Friday, January 30, 2009

Cachagua Gunfire......

Perspective is a beautiful thing......

It only came to art 500 years ago.....In Italy, of all places.

Today we had Crazy Jeff make another appearance at The Store. His big plan was to confront me and demand 50 cents to use the payphone because payphones are public and the public should be able to use them for free.

At that very moment Amanda was filing a restraining order with the Court to keep this whack-job asshole away from us.

Well, trying to. It ain't easy in Monterey County to keep nutballs at bay.

Payphones have gone down a little faster economically than print newspapers...... but not by much.

I used to get a check from AT&T for our payphone at The Store.

Every year I would make five or six dollars.

One year I forgot to cash the check for a while......and wound up being charged six bucks by my bank because the check bounced.

Now.....I have to PAY to have a payphone. We need a payphone so that lost delivery guys who are too timid to ask to use the Store phone and don't have AT&T cell service can bring packages to our customers. And so the Mexicans can call home with phone cards. And so our knucklehead friends have a fallback when they forget to add minutes to their cellphones.

I also have to pay to have the streetlight out front. I can't picture Downtown Cachagua without a streetlight and a payphone.....but I pay for them. Public has nothing to do with it.

But the Sheriff has assured Crazy Jeff that he can use my payphone anytime he wants to. Maybe he wants to call them.....

So this morning.....Crazy Jeff decides to ride up on his bike to The Store with a baggy coat....who knows what that conceals?.....and demand money so that he can use the phone.

While I am turning the compost.

With a great big pitchfork.......

I thought about it......

"Pitchforks Don't Kill People........People Kill People........."

Instead, I dropped the dime and called the Sheriff...... again.

And......truth be told....a sweet, concerned, intelligent, kind Deputy responded as fast as he could. He knew the whole drill.....what was legal, what was extra-legal, and what could be presented as sort of legal.......

A problem solver. I do not have high hopes for his future with the Monterey Sheriffs......the guy has a brain and cares about his work, and the people he is hired to protect.

I mentioned that we had already called yesterday and the Sheriff decided not to respond: "I always matter how stupid it may seem. You never know, and it is my job."

See what I mean? This kid is doomed. He did not have his name-tag on, so I have no idea where to send the condolence letter when they fire him.

While this was going on.....Grandpa Fred Nason came in the Store. Grandpa Fred has seen it all. Grandpa Fred is the Cachagua equivalent of The Buddha......I can picture Fred and the Dalai Lama having a jolly afternoon.....

In the midst of the drama, Fred and I had a frank discussion about the merits of some Wyoming organic beef I had turned him on to. Someone sends me samples....who better to judge than Grandpa Fred Nason?

"It was a little soft. I think it was probably grass-fed."

We had a deep philosophical conversation about grass-fed vs. corn-fed beef....

While a lunatic with a gun was riding his bicycle in circles in the parking lot.

"People are afraid of that yellow fat that comes with the grass. And then they buy that stuff with big globs of hard fat stuck in the middle of their steak."

Fred would the Dalai Lama.....both sides of the argument.

We finally agreed that the best way was: feed them on grass....and finish them on good corn for a short time......

He was probably humoring me.

"So what is all the excitement out there?"

"Oh.....there is a lunatic with maybe a gun outside."

Another sip of coffee.

"Where is he from?"

"Down by Syndicate Camp...."

"I was witness to a murder over there once....."

Oh, really?

I will dispense with the colloquial grammar shit and just tell Fred's story.

The Nason's once owned the property across the street from Syndicate Camp.....all of what is now the Bernardus vineyards.....and Galante as well....and Georis, for that matter. Giving directions to the Deputies, I told them to look for the place across from the where the sheep are.

Cabernet and Merlot are not great grapes for Cachagua......Sheep sometimes work out better.

"My dad and I were riding out to check fences down by the Syndicate Camp and found a truck stuck in the creek. There was no bridge then. It was winter, and there was a lot of water. These guys tried to make it across from the Camp and got stuck.

There was a step-brother, a brother, and the father. They were really mad that they got stuck. My dad and I........."

(Fred was 14 or so........this was probably taking place in the '40's).

We told them we could help them out, and my dad went back to get a team of horses to pull them out."

Meanwhile, they all started to fighting about getting stuck."

The step-brother slapped the father and the brother jumped in. The step-brother had a gun in his belt, and so did the brother. The step-brother punched the dad, and got him down and straddled him. When the brother came up, he pulled his gun....but the step-brother hit him, and the kid dropped. The dad then reached up and pulled the gun from the step-brother's belt before he could get to it.....and shot the step-son right up through the jaw and out the top of his head.

That was something......

All because they got stuck in the Creek.

And we had horses to pull them out....."

Fred laughed and shook his head.

"People are crazy."


At this point, Grandpuppy was going spare.......despite an hour walk in the morning.

Nothing was happening.

I was still waiting for both the Sheriffs and our fish to arrive, so we ambled off up the Cachagua mountain for a change.

As we made for the Creek trail we passed the Honeymoon Cabin that the Landlord's future son-in-law is restoring. The kid was up on the roof and gave us a big hello as we walked by. (He and Heather....our newest and sweetest caterer, and the Landlord's daughter, are marrying on May 2nd...and the kid is literally building their home with his hands). She lives in town, he sleeps in the partially restored Cachagua cabin.

We are not sure of his name....Kyle?.....but we refer to him as the "Nicest Kid In The World".

"You won't believe it! We adopted a rescue puppy on Wednesday! He is a Brown Lab....six months old...."

When we found him at the SPCA, all the dogs were barking and carrying on.....and he was just excited to see us......."

I threw a ball....and he chased it and brought it back to me! And he plays tug-a-war! We get him on Monday......"

I walk every morning on the mountain by myself.....How great will it be to have a buddy!"

My mind started to melt.

At one moment dealing with the worst of the worst.....a drug-addicted alcoholic scumbag fuck with a gun....whose only power left is causing other people hurt, and working the system to feed his weirdness.....

And bumping into.....

A sweet, kind, hardworking, skilled, 21 year old carpenter from Montana......building his own house to share with his equally sweet, kind, hardworking fiancee from Monterey......

And when I walk by with Puppy......the kid almost leaps off the roof to tell me how excited he is to have his own new four-legged friend to go on his own walks.....

I am still high on his energy, his enthusiasm and his naivete.......

I am thinking........

There may be a god after all.......


America might make it after all.....with kids like these.


I am still thinking........

I really should have stuck Jeff with the pitchfork....

While I had the chance.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sheriff Kanalakis is a Putz.....

We have had bumper stickers at The Store since The Fire......

"Mike Ain't Right....Recall Sheriff Kanalakis".

Everybody has one.....and everyone but me is too chicken-shit to put them on their trucks.

My workers of course immediately seized stickers and cut out the "Recall Kanalakis" part....

"Mike Ain't Right".

I think of it as an affectionate tribute to my idiosyncracies.....

Anyway.....since we are in California, at least geographically.....let us have a brief discussion of the word "putz".

I am a language various times I have studied German, Yiddish, French, Latin, Dutch, Papiemento, Pidgin, Hawaiian, Spanish, Basque, Irish, and Italian.

Each has its charms: Italian is lyric enough to have huge bodies of opera written in it....but it is densely political....if you are from the next village over, fuck you; ditto Irish; German has the accuracy of a engineering drawing....nine different ways to say "the"; Papiemento (from the Dutch Antilles....where the climate has not varied by more than four or five degrees, summer and winter, in a millenium) dispenses with all concepts of tense, time and gender. It is in the moment.....and the moment is a thousand years in duration. We won't talk about best language, and the one where they hate me the most. I speak French like a fucking Belgian, apparently. Sorry, I like Belgians.

Yiddish is the language with the most sarcasm, self-deprecation, and wry humor built into the words. Yiddish is Alt Hoch Deutsch mixed with some Hebrew, Polish and Russian. A brief glance at the history of the people who speak Yiddish defines it all.....systematically massacred for millenia by consummately stupid and revolting neighbors.

"Putz" is one of the many Yiddish words for penis. Women's rights advocates will be pleased to learn that each of the words for penis also has a second meaning of.....basically....douche bag.

Eskimos have twenty words for "snow". Irish has a dozen words for "green", at least. Italian has a couple dozen words for "really bad shoes". English has about forty ways of saying "really fucking drunk." Hawaiian has more than a dozen ways of saying "shower shoes".

You can learn things by studying languages.

