win, however. Just consider for a moment what will happen if you do."
- anonymous SS officer warning to the Dynamo Kyiv at halftime

When the players returned to the pitch for the second half the perimeter was lined with armed soldiers. The symbolism could not have been more clear, and perhaps that is why the Start players pushed on.

Both teams scored twice in the second half. With just a few minutes left in the game, defender Alexei Klimenko beat the entire German backfield, rounded the goalkeeper, and stopped the ball on the line. Klimenko then walked behind the ball and kicked it back towards midfield, spurring a chance to add another goal.
It was the final humiliation for the master race. They had lost 5-3.


This story doesn't have a happy ending.

Soviet propaganda legend says that the players were immediately marched to a nearby ravine and shot in their football uniforms. That isn't true - the Nazis waited a week before taking revenge.

On August 16, the Gestapo showed up at the bakery with a list of players names. The players were rounded up and taken to secret police headquarters and tortured in the hope of getting them to confess to being criminals or saboteurs. None of them cracked, however one of them, Nikolai Korotkykh, died under torture.
The remaining ten were sent to the Syrets labour camp.

Kuzmenko, scorer of the free kick, Trusevich, the charismatic goalkeeper and team captain and Klimenko, the defender who chose not to score, were all shot and bundled into the Babi Yar ravine.

Three other players, Goncharenko, Tyutchev and Sviridovsky, were doing forced labor in the city when they heard about the fate of their friends. Realizing their danger, they escaped their captors and hid in the city until the Red Army liberated it in November 1943.
All the other players were disappeared.

No ESKAPE......

Amid all the fallout of high gas prices there are bunch of news stories. Mostly they settle on whether or not producers absorb the cost, or pass it on to their customers. The Producer Price Index went up 1.2% last month.....the most in forty years.......and people are shitting themselves over whether or not this will introduce Richard Nixon style stagflation.

We now pay an extra forty bucks for the Mountain People truck to deliver our stuff once a week. Multiplied by his twenty stops it seems like a ripoff......but that pays for maybe half a tank of diesel.

In Produce Land it is really ugly. Contracts are by bid, and most of the bids came in way before the diesel went up to five bucks a gallon. None of the contracts are profitable at five dollar diesel, so the big packers get to decide who to fuck over and who to carry. Small, irritating growers in the Salinas Valley are watching their entire crops being plowed under because they could not make their nut and they pissed off some packer back in high school.

Thank God I am not a lettuce farmer.

Of course the whole stupid ethanol thing has hit corn and wheat prices, which has hit meat prices. On Monday it hit home for us.....a Niman Ranch filet costs me at least 120 bucks. I get maybe eight decent steaks out of it. I sell the filet for 2o bucks.

Normal restaurant practice is to triple the cost of the food in a dish. My "normal" restaurant practice goes back to the sixties because I am old. Modern normal restaurant practice, especially as practiced in Carmel, says multiply by five or six. My $20 filet should cost somewhere between $45 and $100.

Also, when you order the filet at The Store, you get porcini cream, a grain, fingerling potatoes and a veg. And everything is organic.

Oh.....and it comes on a plate....which is carefully washed and stored by Rosaria in the building I pay rent for, and the filet is brought to your table by the waitress who is paid minimum wage of eight bucks an hour. Oh, the propane is $4 a gallon that cooks the filet.....and the PG&E bill runs a couple grand a month to keep the shit from rotting after it is trucked down from Mendocino. We won't even talk about the fact that Melodie and Mike Kucher at the Chevron in The Village receive and store the stuff in their walk-in for free.....or the cost of going and picking it up and driving it out to The Store.

Still, idiots like me look at who is buying the filet, and what that person means to me. Callie and Garret buy filets. Doug Forzani buys filets. Pat Clark and Dave Shipman eat filet. I cannot in good conscience charge Callie or Garret or Doug more than 20 bucks for a five ounce piece of meat. Sorry.

I am not alone. I spent the first day in the office in more than two months today and posted a bunch of invoices. The excellent if seriously grumpy winemaker at Adelaida in Paso Robles has not raised his prices either. A kick ass, hot weather zin or pinot from this prick can be had for less than fifteen bucks......shipped all the way to Cachagua, stored, served in nice glasses by a reasonably nice wine geek. If you are not drinking Adelaida wines, you are stupid. Same deal with Dan Lee at Morgan.

Back to the filet. I can possibly not lose as much money on my twenty dollar filet if I buy commercial beef. "Choice" commercial beef from Iowa costs less than six dollars a pound. We pay fourteen to eighteen for natural and organic filets.

Meet the ESKAPE crew, and the MRSA crew. Oh, and the VRSA, VRE and MRE crew.

ESKAPE is a desperate, last ditch marketing ploy to try to engage consumers developing concern for the deadly threat that Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter bauminii, Pseudomonas howsyourfather, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Enterobacter yomama pose to.......well, human life......... on the planet.

MRSA stands for Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus, VRSA for Vancomycin Resistant Staph Aureus, VRE for Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus, etc.

Methicillin and Vancomycin are the last-ditch anti-biotics that used to kill all the bugs that nothing else could kill. Used to.

Back in the day, meat growers discovered that they needed anti-biotics to keep the various animals they were packing in sheds and pens in Auschwitz type concentrations from dying of hundreds of diseases. It developed that even beyond fighting disease, feeding animals low levels of antibiotics actually helps the critters put on weight faster. By killing competing bacteria in the guts of the various critters, the full focus of the food went to the host critter. Broiler chicks can pop out at 45 days, as opposed to 96 or 12o.

Unfortunately, the bugs mutate rapidly and quickly develop resistance to the drugs. For years, the pharma industry kept up....but the economics changed. Pharma stockholders want drugs that have to be taken daily for Viagra and Prozac and statins, not drugs that people take for a week a few times in a lifetime like antibiotics.

So the bugs are winning.

The big sea-change came when the US approved avoparcin for use in animals. The US and the EU, to be fair. Avoparcin is close enough to vancomycin that vancomycin efficacy was gutted within months. MRSA is now commonly found on both farm animals and farm workers here, Canada and Europe.

In our corporate-friendly, regulation and government unfriendly environment, MRSA, VRSA, MRE and VRE bugs have spread all across the country. There is even a scarier infection involving gram-negative bacteria like Klebsiella. If you wind up in an ICU......if the original reason you are there doesn't kill you, Klebsiella just might. It cannot be stopped. We are returning to the pre-antibiotic world of the nineteenth century. Isn't that fun?

These bacteria now kill significantly more Americans than AIDS. In George Bush's regulation-free environment, the combination of agricultural antibiotics and the unlimited prescriptions of antibiotics by doctors for silly viral infections (sixty percent of American antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary according to the AMA) have resulted in the situation where sixty percent of staph infections in the US are MRSA or VRSA. Twenty percent of those people die.......nearly 100,000 last year. In Sweden, where the government regulates all this shit, the rate is two percent for MRSA staph infections, and only a handful of people die.

Oh, and the budget to fight these particular bugs? Thirty-five million of the $300,000,000 we spend on all microbial diseases. And this is not counting the bio-terror budget. Spending on fighting anthrax, which killed a half dozen people seven years ago dwarfs spending on MRSA.

