Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Irascible Chef.......

Nic Coury foto
. Me working in a carport in New Monterey.

If you did not see the article in Monterey County Weekly.......check it here.

Words by Mark Anderson, fotos by Nic Coury. For some reason the on-line version cuts out Nic's fotos, probably so they don't have to pay him. I know his publisher.

Bradley wanted to hire me away from a coffee table magazine as a food writer twenty years ago. We talked on and on at Silver Jones about ethics, food, restaurants, etc. It was all good.....I paid for the meal.

Then I said the magic words: "What do you pay for articles?"


Awwww, Jesus. I love Bradley (on the Board of Sea Studios among other things), his wife Jeanne, their awesome daughter.......... and the Weekly.

And......The Weekly is a still functioning newspaper with actual journalism and actual opinions.....so I shouldn't be poking fun.

Pay or no pay, I agreed to do a trial run as Restaurant Reviewer for the The Weekly. My opening line ran something like: "Watching the servers and chefs work at The Ryan Ranch Rotisserie is like watching a monkey fuck a football......."

I did not get the job.


Years later.....not so long ago....and editor for The Weekly called me for a repeat interview for the same job. I did another review....which you can find on this blog if you do a search for "Piselli".

Didn't get the job then, either.

You can't hire Mark to write about your daughter's wedding, but you can hire Nic to do the photography. Funny how that works........I guess you have to wait for Mark's book.

Meanwhile....based on the article, the phone at The Store was ringing off the hook with people trying to wedge into our little 60 seat diner. And five of the tables are permanently booked with people we love.

We sell out at least a week out for the early seating.......The late seating is for the hardworking local kids in the wine business and any Carmel folk brave enough to drive after dark.

We made a late call early seating exception for a woman on Saturday. We were slammed with two parties.......and I had poured 180 degree duck fat on my balls and was feeling pretty irascible.

Store Liz.....a close relative of Mother Teresa, at least psychically.....took a call from Joyce Glasgow, the Food and Travel Editor of the Seattle Gay News. In the middle of the chaos of a double departure and the relative destruction of The Store, Liz handled a twenty minute interrogation from Ms. Glasgow about The Store, our food, me, Cachagua....the works.

Liz is nice. She lives in a tiny shack with no water or electricity on the top of the Mountain in Jamesburg and still managed to raise April......who will be the next Condi Rice, and April will not just be smart and well educated........ but have a clue and a heart.

Liz, despite having virtually no income....and virtually no home by normal standards.....pays child support to a welfare scamming scumbag in Oklahoma or possibly one of the square states. So, bears a universe of sorrow....and continues to smile and have a positive attitude to everything.

Liz....nicest person in the world, could barely deal with Ms. Glasgow.

We have been afflicted for several months by wildly annoying female spirits. My Amanda thinks that there is a form changing spirit out there that is stalking us.

Usually this spirit is in the form of a post-menopausal, 55-65 year old, bitter and oblivious, with super misplaced entitlement issues.

People who order butter for Micah's bread.....when there is laboriously researched EVOO with rosemary we grew and obscure sea salts in a nice little dish right in front of them.

One of the spirits manifested last week. In the chaos that is Monday Night, the girls took someone else's beet salad to The Evil Spirit.

"Who has the beet salad?"

"Me! Me!"

As in the "Me Generation".

Yeah, well....it was someone else's salad the waitress brought by mistake, and caused a cascading clusterfuck in our little kitchen. Make another beet salad.....steal someone else's in the meantime......Nightmare.

When the waitress went to clear the salad from The Evil Spirit, she/it said: "Cancel my entree. I am full after that salad."

The entree was already fully cooked, and ready to be delivered. When it arrived, The Evil Spirit said, "Well, I am already full. I guess I will take it to go."

We don't do To Go........just like we don't do butter.

Now it was clear to all and everyone that this was The True Evil Spirit. We burned sage, mugwort....and possibly some other herbs. The hotside guys shifted from Spanish cider to Gruet instantly, and started muttering imprecations.....and the girls tried to calm me and prevent me from charging into the dining room and confronting The Evil.

When the check came to the table, The True Evil Spirit refused to pay for the beet salad....since she didn't order it. She also refused to pay for her entree, because she was already full from the beet salad that she didn't order. Why should she pay for food she couldn't eat because she was already full with food she hadn't ordered?

We billed the sweet old rancher who was her host anyway, and charged him a PLU.....automatic 20% tip. He had never left more than a quarter tip in his life at The Chatterbox, so he balked briefly.....until he saw my kitchen crew, hovering with knives and hot things in their hands.

Hovering with intent. And with fire in their eyes.

Won't see them again. And we probably are not doing their birthday party on Jan 30th next year they had booked us for.

Thank God.

So, back to Joyce Glasgow.

On Sunday, after our week from Hell.....we couldn't open for Brunch because the place was destroyed. Amanda, Micah and I worked for eight hours to get the place back to only....well, destroyed.

Monday dawned with a sold-out first seating.....over-sold, in fact. We had both Lou Calcagno, Tony Lombardo, Michael Stamp and Molly Erickson coming in at the same time. For non-locals, this is like having Vladimir Putin and Mikheil Shaakashvili sitting ten feet apart. Not to mention Ben and Cate, Peyton and Pauline (she with the unmentionable birthday coming on Saturday), Joanie and Lyle.....who saved my ass by driving down gorgeous eggplants and squashes at the last minute on Saturday.

And the place was destroyed.

We worked our duck-fat fried balls off, and tried to get to a place where we would not be humiliated entirely.

I worked for an hour to try to fit everyone in. Our cool new landlord wanted in......couldn't do it. Steve and Nancy wanted to get him in to their table.......couldn't do it.

Be we had a table for Joyce Glasgow......Food and Travel Editor for Seattle Gay News.

A moment about our relations with gay people.

First off, we love Seattle Gay News. Good progressive politics.....plus their Sex Columnist is the guy who came up with the campaign to re-define "Santorum" from the name of a crackpot Senator from Pennsylvania into the disgusting mix of lube, feces and semen resulting from anal sex.

Really. Google "Santorum" and see what you get.

Fucker deserves it.


My brother was gay. A sweet, kind, generous, creative soul I still miss every day of my life. My dad is gay, it turns out. A complete asshole whose assholeness has nothing to do with his sexual orientation. Thank God my mom worked her way past both the assholeness and the latent homosexuality long enough to create our weird family.

Here's to Mom. And here's to Dad, for that matter. He faked it through the banking industry in California in the 50's somehow, and hung in there long enough to get my brother and I through Cornell, and another one through Hobart.

And here's to gay people everywhere. Love is love. There is so precious little of it in the world, I think we should all be encouraging any of it we find. Love shoes? Great. Love German Wirehaired Pointers. Great. Love men? Love women? Even better.

Last weekend we did our first legal same sex marriage. Two women. The emotion and feeling in the room was such that I cried.......and I do seventy weddings a year, for 30 years now. Two wonderful, hardworking, creative women that had fought so many negatives.....and still created a kind, loving space in life for at least two people, though it actually wound up being big enough for all forty guests and a staff of seven.

I wish that the kind, sweet, Christians we are recently surrounded by could see fit to ignore sexual issues like Gay Marriage and Choice.....and vote for a candidate that is not a corrupt, lying sack of shit.

Honor is not negociable......Everything else is.

I met Cary Grant once at Merv Griffin's. He has one of my favorite moral/ethical quotes ever.

Working on a shoot with a Nightmare Princess from Hell back in the 1930's.......probably an earlier incarnation of The Evil Spirit.....he noticed that she was passively-agressively avoiding/hitting on him.

His response:

"Let's have sex. Will you sleep with me for say.....a million dollars?"

"Well, baby.....let's talk!"

"Well, then.....will you sleep with me for a dollar?"

"Ohmigod.....What do you think I am?"

"Well.......I already know what you are.......

Now we are just negociating about your price."

John McCain in a nutshell.....

Back to Joyce.

2pm on Monday.......trying to produce 14 entrees, six salads, six appetizers, six pizzas and eight desserts from a chaotic hell.

Phone rings.......

Liz talks for a while, and I see an awful, frustrated vision on her face.