The Yids have a decent quiver of prick words.

It may not be coincidence that the only medical procedure detailed in the Old Testament is......


Schmeckle and petseleh typically refer to little boys' penises. Therefore, a schmeckle is a pretty damn derogatory way of refering to your ex-wife's new husband.....however accurate it may be.

Schlong literally means "snake".....and there is usually nothing derogatory involved: "He had a giant schlong....and when he pulled it out, she fainted."

Schwanz is actually German for in we cropped the scwanz of our Doberman. Like is rarely used in a derogatory fashion. "Jesus, did you see the schwanz on that Phelps kid? He must be a bagel......."

It was really distressing for a new wannabe Jew from Upstate New find myself working in Austria in the mountains and to be constantly urged by the signage to "Please find the end of the Schwanz".....or "No shoving or pushing in the Schwanz"....or "This is the End of The Schwanz!"


I had no idea the managers of the Kitzbuhel ski area knew my ex-girlfriend.

Anyway....the most common prick terms in Yiddish are "putz" and "schmuck". Graduate theses in sociology have been written on the subtle variations of meaning between the two words.

Putz is worse, for sure. Schmuck is erect, putz is flaccid. Like the n-word, you can use "schmuck" to describe yourself: "She left me standing there like a schmuck......"

Schmuck is more active. You bought into Bernie Maddof's deal? "What a schmuck." Hey, at least you had money to give to Bernie.

When your brother-in-law trashes his Platinum American Express Card on the lap dancer in the Ultra Room? Or forgets to change the oil on his Cayenne?

"What a fucking putz."

Putz also has an alternate meaning.....screwing around with no direction or idea: "Hey, I just spent the day putzing around the yard, picking up dog shit."

A putz is a putz. Clueless, flaccid....a useless caricature of the male member.

Hence my title to this post......

Sheriff Kanalakis has blessed us in the last year....and I mean no disrespect to the Deputies that work under his foggy leadership.....with staff that respond to Nason Road, rather than Nason Ranch, in the middle of a crisis; who leave their weapons on the toilet at The Cachagua Store and drive away; who, instead of arresting crack dealers.....have sex with their daughters....

That kid now enforces the law elsewhere, at least.

Another law enforcement blessing of the fall was the arrest and prosecution of Ivan Eberle of MIRA for assault for stumbling over a firefighter while saving the Observatory when no one else would.

And, this winter's crop of law enforcement clarity: refusing to bother rich folk a drunken stupor....assault my staff, especially my 16 year old bus girl, and drive drunkenly off into the night having stolen $287 worth of my food and labor from Monday Night Dinner.

See, they can't find the guy. I did a five second google search and came up with the guy's whole life: Joe Sortais, Sky Ranch, cell phone, home phone, tax payments, former company......

I imagine what would happen if one of my teenage guys piled up $287 worth of shit at Long's or Safeway.....including alcohol....and boogied. We have a cash bail fund always available for our employees, relatives or clients.....24-7. I imagine my bail fund would be helpless in the face of assault and battery on a underage female minor.....if one of my boys were involved.

Joe problem.

And.....this week we had the joy of watching multiple sheriff units speed by The Store on Monday.....coming from the east on Cachagua Road, all lit up. It was mid-service, so we were worried that they were lying in wait for our customers. One. Two. Three. Four.

Finally we sent a completely sober worker in a truck, whose lights and licensing we verified first, to check it out.

Four sheriffs, the Cachagua Volunteers rescue truck, and a fire truck....all at Crazy Jeff's place.

Crazy Jeff had last entertained us all in September when he pulled a shotgun on his son and tried to beat him with it. The kid escaped, and ran to The Store. We dropped a dime, and soon there were SWAT teams and a helicopter with a sniper and a searchlight deployed....searching the woods for three hours.

Helicopters and searchlights are not real popular in Cachagua in the fall.

This latest drama started when Crazy Jeff.....who had just found Jesus and joined the Cachagua Church (he spent long dramatic minutes sobbing on Amanda's shoulder on Sunday at Service, begging for forgiveness and understanding) pulled a shotgun and tried to shoot his girlfriend and kill himself.

Deputies eventually broke down his door, rescued his girlfriend andtook him away for a 72 hour psych hold.....and confiscated the weapons. Well, not ALL the weapons....but some of them.

It turns out that in 2009 America.....if you do not have health insurance....a 72 hour psych hold only last 24 hours. And, from Natividad Crazy Jeff called up everyone he knew and threatened them: "I am crazy now....officially. No telling what I might do!"

The Pastor of the Cachagua actual true Christian, more later......was able to intervene and collect four more shotguns the Sheriffs had missed at the Crazy Jeff manse after Jeff's release. No one has found the nine mm that Jeff likes to keep in his belt when strolling through The Village.

Today, the nutball showed up at The Store on a bicycle. He has no power at his house and therefore no water. There is a river running past the house......Instead he drove in circles through our driveway, rambling and mumbling threats to anyone who would listen.

Vicki locked all the doors.......and I called 911.

The Sheriff refused to respond.

"We talked to him yesterday....he seems fine. We are not driving all the way out there...."

So.....the guy's wife is in seclusion, along with his daughter and son. His girlfriend is in seclusion. Everyone in the community knows that he is an armed, violent psychopath.......

And the Sheriff won't come.

Imagine us, trying to build a diverse, happy working-class community in Cachagua....with no law enforcement to help us with the one or two psycopaths disrupting everything.....

This will end in gunfire.....

Luckily, Gunfire is a language that is spoken fluently in Cachagua.

And I ask you: Putz or Schmuck?

Jeff is a Schmuck.

Sheriff Kanalakis is a Putz.

Call me if you need help with your thesis.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Saddest Story in the World.....

I am just back from Mass at the Carmel Mission.....

Ass-hats like me can actually still go to Mass....and even take Communion.

They have a book there that lays out the ground rules.....preferably no food within an hour, and you should not be carrying the guilt of a "grave sin".

Even can still take Communion if you promise to go to Confession soon.

It used to be twelve hours, and Confession within 24 hours.....or the amount of time it took you to come up with even venial-style sins. For adolescents, this was about fourteen I spent my younger life and adolescence completely consumed with guilt for taking Communion outside of Confession.....because if you don't line up at Communion time, everybody in the congregation knows you have fucked up in major or minor ways.....So, you always took Communion....and hoped Jesus had your back.

I like the new deal: no "Grave Sin".

I can live with that......I have not killed anyone in almost forty years.....and that was not even on purpose.....

I was once the Bishop's head altar boy in Reno.....Apparently I am the only altar boy in the history of America not to have been sexually harassed by the priests. I worked weekends with weddings.....Sunday High Mass at the Cathedral, daily Mass at the Convent.....funerals, even exorcisms.....

Reno was famous for divorces....but the ignored fact was that every person getting divorced in Nevada already had his or her next failure already lined up. Reno did twice as many marriages as divorces.....

Nevada was, back in the day: 48% Catholic; 48% Mormon; 4% Native American.

We did all the weddings, and all the funerals on the non-Mormon side. Altar boys got tipped in silver dollars.....I had sacks of silver that I spent on archery equipment and Beatles and Beach Boy albums.....

Being a good Catholic was like being on a good soccer team....or being part of a good film shoot.....the sense of belonging was intense enough to keep you in the life-style.

I altar-boyed. I taught Catechism.....I ran track for the CYO.

(I was good enough to make the National Finals of the CYO. At Stanford. Part of the deal was a massage before your event.

I have never looked back).


My Salvation from Jesus came with a tragic accident......

Nevada is famous as a silver and gold mining state......Nevada is the Silver State. All those silver dollars I pissed away on flu-flu arrows and Levi stretch jeans would buy houses in Marina today.

But....we had mines scattered all over the place.....

Because I was a crazy Catholic prodigy......I still can do the Latin Mass from beginning to end with proper 3rd century pronunciation...

Even though I have no idea where my cell phone is, or my car keys.........

"Ad deum qui laetificat....juven tutem meum......"

"I will go to the altar of God......To God, the joy of my youth......"

The Bishop hooked me up with a seminary in Chico.....there was an exam I had to take to enter into the priesthood, but it was a formality.....the Bishop himself was driving me over the mountains to take the test.....

First weekend of the test......huge snowstorm. Forget it.

Re-schedule for six weeks later......No problem.

The week in question.....the son of the mayor of Reno and a couple of his buds decided to play in the mine tunnels around the town. They found some old ore cars and shoved them along the tracks and were partying hearty in an old mine outside of town. Woo-hoo!