I am sure I don't need to tell you where John McCain stands on this issue. He is a "let it rip!" kind of guy.....which is easy to be when you have had unlimited free healthcare your entire life.

My friend Rod Kenyon died in hospital of a staph infection last one of the best hospitals in the world.

Actually, I am not sure if he was my friend or not, since one of his last acts in my restaurant was punching me out when I deserved it.......

Then, again....who else is gonna take the effort to punch you out when you deserve it but a true friend? Well, at least that is the way it works in Cachagua.......

Rod Kenyon was a working man....a woodcutter, a fence builder, and a cowpuncher at times. Rod was an appreciator of the Cachagua Store filet with porcini twenty hard earned dollars a pop.....even though he lived in his Land Cruiser much of the time.

Rod did not have unlimited free health insurance.....and Rod Kenyon is dead of a staph infection.

Sorry, folks. I am not raising my prices. I am not going to stop buying and serving natural and organic beef.

And I am definitely not voting for John McCain.

Here's to you, Rod.

A glass of Adelaida Schoolhouse Zinfandel. And a sweet little filet.

Bill Lambert update.....

I told you Bill Lambert was a classic.....

After arriving at Stanford in the STAR helicopter, Bill was rushed into the emergency room. As he was being evaluated by the doctors.....he evaluated his own damn self.

Bill decided he could do a better job at a better price at home......and limped out of the ER. I assume Linda picked him up.

Juan was not so lucky. He apparently broke many of his bones, including all the important ones.

The tree they hit was the bad luck tree just past Garland Park.....known to the Carmel High Class of '98 as "B.J's Tree". The fact that they were on Carmel Valley Road explains the relatively high speed for Bill of 50mph. Also, he was asleep at the time.......

One of my favorite Thanksgiving memories ever is of Bill drinking whiskey with Grandma Pat at our house and reminiscing about having mountain lion stew at one boyhood Thanksgiving in Jamesburg. Grandma was tickled pink.....

Thank heavens there will be more Thanksgivings with Bill. Losing 240,000 acres of forest this summer is one thing. Losing Bill Lambert would have been a tragedy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tiny Mitzvahs.....

This was the title of our Store menu on Monday Night.

"Tiny Mitzvahs.......Roadhouse".

What keeps us going.......

The last month has been among the hardest I can remember. I keep saying "month" but as I finally sit down at my desk to confront the huge pile of bills to send and bills to pay.....I realize that the "month" started back on June 21st with the fires.

A long "month". This is our soundtrack.

The fires......Sheriff Kanalakis gutting our summer with his silly bullshit......two film shoots......five NATO beach parties......losing our number one guy to The Dark Night of the Soul. Our relief chef flown in from Kaui crashing and burning on heroin spectacularly in the middle of a Monday Night......Hundred twelve degree heat and crazy dust......two broken swamp coolers........losing the walk-in in the middle of another Monday Night.

The hundred-plus hour week became a life-style, not just an occasional hurdle.

The past week was the hardest......but as the load increased arithmetically......other things multiplied geometrically.

The things that make it all worthwhile.....and more than worthwhile.

The Tiny Mitzvahs......

Thursday at the Farmer's Market.....trying to do the impossible: hit all my vendors, buy all the stuff for the weekend, pay for everything and remember to pick up all the stuff I paid for......and do it all in 40 minutes. We had a wake to do at 4pm.....

As I got my three kinds of basil at the Coke's......purple for panzanella, regular for basil oil, lemon basil for hot dishes and depression, some tarragon for the gazpacho......I cut in line as usual and Laurie Coke tallied up my bill. I wrote out the check and went to grab my stuff and run......

Mrs. Coke held on to my bundle and tugged back when I went to leave. She fixed me with a look....and with that beatific gaze of hers said: "Michael, I love you. It has been so many years.....and we love being part of your life."

Jesus. That is like being blessed by the Pope. Better. More like the Dalai Lama. Laurie Coke is Ceres.....the goddess of soil and herbs and food. I have seen her lettuce stop a grumpy fireman in his tracks and change his entire demeanor. Lettuce. And Laurie Coke loves me?

Thank you, Laurie. I don't deserve it, but thanks.

A few days later we were rallying to prepare for the culmination of the "month"......the annual Swig Mille Miglia party. We have been doing this party for thirty years.....and this year we were stuck with a venue where my physical presence is in restraining order.

Our oldest, most loyal and wealthiest client. The presidents of ABC, NBC, Ford, GM, Ferrari.......Sr. Mazerati, Phil Hill, Jackie Stewart......and I cannot set foot on the property.

Plus, we have faded on Sunday Brunch for the entire "month".....and have to open, regardless. So prep for the Swig party is mixed up with taking care of the early morning locals.

In midmorning arrive two of our loyal Christian Republican friends......among the very few. They are only here every other year because of weird family politics with the family property. They go to the Cachagua Community Church. These are real Christians, and my friend Sally listened to the sermon from the pastor and decided she needed to participate more in the community and be of more service to her fellow man.

The pastor told her that the best thing she could do was to help the "people at The Store. So, she showed up for brunch......and knocked out the 100 rollups that Liz had forgotten to do the day before.....and saved our morning.

Thank you, Pastor. Thank you, Sally. Again, we don't deserve it, but thanks just the same.

On Sunday night my young staff (average age well below 23) rallied and performed beyond their means and coddled and comforted the creme de la creme of the automotive world......while I stood helplessly at the end of the driveway pretending to be a car parker.

Thank you Nike and Brendan, and Alex, Micah, Juan, James, Gilda, Ryan, and Lee......

By the way.....if you ever want to rob a bank and want to change your appearance, SuperCuts in Monterey is the first stop. At 5:55pm on Sunday night I walked in for a haircut.

The stylist asked: "What can I do for you?"

"I need to be unrecognizable on a security camera."

"No problem......"

Fifteen bucks. And it worked.....for a while.

On Monday morning, as we drove to work at dawn.....after finishing at midnight on Sunday.......we came around the last turns to the Store and saw a series of beautifully painted signs:

"Happy Birthday to you....
Happy Birthday to you.....
Happy Birthday, dear Amanda.....
Happy Birthday to you!"

These signs were big.....and nailed way up in the trees.

Amanda had been dodging her birthday......had even given it up as a dead loss early in the month. Too much work for sentimental stuff......

She cried for an hour.

She was not alone.

Thank you, Vicki......

Monday Night the same overworked young staff rallied again. They not only did their jobs on one of the busiest nights in months......but it is clear that they are all dear friends and love each other and love their jobs. They were absolutely giddy with the realization that the harder you work and the better you do, the bigger the buzz. I tried to hide this from them. Oh, well.

We finished at 2:30 am, and they were still charging....

Thank you Nike, Micah, Juan, Alex, Rachelle, Liz, Chris C, and Ryan.

Towards the end of Monday Night a guest crashed the kitchen to talk to the chef. This usually causes us to look for weapons and hot fat to throw at the intruder. No one comes into the kitchen without Nomex and Kevlar.