"Gimme the fucking phone."

"I want to know about your entrees. Do you have like fish, meat and vegetarian items?"

"We had 14 entrees last Monday. Meat, two fishes, all that. We are not huge vegetarian people. We tend to cook vegetarians if we can.....but we have an heirloom marinara spaghetti and a pezze with a deconstructed ratatouille from local veggies."

"What are you serving tonight?"

Like I actually knew for sure. We publish our menu at 6pm.....usually with people already seated. Still, I read her off all the entrees from last week.

"Well, I need to know what your preparations are. I don't want to drive all the way out there and be disappointed."

I know I keep going on about the 120 hour work week.......but it is different.

Those of us who hoe this row have this weird idea that some respect should be involved. We may be the culinary equivalent of the Salinas Peppers baseball team.....but do not fuck with us.

Irascible Chef for a reason.

"Ma'am......I am a chef. I am not a fucking cookbook! We are not going to get along........I can tell. Let me save you the disappointment. I am cancelling your reservation. Go to the Rio Grill......

And, by the way....... fuck off and die, and save yourself the drive."


Irascible Chef.

She called back and tried to complain about me to one of my people. I grabbed the phone.

"Joyce.....you are a horrible person. I am hanging up now. If you call back, I will call the police. Or worse......I will call Kevin from Laurel Springs.......he has some serious anger built up."

The good part was that my staff was fully empowered by my anger. After dealing with dickweeds all weekend (we need to move the bonfire four feet.....whaddya mean you don't have Coors Lite?).....they rallied to a higher sphere.

Workers deserve respect. If they don't get it, it is fine to impose it corporally. Where is that hairbrush, anyway.

Monday Night was fine. We didn't make any money.....but we never do.

Next morning, when The Store opened, first three phone calls were from Joyce, the Carmel Valley Chamber of Commerce responding to a complaint to a call from Joyce, and the Better Business Bureau from San Jose.....responding to a complaint from Joyce.

Wanna buy a restaurant?

Next time you buy a bagel, a coffee, a sandwich, or a five course meal.....be extra kind to your server.

Chances are......she just had to deal with a Joyce.

And she is still smiling and being kind..........

American workers are the bomb...........

P.S. I called Seattle Gay News.......the publisher spoke to me personally. A kind, sweet man.

Joyce has a tenuous at best relationship with them. She goes around using their name to bludgeon hotels, airlines, restaurants, theatres, etc into free shit.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chalk Fire

The new fire has a name.....after the peak near the origin.

Overnight, despite low winds and decent humidity, the fire has spread significantly. As you can see from the MODUS image, it has progressed a full mile north towards Lucia, the monks at Camaldoli, and Point 16. It measures about 3.5 miles by 2.5 miles.........

We are still shrouded in fog this morning in Cachagua......let us hope our brothers and sisters in Big Sur are experiencing the same.

And......here is an overall orientation. I pinned The Store. The odd blue thing on the Big Sur Coast is Hurricane Point, just above Point Sur.

The Chalk fire is about 28 miles from The Store in geographic terms.....but we feel much closer in experience.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Official Word.

From Kathleen Good, at the Forest Service:

Our information is still limited, but this is what we know:

The Chalk Fire started at approximately 7:30 p.m Saturday, September 27 in
the upper Mill Creek drainage area of Los Padres National Forest in
Monterey County. The fire is about 22 miles southwest of King City and
about 2 miles east of Highway 1. It is primarily south of Nacimiento
Fergusson Road which connects Fort Hunter Liggett to Highway 1.

The fire has burned approximately 800-900 acres in oak and brush in steep,
rugged terrain. There is very little to no wind on the fire and it is
primarily slope and fuel-driven.

Earlier this afternoon the fire reached and crossed to the north side of
Nacimiento Fergusson Road; it is also on both the west and east sides of
South Coast Ridge Road.

Residents of three parcels of private land within the national forest in
the Prewitt Ridge, Alms Ridge and Mill Creek areas, were advised to
evacuate earlier today. The fire is approximately 2 miles from the nearest

All National Forest campgrounds along the Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, South
Coast Ridge Road and Prewitt Ridge, have been evacuated.

An Evacuation Advisory has been issued for residents along Highway 1 in the
Limekiln, Hermitage and Harlan Property areas. This advisory is a
precautionary notice that people in these areas should be prepared to
evacuate if an evacuation order is issued.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Road closures: Nacimiento Fergusson Road is closed at Highway 1 on the west
side and at the national forest boundary on the east side. South Coast
Ridge Road is closed at Nacimiento Fergusson Road and Highway 1 at Plaskett
Creek. Highway 1 is open.

Me to Kathleen Good:Thanks for the update.

I will post it forthwith.

Forgive us for being extremely grumpy about USFS info after our local experiences with the Basin Fire.

Tulare County PIO's supported by clueless FS guys trumping real FS guys with local knowlege, trumping local fire folk with actual, real information and accurate place names. All of it crapped all over by our local Sheriff. Especially when it comes to evac orders.

Are you Justin's mom? Sorry, there are a lot of "Good's".....as many as "Jones's".

Sorry.....long time local.


Fahrenheit 451....

As the trees burn around our neighbors in Big Sur.....trees that in other venues are turned into paper....and then into books.

This weekend we had the Authors and Ideas conference in Carmel. All kinds of great authors. I was ashamed to admit that I had read many of the books on offer.

Left alone in a tacqueria with nothing to read in English or Spanish.....I will read the backs of my credit cards.


Reading is the central river that defines my life. I was the kid that would start research for my sixth grade class on a project in the Encyclopaedia Britannica about "Washington" and wind up reading about "Waugh, Evelyn" and learning about wacky English families and the Amazon.lk

My brother was an author.....and Editor in Chief of Harper Collins. He started Anne Coulter on her nightmare road to hell.

My mom is a librarian.....and still teaches literacy classes.....in English and Spanish....at age 81.

Sarah Palin, besides being complete fucking dipshit.....was once mayor of East Bearshit, Alaska. In her role as mayor and as a parent, she attempted to intervene in the schools and library of East Bearshit.

Her group, PABBIS.....is clamoring to have the following small list of books banned from public discourse.

I am gonna post the after my comments.......but one of the names that popped out was: "Tim O'Brien......The Things They Carried."

This book was the quintessential Vietnam book. Well, there were others.....but Tim nailed it.

Beyond that, this book was the only book my oldest son read on his own in elementary school. Hounded and pursued at every corner by test-wielding demons who sought to prove that he was an ADD, ADHD, dyslexic retard.....the kid loved this book, for its reality, its humanity, its irony, its sense of history. Half his godfather's were Vietnam vets.....and his connection with them now is not unrelated to his experience of Tim O'Brien's book. Bennie, Horace, Peyton.....even Edward at The Store.

This book should be banned because.......?

We have the broadsheet from Powell's Books framed and mounted in his room. Along side his Uncle Rob's Powell's broadsheet.

Another book on the list is "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest".....Ken Kesey.

Are you kidding?

The common thread is not indecency....but questioning authority. Recognizing diversity and struggle.

Check it out.

I know I am preaching to the choir....but as Uncle Bill Clinton said on the Daily Show the other night: "We all know who is on the side of the Angels.......we all need to reach out to those folks who don't get it yet."

Check out this list.....I promise there is not just fear waiting for you.....but motivation to engage those idiot friend of yours who still don't get that Sarah Palin and her ilk are the death knell of civilization itself.