Except one of the tracks dropped off into a shaft, and the kids dropped into the abyss......

Major High Requiem Mass. Bishop required. Head altar boy with major skills required.....

I missed the test.....

I figure God killed those idiots.....just to stop me from becoming a priest.

I may be wrong.....


Tonight at The Mission in Carmel....

Mass was in the little side Chapel....which is way cuter and less oppressive than the Mission Church itself....

No ghosts....and full-on Cachagua-style single board roofing.....

Mass was for my old friend Carlos Zarate, who died on this day in 1993.

I am a soccer guy. I came to it late in life....I was fifteen. I had a lot of catch-up to do, so I became obsessed.

In high school in New Jersey I found one crazy friend from Germany who would help me practice in the summer....but mostly I spent my time playing by walls and in random parks.

I made the school team, and played two years in a rabid soccer town....a kid had been killed in the fifties playing football, so soccer was the main sport in public high school....and got a scholarship to Cornell.

Even at Cornell, I practiced on my own in the off-season, knocking balls off the back of Teague Hall, and using my Irish Setter as a defender to work on my moves and fitness.

When I lived in Europe....same deal. I always had a ball, and cleats....and would work in little parks here and there on my own. The fact that I always wore the same tired pair of Puma shoes even got me in trouble on Ios in Greece for stealing cauliflower....but that is a different story.

When I moved to Carmel in 1976....same deal. Want excercise with a soccer ball? Better have an Irish Setter. Or two.

Which I had.

One day, playing by myself with my two dogs at the field next to the road by the Carmel Middle School.....they were kicking my butt.

Setters are tough. Playing for Cornell, I broke my back, both ankles twice, a bunch of broken toes.....but the dogs were at least as rough as Ivy League defenders....

One day a Mexican kid was playing at the other end of the field with a shitty ball on his own......

We hooked up and started knocking the ball around.....he was a natural striker, and hated my dogs for their persistence and skill.

After a few weeks of ad hoc soccer we started talking.......the kid was in high school, and there was no soccer culture in Carmel whatsoever.

Carlos.....his mom was a maid for the San Carlos Agency, who rented houses for part-time Carmel folk....grew up on 13th Street in Carmel....just behind the Glass House.

Carlos was part of the long string of Mexican.....I use the word instead of "Latino" because there was a time when it was not a perjorative.....residents and workers in Carmel. There have always been local Mexicans in Carmel who have been here longer than the white folks. I used to buy geese from a guy on Green Valley Road who was born at The Mission and used to pick vegetables for the padres in the forties......

Carlos grew up on Carmel Beach.....he surfed. He played soccer......

Carlos turned me on to the whole hidden world of Mexican soccer. There were teams and leagues scattered all over Seaside and Salinas.... and Carlos wanted to get the Carmel kids involved....because he knew that soccer was way more fun than surfing. Grass is always sitting there, waiting. Tides are flaky.....and irrelevant to grass-fed fun.

So......we set up some teams and games, and got the YMCA involved.....and got a league going.

The league continues to this day......and provides most of the funding of the local YMCA.

Carlos was in Middle School.....and then in High School. We worked together to kill gophers on the Carmel Middle School fields. I bought some wood and we built some shitty goals. Carlos had a friend of his mom's who worked on boats in Pacific Grove who welded us some soccer goals that were so heavy and gnarly that they made a statement.

The YMCA faded, and we started a real league.....we hired a professional soccer guy, built fields down below at the Middle School....and soon had 700 kids playing soccer.....year round.

By 1993, Carlos had graduated, fallen in love, married, and worked for a super-caterer.

Still, he was loyal to his Mexican roots....which meant going back to Mexico at Christmas time each year. His wife was super traditional.

In '93, Carlos drove back to Mexico to visit his in-laws with his wife and his beautiful four-year old daughter, Jessica.

It is a really long drive....At one point he had his wife take over, and he took a nap.

His wife was really tired, as well......and missed a turn, and crashed the family car into a truck in the middle of BumFuck, Mexico.

Carlos woke up in the middle of a nightmare. Twisted steel. Fire. Terror. Shit flying all around.

He grabbed a ride with the cops to the local terror at what had happened to his wife and daughter.

The cops dropped him out front, and he ran inside the hospital calling for his daughter.

The nurses tried to stop him....but he dragged a couple with him as he ran back to one of the two examining rooms.

His wife was being worked on by the docs....

He ran next door to the other room....with nurses hanging off him.



He arrived at the door of the examing room just as the docs were pulliing the sheet over his daughter's face.


Carlos dropped dead on the spot.

His heart broke.......


He was 29.

I would go on about this and that.....

We got the Middle School to name the field after Carlos......

But, the Principal was a baseball guy who hated Mexicans.......

Now the field is a track.....

Right next to Carmel Valley Road....

No Carlos anywhere.

Soccer is for those......objectionable brown people....and those difficult ADADHD people.......

Which is why I take Laureles Grade whenever I have to go to Monterey......just to not have to drive by Carlos' field.

Wake up, folks are living in Alta California.....always a part of Mexico.

And not all of your kids fit the Baseball/Basketball/Football mold...... Carlos Zarate's old friends gathered for Mass at the Mission in Carmel.

It is the feast day of Saint Angela Merici.

Saint Angela Merici was an Italian from Lake Garda born in 1474. At that time there were no schools for children of any kind. It was a perfect George Bush world of super rich folk, and random fuckhead workers.

Angela Merici, for whatever reason, decided to set up classes for children. First she had to educate herself and her friends, which was no easy task in 15th century Italy.

She and her friends persevered.......They were not nuns. They took no vows, wore no weird clothes.....continued to live at home with their families.....but educated the children of the poor so they could have better lives.

For me.....a perfect Saint's Day for my friend Carlos.........

Veggie Love......

This ad was banned by NBC as being too erotic for NFL fans during the Stupid Bowl....

If you have ever seen the PETA display in Times Square with super models clothed in lettuce.....while the Fresno/Kansas folk line up to take snaps of the Naked Cowboy....who is neither naked nor a cowboy.....

'Veggie Love': PETA's Banned Super Bowl Ad

Or....the alternate version.

I like it better....and not just because the model is named Amanda....

'Veggie Love': PETA's Banned Super Bowl Ad

PETA actually does not suck.....coming from a hard-core sausage making kind of chef......

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hot links......

You might begin to doubt that this little electronic pied-a-terre ever had anything to do with food.....

I am with you on that one......I vaguely remember food.

To remind myself this morning......I had a miner's lettuce salad with field sorrel for breakfast. The dressing was fine Cachagua mist.

I like to look for clues to dietary goodness all around me. I don't have the budget of Xabier Guittierez and Juan Mari Arzak.....but I have been loving our sea vegetable risotto of late. Carmel Beach sea vegetable......

On our union required hike this morning......(The Dog Free Choice Act was a little-known early signing of the Obama Administration.....our hounds are now fully unionized, which actually is an improvement over the Bush era collective) would have thought that I was walking in the company of herbivores. All four hounds were constantly stopping and chomping. They only like certain grasses and herbs......Morgana has taught Puppy, and he follows her around like an acolyte.

As mentioned before....this will be a bumper year for miner's lettuce, the sticky purple flower.....and wildflowers in general. Everybody is already going off in Flower-land....

Part of our hike runs through a gorgeous abandoned property. Someone still mows the flat parts each year to keep down the poison oak, and the old oaks shelter a meadow that would do County Kerry proud. Of course, the mower also kills all the baby the meadow does not have long to live as the old oaks mature and die.

Meanwhile, this morning I looked down and realized that Mama Nature had set up a plate for me......field sorrel and miner's lettuce all wrappped up in each other and garnished with the faint rain mist that had managed to drift below the oaks.

"Pick up! Table Eight! Salads are up!"

Crisp, tart, tender....nourishing in ways way beyond the calories and all that.

Thanks, Mom!

Meanwhile....this is the time of year when we get together with our growers to plan out the year's menus.....or at least a range of ingredients that will turn into this year's menus. The seed catalogs are out in force.....squashes, herbs, flowers, crazy greens, cardoons, groundnuts......

And chiles. Our time with Borja was a constant struggle to find the exact chile...the right size, the right heat, the right shape for his relleno......Joanie grows a pretty good range of chiles, but we want to be more pro-active.

A side-effect of global climate warming has been global palate warming: chiles are taking over.