This gentleman wanted to thank us. He had driven two hours for his meal......and said that it had been months since he had a "well-seasoned meal in Monterey County" and it was worth every minute of the two hour drive.

Turns out it was Todd from Big Sur......chef at Post Ranch for 13 years, former Rio Grill guy, now the Nepenthe chef. Surfer Todd.......royalty in the constellation of Monterey chefs, for sure. In my constellation, anyway. Maybe not the Dalai Lama like Laurie Coke.....but I am glad I didn't know he was in the dining room or I might have fucked up that camaraderie of my young staff with a lot of paranoid screaming and yelling.

Todd is principally responsible for my cartoon being on the wall of the Rio Grill....but that is another story.

Thank you, Todd.

Today I spent the day plowing through paper and fending off overdrafts. By 5pm I was exhausted.

Xabi the grandpuppy would have none of it. He brought me his collar. He brought me my boots, and then barked and barked until I gave up and went up the mountain with him.

Our side of the mountain goes into shade early. It was unseasonably cool and therefore nice for the climb. After a few hundred meters I turned and looked back towards the north and the sunny side of the Valley.

It always.....stunning. The California Gold landscape was bathed in the California Gold light. Rancho Chupinos lay crumpled against the hills running up to Mount Toro like a Georgia O'Keefe serape.....and Georgia O'Keefe on a good day. The early evening shadows competed with the oak stands in the arroyos for the dark counterpoints to the gold of the hillsides. Cattle were scattered around the hills of the last family owned rancho left in our world.

Just to the east, Rancho Sin Frenos sat like an emerald amongst the gold.....gorgeous grapevines nestled in the side of the hills.....and all the more gorgeous for knowing that the work that created them was Duncan and Brendan and Alex and Mark......he same Brendan and Alex who appeared just above in this post.

Thank you, Xabi.....for getting me off my ass and back out.

I walked back down to the house and whipped up a cooking on Tuesdays. Garafolo buffalo mozzarella from Italy and Costco, organic wheat bread toast, Johnny Kinder's James Creek Farms heirloom tomatoes, Laurie Coke basil, Murray River pink salt. A glass of Storybook Mountain zinfandel.

Thank you Johnny and Rogelio; thank you Costco and; and thank you Mrs. Coke and Dr. Jerry at Storybook. It was glorious.

Thank you, World.

I can do another 400 hours this

Thanks for the mitzvahs.

A month ago I posted the lyrics to "Night Rider's Lament". The words have been in my head all day. I mistakenly gave the credit to the wrong guy last month. The real author is Michael Burton, a quiet rancher from Arizona.

Night Rider’s Lament

Lyrics and Music by Michael Burton

Last night as I was out a ridin’
graveyard shift, midnight ‘till dawn
the moon was as bright as a readin’ light
for a letter from an old friend back home......

He asked me why do you ride for your money
Why do you rope for short pay
You ain’t getting’ nowhere
And you’re losin’ your share
Boy, you must have gone crazy out there
But he’s never seen the Northern Lights
Never seen a hawk on the wing
He’s never seen Spring hit the Great Divide
And never heard Ol’ Camp Cookie sing......

He tells me last night I run onto Jenny
she’s married and has a good life
Ah, you sure missed the track
when you never come back
she’s a perfect professional’s wife......

She asked him why does he ride for his money
Why does he rope for short pay
He ain’t getting’ nowhere and he’s losin’ his share
He must have gone crazy out there
But she’s never seen the Northern Lights
Never seen a hawk on the wing
Never seen Spring hit the Great Divide
And never heard Ol’ Camp Cookie sing.....

Well I read up the last of that letter
and tore off the stamp for Black Jim
When Billy rode up to relieve me
he just looked at the letter and grinned.....

He sang . . .Now. . .
Why do they ride for their money
Why do they rope for short pay
They ain’t getting nowhere
And they’re losing their share
Son, they all must be crazy out there.....

The other Olympics.......

As our medal count mounts......battling those pesky Chinese.......

Dammit, it is important to be first.

Here are some other areas of competition.........

U.S. worldwide ranking:

First - CEO to Worker pay ratio (531:1) (Second place is Brazil at 57:1)

9th - Adult Literacy Scale (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)

12th - student reading ability (Source: OECD)

13th - U.S. rank on quality of life survey (Economist Magazine)

17th - Rank of U.S. on women's rights (World Economic Forum Report)

21st - Aid to poor nations of the world (as percentage of gross national income)

29th - Life Expectancy

32nd - World rank of U.S. infant mortality rate.

37th - U.S. rank on the Healthcare Quality Index (World Health Organization)

48th - U.S. rank on Journalistic Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders)

45th - Environmental Stability Index (Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy)

I can't see any need for Change here.......

Caution: Sarcasm in play.........

Bill Lambert

Word came late this afternoon that Bill Lambert crashed his truck into a tree. His injuries were such that the STAR helicopter was called in to fly him up to Stanford.

First report was that he crashed at 50 mph. Then, upon one could remember Bill driving his truck anywhere near 50 mph.

The Volunteers report that Bill was conscious and responding to treatment. Still, he was airlifted out.....

His helper Juan was in the passenger seat and was not in such good shape.......

I am sure most of you already know about this and are joining me in sending thoughts/prayers to where ever they go.

Bill is a classic......and the personification of our Valley. His great-grandpa or great-great ran the little store by the Memory Gardens in 1848. Bill himself tells stories of building roads with Grandpa Fred Nason with mules and wagons. He is tough as old rawhide, so if anyone can pull through it will be Bill......

But lend a hand anyway.

Actual journalism.....

So Dara won another of those nail biting and fingernail difference finishes.

When I first moved back to California in 1976 I had a terrible time getting around Californian's incapacity for irony and sarcasm. I was even taken to the Labor Board by a waitress because I used to say "No smiling!" a happy voice that usually elicited an instant smile from everyone else. This person really thought that our restaurant enforced a policy of refusing to let the staff smile.


So.......when I comment on the ugly picture of the ugly child and mom........that was SARCASM!! One would have thought that the obvious glowing beauty of the pair.....internal and external.....would have made that apparent.

Double yeesh.

For the nitpickers:

Most Career Gymnastics Medals for Women (18)
Larisa Latynina holds the all-time Olympic record for medals won in any sport with 18, won in a twelve year three Olympic Games (1956, 1960, and 1964) gymnastics career for the Soviet team.

Most Career Gymnastics Gold Medals for Women (9)
Larisa Latynina of the Soviet Union won nine Olympic gymnastics gold medals between 1956 and 1964. No other Olympic athlete, male or female, has exceeded that number, although three other men have equaled it (Carl Lewis, Paavo Nurmi, and Mark Spitz).

And now Mr. Phelps....

So, the commenter was correct. Still, I only heard this stat in passing from a grumpy gymnastic fan.....not the professionals on the tube. Whether the emphasis on Spitz and Phelps and not the Russian woman is about her being a her, or being a damn Russkie, is up in the air. Maybe it is just historic bias. The fifties were sooooo, well.....fifties. There was not much broadcast love for the ancient Finn or the gay black man either. And the MSM is down on Russians these days.....sorry, guys: Shannon Miller is not the most prodigious medal winner ever in gymnastics, male or female. That is poor old Larisa.