The file is large so BE PATIENT if you don't have a high speed connection

The books in the Excerpts section are listed below

33 Snowfish - Rapp, Adam
A Seahorse Year - D'Erasmo, Stacey
Alice Alone - Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
Alice in Rapture, Sort Of - Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
Alice on Her Way - Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
Alice on the Outside - Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
All Over But the Shoutin' - Bragg, Rick
All the Pretty Horses - McCarthy, Cormac
Alt Ed - Atkins, Catherine
Always Outnumbered Always Outgunned - Mosley, Walter
Always Running La Vida Loca: Gang Days In L.A. - Rodriguez, Luis T.
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging - Rennison, Louise
Animal Dreams - Kingsolver, Barbara
Annie On My Mind - Garden, Nancy
Are You in the House Alone? - Peck, Richard
Athletic Shorts - Crutcher, Chris
Baby Be-Bop - Block, Francesca Lia
Bastard Out of Carolina - Alison, Dorothy
Be True to Your School: A Diary of 1964 - Greene, Bob
Beloved - Morrison, Toni
Black Boy - Wright, Richard
Bless Me Ultima - Anaya, Rudolfo A.
Boy's Life - McCammon, Robert
B-More Careful - Holmes, Shannon
Breaking Boxes - Jenkins, A. M.
Chinese Handcuffs - Crutcher, Chris
Chronicle of a Death Foretold - Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
Dance on My Grave - Chambers, Aidan
Deal With It! A whole new approach.. - Drill, Esther & McDonald, Heather & Odes, Rebecca
Desire Lines - Gantos, Jack
Dreamland - Dessen, Sarah
Druids - Llywelyn, Morgan
Eight Seconds - Ferris, Jean
Ellen Foster - Gibbons, Kaye
Empress of the World - Ryan, Sara
Exodus - Uris, Leon
Fade - Cormier, Robert
Fair Game - Tamar, Erika
Fallen Angels - Myers, Walter Dean
Families - Jannes, Aylette
Fat Kid Rules The World - Going, K. L.
Fools Crow - Welch, James
From The Notebooks Of Melanin Sun - Woodson, Jacqueline
Gates of Fire - Pressfield, Steven
Geography Club - Hartinger, Brent
Girl Goddess #9 - Block, Francesca Lia
Go Ask Alice - Anonymous
Going After Cacciato - O'Brien, Tim
Growing Up Chicana/o - Lopez, Tiffany Ana
Happy Endings Are All Alike - Scoppettone, Sandra
Heroes - Cormier, Robert
Holly's Secret - Garden, Nancy
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents - Alvarez, Julia
I am the Cheese - Cormier, Robert
I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and licked out all the Pots - Straight, Susan
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings - Angelou, Maya
I Was a Teenage Fairy - Block, Francesca Lia
If it doesn’t kill you - Bechard, Margaret
In Cold Blood - Capote, Truman
It's Perfectly Normal - Harris, Robie
Kaffir Boy - Mathabane, Mark
Keesha’s House - Frost, Helen
Kindred - Butler, Octavia B.
King & King - Haan, Linda de and Nijland, Stern
Kissing Tennessee - Appelt, Kathi
Less Than Zero - Ellis, Bret Easton
Like Water for Chocolate - Esquivel, Laura
Living by the Word - Walker, Alice
Looking for Alaska - Green, John
Love & Sex: Ten Stories of Truth - Cart, Michael
Love in the Time of Cholera - Garcia Marquez, Gabriel
Lucky - Sebold, Alice
My Father's Scar - Cart, Michael
My Heartbeat - Garret Freymann-Weyr
My Losing Season - Conroy, Pat
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - Kesey, Ken
One Hot Second: Stories About Desire - Young, Cathy [editor]
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Garcia Marquez, Gabriel
Outrageously Alice - Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
Patiently Alice - Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
Paula - Allende, Isabel
Peter - Walker, Kate
Push - Sapphire
Ragtime - Doctorow, E.L.
Rainbow Boys - Sanchez, Alex
Rape Fantasies from The Norton Anthology - Atwood, Margaret
Rats Saw God - Thomas, Rob
River God - Smith, Wilbur
Running Loose - Crutcher, Chris
Sari Says, The REAL DIRT on Everything from Sex to School
Shattering Glass - Giles, Gail
Shogun - Clavell, James
Silver Pigs - Lindsey, Davis
Simply Alice - Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
Slaughterhouse Five - Vonnegut, Kurt
Slave Day - Thomas, Rob
Smack - Burgess, Melvin
Snow falling on cedars - Guterson, David
Song of Solomon - Morrison, Toni
Sophie’s World - Gaarder, Jostein
Speak - Anderson, Laurie Halse
Stones from the River - Hegi, Ursula
Stotan - Crutcher, Chris
Stuck Rubber Baby - Cruse, Howard
Tenderness - Cormier, Robert
The Antagonists - Gann, Ernest K.
The Awakening - Chopin, Kate
The Bean Trees - Kingsolver, Barbara
The Bluest Eye - Morrison, Toni
The Book Of Phoebe - Tirone, Mary-Ann
The Catcher in the Rye - Salinger, J.D.
The Chocolate War - Cormier, Robert
The Clan of the Cave Bear - Auel, Jean M.
The Color Purple - Walker, Alice
The Confessions of Nat Turner - Styron, William
The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind - Guterson, David
The Dear One - Woodson, Jacqueline
The Family Book - Parr, Todd
The First Man of Rome - McCullough, Colleen
The Giver - Lowry, Lois
The Grooming of Alice - Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
The Handmaid’s Tale - Atwood, Margaret
The Hot Zone - Preston, Richard
The House of Spirits - Allende, Isabel
The House on Mango Street - Cisneros, Sandra
The Joy Luck Club - Tan, Amy
The King Must Die - Renault, Mary
The Lords of Discipline - Conroy, Pat
The Moves Make the Man - Brooks, Bruce
The Name of the Rose - Eco, Umberto
The Natural - Malamud, Bernard
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Chbosky, Stephen
The Pillars of the Earth - Follet, Ken
The Power of One - Courtenay, Bryce
The Prince of Tides - Conroy, Pat
The Rainbow Kite - Fanta Shyer, Marlene
The Rose and the Beast; Fairy Tales Retold - Block, Francesca, Lia
The sailor who fell from grace with the sea - Mishima, Yukio
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole - Townsend, Sue
The Sissy Duckling - Fierstein, Harvey
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - Brashares, Ann
The Source - Michener, James
The things they carried - O’Brien, Tim
Then Again, Maybe I Won’t - Blume, Judy
Things Fall Apart - Achebe, Chinua
This Boy's Life - Wolff, Tobias
Thousand Pieces of Gold - McCunn, Ruthanne Lum
A Time for Dancing - Hurwin, Davida Wills
True to the Game - Woods, Teri
Twelve Days in August - Ketchum Murrow, Liza
Uncle Vampire - Grant, Cynthia D.
Violet & Claire - Block, Francesca Lia
Weetzie Bat - Block, Francesca Lia
Whale Talk - Crutcher, Chris
What I Know Now - Larson, Roger
When I was Puerto Rican - Santiago, Esmeralda
Where the Kissing Never Stops - Koertge, Ron
Whistle Me Home - Wersba, Barbara
The Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys

Witch Baby - Block, Francesca Lia

Woman Warrior - Kingston, Maxine
Zack's Story - Greenberg, Keith Elliot

The real deal.....

Here is the real deal about the new fire.

Big Sur Kate.

Beautiful photography.....I don't know who got this stuff. Kate?


Thanks, Kate.

I am posting three of her fotos to encourage you to go to her blog.

For Everything There is a Season......

Yeah, like Fire Season....

A new fire broke out today in the Hunter Ligget/Naciemento-Ferguson Road area. Callie has been called in for more dozer work.

Evacuations are going on again......supposedly north of Lucia. This fire is south of the extreme southern boundary of the Basin Complex firelines....at Big Creek.

Here is the first MODUS pass. In the foto you can see Nacimiento-Ferguson Road where it leaves the beach at Mill Creek. The cluster of little squares just north of there is Lime Kiln State Beach, which is just a short distance from Lucia. Point 16 and the Camaldolese monks cannot be happy. They had a front row seat for the Kirk Creek fire in '99. This fire is about five miles away today.

You can see the new hotspots on both sides of the road. The fire in this MODUS pass runs about two and half miles in breadth, and a mile and a quarter from north to south.

If you go to Google Earth and zoom into this area, each of the little squares is a foto posted by someone. Most of these in this area from crazy, hard-core bikers like our Will Chesebro (think Tour de France, not Sturgis, ND).

It is gorgeous country.

Or.......it was.
More anon......

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This is a filler post.

There is about to be an onslaught of folks checking The Store out......and we are all way to busy to deal with it.

I have some nice, kind posts not completely researched about brain food, Serendipity, etc......Maybe if the new people read this, they won't have the skills to read the last post when I think that I said that Sarah Palin wants to be raped by Jesus......