In tropical lands, chiles have always been an important food ingredient......In strength, they are antiseptics, and are invaluable where refrigeration is dodgy. Also, I used to think that the vicious heat of a chile arbol not only preserved the meat from rotting in Mexico....but masked the possibly over-ripe flavors that might be present as well.

I once destroyed my partner Valentine's newly blossoming relationship with Mills College proselytizing vegetarian when we were working in Mexico for our wealthy friend Horatio.

Val and my wife Jane were fully into the sun worship thing, and were perfectly happy to sleep by the pool or beach all day.....while two-year old Brendan and I hit the Indian markets at dawn, and cut and chopped all day in the back with the abuelas.

You shop at dawn in the Mercado Indio because it is cooler, and because everything just got there from the boat or the farm.

The Mills chick missed no opportunity to remind us all about the horrors of meat eating.....while basting and roasting herself in the sun all day like a fat baby pig.....

One afternoon, she was bored.....and asked me if I would show her the Mercado. No problem. I dragged her throught the carneceria part of the Mercado at about 3pm.......

100 degree heat. Rack after rack of whole killed pigs, with their various internal parts still attached appropriately, reeking in the heat. Racks of cow entrails, spilling about like some insane macrame, ducks on spikes....feet and head intact, of course. Piles of goat heads, piles of cow heads, piles of pig heads.....

And the stench......

The Mills chick never even made it back to the Hacienda......she ran screaming from the Mercado directly to a cab and the airport. Left all her bags and clothes.

Sorry, Valentine.......

Hey, we never even got to the chile part of the Mercado......

Anyway.....there is a chile revolution sweeping, of all places, England. English people have always had a weird affinity for spicy compensate for the indigenous blandness of the culturally accurate diet. Curries, back in the day, were named for towns in India: Vindaloo was the most volcanic....and the most popular.

Now....believe it or not.....England leads the world in production and consumption of the hottest chiles in the world.

There is no contest. Mexicans, Indonesians, Indians, whomever....get back. The Limey's rule the world of the super-hot.

From here on out, I am cutting and pasting ruthlessly from The Economist.....

Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chiles. Tastless, colourless, odourless and painful, pure capsaicin is a curious substance. It does no lasting damage, but the body’s natural response to even a modest dose (such as that found in a chili pepper) is self-defence: sweat pours, the pulse quickens, the tongue flinches, tears may roll. But then something else kicks in: pain relief. The bloodstream floods with endorphins—the closest thing to morphine that the body produces. The result is a high. And the more capsaicin you ingest, the bigger and better it gets.

Humans are the only mammals to eat chilies. Other species apparently reckon that nasty tastes are a powerful evolutionary signal that something may be poisonous. Paul Rosin, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who is one of the world’s best-known authorities on the effects of capsaicin, has had no success in persuading rats to eat chilies, and very limited success with dogs and chimpanzees: the handful of cases where these animals did eat chilies seemed to be because of their strong relationships with human handlers.

That offers a clue to the way in which mankind comes to develop a chili habit. In the same way as young people may come to like alcohol, tobacco and coffee (all of which initially taste nasty, but deliver a pleasurable chemical kick), chili-eating normally starts off as a social habit, bolstered by what Mr Rozin calls “benign masochism”: doing something painful and seemingly dangerous, in the knowledge that it won’t do any permanent harm. The adrenalin kick plus the natural opiates form an unbeatable combination for thrill-seekers.

In England.....chile consumption is soaring: up a quarter to a third in the last year...

The reason may be that capsaicin excites the trigeminal nerve, increasing the body’s receptiveness to the flavour of other foods. That is not just good news for gourmets. It is a useful feature in poor countries where the diet might otherwise be unbearably bland and stodgy. In a study in 1992 by the CSIRO’s Sensory Research Centre, scientists looked at the effect of capsaicin on the response to solutions containing either sugar or salt. The sample was 35 people who all ate spicy food regularly but not exclusively. Even a small quantity of capsaicin increased the perceived intensity of the solutions ingested. Among other things, that may give a scientific explanation for the habit, not formally researched, of snorting the “pink fix” (a mixture of cocaine and chili powder).

Anyway, part of the leading edge of this craze is the chile we are buying from England.....the Tesco naga.

Chile strength is measured in Scoville units. A Scoville unit is the amount of dilution in sugar syrup necessary for a given chile to no longer be detectable to the human palate. A particularly hot dried red chile might run to 100, 000 Scoville units....meaning it needs to be diluted 100,000 times to be considered mellow.

Habaneros......aka Scotch Bonnets.....are the most insanely hot chile available in America. They are cute and beautiful. We can stretch one tiny Scotch Bonnet over forty or fifty folks, and give them all a thrill. Scotch Bonnets run a maximum of 577,000 Scoville Units.

The Indian government has been working on chiles for using in riot control gasses. They have come up with a chile that runs to reportedly 855,000.

The Tesco naga....developed by an American from Maine from a chile he found in a Bangladeshi market in Bournemouth, England......comes in at a mind-blowing 1,600,ooo Scoville units.

You can buy them from the developer, Michael Michaud.....not the Chalone winemaker, by the way. They come with a warning label for cooks to use gloves while handling them.

Tesco...the Safeway of England.....has seen it chile and produce sales soar behind the naga. They won't sell the naga to minors......but they will sell kids beer and cigarettes.

Our shipment is on the way.......coming soon to a garden near you.

Forget the Orchid Society, Joannie.....we have the Cachagua Chile Society.

Better endorphins....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Burn Day.....

We finally got a burn day.....

I call every morning to Cal-Burn (1-800-CAL-BURN) to see if we can burn parts of our mountain. Three months ago, James and I spent a few days with his pole chain saw cutting dead wood and Spanish moss and making burn piles. The theory was to make it difficult for a fire to climb from the crackling, corn flake crunchy piles of oak leaves and dead poison oak up into the crowns of the live oaks that we have in abundance all around us.

The famous Basin Complex Fire of last summer only burned around 30% of the area of responsibility of the Cachagua Volunteers. All of us who experienced that loveliness are fixed on getting a jump on The Fire Next Time......


Ever since burn days.

As the dry days stretched into weeks, and then into months.....all our hard work turned from a positive to a scary negative. Piles of combustibles, nestled into acres of combustibles.

The recording at Cal-Burn goes on and on, burning up minutes on my cell phone: "You are required to ensure that only dry wood is burned, and that you not burn in wet conditions....."

And, the first Burn Day in months occurs after 18 hours of pounding rain.....when absolutely nothing in Christendom is dry and flammable......and it is still pounding rain.

Yeah, well....fuck it. Burn baby, burn.

Yesterday we bought a new couch.....

Buying a new couch for our weird, extended family is on the order of a national currency switching to euros......Traditions fall....

Dozens and dozens of folk have succumbed to the embrace of our old couch. Our old couch has a broken back, because the boys and their friends used to stand on the balcony above, embracing their giant stuffed animals and leap through the air as paratroopers......slamming into the poor old couch.

Dozens and dozens of folk have gathered on the old couch to watch soccer: the '90, '94, '98, '02, and '06 World twenty years of Champions League, and the Euros.....I still remember a Brazilian house guest.....snuggled into the old couch....shouting out each goal of each Brazil match at 4am in the Japan-Korea World Cup. We were too exhausted to actually watch.....but our shades kept track....from the screams from the old couch.

Anyway....the new couch came with a giant cardboard box. Suitable for a small rental unit for an optomistic newly immigrant family.

Dealing with Cal-Burn makes me understand the Republican abhorrence of Government. Weeks of beautiful, dry, non-polluting burn weather go by.....and on the dampest, pissiest day ever.....I must burn all the soaking crap I can find. All of which is assured to generate the maximum cloud of steam and pollutants to destroy my neighbors, the ozone layer.....and the planet.

All my dry brush.....laboriously collected for months.....would not begin to burn. I was in Catch-22 land....trying to get an appointment with Major Major Major. You can only see him when he is not in.....

Yeah, well.....Fuck you. I have Couch Box.

Once I got that fucker burning.......everything went just fine.

Sorry, Optomistic Newly Immigrant Family....back to Craig's List!

Meanwhile....the only reason I have a house is that my sons and I are immune to poison oak. Our property sat empty and unloved for decades because it was home to the largest poison oak vines ever observed. Six inches across was nothing....

For a year.....on my breaks and days off from my restaurant.....and my kid's soccer team (that is a joke.....there are no days off from restaurants, or youth soccer) I would drive out to Cachagua and cut and burn poison oak.