Thank God that Michael Phelps doesn't have any idiosyncratic hair no Dorothy Hamil haircuts and no Mark Spitz mustaches will sweep the nation. And no tatoos, so we are safe there.

Maybe that 12,000 calorie diet will catch on. That would be good for the caterer.

If you want to keep track of your sports heroes and heroines.....and maybe hire one for your next birthday party: Olympic Gold.

Carl Lewis is doing $40,000 a pop. Mark Spitz is down around the $10k mark.

Must be that mustache.

Oh, and no Russians.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dara Torres.......

I am supposed to be sending people, including the US Navy, bills for work we already did.......but we take our inspirations where we find them.

Dara Torres is 41. This would be her seventh Olympics, if she hadn't taken off a couple to have kids and all that mundane stuff. She missed '96 and 2004. Once to have the horrible ugly child pictured above.

Just now she was in a semi-final qualifying race for the gold medal race tomorrow.

At the start of the race a few minutes ago, she stopped the entire procedure being watched by a couple of billion humans. It seems that the Swedish swimmer's thousand dollar skin tight swim suit had ripped.

Ignoring the many ignoble thoughts that might spring to male minds about the Swedish swimmer's swimsuit (say THAT three times real fast!) ripping.....

Our Dara instituted a mini-rebellion. You could read her lips: "None of us are swimming without her." a quarter million dollars for each 15 second section of time on NBC.....and at who knows what cost to her own carefully prepared pre-race mental state......our Dara got in the face of the race official and delayed the start of her race until the Swedish girl could get into a new suit.

Stop it, boys! I mean it........

Swede mounts the block (stop it, dammit!) along with the other eight women. we go.

Dara wins. Swede finishes sixth....out of the running, but swimsuit intact (dammit!).

The sixteen year old in the lane next to Dara (conceived during Dara's third Olympics) finished second.

When asked about her pre-race actions, Dara said: "Well, first and foremost.....we are all friends. We take care of each other. Then we compete....but we are still friends."


Memo to God:

Next time around, can your religions have the women be in charge?

Oh.....and Dara Torres is competing tomorrow for her 11th medal....and her first individual medal. How come all I here is Michael Phelps? the way. A Romanian gymnast.....a woman......retired in the mid sixties with 16 gold medals, accrued over several Olympics. I ran across this item the other day, and now I can no longer find it.

Thank God this is not real journalism......

But just remember in all the Michael Phelps hype that even after his eight, if he gets them.....he will only have 14 medals.

His Romanian grandmother still kicks his ass.

And Dara is just three behind........

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sudden Oak Death.....

Fire update.....

A week back.....native fire was still burning in Clover Basin, but gently.

In the area of responsibility of the Cachagua Volunteers.......only 25% burned, either by God or Man (or Woman).

The other 75% is both grateful.....and clueless.

Typically....the grateful folk are the little people with small funds.

The clueless seem to be well-funded.....

Today I got a phone call from my Favorite Neighbor.....who has been haunting these hills for thirty years or so.

The Rich Neighbor Above had lost a little puppy from the litter and had called. TRNA will not call me direct, but channels things through Favorite Neighbor. Having only lived on our mountain for 20 years, I am new and therefore........well, new.

Favorite Neighbor and I are crazy dog I downed tools (tools like billing clients for the last three months so I can cover the $15k overdraft my bank seems upset about) and set off up the Mountain with my dogs to look for the lost puppy.

I could relate.....

Last Monday, Xabi the Grand Puppy disappeared up on the Durney/Heller ranch.....and I cancelled Monday Night Dinner to search for him.

In Cachagua, dogs are royalty.

We got boned by the Health Inspector last week for "Dogs in Store". Our health inspector is a really sweet guy......who grew up in the restaurant business. I explained to him that "Dog in Store" was lucky. At any given moment there could have been "Chickens in Store" or "Peacocks in Store"........

Jack Swanson's dog Tess is royalty. Lyle and Joannie's dog Patch is royalty. Vicki's dog Lucy is royalty.

Xabi is definitely royalty......and the whole town turned out to search for hour after he went missing.

So.....when my rich neighbor called to say that her puppy had gone missing.....THREE NIGHTS AGO....we still rallied and went tromping through the woods.

Meanwhile....three nights ago the dogs had gone crazy. We heard weird noises in the woods.....but our woods have weasels, badgers, coyotes, bobcats, owls, cougars and Mexican gang-bangers.......

Still, we did our best for the little puppy.

I almost heard some yipping.....but it was completely drowned out by chainsaws. The entire side of our mountain is being chewed up by chainsaws. "Moto-sierra" in Spanish.

The economy may be flailing.....but not for anyone that understands "Moto-sierra".

Sudden Oak Death has a whole new meaning on my side of the Mountain. Moto-sierra is taking down more oaks than any fungus ever could.

My rich neighbors......who consistently fail to support the professionals at the Cachagua Volunteers (weekend ranchers don't give actual money....but will sell you designer beef at a "cheap" price for your benefit auction) are laying out the cash to the illegals to......also illegally.....cut down any oak tree that would threaten their palaces if it caught fire.

The noise was so intense this morning that even though I heard the puppy yipping in the woods.....I couldn't track it.

Here in my world.......we value our dogs. We freak out when they go missing, immediately. Not three days later.

We also value our trees.....they shade us, and they warm us when they pass. I am an Irish Druid......I hate even trimming my oaks......

And we value our Cachagua Volunteers.

These are the guys.....and gals....who save our lives when we fall out of trees. They are the wise backstop when the Pros From Dover show up in a big fire to save our bacon at any cost.

And they are the ones that continue to supply the continuity of knowledge of our Community that flows between the old hands, the ranchers, the tractor guys, the new people, the horsie folk, the whack-jobs, the Latinos.......

As someone pointed out.....if everyone in Cachagua gave $20 to the Volunteers....they would have the $40k necessary to buy a new war wagon. I have a sweet check right in front of me for $500 from someone who really can't afford it but is a believer like me.

One New Rancher could do that as well......drop the whole $40k without an afterthought.

No.....Tom DeRecht needs another 500 board feet of Amazonian hardwood for his horsebarn instead. Rupert Murdoch at Carmel Ranch Company needs a fifty year supply of Viagra to keep up with his young wife. Alan Silvestri.....

I don't know what his story is....but as the Volunteers say: "Don't fall off that 4wd and hurt yourself.......we will be a long time getting to you at 5 mph in our current rig......"

Fire is over....time to take stock and assign values.

Dogs. Oaks. Volunteers.

More mud......not in yer eye.

The law doth punish man or woman
That steals the goose from off the common,
But lets the greater felon loose
Who steals the common from the goose......

The whole Fire thing knocked me off my food oriented mission. This is a food blog, after all.

I have had this post simmering for three weeks.

As Obama drifts to the center like the Titanic snuggling up to the iceberg......and John Insane fully pounds his chest about Free are a couple of wake up calls.

In Cité Soleil, one of Port-au-Prince's worst slums, making the clay-based food is a major income earner. Mud cakes are the only inflation-proof food available to Haiti's poor.

Foto from David Levene.