That might be bad for business.

Tomorrow, the Carmel Pine Cone reveals that Carmel folk have voted us "Best Caterer". We won the "Golden Pine Cone" award.

Xabi the Grandpuppy was very excited. He loves pine cones. He loves anything that looks like a bush. Note the small caps. During a break from his foto shoot for the Carmel Dog Calendar last year......while on a leash........he sprinted into Carmel Bay Company and grabbed a carved maple pine cone objet d'art off a low shelf near the door. The Store Ladies almost fainted. Luckily, he is a bird dog with a soft mouth, and the objet was unmarred.

I thought the best place for the "Golden Pine Cone" would be on the hood of the Store Jaguar. It could replace the original Jaguar that was snapped off at The Beach Club by angry Republican golfers when they saw my license plate frame: "My next plate will be made by Cheney and Bush."

That was 2003. I wonder if they could still muster the same emotion and energy now.

Turns out the award is just a piece of paper.

Oh, well......

Still.......We are actually excited about the award.

Jane and I first landed in Carmel in January of 1976. We had escaped Ithaca in the midst of long series of crushingly depressing snow storms. There was never enough snow to be pretty.....just enough to chill you to the bone in everything you did....and be visually chilling as well...turning the entire landscape into a grey frozen morass.

I had a job as chef at a famous place in St. Helena. When we arrived in Napa, it quickly became clear that there were no jobs for women....outside working in tasting rooms for crap wineries. We loaded our two Irish Setters in the stolen drive-away car I had welded a trailer hitch to.....to pull the stolen U-Haul trailer that held all our worldly goods.......and drove to Carmel. We had heard it was cute....and we needed cute.

Because of my built in homing pigeon Champange sensor....we found Nielsen's in a heartbeat. Nielsen's was still on Dolores Street, in the space that became a theatre......and now is probably a failed real estate office. It was quaint and old and had giant tall shelves....and some seriously good champagne chilled to a level that can only be measured in degrees Kelvin.

I have always embraced Champagne as a serious anti-depressant. The French told me so......and I was young and still believe it. The Six Day Bicycle Races in New York at the Old Madison Square Garden always used Champagne to pep up their riders. When I crashed my motorcycle in Burgundy, the hospital in Dijon gave each of its patients a half bottle of sparkling local wine at 10:30 and 4:30. Beats the hell out of Librium.....

Jane and I took our bottle of Billecart-Salmon down to the Beach. We let the dogs out of the stolen car.....and they just ripped it up. They ran all the way to Pebble Beach, to the eighth hole.....and raced back past us all the way to Carmel Point.

We sipped some Billecart, sitting in the perfect white sand......breathing in the negative ions from the gorgeous sea in front of us......and the dogs raced back past, heading back to the eight hole.

They did this a few times......we finished out bottle. I would be lying if I pretended that we bought only one......

As the sun set, it cast a golden glow that stripped away all the crap and stress of our awful semester at Cornell.....Jane working graveyard at the State Diner, me trying to work full time in a French restaurant and become a lawyer....the crazy trip across the country in the stolen car.....

The setting sun lit up our Irish Setters and turned them into molten bronze......we were frankly stunned. I never knew that light and metal and muscle, sinew and movement and joy could all meld into one hammer blow to the soul.

When the sun finally dipped below the horizon.....all the gathered locals (this was January of 1976, mind you....there were no tourists)....... broke into spontaneous applause.

I fell in love in a hearbeat. With Jane, my dogs.....the beach, and these funny people who were not too jaded to cheer something that they must see everyday.

I don't have Jane anymore.....but three fine sons we raised, and I have a dog that loves that beach as much as the Irish did thirty-two years ago.

And fills me with the same joy......and reminds that a part of me is till 26.

The Carmel Beach part.

And if Carmel votes us the best at anything........I am very happy and proud. I fell in love with Carmel in 1976....and it hasn't worn off. To the point that right now I am coming off a 20 hour day, working on Carmel Beach........

Thanks, you guys. You know and I know that we don't really deserve it.....but thanks for the props. I just hope that the old-school guys voted for us: Clayton and Linda Anderson, the Mayor, Stuart and Paula, the Boys, Ms. Livingston, the ladies at The Mission......

Oh.......and the other thing that hits tomorrow is: Monterey County Weekly decided I am the Rebel Chef. Randall Graham is the Rebel Winemaker.

Wow, proud to be in the same zone as Randall.


My friend Mark wrote the article.....Mark, along with Mary Brownfield of the Pine Cone.......is among the last Living Journalists Who Actually Do Their Homework. This can be good or bad...but it will be accurate. Mary and Mark actually interview people, and check facts, and make their own judgements and all that old-fashioned stuff.

And the photographer is a guy who battled Cal Poly SLO into a standstill because he wanted to study visual journalism instead of construction engineering. Only took him six years. If you know anything about Cal Poly...this is a story like the Somali Lost Boys.

Let me summarize the Weekly article. There were automatic weapons involved in the film shoot. At the Farmer's Market....

My only solace is that Tom and Laurie Coke were thoroughly amused by me posing with a Thompson chopper.....and their lemon basil.

Should be interesting.......

Sunday, September 21, 2008

La plus ca change.....la plus ca change pas.....

OK.....I am clueless with all the bells and whistles. But, if this works.....listen to James McMurtry's song from four years ago......2004, another election....and tell me what has changed.

James McMurtry Lyrics
We Can't Make It Here Lyrics

Or spend a buck and buy it here. James could probably use the money.

What has changed in four years? In eight years?

To quote Auric Goldfinger: "Once is an accident; twice is coincidence. Three times is Enemy Action!"

We drove over to Los Banos to look for my Grandpuppy's mom in a Field Trial....and spent a fruitless hour looking for the old Woolgrower's Inn. While prowling through the neighborhoods of old Los Banos....all we saw were hundreds of For Sale-Foreclosure signs on little cottages everywhere.

The difference in Los Banos is that the families that gambled on the American Dream and tried to buy a house with 80% of their income....were still in the houses. There is no one to buy them, and nowhere for the people to go.....so everything stays the same, except the poor new Latino citizens will eventually get fucked somehow.

Will our trillion dollars go to the folks in Los Banos to cut their mortgage payments to.....say 75% of the family's income? I think not. It will just bail out the bank of the bank of the bank.....and some insider guy will get the houses at a fifty cents on the dollar or better.....jack the rents, and put the family's back in the fields where they belong.

I have been an 80% mortgage guy. On paper, I still am. In 1976, my partners and I gave Nader Agha two grand in an alley in Monterey as a down on our house on Flight Road. We didn't tell the bank, and paid on Mike Kucher's mortgage for twenty years. Mike owns Kaseys' and the Chevron in the Village.......and by dummying up, trusting me, and participating in bank fraud....kind of...and gave me and Jane our start in real economic life.

And no one ever lost a nickel....because we all worked our balls off to make the nut. There were five of us....but the nut was $1200 a month. In 1976. I was making five dollars an hour.

Do the math.

Then......The loan that enabled us to buy our house we live in now we got because the loan guy died two hours before closing and everyone just threw up their hands. Charlie Beckermann also helped. At the time I made a great salary from Silver Jones, my wife worked a great job, and I had A Moveable Feast on top of it all......

B of A turned us down for a mortgage that was 60% of the rent we were paying because "based on my income.....I should be living at home with my parents."

My partner Jack Silver told me: "Well, then.....based on my income.....I should be living with you!"

OH! Did I mention? The mortgage broker who found us the dying money guy was the partner of the Christian scumbag who shot himself in the motel room in Fresno last weekend after stealing all my client's spare change.

Tom O'Meara. Look it up....but wipe down your computer with Lysol after you type in his name.

The loan that we took to buy The Store.....against the spurious loan against the spurious loan....was to an outfit that went broke for being complete, lying, cheating scumbags FOUR YEARS ago.

But we still pay like clockwork.

The difference between then and now is that the people spinning the new mortgages never intended that everything would work out. Like the drunken rich boy with Daddy's Lexus......picking up a dime bag of crack in the ghetto and a bag full of 40's.....who cares if he crashes the fucking thing? Someone else will pay.