At first, I would wear hazmat suits and use respirators.......eventually I got over it, and fought poison oak like Louis X fought Saladin. Actually, more like Saladin v Louis X....because I won. Poison oak trembles in fear on my 14 acres.....

That was twenty years ago.....

Today, in 53 degree damp weather, in pissing rain......I got one of my ten burn piles done on the lower forty. I raced around, chopped brush, hauled hoses......slammed Pulaskis into piles of brush, chopped away with my blue steel machete.....and kept up the pressure on the fire with my good fire-poof pitchfork.

After three hours I was whipped. Soaked in sweat, filmed with pure poison oak fatty acid that is bubbling out of the brush all around me. My boots were wrecked, laces ruined. New jeans tatooed black with poison oak gel. I thought I had a slight blister on a toe.....and found my sock soaked with blood because the toe was smashed.

All last summer.....we had fire guys and gals tromping through our hills and mountains doing this same work.

I saw a prison crew with four-foot bar chain saws slung over their backs....sprint up a ridge that would crush my heart if I were only carrying a water bottle.......

Only it was not was 120 degrees. One night.....the air temperature got all the way down to a chilly 108 on Blue Ridge......

And the shift was not 3 was 20. And, often 36 straight hours of backbreaking, soul-crushing, Neanderthal labor.

And the fire was not in a four by four fire ran to 240, 000 acres....

I just want to give a tip of the hat to the fire grunts......


Burn Day.....indeed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The New Reality.....Part 1

Right now I am trying to ignore the fact that Barack is probably going to appoint Governor Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture.....

In my world the only stain on Barack's armor. McCain is anathema (used in two posts in a row!) in Iowa because he said out loud that corn-derived bio-fuels (ethyl alcohol) is silly and destructive. He got his ass kicked in the pre-game and the election because of it......even though he was dead on. Parts of the Maverick were still slowly functioning......

And Barack won Iowa....and got his big jump on Hillary, and the start of the snowball.....and now all of us have to kiss Vilsack's dick for the next billion years. This guy is a Monsanto whore.....RoundUp Ready Politician 2.0....from a state that was once magically bio-diverse with twelve feet of dense topsoil of a quality only found in pre-historic Ireland, a couple of million bison, billions of migrating birds.....and is now reduced to spreading her legs for three crops (soy, corn and wheat).....and hoping the Feds leave something on the dresser in the morning.

Iowa is the place where FarmAid got its start.....Willie Nelson shedding tears with the other small family farms as the banks foreclosed and sold off equipment, history and legacy for the benefit of corporate mono-culture agriculture.

And Tom Vilsack thinks this is all great......

And Barack Obama.....and each and every one of you.....are kissing Vilsack and Monsanto's ball sack.


I guess Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin were too busy quietly saving the planet to run the Department of Agriculture.

Hey.....corn syrup-soaked, highly-refined, artificially colored wheat and corn-based, federally financed food products that are killing our rural poor and inner-city poor must be OK somehow, right?

When was the last time you saw a skinny, fit person on the streets of Seaside or the aisles of WalMart or Costco....that was not an obvious crackhead?

Anyway.....forget Barack just punting off our food and nutrition future to a bunch of corporate whores for a third of a generation for a minute.

Yesterday, as I watched the telecast of the millions of folk gathered in DC to watch the Inauguration.....I could not help to wonder what it would have been like if John McCain was being sworn in.

How big the crowd? How many black folks? How would those white douche bags have actually gotten to The Mall through the cordon of the 90% black DC poplulation?

And, in the National Orgasm.....where were the 25% nutballs that still think George Bush was smarter and more capable than Caligula? Well, outside of Midland, Texas.....

Some of them were in Cachagua.....still hating niggers, still thinking that health care is commie bullshit.....when they can't afford to go to a doctor even when they have obvious staff infections streaking red up their macho arms from that little work-related accident they would never claim on work-comp for fear of getting fired. Or just even pissing off the boss a little.

How do the Republicans convince the most obvious victims of their grab-it-all-while-you-can policies to back them right into the gutter?

How can my toothless newspaper person who has never seen a doctor outside of jail or prison....continue to collect social security for herself and her probably already dead probably sexually abusive dad.....and rail on and on and send me emails about how Obama is a Nigger Communist?

Then.....I started to notice. While working on books yesterday, with MSNBC droning in the background.....every time they said "The President is about to speak....." I cringed, felt nauseous, and looked frantically around for the remote to still the sound.

Eight years of George Bush has trained even me to fear and despise my government and my expect nothing of it but rape and pillage, and all our common good being diverted and divided amongst the few.

I still cannot believe it is true.

I, too had given up....just like my newspaper lady.

My support of Barack Obama was not in support of a reality I could was a mad toss of the dice....a big fuck you to what always wins.... in support of what could have been, if mankind were not so basically flawed and fucked.


Guilty as charged.

Along with my Christian former friends, my newspaper nutball.....and all the other eyes were no longer on The Prize. All of the things that make America great....our ability to work like dogs....our inventiveness....our flexibility....our generosity....our common vision of an unimagineable future that has driven our country for many hundreds of years.....

I bought into the fact that it was dead.

I drank the Kool-Aid.

President Obama.

It may sound trite.....but I still get misty when I think about or hear:

"Yes.....We Can!" a first ante:

I have had as my license plate frame since 2002, when I bought my Jaguar......(English born, American Ford made......the best car I ever owned).......

"My next license plate will be MADE by Cheney and Bush!"

Check it out.

Day One.

President Obama.


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 21, 2009


- - - - - - -


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to establish policies and procedures governing the assertion of executive privilege by incumbent and former Presidents in connection with the release of Presidential records by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) pursuant to the Presidential Records Act of 1978, it is hereby ordered as follows:

... Executive Order 13233 of November 1, 2001, is revoked.



January 21, 2009.

The Big Day.......

Yesterday, Amanda and I stayed bunkered in for the big occasion......weeping in public is not my thing.....even though we had some very sweet invitations for group bonding.

Plus the 7:30am start time did not match well with the 1:30am Monday Night Store closing..... was beginning to occur to us that we had invested so much personal effort and personal worry and anxiety into the Obama campaign that we just wanted to experience his inauguration privately.

This was an event that we were so sure would never happen that our investment of hope and work and cash seemed like a form of suicide. You leap off the cliff in despair.....and land in a warm pool with mermaids.... the brutal hangover. Silver Oak '89, indeed.

Later that day I had an appointment about a wedding on the beach at Stillwater. Of course, Granpuppy had to go along. First test for the me, love my dog.

Well, Brendan's dog.....

There is a certain class of brides-to-be, and mothers of brides-to-be that cast expectation before them like Red Army artillery......and leave in their wake the scorched earth and salted fields of wrecked creativity and spontaneity. Of course, these women often have all the we are always tempted to try our hand at bidding the job.

This is where Grandpuppy comes in. Or Monday Night Dinner at The Store. Or a private tasting in Cachagua on a Sunday afternoon, with Grant and Pablo and Dave and the Store Chickens in full bloom. Not to mention the Compost Heap.....

Our view of weddings....beyond the obvious financial that they should actually be meaningful rites of passage, valuable to the families involved......and to society at large. We think our work is to facilitate that larger meaning.

Fucking dummies, us. Taking full responsibility for creating a successful wedding is like running a soccer team through a minefield. We should just stick to tri-tip and salmon, overbill the fuck out of people and clear out.....our obscene profits protected by reams of paper contracts, like our competitors.

At least my credit score would be up in triple digits......

This bride and mom hit the tri-fecta. Did not mind Puppy....even when he climbed the cliff and pillaged the fourth fairway of Pebble Beach. They pretended to be comfortable with Puppy running loose at their property, even as half the population of Guanajuato was busily installing brand new landscape all around us. When I demurred and put Puppy in the Jag, they insisted on shade and bottled water for the beast.

I will run through machine-gun fire for these ladies.....

Anyway, after the long meeting my contract with Puppy requires and equal time pillaging Carmel Beach. A walk the entire length.....from the eighth hole to Carmel Point....and back.....just about does it.

Puppy is still in possession of his 'nads.....despite the best efforts and wishes of every female of any species he has ever met....Carmel Valley Veterinary.....and the Animal Control folks at Carmel PD.

It is usually OK......though it is true that John Cherry once brought Amanda a box of condoms as a present on a sunny Sunday at The Store. When she blushed crimson (they were sweethearts thirty years ago...), John said: "No.....they are for your puppy. That is the humpin'est dog I EVER saw......"