At first sight the business resembles a thriving pottery. In a dusty courtyard women mould clay and water into hundreds of little platters and lay them out to harden under the Caribbean sun.

The craftsmanship is rough and the finished products are uneven. But customers do not object. This is Cité Soleil, Haiti's most notorious slum, and these platters are not to hold food. They are food.

Brittle and gritty - and as revolting as they sound - these are "mud cakes". For years they have been consumed by impoverished pregnant women seeking calcium, a risky and medically unproven supplement, but now the cakes have become a staple for entire families.

It is not for the taste and nutrition - smidgins of salt and margarine do not disguise what is essentially dirt, and the Guardian can testify that the aftertaste lingers - but because they are the cheapest and increasingly only way to fill bellies.

"It stops the hunger," said Marie-Carmelle Baptiste, 35, a producer, eyeing up her stock laid out in rows. She did not embroider their appeal. "You eat them when you have to."

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation predicts Haiti's food import bill will leap 80% this year, the fastest in the world. Food riots toppled the prime minister and left five dead in April. Emergency subsidies curbed prices and bought calm but the cash-strapped government is gradually lifting them. Fresh unrest is expected.

According to the UN, two-thirds of Haitians live on less than 50p a day and half are undernourished. "Food is available but people cannot afford to buy it. If the situation gets worse we could have starvation in the next six to 12 months," said Prospery Raymond, country director of the UK-based aid agency Christian Aid.

Until recently this Caribbean nation, which vies with Afghanistan for appalling human development statistics, had been showing signs of recovery: political stability, new roads and infrastructure, less gang warfare. "We had been going in the right direction and this crisis threatens that," said Eloune Doreus, the vice-president of parliament.

As desperation rises so does production of mud cakes, an unofficial misery index. Now even bakers are struggling. Trucked in from a clay-rich area outside the capital, Port-au-Prince, the mud is costlier but cakes still sell for 1.3p each, about the only item immune from inflation. "We need to raise our prices but it's their last resort and people won't tolerate it," lamented Baptiste, the Cité Soleil baker.

Vendors of other foods who have increased prices have been left with unsold stock. In the Policard slum, a jumble of broken concrete clinging to a mountainside, the Ducasse family tripled the price of its fritters because of surging flour prices. "Our sales have fallen by half," said Jean Ducasse, 49, poking at his tray of shrivelled wares.

The signs of crisis are everywhere. Aid agency feeding centres reported that the numbers seeking help have tripled. At a centre in the Fort Mercredi slum rail-thin women cradled infants with yellowing hair, a symptom of malnutrition. "Now we're having to feed the mothers as well as the babies," said Antonine Saint-Quitte, a nurse.

In rural areas the situation seems even worse, prompting a continued drift to the slums and their mirage of opportunities. Lillian Guerrick, 56, a subsistence farmer near Cap Haitien, yanked her seven grandchildren from school because there was barely money for food let alone fees. "I've no choice," she said, a touch defensive, amid wizened corn stalks.

Anecdotal evidence suggests school attendance nationwide has dropped and that those who do make it to class are sometimes too hungry to concentrate. "I use jokes to try to stimulate my students, to wake them up," said Smirnoff Eugene, 25, a Port-au-Prince teacher.

Haiti's woes stem from global economic trends of higher oil and food prices, plus reduced remittances from migrant relatives affected by the US downturn. What makes the country especially vulnerable, however, is its almost total reliance on food imports.

Domestic agriculture is a disaster. The slashing and burning of forests for farming and charcoal has degraded the soil and chronic under-investment has rendered rural infrastructure at best rickety, at worst non-existent.

The woes were compounded by a decision in the 1980s to lift tariffs, when international prices were lower, and flood the country with cheap imported rice and vegetables. Consumers gained and the IMF applauded but domestic farmers went bankrupt and the Artibonite valley, the country's breadbasket, atrophied.

Now that imports are rocketing in price the government has vowed to rebuild the withered agriculture but that is a herculean task given scant resources, degraded soil and land ownership disputes.

Same thing in Mexico.

NAFTA guaranteed open access to American markets to Mexican farmers......who were immediately crushed under the heel of hyper competitive agri-businesses.

In theory, Free Trade works great. Small producers, wherever they are, have open access to markets around the world. every case.....small local producers have to deal with one or two wholesalers and distributors who are free to set producer prices independent of global markets. In Mexico there are hundreds of thousands....millions of corn farmers. There are only two corn of whom makes all the tortillas you have ever eaten if you don't speak Spanish and hang on the East Side of Salinas.

Guess where the profits go?

Those corn farmers have been systematically fucked to the point that they are Carmel Valley in front of Kasey's looking for day work to feed their families back in Mexico.

Talk Free Trade in North Carolina......

Wal Mart gutted the entire 200 year old textile industry of North Carolina to save consumers 20 cents on each T-shirt that you can buy in Marina.

What did you do with that 20 cents? How will it help an entire society on the East Coast?

When you buy those 30 tortillas at Costco for only four will the money you save help the farmer in Tepotzlan?

And how will your uncle, the union carpenter...... deal with sitting around not working when the farmer from Tepotzlan who used to grow corn at a profit shows up at Kasey's and gets the carpenter job for ten bucks an hour with no benefits?

In Haiti, they are economically, racially and geographically fucked.

They can't compete against corn from Colorado.....where my old bar buddy from Telluride raises 40,000 acres of corn with one employee.

They are black.....and therefore at the bottom of the Cute Impoverished pile.

They live on an island......and our Coast Guard....and the Cuban Coast Guard.....are completely on top of any Haitian rowboat's idea of freedom in Miami or Daiquiri.

Hey.......anyone for Mud Cakes?

Mud in yer eye.....

Every blogger in the world is now pointing out the irony of George Bush and John McSame thumping their bibles and hollering that invading sovereign states is so wrong in the new millenium.

Bush even put up our hapless U.N. ambassador......who used to be a decent say that invading sovereign states is Europe.

Georgia is European by grace of their oil pipeline and their interest in NATO membership.

Tbilisi, Georgia is closer to both Mosul in Iraq and Teheran in Iran that Cachagua is to LA.

Hey......Cachagua is interested in both secession AND NATO membership.

Listening to these Bush guys whine and moan about Russia invading Georgia is both hilarious and painful.

Painful because the President of Georgia speaks better English than the President of the United States......he apparently actually went to class.

Hilarious like when your buddy that has been fucking everything that moves, including his Ford pickup truck......gets all weepy when his wife runs off with the pool boy.

Painful because George Bush has over-extended and destroyed the effectiveness of our once fine armed forces to the point that we can't do shit. We have spent a trillion dollars bombing mud huts.

Our cuckolded buddy points to his enforcer: "Bubba will kick your ass!"

Bubba can't let go of the X-box, and couldn't get off the couch without a forklift. And the drool is really embarrassing.

Ronald Reagan stood in front of a few bus loads of losers in Berlin shipped in to witness him pontificating: "Mr. Gorbachev.....tear down this Wall!"

Reagan got away with it because the Soviets had come to the end of the road of a failed economic system that gutted the State and benefited only the few.....