One of my soccer players.....a gifted striker......was making 6% on every loan he sold, no matter what.

His real skill was in his rock band in San Diego. Trust me....he will not have to pay back his commission on all those bad loans......Nor could he.

Personal Responsibility used to be the standard of the Republican Party. I have been embarrassed for the last eight years to the point of grovelling. This last week has caused me to question the actual sanity of my fellow citizens.

I am well armed.....but possibly not well armed enough to protect myself from the every other guy who thinks that what is going on is either OK, or Obama's fault.

Can a stupid country survive?

Rape me.......

In 1993, Nirvana came out with "In Utero", probably their best album. Brendan was in sixth grade, and we could still afford to go to Bonaire every year for a month on vacation. Somehow the two are locked together in my mind......diving, windsurfing....

God save us........rollerblading through town with Walkman's.......

"Heart Shaped Box", "Serve the Servants", "All Apology", "Rape Me"........

Not just me, but the boys as well: Brendan and Conall and Dylan. Sixth, fourth, and second grades respectively. We loved the irony....the viscious, distilled, venomous irony.

"All Apology" is on my all-time wedding CD: "Married.....buried." And anyone who has ever spent hours in the DMV, or Mental Health offices, or the State Board: "Aqua sea-foam shame......" Like paint could cure our ills.

And "Rape Me":
Nirvana Lyrics
Rape me (Full Version) Lyrics

"Rape me, my friend.
I'm not the only one.......

At the Middle School dance that year, the Christian moms rallied and stifled "Rape Me" seconds after the mystified DJ put it in the mix........

This is the same year the same Christian moms insisted that the school production of "Les Miserables" eliminate all mention of prostitution and suicide.......

I am struggling to turn my whole perspective on Christians around.

My new landlord is an Evangelical Christian pastor.

And I hate Christians.

Well.....all but about eight Christians. Where there is life, there is hope.

My daughter was kidnapped by Christians and hustled off to Wisconsin where she has spent ten years bouncing around weird half-way houses. My bad debt receivable list is almost exclusively hard-core, Bible spouting Christians with pictures of Jesus all over their houses......to the point that if I see Jesus or a Bible during an interview, I run.

Or, how about our Rose's parents? They send her to Bible school, Bible camp, etc......and then move all of her personal effects out into the driveway on the afternoon of her graduation from high school. She wouldn't give it up for New Daddy, see......so she had to go.

One of my favorite activities is to wear my "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" T-shirt on my Costco shopping runs. Typical comment: "Well, we all know who Mohammed would bomb......."

Yeah, Mohammed and ME....you fucking moron.

Imagine my perverse joy this week to find out that one of these douche bags.....a big developer in the Salinas Valley.....got run out of his McMansion in Tehama and chased into Seaside. Oh, and another one shot himself in a motel in Fresno after stealing $10 million dollars from a bunch of my other clients over a crappy golf course.

I think Jesus paid his bills.....

Actually, I don't think Jesus did much in the way of entertaining. His focus was a little higher.

Plus, he had serious catering skills.

All chefs and caterers have obvious reverence for the way He handled the whole marriage feast at Cana thing. Don't think that I haven't worked that same trick myself......but you have to admire the Master.

Well, I don't hate all Christians, as I said. I know two couples that do all this stuff, and are not raving hypocrits.....quite the opposite. And, I hear rumors that Ben, the pastor of the Cachagua Community Church is another authentic specimen.

Then I find out that all the real Christians I know are friends with our new landlord. They are a posse. Is there hope, after all?

Our new landlord.....who paid $785,000 for the privelege of straightening out Jensen Camp......well, his first act was to sign each and every tenant up for free Alhambra drinking water accounts.

This was a stunning act of goodwill. People in Cachagua in general, and Jensen Camp in particular are used to abuse. We solve our own problems....because we have to.

One of the problems of Jensen Camp and The Store was the previous landlord, a crackhead named Javier who ran a long running scam on Monterey County about our water supply. He had a good well, and a bad well that had flouride in concentrations that would erode bones and teeth in children and old people.

The obvious jokes about average tooth count among Cachagua folk have already been handled in this blog.....but Javier actually conned some good and decent lawyers to work for him for free and the fucker won a judgement against Monterey County about the water by hiding his good well and giving his tenants only tainted water......for five years.

And we have pretty much only children and old people in Cachagua.

So, the new landlord having Alhambra water delivered to all his new tenants was pretty amazing.

He is a sweet, nice man. With a half dozen beautiful, smart daughters.

I can't wait to ask him about Sarah Palin.....and her whole rape fixation.

This bizarre cancer on American political life is kooky about rape.

As mayor of East Moose Fuck, she forced rape victims to pay for their own rape kits at the local clinic.

Alaska has by far the highest rate of forcible rates in the United States.....and therefore in the developed world. I think Alaska is trailing Darfur by a few percentage points.

Wasilla is actually in the lead in towns in the worst rape state in Christendom.

And they charge girls to investigate their own assaults.

Sarah Barracuda also believes that rape victims should not be allowed access to abortion. Given Bush Administration guidelines about religious ideology in medicine trumping actual medical care, this means that a teen-age rape victim in rural Alaska....with no money, no access to transport, no access to medical care.....gets to carry to term the seed of her attacker.

And live with the result the rest of her life.

Wow. I don't think Jesus was consulted on this one. From what I read, he actually liked women.

Rape has been a weapon of war for tens of thousands of years. It has also been an economic weapon.....and we won't even talk about the social aspects.

"Keepin' the niggers down......." as Randy Newman sang. Barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen.

"Keep your biscuits in the oven, and your buns in the bed".......

Or....as Adolf Hitler said: "Kinder, kirche, kuche."

Children, church and kitchen.

What more could you ask for?

So, what.....rape victims are asking for it? They deserve to be assaulted and humiliated....and if they get pregnant in the process....the humiliation goes on for life?

But, wait.....there is more.

While Ms. Palin was charging rape victims for invesitgating their own rapes.....it was a budgetary issue. Personal responsibility. Get government and the taxpayers out of your personal life. Well, except for the $50,000 she spent decorating her 16' x 16' office.

But, wait.....there is more.

Trooper-gate is winding to a close. Supposedly it is just another partisan smear campaign. Ms. Sarah did not fire the Director of Public Safety for refusing to fire her ex-brother in law. She had reasons.

According to ABC......Governor Palin's attorneys claim that she fired her Public Safety Director for traveling to Washington D.C. to lobby for federal funds for a campaign against sexual violence. The Feds were offering $10-20 million a year for five years to the State which led the Free World in forcible rape......

Sarah Palin claims to have fired the guy because he went against her direct orders.

See......she wanted $125 million to build a bridge to nowhere......but free money to stop the raping?

Fire the motherfucker!

Wow.....I gotta talk to the preacher. Why is rape good for Jesus?

To me....proof that Jesus does not give a fuck about life on Earth:

Sarah Palin is able to use God's oxygen....breathing in and out, several times a minute.

There are spiders and maggots who could do a whole lot better job with that oxygen.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Get Your War On....

My friend David Rees is now animated....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Food, glorious food.....

Us artisan-type guys just keep working because that is what we do. People come up to us all the time at parties and say....."Oh, this is so artistic......this is great art."

It is not art. It is work. Good work may approach art, but it ain't art. Still, the attitude is similar. Artists and artisans do what they do because.....that is what they do. The client or the patron doesn't figure into the equation at all......

Well, unless by some miracle the patron can actually inspire great craft or great art.

Most of the time, though a passive-aggressive attitude develops between the artisan and artist and his supposed audience.

"Fuck these people. They have no idea. Kiss my ass."

Out front, we have people to protect us from ourselves....gallery owners, waiters and maitre d's, agents.....and lawyers.

Face it....the track record is not good for contemporary folk appreciating art and craft in the lifetime of the artist or artisan. Everything from antique iron cookware to Van Gogh's to Ansel Adams prints is way more appreciated now than back then. When Van Gogh shot himself and died over days like a character in an old Dennis Hopper biker film....the residents of Arles probably said, "Good riddance....bury that crazy, drunken fuck and let's get back to threshing wheat........."