Yesterday Xabi's fanatsies ran to black labs owned by mothers of young girls. Not good....but WAY better than the day he fell in love with every Standard Poodle on the Beach. Standard Poodle owners have control issues.....

Oh....and Amanda will no longer walk on Carmel Beach after the unfortunate Cavalier King Charles Spaniel day.......Don't ask.

It was another glorious Carmel winter afternoon.......the sun was almost blinding to us Irish folk. That was almost OK, as it helped to mask the other Irish anathema.....eye contact. That is another essay.

In the midst of all the ebb and flow of tides and kids and dogs and walkers, I ran across an eighty-something woman with a three-year old yellow lab. The lady had a ball throwing stick.....invented by Ayla of Clan of The Cave Bear if you are checking.....and was working hard at getting her dog to actually run and chase balls.

Xabi was not helpful. The lab wanted to play, and Xabi would run a bit....but his eyes were on the horizon and his heart was not in it. He was looking for black labs....with young girls. Kind of like Bill Clinton at a skinny blonde convention.....polite, but looking for dark hair, and some heft.

While I chatted with the nice lady, she immediately turned to the events of the day. Like everone else I know, she felt her life had been validated by Obama's inauguration....or at least a big part of her recent life.

She went on a bit.....and we chatted about each other a tad. She had news for me that Sherry Van Bibber had survived her triple anyeurism...saved by her dog trainer's wife from what was demonstrably not a bad headache.

Sherry lives across the street from The Store, and is a horse and dog icon for almost a generation, and some random dog lady on Carmel Beach knew more about her brush with death than I did.

While we were talking, the lady had been aimlessly dragging her ball-throwing stick through the wet sand....while I prayed that Puppy would run her dog, and not madly hump her dog.....

Xabi finally trotted back and gave me a a gay man abandoned for a quarter hour in a Florsheim shop: Enough!

I turned to go and looked at the sand behind us. My new friend had carved a big "Obama!" with her throwing stick.

It had been unconscious, and she gave a verbal blush......"What do you know?"

I gave her a kiss......

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


On his way out to The Store tonight, after working an eight hour day running tractors.......Brendan stopped by Safeway to pick up a head of iceberg lettuce for our least loved and most purchased dish......The Wedge.

The two ladies in line in front of him were talking about events.

"Jesus is Martin Luther King Day.....and tomorrow is Barack Obama Day. Why not just blow off the whole week and call it Black Week?"

"Yeah. We could have Rodney King Day on Wednesday....and J-Z Day on Thursday......."

Lord help us. George Bush may only have 22% approval......but that is one in five, and they are everywhere....even if they don't have actual jobs. beloved Amanda has always a different perspective on things.

She has discovered a few interesting things.......and she is never wrong.

1) More Presidents than are statistically probable happen to be left-handed.

2) Left-handed people are more sensitive to variations in color and tone than right-handed folk.

Aside.....on my way to the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco yesterday......I listened to an advertisement from the Mormon Church about raising sensitive babies. If your baby is unusually sensitive to light, sound, noise, fabric......don't be judgmental. Try to back off the stimulation and give your baby space.......

I would not want to be accused of being sexist or whatever.....but if your Mormon baby is super-sensitive to color, sound, fabric........might he or she be gay? Don't go there, Michael.

Anyway....our new President volunteered to do some community service today on MLK Day. Barack is painting in a homeless shelter.

There was an unedited clip on MSNBC......Barack rolling up his sleeves; the project leader giving him a paintbrush and a bucket and pointing him towards some trim in the shelter.

Barack.....holding the brush in his left hand: "This is not the same color blue."

Leader:" Yes, it is all fine."

Barack: "This is not the same color blue. I am sorry, I don't want to be a problem. I will paint it whatever color you want....but this is not the same color."

Words fail.

My Amanda....when she was seriously depressed back in LA...would take any excuse to go to the DMV in The Valley because it was painted in a certain shade of Aqua Sea Foam.

Calming. Quieting. Institutionally certified.

Hey, it DMV

Anyone remember "About A Girl" by Kurt Cobain........"Aqua Sea Foam Shame"?

I am having trouble imagining my President as a guy who is willing to politely argue about details and inferences, and color shades.....and their impact on folks who have to experience their nuances on a day-to-day basis......

On his day off. In a publicity shot.

My trouble only comes because I have been conditioned to be led by a fucking moron...who denies any subtlety or nuance or any further meaning beyond chicken wings and ass-kicking.

The same fuckhead who traded Sammy Sosa from Texas to Chicago....


We now have a President who can recognize seemingly meaningless details and inferences....and is unafraid to act on them....

I love Amanda.

And, I am prepared to not despise Barack Obama.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Lately we have been networking.....LinedIn and Facebook.

It is fun......which is why social and business networking has quadrupled in the last four years.

Today I became friends with a hard core skateboard genius......the physical skill and the graphic design skills somehow tied in....

My friend Audrey also hooked me up in LinkedIn. At first I thought Audrey drank the Kool-Aid....she became a coach and management consultant.

Her husband and I shared an insanely crappy and freezing 183o era cabin in Ithaca, New York forty years ago. Well, Hugh took over after I left, we did not actually share the space....Hugh inherited all my design innovations.....none of which were related to insulation or anything pertinent to sanitation or survival.........and we did not actually meet until fourteen years hence, 3000 miles away.

Audrey and Hugh ran our burglar alarm company for a million years.....and Audrey did the books. She understood that we only pay our bills yearly, or bi-yearly.....and that we almost never send bills to people we love.

When Audrey and Hugh sold the alarm was 60 days before the shit hit the fan and the new folks wanted actual funds.... is the question I was confronted with tonight upon my return from work.

Hi......What is your best tip for attracting new clients?

Everyone has their own style and I'm wondering what works best for you. I'd really appreciate it if you could take just a moment to jot down your most effective way of attracting the clients you want.

Thank you!


I am not giving out Audrey's actual contact info for fear of damaging her business.....but Audrey is money. If you have a bunch of folks working for you that are not pulling in the same me and I will hook you up. I mean, she has been my friend for 30 years.....She is hard-boiled.

My response:

Ignore everything below.

We draw a line in the sand......

In our case: moral, ethical, political......all of it affecting our access to the kind of ingredients we want for our people......and the kind of decisions that help us support our staff with health care, education, etc......

And if you don't like it.

Fuck you and kiss my ass.

It is easier to get this all out of the way at the beginning.....because the awful people are not paying their bills anyway.

In our world view, people who suck should not be marrying or breeding. Other folks get excited about gay people or whatever......

We think that people who suck should not be allowed to marry or have parties.

We hope to inspire people who don't suck to hire us by making all of this perfectly clear up front.

This is probably why we are poor....

Audrey's response to our post on the business network:

I believe I will always love you. LMAO

Hey, doing what we do.......

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Irish Spring......

Another bizarrely warm January day.

I called Cal-Burn at 7am to see if we could burn some duff. January 15th.....not a burn day.

Two months ago we cut all the low branches and dead trees on the mountain, cut up the firewood and are waiting to burn the duff with the poison oak. Ladder theory: if there is a fire, it should not be able to climb up from the brush to the tree-tops, or climb down from the tree-tops to the brush. There has not been a burn day since the last time it rained: " You.r responsibility is not to burn in the rain, or burn wet brush. Thursday, January 15 is a NO-Burn day."

The mountain is drying up. Today we had dust on the trails as the dogs raced around. Grandpuppy actually skidded downhill in the dust on the Rte. 1 Home Trail.....the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

We are almost back to cornflakes in terms of walking off-trail. Snap. Crackle. Pop.

Pray for rain.....forget flooding and mudslides......

Puppy and I have been cruising the mountain so much lately. I am trying to run the legs off the dog. We have tracked him at 30 mph in short runs, and figure he cruises uphill at a minimum 15 mph. I used to worry about mountain lions.....even in the day. If I were a lion.....I would eat that dog....seriously gorgeous musculature. Tacos de Perro!

Today, the dog ran about 40 miles on two hour and a half hikes......Ripping through the poison oak the entire time.

I hate poison oak. This is documented, and one of the only reasons anyone at Tassajara speaks comlete sentences to me.

Poison oak is just starting to sprout..... and relish the warm weather, along with the sticky purple and the miner's lettuce.