I sincerely hope that Vladimir Putin.....the guy with the functioning economy, the natural resources, the cash on hand....... doesn't rub our nose too much in it.

Russians have a finely honed sense of irony.......

If no one else noticed.......Vlad just knocked John McCain's tractor hat off his head and went home with McCain's chick.

And....if you know anything about Eastern European wasn't some skanky ho from Miss Buffalo Chip in Sturges, ND.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Bojangles Olympics......

First thing this morning....all set to have a great day.....I made the mistake of watching the news.

There was George Bush.....a guest of the Chinese government.......lecturing his hosts on their record of human rights abuses and abuse of free and open political process.

This is one day after the entire might of George's tin pot dictatorship had come to bear on a simple working man......a chauffeur held incommunicado for seven years who had finally been convicted in Bush's kangaroo court in the first and most magnificent of the Gitmo show trials

I am no lover of the Chinese government. I am a Tibet guy....and I despise each and every aspect of the way the Chincoms treat their people.....and ours. I ain't watching their shit.....

But still......How chromed are this guy's clueless, rude and inept is he to first accept the invitation to attend the Olympics from the Chincoms......and then piss in the punchbowl.

And.....Bush and the Chincoms see eye-to-eye on almost everything: security, free trade, controlling elections, squashing dissent, exercise of military power over distance, oligarchic control of not only the political process but the entire economy.

Bush's speech was an exercise of either such blatant chutzpah or such humiliating stupidity that it gave me an instant migraine.

I am boycotting the Olympics. Well, I might watch soccer. And I might watch some swimming.

My boys were all aqua jocks....but it goes beyond that. Swimmers are among the most meticulous competitors.

I mean....they shave their bodies to cut water resistance.

In high school! Where there is barely a hair to be shaved!

I saw the American cyclists trying to take on some shit like this by arriving in China wearing special HEPA filter masks against the smog. The Chincoms immediately slapped them down and made them apologize for dissing the Bojangles air. Rookie stuff.

I have a bunch of national and international licenses for coaching soccer, and training folks to coach soccer. We learn teaching techniques, physical, nutritional, spiritual, technical, strategic philosophies......anything to gain an edge.

My favorite Get Any Edge lesson came not from a soccer player....but from an aqua jock.

Thirty years ago the bad guys weren't Chinese....they were the Russkies and the East Germans. In the Barcelona Olympics in '82 there was some first tier American swimmer who was second tier when it came to the Ost Germans. Since this is not actual journalism, I am not going to look up the guy's name at midnight before a wedding.......

Anyway, our Yank had never beaten this East German prick....ever.

Close....but no cigar, White Boy.....

At the 800m or some such, he had another shot in Barca.

Luck of the draw.....our boy is posted next to The Enemy.

The competitors line up, get announced....climb up on their starting blocks.

"On your marks........"

"Get set....."

Our guy jumps the gun.....and dives in before the gun.

False start.

Oh, damn. Embarrassing.....

He drifts out in his lane, kick turns and cruises back in the German's lane and climbs out....all apologetic.

As he pulls himself out of the water and climbs up onto his starting block he whispers to the East perfect Ost Berlinsch....

"I just pissed in your lane, motherfucker........"

Our boy wins by a length.


I will probably watch the swimming.......

End of story.....

Teresa Heinz Kerry was a way classier act than John....but she wasn't running.

Elizabeth Edwards wasn't running either.......and the ultimate class act.

Here is her response to the revelation of her husband's affair:

Our family has been through a lot. Some caused by nature, some caused by human weakness, and some – most recently – caused by the desire for sensationalism and profit without any regard for the human consequences. None of these has been easy. But we have stood with one another through them all. Although John believes he should stand alone and take the consequences of his action now, when the door closes behind him, he has his family waiting for him.

John made a terrible mistake in 2006. The fact that it is a mistake that many others have made before him did not make it any easier for me to hear when he told me what he had done. But he did tell me. And we began a long and painful process in 2006, a process oddly made somewhat easier with my diagnosis in March of 2007. This was our private matter, and I frankly wanted it to be private because as painful as it was I did not want to have to play it out on a public stage as well. Because of a recent string of hurtful and absurd lies in a tabloid publication, because of a picture falsely suggesting that John was spending time with a child it wrongly alleged he had fathered outside our marriage, our private matter could no longer be wholly private.

The pain of the long journey since 2006 was about to be renewed.

John has spoken in a long on-camera interview I hope you watch. Admitting one’s mistakes is a hard thing for anyone to do, and I am proud of the courage John showed by his honesty in the face of shame. The toll on our family of news helicopters over our house and reporters in our driveway is yet unknown. But now the truth is out, and the repair work that began in 2006 will continue. I ask that the public, who expressed concern about the harm John’s conduct has done to us, think also about the real harm that the present voyeurism does and give me and my family the privacy we need at this time.

Elizabeth Edwards

Any questions?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Old Friends.......Hilario's Journey

I am finally getting to an age where I notice that my old old friends, and my old friends longer have both skates on the ice.

Today I had the exact same conversation with one of my oldest friends that I had three days ago.


I should talk. My friend Peyton and I uphold the last vestiges of the Upper Carmel Valley Light Reading and General Soporific Society......and both of us have been caught in the last year re-reading a book that we had already read, and not figuring it out until the last chapters. We thought we were smart......

It is ironic that the UCVLRGSS was founded by me and the father of my friend of the dual conversations. Even though he was from an old school gold-mining family, and I am from an old-school Irish sea-going family, our paths crossed in weird ways.

He went to Cornell. I went to Cornell. He had a ton of Hawaiian experience.....I was born there, and my family is from there. His wife had my great aunt as an English instructor at Lone Mountain in SF. His daughter went to the same obscure Catholic school as my mom in Menlo Park......

This the best, though. Repeated before in this space, but apropos for today.

On September 22, 1949 the Dad of my old friend was the manager of the Ala Moana in Honolulu. At the time, my Gramps was the Marine Surveyor of Honolulu harbor, and my Pops was working for Castle and Cook in the Aloha Tower by the docks. My folks lived with the grandfolks above Diamond Head on Manalani Rise, in a house with koa wood panelling and papaya and hibiscus in the two acres that my mom would pick in the morning. You could see Lanai in the distance before coffee.......

My buddy, Dad of my now old friend......drank a bit. He loved drinking......not being drunk, but the whole ceremony of bars, ordering, bartenders, developing relationships, critiquing and battling back and forth. My buddy, my son (two years old or so at the time) and I used to hit every bar between Carmel and Lucia on yearly excursions.....just to compare notes.

Anyway. On the specified night in 1949, my buddy stayed late at the bar at the Ala Moana. Picture the bar at the Ala Moana in 1949 in Waikiki. No hotels, no trash.....just sand, moonlight and Diamond Head in the distance. Frangipani and plumaria on the breeze. 80 degree air and water......year around. I am assuming some gorgeous local female companionship.....but this could include his wife.

My buddy walked out of the bar after closing....... in search of his 1949 Studebaker coupe. As he drifted into the parking area, a coconut fell from a tree and hit him directly on the noggin...... and nearly killed him. always....the females arrived and saved the day, and rushed him to the hospital.....