Sometimes it does work out, though.

In the middle of our crazy September, we committed to doing a dinner for 12 at a nice house for the Monterey Museum of Art. The dinner sold at auction last March. It was the second year we had done this....the first year it went for $2400. Not bad, but it included crazy good wines that our co-host brought. That dinner was a big success.

This year the dinner sold for $24,000. For twelve.


What makes this story completely hysterical from my view is the fact that I am physically banned from stepping on to Museum property at any time, for any reason. Remember my SuperCuts haircut?......"I need to be unrecognizable on a security camera......"

That Museum.

France we say: "Revenge is a meal which is better eaten cold......and with the hands!" Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Something like that.

It is just that we humble artisans feel a need to support actual artists, regardless of the politics and personalities, regardless of restraining orders, and regardless of douche bag museum directors who once grabbed my dick and breathed in my ear about a weekend in
New York.

My mentor Etienne Merle always taught me to be really nice to people I hate. Super nice. It makes them so uncomfortable that it is worth it all. Shitty people are used to dealing with anger and confrontation. Random acts of kindness fuck them up.

Meanwhile, our co-host is a sweet, sweet man. I am not naming names here, but he is good friends with Mrs. Hatfield. He fought the Coastal Commission tooth and nail to rebuild his shitty Truman era PG ranch house into a cool, modern showpiece. When the designs were finally approved he held a three way exocism: Father Scott, Tom Nason, and a Buddhist came and burned the permit documents, sanctified them, and chased away the silly bureaucratic demons. We love this guy.

The dinner was to be at a house in Carmel Highlands. It turns out the house is owned by a retired Persian nuclear physicist who is now an artist in her own right. The house was built in 1911 by a crazy German artist everyone knows but me. It was literally the first house....anywhere around....and the crazy motherfucker built it himself out of local stone. Before Tor House. Before Green and Green with the James House and Doc Maino's house on Spindrift. The only other house going at the time was Charley Osborne's house above the
Highlands that Mr. Deetjen was building for another crazy bohemian.

The house is impressive from the outside, a tall tower of stone. The neighbors are all fuckheads, but that is another story or stories. There is one cool guy......the fellow who hosted the Naval Intelligence gathering where we learned about Osama Bin Laden in June of 2001. The rest of them are complete douche bags.

Anyway, the impressive tower contains a relatively small studio space.....one big room with a loft. Owners subsequent to the present owner went acutally broke putting in elaborate wood carved ceilings. BG, the current owner, got the place in foreclosure after six failed escrows from other folk. There were plywood sheets nailed over the doors and windows and the place was full of bats......

For anyone worried about the resilience of real estate in general....and Carmel real estate in particular....this was only twenty years ago. 1988. No one anywhere wanted to buy a historic stone house with its own bays and private coves directly under the Highlands Inn. No one.

Back to Tuesday.

The house is so small....and now a working art studio with a printing press......that we had to set up both the serving table for the guests and the kitchen on various outdoor patios.

The guests sat on the rocks overlooking the Spindrift point and the bay in between Spindrift and the
Highlands. It was a cloudy night, but warm enough regardless.

Here is the menu we came up with for two grand a pop:

Archibald Dinner

16 September 2008

Hors d’oeuvres

Dungeness crab cakes with basil oil and rosemary aioli

Eggs Benedict: poached quail eggs, Jabugo ham, Meyer lemon hollandaise and California ossetra caviar

Warm asiago scallion bruschetti

Caprese bruschetti with heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella

Ceviche of wild local halibut

Roasted Hog Island oysters with porcini cream and asiago

Half shell Hog Island oysters with beet-infused yuzu mignonette

Sesame ginger chicken wrapped in sorrel leaves

Bocadillos of fresh Monterey sardines with mojito aioli


De-constructed panzanella: heirloom tomatoes, EVOO, grilled watermelon

Roasted baby beets (gold, red, chioggia) with chevre/coconut cream and balsamic reduction

Parsnip salad: Roasted matchstick parsnips with pears and apples; Cowgirl Creamery blue cheese, blue cheese spuma and tarragon infused honey

Confit of wild salmon: lightly cured wild Oregon salmon, poached in duck fat with James Creek Farm summer squashes and fennel aioli

Roast New Zealand venison with juniper/plum reduction, canoe-picked Bemidji wild rice salad and Serendipity Farm fingerling potatoes

Braised Niman Ranch short ribs of beef with five mushrooms; served with Coke Farms baby french beans with two fresh pastas: saffron and basil

Valhrona chocolate/ancho chili poundcake with Araguani single source chocolate crème anglaise, white chocolate crème anglaise, raspberry/plum coulis and Vasquez Ranch raspberries.

So....here is the crew that created all this......Valley kids all, with one exception. Two of them are under 18........

Staff: Chefs Brendan Jones and Michael Jones

Sous-chef Alex Short

Entremetier (Beets) Ryan Parker

Entremetier (Parsnips) Juan Romero

Entremetier (Appetizers) Athena Miller

Commis (Venison) Dylan Jones

Commis (Pasta) Shawn Ward

Food.....remember food?

Originally this blog was about food. Well, food and all that it implies.....

September is the month for weddings....and for Stanford's Sophomore College. I serve breakfast and dinner every day for three weeks....in a carport in New Monterey, in a campsite at Big Creek at Big Creek, at The Store, up on the mountain at John Kinder's....all over the place.

Breakfast and dinner is a killer. Up at five....done and rolling by ten. Back in Cachagua around eleven, then rolling again by three. Email? No time. Phone messages? No time. Prep, ordering and organizing is all on the fly. Our farmer's drop stuff off, and it is just go-go-go for three weeks.

Plus, I am responsible for a third of the curriculum. Places, people, speakers, sources......

Oh.....and weddings, dinner parties, Monday Nights.......

September is a killer.

But, September burns in a pure flame that toasts off a lot of the bullshit. Everything boils down to first principles: ingredients, ideas, skill, audience.

On the wall of the Kitchen we have a Leonard Bernstein quote:

"To achieve great things, two things are necessary: a plan; and not quite enough time."

In the middle of all this......The Store and Jensen Camp sold.

Thank you, Jesus.

Actually.....Jesus had a hand in it. Our new landlord is an evangelical Christian minister.

Before all non-Christians in the audience go: "Oh, fuck! No!"......it turns out there is a smattering of actual, non-hypocritical Christians out there. They are as rare as real Republicans.....but they exist.

His first act as landlord was to sign up all the residents.....and The Store....with a free Alhambra mineral water account, until he gets the new well with good water on-line. His property manager called and asked me what I thought my rent should be.....

And, our new landlord has a posse of other nice, kind, thoughtful Christians in his camp. One of my favorite couples, Christian or not, came in for brunch on Sunday and asked some pointed questions.

"If you had $25,000 to spend on The Store, what would you use it for?"

"What is your favorite thing to cook? What is your favorite meal to cook?"

That one was easy.

Two days before I had dragged the Stanford kids up The Mountain to John Kinder's James Creek Farm.

John's last name is not normally pronounced like the adjective "kind".......but I may change that. Last year we had a contest for "Nicest Man in the World". Rich Tenguay from Heller and John were the two finalists. I think Rich won.....but he will be hard pressed in this year's contest.

John has been battling brain cancer for the last year.....bigtime operations, secondary infections, round after round of chemo. His farm is gorgeous, but it is at the very end of Laurel Springs Road.....a solid thirty minute drive up a 4wd road above The Store. His main customer is Tassajara....and we weasel in for the leftovers.

Then came The Fire. Tassajara was closed. We became his only customer.....and we are peanuts.

Then came The Sheriff....who closed the road and put everyone in Cachagua south of Cachagua Road on a mandatory evacuation order or a lock-out. Including John and Rogelio. The boys were able to get through the silly roadblock with a medical pass.....but their routine support team was not. Rogelio had luckily just got his driver's license.....since now he had to drive for everything.

In my effort to give my Stanford students a couple of actual life-lessons, and exposure to actual food....I had the chrome-plated balls to call up John and Rogelio and ask if all 18 of us could come up for lunch.