When I hike, I don't take a faggy, hand-carved walking stick.....I take a machete. A really good, balanced, hard-steel machete with a leather strap that keeps it strapped to my arm. Hey, when you are climbing 60% mountains.....a groovy, hand-carved walking stick is of little use.

And the mountain lions are super hard to impress. Hand-carved walking sticks don't do much for them.....

I, and my sons, do not get poison oak.....unless it is pure sap, directly applied. Right now, I look like a scabies victim......lesions all over my hands and wrists. This is just from direct spatter from the machete from all the poison oak vines I have slashed in the last few days.......

Fuck poison oak. It is a mono-culture that kills all other plants.

And fuck George Bush while we are at it.....for the same reason. Though I can't prove that this moron ever rose to the level of culture at any level, much less monoculture.

Well, maybe chlamydia. I hear they culture that.....

I hear there has been a 30% increase in the last eight years.


But, there are still signs of spring, despite the drought. And, there may be a storm on the 20th.
Right now, there is more sticky purple flower and miner's lettuce than I have seen in 20 years.

In fact, this morning we found a field of densely packed miner's lettuce....Puppy and I.....and I had visions of rolling in clover with a loved one.....toasted by the midwinter sun.

Warm sun, sprouting beneficence.... If you have an erection lasting more than two an arborist.

It was Ireland on the mountain......wall to wall green......

And, I had just been to the Consulate on get my papers for my Irish passport....

I was so excited about the lush, sexual greenity that I raced back down the hill after two hours of hiking.....mailed two bills.....paid two bills....and convinced Amanda to climb back up to go for a "hike".

80% of all massages end in sex.

What are the figures for hikes? Gotta be in the ball park, right.......not to mention the meadow of miner's lettuce sprouts......

Well, not so much in Ireland.....apparently.

Regardless.....the signs of Spring were everywhere.

Puppy, completely exhausted....with sticky purple stuck to his magic nose.....Golden California sunshine pouring over his head......Where is Bennie when I need him? Or Conall.

And.....the Mexican mafia.....already poised for a bumper crop.

My junior high school Latin teacher....Mr. Knight from BD Billinghurst Jr. High School in Reno, NV.

....a veteran of Anzio Alabama guy, as it turns out...taught us a lot of Latin poems. What pops to mind, though, is an English one.

Roses are red,
Violets are neat,
You get a thorn with every rose....
But ain't the roses sweet?

Did I mention I carry a machete on my hikes?

I am still trying to figure out the Gaelic word for machete.........

Thorns or not.....the roses, and the miner's lettuce.....are still so sweet......

Here's to Sully........

Sully Sullenberger, hero pilot of the plane crash in the Hudson tonight......

Eclipsing the excruciatingly humiliating farewell speech of whatever that fuckhead's name was that used to be President.....

Proving once again that there is a God, and She has a Sense of Humor.......

During the swan song of Der Furter......what a weenie......a union guy with 40 years on the job in one of the only jobs left that could not be outsourced...... completely bitch-slaps the Prez.

Oh, the Employee Free Choice Act is up for a vote soon....

Imagine having workers able to protect their jobs and working conditions by joining a union......

The Bushies have completely villified everything about unions for eight years.....and layered that on top of Ronald Reagan bullshit going back to 1980.

Society is supposed to benefit somehow by de-emphasizing skill and stability and emphasizing short term profits.

A brand new pilot, with skills unchecked by annoying interfering government regulations, would have cost US Air probably a third or a quarter of Sully Sullenberger's salary. Think of all those lost profits.....

Sully was the Safety Officer of the pilot's union......the first guy fired if the Bushies had their way. The strength of his union is the only thing that kept a guy like this on the job for forty years and all that expensive seniority. In Bush World there should have been a 25 year old Peruvian Halliburton sub-contractor at the helm.......

In a big AirBus like Sully was flying today.....when the engines are destroyed by geese the plane has a glide ratio of 20-1.......twenty feet horizontal for every foot of vertical. The sink rate is 1000 feet per minute.

Sully was a 3,000 feet when the foie gras hit the jet fan. Eleven miles.....and more importantly..... three minutes until impact.

The guy hit the center of the bullseye.....cruising over the George Washington Bridge......think the Golden 900 feet. Carefully laying down the plane so that none of it broke up.

And my final bitch.....

New York City and its people get a lot of sarcastic bad press for being the unfeeling, brutal beating heart of all that is callous and wrong about America.

In New York, when there is trouble, New Yorkers run TOWARDS the problem, not away.

(Do a search of this blog for "That Day Again" to understand my gratitude to New Yorkers for saving me from a different plane crash).......

There were Trans-Hudson ferries at the plane within 90 seconds of impact. No one was whining about liability and insurance. The passengers on the ferries jumped up and got to work....self organizing, triaging and delegating....without a thought. Yeah, whatever. You do what you can, and maybe a little more.

A perfect backdrop to the exit of the most disgusting, corrupt, venal and criminal regime ever to seize the reins of power in America.

Bye, fuck.

Everyday workers and some union guys and gals pulling off the anti-911 and pissing all over your parade.....

Here's to Sully!

Now if we can only get union guys doing the food on US Air.....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Talk To The Hand.......

Ever hear of 2d4d Ratio?


This is the ratio of the length of your index finger to that of your ring finger.

Apparently, around 18 weeks of pregnancy a higher level of testosterone in the womb results in longer ring fingers.

There is an insane amount of chatter about this. It is used as a test of sexual preference, as in:

Finger-Length Ratios in Female Monozygotic Twins Discordant for Sexual Orientation.

Woo-hoo. Can't wait to pick that one up on Amazon. Only 21 pounds. Money, not hopes.

Or even about good hockey teams.

Anyway....The Financial Times came out with an article studying the 2D4D ratio as it relates to the financial crisis.


It turns out that traders on the London Stock Exchange who have a lower 2D4D ratio......longer ring fingers than index fingers.....average ELEVEN TIMES more income than those with high 2D4D ratios. Like 700,000 pounds average or something. Money, not weight.

It further turns out that these low 2D4D guys are all about fast trading. They have skills to notice minute changes in the market....and bang! they strike. They hold positions for minutes.....or sometimes only seconds. And they rake in the dough....mostly.

The study did show that these low 2D4D folk often trade so much that they dilute their gains, often in just transaction fees.

The problem is this......policy is driven by profit. Low 2D4D guys are going nuts trading on the short term.....and ignoring the long term.

Low 2D4D folk also show poor impulse control.

Women tend to have high 2D4D to gay people.

The differing lengths of our second and fourth digits is usually explained as relative exposure to one of two hormones while in the womb. Foetuses with more exposure to oestrogen while in their mother’s womb tend to have longer index fingers while those with more exposure to testosterone have shorter index fingers, thus resulting in a relatively longer fourth finger. Excess exposure to prenatal testosterone may also lead to a tendency towards violence and aggressiveness.

“It is believed that excess testosterone promotes the growth of the right hemisphere of the brain at the expense of the left hemisphere. This can lead to impaired reading ability, but also to enhanced mathematical and musical abilities. Unfortunately, there seem to be other, less welcome effects: excess testosterone has already been implicated in the origins of migraine, autism, stuttering, schizophrenia - and now depression, too.”

“A higher level of prenatal testosterone is said to result in a more ‘male’ brain, that is, more mathematically and systematically inclined. Also resulting from higher levels of prenatal testosterone is a lowered 2D4D ratio (ie your fourth digit is longer than your second digit). Some psychologists suspect that autism is an extreme of the male brain, i.e., no social/emotional skills but more systematic. They’ve found that the 2D4D ratio follows this theory, with autistic subjects more likely to have a lower (<1) 2D4D ratio.”

Sooooo.....we have turned our financial system over to quick-twitch, autistic, poor impulse control mostly men who live in the moment and are incapable of planning or predicting or caring about the future.

Any surprises here?

For the record.....I, and every soccer playing chef I have been able to examine....have very low 2D4D ratios.

This is why we let Amanda and Nike and Liz and Vicki and Rachelle run things......

Like the checking accounts.

And the cash.

Us low 2D4D types drive the trucks, run the tractors, cut up shit like demons and are really good with fire and steel and burning fat.

We are not so good about tomorrow.....but tomorrow may never come.

Maybe our government will catch up to the Cachagua Store.

Nah.... Probably not. They all think their crackheads are cool.........

More Spring in January......

78 degrees on Carmel Beach at 4pm on January 13th.

Golden California sun slowly, slowly sinking into the sea........

Fucking drama queen.