Queen Liliokalani Hospital........ down by the Iolani Palace.

All was fine. After a day's stay, my buddy was released to continue his career.

The reason we knew the exact date 50 years later, was that I was born in that hospital.....on the same floor where my buddy was treated, on the same night.

Strange connections...... buddy's first marriage did not quite make it. Too many coconuts, too many hula girls....who knows.

My buddy is related to all the old citizens of Carmel, and many of the current ones.....and wound up married to John Steinbeck's ex-wife, Carol, and living in Carmel Valley with all the original Meyer lemon trees in California.

Carol was a character in her own right. My other old friends from the movie business describe movie nights at their place on Carmel Beach where Carol would arrive with bottles of riesling and wind up sleeping under the table that held the projector.....after exhausting herself with critical comments of the films being shown......comments that were always right on the money.

Carol had a particular vision.

One day at a flea market in Old Monterey she happened upon an old photograph of a Mexican vaquero. She fell in love at first sight and bought the thing for a few cents. She named him "Hilario". She gave the image a big fat Marilyn Monroe kiss and hung it on her wall......the wall she shared with my buddy.

Decades later, Carol eventually died....and then, decades even later my buddy eventually died. During the emotion of the wake and all that, my buddy's daughter gave me Hilario. This was more than a gift.....this was something that resonated through our whole family.

From time to time my buddy's family has checked in about Hilario.......I can tell that they might perhaps regret the spontaneous generosity that brought him to me, but they are way too civilized and kind to say anything directly about the matter.

Hilario has remained an important presence in our visual family ever since.......

For a while I hung him at Silver Jones. One sad day, my aggressive cleaning lady....who also loved Hilario..... saw the lipstick print on his cheek, was offended, and scrubbed it off.


After that, we moved Hilario back to my house.

Our house is somewhat chaotic. We are almost never things pile up. My office machine is not a computer, but a leaf-blower.

As I have mentioned before....chefs come in different colors: visual, textural, taste-oriented, political, scent-oriented.....

I must be visual. I have always worked for visual artists.....who are often broke. We have so much visual art in our house that it piles up on the floor. I just did a quick check: on the floor.....nicely propped up, mind you, and with tons of love and respect.....was an original Ansel Adams, an Edward Weston, a Martha Casenove, two Michael Kenna's and a bunch of other random stuff. The walls have Kim Weston's, a bunch of Michael Kenna's, some Conall Jones, some Rod Dresser, a couple of good Brendan Jones, a bunch of Ansels.......and Hilario.

Hilario lives next to a framed love letter and foto from Charles Stuart Parnell.....and right by the certificate that my great-grandfather got for saving a bunch of people in a storm in Ireland on Christmas Eve in 1898.

Hilario is family. Actually someone else's family....but he has been with us for so long that he is part of our fabric.

My buddy's daughter had her 25th wedding anniversary today. We did the wedding, back in the day. She was part of the original culinary uprising in Berkeley.....and by brother wound up editing the cookbooks of her mentor chef, Jeremiah Tower.

She said that she had organized fotos of the whole time and really wanted me to bring Hilario to the party to represent the history of the family. the middle of all the normal chaos involved in catering.....we took Hilario down from his post, wrapped him in linen and took him down to the Trail and Saddle Club for the Anniversary.

We worried that it was a plot to recapture he should not have been given to us in the first place.....

We were poised to defend Hilario. Nicely, but firmly.

And no one remembered. And no one noticed. She forgot to bring fotos, just as she forgot our conversations of the previous week.

Hilario sat in the apron bag on the floor of the kitchen.......

Hilaro was seriously insulted.

Later.....I told the story to the girls.

Blair and Nike gave Hilario each a big kiss.....wrapped him in linen.....and put him back in the apron bag. He is right now back in his place next to Charles Stuart Parnell, just down from Ansel and great grandpop......and I detect a little shit-eating grin on the old guy.

He got some. old friends were clueless.

As we drift towards much is being lost?

Hilario is neutral on the subject.

His neighbor, Charles Stuart caught with a divorced woman, and the entire cause of Irish freedom got dumped in the shitter for fifty years, and a hundred thousand people died......but they both have shit eating grins.

And Hilario got kissed by Blair AND Nike.......

I think the old boy is good for another fifty years.......

I just hope someone remembers.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Continuing the discussion.....

Big Sur is rolling on, embracing their new-found sense of community with song-fests and fundraisers........

Over here in Cachagua we are returning to daily life......and remembering that it is actually kind of fucking boring.

The Fire was fun.

Like War is fun.

Lots of testosterone flowing. Lots of toys. (Callie got a ride on one of the European helicopters coming back from Blue Rocks....and was still buzzing three hours later......)

Abandonment of rules and relationships in the face of......

Danger? Terror?

The top-down imposition of rules, regs, actions, etc. needs to be examined and analyzed.....and us locals who got bitch-slapped and mowed down by the Pros From Dover need to get organized.

This TopDown attitude is one we have been living with for eight years now......and, come to think of it.....possibly sixteen years, or twenty.....or all the way back to Jimmy Carter.

"You are a dumb fuck. You don't know. You do not have a grasp of the Big Picture. Back off, and let The Pros From Dover settle your shit."

I have to get up and take care of my clients in five I am falling back on the last resort of the douche bag blogger......poaching posts.

Check these three posts out. Two of them are from Jesus' go-to guy when I am depressed....if calling Nature's Wild Rice and listening to their Minnesota answering machine does not do it for me........

Oh.....and if you are bored or manic enough to get to the middle of the first story.......

Duncan Fucking Hunter.....former Presidential Candidate......who called in the air-tanker credits.....recently graduated to Worst Person In The World on Keith Olbermann.


He used his position as a US Legislator to try to set up a "Humanitarian Relief Expedition" to Chad.

Chad is next to Darfur. There are crazy wars and politics going on here. Darfur rebels almost captured the capitol of Chad a few months back......The government of Chad is or is not supporting the Crimes Against Humanity charges against the guy running the Darfur genocide in The Hague.

Duncan Fucking Hunter is still trying to set up his Humanitarian Relief Expedition to Chad.

Here is how it works: Duncan Fucking Hunter flies to Chad.......with intense security, he goes out on the veldt and shoots a whole bunch of wildebeest. Locals then dress the meat from the wildebeest, and give it to the starving people.....of whatever faction happens to be providing security for Duncan Fucking Hunter.

This guy really thinks this is a humanitarian effort.

What a racist cock.

Does he think that the starving locals could not figure out how to kill wildebeest.....and they need a Congressman from California to help them out with his superior firepower?

At last check......a fully automatic 7.65mm assault rifle went for about forty dollars in Chad. It has an effective range of at least 500m.....which takes in a lot of wildebeest.....



The fact that more than forty percent of Americans are prepared to vote for a guy at least as actually stupid as Duncan Fucking Hunter leads me to scramble to get my Irish passport together.

Where is Darwin when you need him?