"Sure, Mike....no problem. I will be on Day Four of my chemo, so I will have to take a nap....but we would be honored to have them."

Honored? No, John....we are honored to be able to come.

So.....morning of the day, I cooked breakfast in town and raced back to prep the lunch. The kids arrived at 11am, and we loaded up and headed up the hill.

I had only been to the farm once....during a mercy mission during the fires....so I was a little vague on directions. At one point, after making a decision about which road to take at the top of the mountain, we wound up at a place full of angry dogs, some sketchy mobile homes, and a guy with a rifle in silhouette. I made the kids back up to the intersection......22 year old city girls driving giant 2wd Suburbans full of rich kids.....no liability issues there.

I called John. "Oh, no. You are on the right track. That is just Kevin. You know Kevin. He won't shoot, and the dogs don't bite if you don't get out of the car. Just drive past."

We stopped at John's west-side cabin for the kids to see the devastation of the burned area......the cabin looks out towards Uncle Sam Mountain, Elephant Mountain, and the Ventana Double Cone in the distance. Uncle Sam looks fucked......zero vegetation. A lot of the fire zone does have trees that look like they made it......but look out, steelhead. If we get a bad winter, you are fucked. Already the Carmel River looks like skim milk, and it hasn't even rained yet.

Upon arrival at the main farm, both John and Rogelio greeted us. Four or five of the kids are miserable, morose, self-absorbed fuckheads who should have been drowned at birth by their Salvadorean nannies....but the good kids make up for it.

The kids spread out. John, despite being on Day Four of the chemo....gave a tour. Rogelio hovered in the background like the guardian angel that he is.

After checking out the crops, we decided on a menu....and Rogelio showed the kids where and what to pick.

John has built a gorgeous outdoor kitchen my friend Keith from Sonoma would actually probably kill for.....sinks, counters, commercial spray arms......gas fired grill.....more counters and more sinks. They have all the plates, napkins, bowls, platters, utensils, cooking gear, etc to accomodate a party of fifty.

The kids picked squashes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, eggplants, garlic, baby lettuce, chard and kale......

I brought some basil from Tom and Laurie Coke, some tarragon from Joe Kovacs and some arborio rice. I got the kids washing, cutting and chopping while I started the risotto and fired up the grill.

We sliced up the onions, cukes and tomatoes for a tomato salad. The lettuces were so delicate that we had to treat them like baby birds......The squashes and eggplant we sliced, hosed down with olive oil, tossed with tarragon and garlic and laid out on the grill.

The menu:

James Creek Farm heirloom tomato salad with spring onions, garlic, basils and lemons.

James Creek Farm baby lettuce with lemon, garlic and olive oil

Risotto with chopped kale and rainbow chard

Grilled James Creek Farm summer squashes, eggplants and heirloom tomatoes.

Rogelio provided beautiful napkins, plates, flatware and cups. We drank spring water brought up by the solar pumps from the creek.

We sat by the pool.

My favorite meal to cook.

Any questions?

Oh, and when I snuck out early to start cooking dinner......John got up from his nap to thank me for coming.....

I hope those damn kids cleaned up.......otherwise we have to put Rogelio in the running in a three way race next year......

Oh....and after lunch, the kids got to go down to Heller for a complete vineyard, winery and garden tour with Rich at Heller.

Tough race this year........

Back to the Devil....

For some reason Blogger would not let me post the lyrics to "The Sarah Palin Song" the other day.

To me it also the "Compost Turning Song"......what with that "short-handed shovel and all....

Speaking of ditches and short-handled shovels......

Will anyone point out that both Bush and McCain have been kooky for privatizing Social Security......and any of that social security money invested in or with Lehman Brothers, AIG, Bear Stearns, etc. would now be gone like a cool breeze.

The ditch is right over there.......get busy.

Never Learn
……The Devil Makes Three

They let all them hounds off their leashes…
Gave all that money to the rich.
They’re gonna hand you down now
That short-handled shovel
And direct you
Directly to the ditch.

Now just hear them talk in tongues, child….
Though you know now what they mean.
Ain’t gonna make no kind of difference
Just keep your eyes focused on the screen.

Yes I guess I see…
They ain’t doing nothing here but leaching off of you and me…..

Well…..Yes I guess I know
There ain’t no place left on this Earth that I can call my own.
And……Yes I hope I see….
The day we all wake up…
And stop them ships upon the sea.

Let it all just burn…..

Cause they ain’t the type for listening….
And they sure ain’t never gonna learn…….

You can watch them as they circle
Like them vultures in the sky…..
Waiting now just so patiently
For every breathing soul to die…..
Yes they feed off your blood, child….
As it flows out of your veins…..
It ain’t about what you have lost now…..
Only about what they have gained…..

Well…..Yes I guess I see
They ain’t doing nothing here but living off of you and me…….
Well…..Yes I guess I know
There ain’t no place left on this Earth I can call my own.
And……Yes I hope I see….
The day we all wake up…
And stop them ships upon the sea.

Let it all just burn…..

Cause they ain’t the type for listening….
And they sure ain’t never gonna learn…….

You can feel them as they watch you
A thousand eyes now filled with pain
Awww…..Just sit back and relax now
As your heart disconnects from your brain.

Well…..Yes I guess I see
They ain’t doing nothing else but living off of you and me…….
Well…..Yes I guess I know
There ain’t no place left on the Earth that you can call your own.
And……Yes I hope I see….
The day we all wake up…
And get up off our bended knees.

Let it all just burn…..

Cause they ain’t the type for listening….
And they sure ain’t never gonna learn…….

The Pain from Spain Lays Mainly in My Brain......

My head hurts.....

As I do my errands I find myself studying my fellow citizens.....trying to figure out which half of them are actually McCain voters. Guys like Cimarron.....who think Obama is a Marxist, and who are blithely ignorant that our current, across-the-board meltdown might have something to do with eight years of Republican mismanagement.

If Obama is a Marxist.......how does the Bush Administration's nationalization of AIG sit with these "real Americans". It is a move straight out of Hugo Chavez' playbook.

I guess there is no danger of a big pharmaceutical company or health insurer needing nationalization......dammit.

For us soccer folk, there is a delicious irony attached to the whole AIG rescue deal. The NASCAR crowd that supports Bush must be just thrilled to realize their tax dollars......to the tune of $100 million per year.....are now sponsoring Manchester United.

At least the uniforms are red.....and Wayne Rooney almost looks American. Owen Hargreaves was born in Canada.....but fuck Canada anyway.

And.....speaking of Hugo Chavez:

John McCain is already having Reaganesque Senior Moments.....either that or he is an embarrassing dumbfuck.

Mixing up the Sunnis and Shia was one thing; mixing up Al Queda and the Iranians was another. Dipshit McCain has just pissed off the entire country of Spain.

It was hard enough being an American visiting Spain. I have to make sure I pack bunches of anti-Bush T-shirts to casually flash......in bars, in banks, asking directions, etc. Then the annoyance of constantly having to explain how on Earth half of all Americans could be dumb enough to vote for a moron like George Bush......and the equally endless explanations from Spaniards about how important it is for us to elect Barack Obama.

I know. I get it.

Now this: McCain was being interviewed by a Spanish reporter. He fielded some questions about this and that, about the Americas.....which once were Spanish after all. The reporter asked McCain if he would be willing to meet with Sr. Zapatero, Spain's socialist prime minister.

"I will meet with those leaders who are our friends and who want to work with us cooperatively." He then went back to talking about South America and bitching about Hugo Chavez.

The reporter repeated the question two more times.....hinting to McCain that Sr. Zapatero was actually from Spain.....not South America.

"I will reunite with any leader that has the same principles and philosophy that we do: human rights, democracy, and liberty. And I will confront those that don't [have them]."

So......John McCain considers Spain..... a partner in NATO with troops still fighting in Afghanistan....to not share our American values to the point where he will refuse to meet with the Spanish president.

Either that or McCain had no idea who Zapatero was. While being interviewed by the Spanish press.

The Keating Five has started to come up again......a bunch of mildly corrupt politicians from the 80's....the worst of whom was John McCain. Another was Alan Cranston, our Senator from California. We knew Cranston well.......he was a busy Senator and I met him half a dozen times at events and even just wandering around wineries in Sonoma.

The third time I met him he came breezing through the kitchen at an event. He saw me and stopped and put out his hand:

"Michael! Good to see you! I last saw you at Mary Green's last October. I hope you have some of that delicious wild smoked salmon for me today......"

In a nutshell, he remembered me, my name, where we had last met and when, what my specialty was, and even the fact that I am kooky about wild vs. farmed salmon.

Either that, or his staff remembered.......took notes on everything and prepared him on the fly.

"OK, Alan. Next stop, the caterer is named Michael. You last saw him at Mary Green's in Monterey last October. He is nutty about wild salmon, and the stuff he smokes isn't bad. OK, the piano player will be Jonathon Lee. He has MS, but he keeps playing and you like his stuff. You saw him at an event.........."

Not only did I always vote for Alan Cranston......I would have gone his bail if they had put him in the slammer with John McCain and Keating.

McCain's utter lack of preparation and knowlege of even the most salient facts about a major ally is truly mind-blowing. This is what Carli Fiorina meant when she said that he could not run a major company. The fact that his staff let him walk into an interview not knowing the name of the president of the country is even more telling. What a bunch of dummies!

No wonder my CEO clients are going Obama. There is not a single hostess in Pebble Beach would not have been better prepared for a friggin' cocktail party......much less a major foreign policy interview. Not only would they know Zapatero's name, but they would know his wife's, his kids.....who her designer was and what she likes to drink.

What a bunch of arrogant dummies.....

Either that......or McCain really hates Spain, and wants to confront them because they have a socialist leader.

Oh, great.

I guess I better get shopping for some more T-shirts......

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The System of Tubes Strikes Back.....

John McCain may not understand the whole computer thing.....but one would think that Sarah Palin might, given her younger years.

Lawyers in the TrooperGate lawsuits have been trying to get Sacred Sarah to release her government emails regarding the case.....and have been stonewalled, especially now that she has a high-level former Fed who know works for the McCain camp running her legal show.

Some blessed hacker did an end run and just dumped the last eight years or some such of Sarah's emails onto an offshore website.

URL to follow when my Mossad crew comes through for me.

A Mike Jones Republican surfaces.....

This is from "D" Magazine.......D as in Dallas....as in Texas.

A Conservative for Obama

My party has slipped its moorings. It’s time for a true pragmatist to lead the country.

Leading Off By Wick Allison, Editor In Chief

THE MORE I LISTEN TO AND READ ABOUT “the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate,” the more I like him. Barack Obama strikes a chord with me like no political figure since Ronald Reagan. To explain why, I need to explain why I am a conservative and what it means to me.

In 1964, at the age of 16, I organized the Dallas County Youth for Goldwater. My senior thesis at the University of Texas was on the conservative intellectual revival in America. Twenty years later, I was invited by William F. Buckley Jr. to join the board of National Review. I later became its publisher.

Conservatism to me is less a political philosophy than a stance, a recognition of the fallibility of man and of man’s institutions. Conservatives respect the past not for its antiquity but because it represents, as G.K. Chesterton said, the democracy of the dead; it gives the benefit of the doubt to customs and laws tried and tested in the crucible of time. Conservatives are skeptical of abstract theories and utopian schemes, doubtful that government is wiser than its citizens, and always ready to test any political program against actual results.

Liberalism always seemed to me to be a system of “oughts.” We ought to do this or that because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it works or not. It is a doctrine based on intentions, not results, on feeling good rather than doing good.

But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.

This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.

Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.

“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Infinite Sadness.....

Despite the horror of our last two weeks.....24-7 with Stanford kids mostly......no sleep, strange clients.....this morning dawned glorious.

It was 55 degrees Fahrenheit.....clear crystal golden sunshine......It was hard to stay focused on the drive over. We stopped at Turkey Flats for Grandpuppy to look for his deer friends. No one.

We stopped at Elephant Mountain lookout to look for his rabbit friends. No one.

At The Store it was the same clear crystal golden morning. All we had to do was unload the vans and get ready for dinner at Kim Weston's.

I had an inkling some lost souls would appear for our Lost Brunch....so I had that as back up.....

Our wild chickens were running wild all around. The new black chickens were all snuggled down in a Budweiser twelve-pack container, waiting for kitty food......while the rest of the cock-fighting reject crew gathered around the compost heap.....hoping that I would have the energy to tackle that job of chicken culinary delights.....

The phone rang......my youngest calling at an alarmingly early hour.

"Dad....I really need some advice......"

Oh, shit. Pregnant girlfriend? Call Sarah Palin. Fired from new job......need rent deposit? Suspicious welt on suspicious parts? I rallied my Dad muscles.....

"Sentanta Sports is another fifteen dollars a month.....but they show really good soccer. Do you think we should spend the money?"

Are you kidding? Setanta carries soccer, rugby AND Gaelic football.........

With a smile on my face I turned on the satellite......

MSNBC.....we will not watch CNN because of Glenn Beck and their awful slanted fucked politics....had a ticker tape....

"David Foster Wallace found hung by his wife in Claremont on Friday night......"

Aww, Jesus......

When I looked around the world for hope......and Spain has all the good food, and the Germans have the really good technology.....and the Indians have the good tech stuff that I can afford.....and everyone has better politicians than we do......

I took comfort in the fact that we had the world's best writer......David Foster Wallace.

I come from a long line of Cornell associated writers......

Nabokov was a Cornell guy....

A little later there was a bad chemical engineer who became a decent writer on the GI Bill......

Kurt Vonnegut.

A couple of years late was another crappy engineer who did well......Thomas Pynchon.

My friend Peyton was a groomsman at Thomas Pynchon's wedding....

Later came Richard Farina.....who married Mimi Baez in one of the great love stories of all time....and who died near the palm tree at The Bucket on my street, on his wife's 21st birthday, during his own book release party.......

Pauline, sister of Mimi and Joan Baez, and husband of Peyton.....Pauline and Richard wrote the greatest folk song of all time in "Pack Up Your Sorrows"

David Foster Wallace ties into all this by being born in Ithaca in 1962. His dad was Richard Farina's philosophy professor.....

David went on to clash swords with Thomas Pynchon as the greatest American writer of last century with his "Infinite Jest". The funniest essay I ever read was a travel article he wrote in "A Supposedly Fun Thing I Will Never Do Again".......and the funniest article about the porn industry ever written is in his last collection "Oblivion".

David Foster Wallace was so skilled, so smart, so connected....that I could always just pick up one of his books and be inspired within a paragraph.....

David Foster Wallace was also the premier teacher of new writers. He worked at Pomona.......and lived in the Jurassic Park hidden enclave that is the old world Claremont in LA County......Giant oaks, big lawns, sweet old buildings.

Arturo Perez Reverte? Kiss my ass. Ian McEwan......Bite me. We have David Foster Wallace.

David Foster Wallace....age 46, happily married.......lead strike-out artist on the American creative writing team, went into his closet on Friday night, strung himself up with some cheap Home Depot nylon line.......and died.

The light was still as clear, crystal and golden......Puppy's joy at fetching his soccer ball remained the same.

Steve and Nancy....and the nice new PG people came in for Brunch, not even noticing that we were closed......

It was a happy, glorious day in Cachagua......

The light that leaked out of the spectrum......the wonderfully ironic thoughts and vision that tinge all of our perspective.......had not even hit.

David Foster Wallace is dead.......

By his own hand.......

The best guy at seeing where we are, and how we handle it......decided not to handle it anymore.

It was a great day.....following for us probably the technically best day we ever had as chefs and food guys........

But David Foster Wallace is dead.......

At least two of us are going to bed in tears.......and holding each other......


Pack Up Your Sorrows.....the song that Pauline wrote 40 years ago....It runs like this.....

"I wish that you could pack up your sorrows......
And give them all to me.....
You would lose them
I know how to use them....
Give them all to me........"

No use crying....
Walking by the wayside...
Naming the sorrows you've seen
Too many sad times,
Too many bad times,
And nobody knows what you mean......."

Yeah, well......I kind of did know what you meant....

When our best and brightest hangs himself in a closet.......

Infinite Sadness.....