Stolen Post #1 Fire related......Check the link for the full story. Worth your time.
Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times
A helicopter drops water on a ridge above Latigo Canyon in Malibu, where a fast-moving brush fire threatened homes in November.
The bulky aircraft are reassuring sights to those in harm's way, but their use can be a needless and expensive exercise to appease politicians. Fire officials call them 'CNN drops.'
By Julie Cart and Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers, Second of five parts
July 29, 2008
» Discuss Article (140 Comments)

The deadly 2003 Cedar fire was raging through San Diego County. Rep. Duncan Hunter, whose home in Alpine would burn to the ground, couldn't understand why military aircraft hadn't been called in to fight the blaze. He decided to do something about it.

Hunter phoned Ray Quintanar, regional aviation chief for the U.S. Forest Service, and demanded that giant C-130 cargo planes be mobilized to attack the fire with retardant.

Quintanar explained that winds were too high and visibility too poor for aircraft to operate. Forest Service air tankers had already been grounded. But, as both men recall the episode, Hunter would not be dissuaded. He told Quintanar to call "Mr. Myers" and rattled off a Washington, D.C., phone number.

"Who's he?" Quintanar asked.

"He's the one with all the stars on his chest standing next to Don Rumsfeld," Hunter replied, describing Gen. Richard B. Myers, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Times' five-part series explores the growth and cost of wildfires.
When Quintanar resisted, Hunter called Washington and pleaded his case directly with Myers. Over the next two days, six C-130 Hercules transports were dispatched to Southern California from bases in Wyoming, North Carolina and Colorado. The planes saw action once the weather improved, but in Quintanar's view they contributed little to controlling the fire.

Hunter says he has no regrets about his end run around the chain of command. "California was on fire, I got 'em the planes," he said in a recent interview. "That's my job."

To professional firefighters, though, it was a prime example of a "political air show," the high-profile use of expensive aircraft to appease elected officials.

Fire commanders say they are often pressured to order planes and helicopters into action on major fires even when the aircraft won't do any good. Such pressure has resulted in needless and costly air operations, experienced fire managers said in interviews.

The reason for the interference, they say, is that aerial drops of water and retardant make good television. They're a highly visible way for political leaders to show they're doing everything possible to quell a wildfire, even if it entails overriding the judgment of incident commanders on the ground.

Firefighters have developed their own vernacular for such spectacles. They call them "CNN drops."

"A lot of people do a lot of things for publicity and for politics that don't need to be done," said Jim Ziobro, fire aviation chief for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Increased use of aircraft is helping to drive up the cost of fighting wildfires. The Forest Service spent $296 million on aerial firefighting last year, compared with $171 million in 2004. Aviation costs amount to about one-fifth of the agency's fire-suppression spending.

Nearly all of the nation's firefighting aircraft are owned and operated by private companies under contract with the government. The meter starts running when an incident commander calls aircraft to a fire. It continues whether a plane is in the air dropping retardant or sitting on a remote tarmac, waiting for visibility to improve.

It costs up to $14,000 a day to keep an air tanker on call and as much as $4,200 per hour to put it in the air. Heavy-duty helicopters, the workhorses of aerial firefighting, can cost $32,000 a day on standby, plus $6,300 per hour of flight time.

"When you deal with aviation on a wildland fire, you have a big bank in the sky that opens up and showers money," said Timothy Ingalsbee, a former Forest Service and National Park Service firefighter who has criticized federal firefighting and forest management practices.

Unrealistic expectations

Pressure to use aircraft has grown as wildfires have become larger and more dangerous, and as more subdivisions have sprung up in fire-prone canyons and woodlands. When a column of smoke appears in the distance, frightened homeowners want dramatic action, and an air tanker pouring red retardant on a blazing ridgeline is undeniably dramatic.

As a result, Americans have become conditioned to think officials aren't taking a fire seriously until they unleash a ferocious aerial attack.

"If there's a fire and there's not an air tanker circling in California, people go, 'Oh my God, we're defenseless,' when in fact we're probably not," said Scott Vail, a retired Forest Service incident commander.

#2 of Stolen Posts

This is a full-on Mike Kanalakis-style law-enforcement debacle.

The bummer is that the people that Kanalakis has been fucking with amount to no more than 5,000 a giant county.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Torturing the non-compliant

Last Saturday morning, patrolman from Ozark Police Department found 16 year old Mace Hutchinson lying below an I-65 overpass screaming in pain. It was the kind of scene a cop dreads, a kid, possibly injured, lying prone in the street--there was no telling what kind of violence he might wreak.

The officers reacted accoeding to theor training; they commanded the potential juvie perp to stand. He responded with an act that in today's America--an America in which we are locked in a life and death battle with the forces of Islamunistofacism--is tantamount to treason. You see, young Mace did not comply with an order given my an authority figure.

So the officers tased him.

He did not comply.

Then, they tased him again.

He did not comply.

So they tased him again, and again, and again.

After the nineteenth tasing, the officers concluded that there may be a reason for his non-compliance. Perhaps, he had cleverly removed his nervous system, or worse yet, he was an improvised explosive device disguised to look like a teenager. One suspects they may have argued about whether to beat him with their batons or blow him up, but in the end, they sent him to a hospital to be treated for the broken spine he received after his fall from the overpass.

Now, it's the defeatists and bleeding hearts who are screaming. They don't understand that in today's war-time America, an act of non-compliance is an act of treason. Summary judgement and torture are not only allowed, but required when one fails to obey a command.

Maybe we should tase the complainers.

Elsewhere: A summary judgement and execution.

A tip.....Do not click on the last thing if you don't want to become seriously pissed off.

Item #3

The Jamie Leigh Jones-Halliburton rape case was horrific, but what happened to PFC Lavena Johnson in Iraq in 2005 was many orders of magnitudes worse.

The parents of the young Missouri woman were told that she died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and her death was ruled a suicide. But her physician father became suspicious after looking at injuries to the body:

After two years of requesting documents, one set of papers provided by the Army included a xerox copy of a CD. Wondering why the xerox copy was in the documents, Dr. Johnson requested the CD itself. With help from his local Congressional representative, the US Army finally complied. When Dr. Johnson viewed the CD, he was shocked to see photographs taken by Army investigators of his daughter’s body as it lay where her body had been found, as well as other photographs of her disrobed body taken during the investigation.

The photographs revealed that Lavena, a small woman, barely 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, had been struck in the face with a blunt instrument, perhaps a weapon stock. Her nose was broken and her teeth knocked backwards. One elbow was distended. The back of her clothes had debris on them indicating she had been dragged from one location to another. The photographs of her disrobed body showed bruises, scratch marks and teeth imprints on the upper part of her body. The right side of her back as well as her right hand had been burned apparently from a flammable liquid poured on her and then lighted. The photographs of her genital area revealed massive bruising and lacerations. A corrosive liquid had been poured into her genital area, probably to destroy DNA evidence of sexual assault.

Despite the bruises, scratches, teeth imprints and burns on her body, Lavena was found completely dressed in the burning tent. There was a blood trail from outside a contractor’s tent to inside the tent. She apparently had been dressed after the attack and her attacker placed her body into the tent and set it on fire.

The Electronic Village has been working hard to draw attention to this tragedy. Color of Change has now joined the battle and is asking people to contact Henry Waxman and ask him to conduct hearings as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Amy Goodman had an interview with Lavena's parents you can listen to here. Just heartbreaking.