Obviously trying to compete with Sunday night's full moon......

Gold versus Silver.....

Super low tide with two divisions of dogs and walkers....the dry sand folk, and the damp-foot beach dog walkers. Xabi loved this because he could race between the two nations.

As the sun put on his or her pyrotechnic display I prided myself the other wet sand dog folk.....I was gazing inland enjoying my dog rather than staring at the sun like dummies, waiting for the Green Flash.

The sunset was super passive aggressive. It took the time it takes to walk from 10th Street to Ocean Ave to go from sunset to dusk......immolating untold touristy, dry-sand retinae.

Drama queen.

Even so, when I finally turned back towards the east.....I was gobsmacked. Drama, indeed. Crazy pastels last seen in Jefferson Airplane posters. The beaten gold of the sunset line on the horizon was picked up in the long wash of the low tide eddies and mellowed into a Grecian copper.

The ocean stood neutral.....with blues and purples that grumbled about all the showy histrionics going on above and behind them.

Crappy Carmel art galleries are full of this shit.....No one believes that it is real.

I stood there as a died in the wool photography junky......almost weeping for my lack of skill and equipment. If only Bennie were here......or Conall. Or Steve Crouch.

When technology fails it is back to brain power........My old friend Carl Sagan used to teach that there is enough data space in the human brain to record every experience of our lives....every 3d with sound, color, Smell-O-Vision and Emoto-O-Vision. It is all stored in there......

Here's hoping we can maintain access to the data. The software seems faulty.


Here I am........

Standing on Carmel Beach in my ETA T-shirt on January 13th of 2009.

Warm drafts of inland air alternating with nighttime chill. The riot of color conspiring with the tide and the sands rocketing all around.

The pure almost palpable joy of Puppy racing across the flats through the gold and copper and pastels......


Spring in January......

Counting blessings:

A spectacular full moon on Sunday night.....even by Cachagua standards.

Two stunningly beautiful long morning hikes up the mountain with Grandpuppy. The poison oak is just starting to the trails are all clear. It will be a bumper crop of miner's lettuce and the sticky purple flower by all appearances. It is like walking in Ireland.

A mellow, calm Monday Night......financially quiet but packed with kind, appreciative guests and friends...

This time last year we were in Barcelona with Conall.......revelling in food and fun and comraderie.......and getting ready to visit San Sebastian for the Tamborrada on the 20th.

Oh, well!

A late AT&T and a panicky business environment put paid to a return visit......but it is not so bad.

Next Tuesday, at the Cuchara San Telmo in San Sebastian there will be pandemonium.

The Tamorrada is pandemonium all by itself: the Basques of San Sebastian sarcastically celebrating being conquered by Napoleon......and pointing out how well that worked out for him with dozens and dozens of parades of Napoleonic soldiers being closely followed and roundly mocked by further parades of milkmaids and chefs. The party goes for 36 hours.....and Cuchara San Telmo is a seismic center.

The first time we walked in for their famous tapas.....we got the full-on "fucking Americans" look from the football hooligan chefs and barman. Over their hand-chalked menu was an emphatic "BUSHIT!" Yankee, go home.....

I pulled up my sweater.......I was wearing the exact same shirt. Everyone cheered and we became fast friends.

Next Tuesday doubles down the Tamborrada with the Obama inauguration: the Tambobama! Luckily, the Cuchara San Telmo is pretty much a riot every night, so there is nothing breakable. It will be off the hook.

Spain will be going nuts on Tuesday. That whole Hope and Change thing resonates at least as well in Europe as here. matter how strange and scary it looks out there......there is much to rejoice over. more thing to be thankful for: the soundtrack for the inauguration

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fearing Fear.....

My grandfather was Marine Surveyor of the Hawaiian Islands back in the day. He was a Master for Matson Lines and made his money skippering fuel tankers in the South Pacific in WWII. One of his favorite, deeply sarcastic, sayings was:

"When in danger.....or in in circles....scream and shout!"

Come on, people.

In the midst of all the gloom/doom and chaos, I finally went to the Post Office.....for the first time in a month.

There were some checks.....and a key to a package locker.

My friend Brian Buck......a Cornell Chi Phi and fellow English motorcycle idiot....sent us a vaguely December related gift.

"One Day at El Bulli"

About four pounds of an in-depth reportage of 24 hours at the world's greatest restaurant.

El Bulli personifies most of what we revere in cuisine and kitchen ethics.

Technical. Creative. Insanely task-oriented. Gorgeous. Inspiring.

One of our guys, Txema, is an honored veteran.....still the chef of an Adria sister restaurant, where he proudly wears his Cachagua Store chef coat each night. Each year 5000 young chefs apply for the job of stagier (working for free for six months). Adria accepts 25. Txema can go back whenever he likes....

Each year two million people apply for the 8,000 available place settings Ferand makes available.

Bulli serves 50 people a night....with 40 chefs and two dozen dining room staff.

We try to carry forward these kind of ideals....with six guys in the kitchen and four cowgirls in front...and serve 100 people.

It is like that Star Trek episode where they land on the planet where everyone dresses as cowboys.....because they found an old Gunsmoke tape and thought it was God.

Hey.....we try. We have our eyes on the prize....


The book had been sitting there for a month.....all through our nightmarish Christmas season.

Today I retrieved it. Tonight Brendan and I sat down and started flipping through the pages.

"Awww, shit! I remember that one. We should do that again"

"Shit...the motherfucker stole our idea! Adria has been reading our mail!"

"Wow......look at that. Simple. Elegant. Would anyone in Cachagua notice?"

"Dude.....who cares? We do this for US, right!"

Oh. Right.

Brian definitely stirred up the ashes.....and just in time. Watching Brendan flip through the pages of the Adria book was like watching The Terminator slowly rise again from underneath the compactor at the end of the flick.

Where there is Hope....there is Life.

While supposedly every business person in America.....and definitely everyone in the food looking for a sharp knife and a place to fall......I got fired up and bought an anti-griddle for a thousand bucks. And a SuperBag.

An anti-griddle is a one-foot square piece of steel that cruises at -30 degrees Celcius. Anything you put on it freezes instantly. You can smear and scoop and roll and.......


The kind of stimulus I was crying out for was not economic. My friend Brian sent the CARE package in just the right style.

Now THAT is a Christmas present.....

So....if we have to go down....we go down walking forward, sun in our faces....still swinging our swords.

Or....Our anti-griddles!

Onwards.....Through the Fog!!!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Pissing Match......Alert for Gay Reindeer

I am sorry, I need a laugh.

Please watch Pastor Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church explain the source of America's ills. Your laughter may be tempered by the knowledge that our government hands out actual dollars to these folks for social work. Faith-based Initiatives. Obama likes them, too.

Many thanks to Jesus' General. I would not mind if you cast a vote his way in the Weblog Awards.

Not to be outdone.....Pastor Anderson's assistant pastor, Matthew Stucky, explains why I hate Christmas.

I'm very impressed with Brother Stucky's blog. I don't think anyone has made a better case for Santa's reindeer being The Gay than he does, here:

Santa's queer reindeer:
Take a look at the names of the 8 reindeer.
Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Dancer, Dasher, Donder, Prancer and Vixen.

The person who originally came up with these names probably did not have this intent. They probably originally had some of the reindeer as male & some as female. However, the animated movie that was made in 1964 had a different idea. In the movie all 8 of these reindeer were male reindeer. Take a look at those names again. Male reindeer named Dancer, Prancer, Vixen & Cupid?!?!?!


I think from these names we know Vixen, Dancer, Prancer & Cupid are queer reindeer.

Let's go back to the story from the animated movie with Rudolph. Rudolph gets shy around girls & his nose turns red. As a result, the other reindeer won't let him play any reindeer games. That sounds sick, perverted & homosexual. Basically Rudolph like girls because he is straight & as a result they don't let him participate in their homosexual games.


According to the Bible homosexuality should be punishable by death. I would be overjoyed if every single queer in the entire world died today. The Bible makes it clear they are reprobates who are past the point of salvation. The Bible also makes it clear they are rapists & very wicked people. They have no chance to get saved and no saved person could ever become a queer. Therefore, I would be overjoyed if they all died tonight & our government would actually follow what the Bible states. The death penalty should be enacted for the queers.

Wow, Brother Stucky! I know Jesus has you in his sights.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Reality check....2009 style

George Bush is almost gone.....




It wasn't that bad. Putting people in jail is such a bummer.

Negative energy is such a downer.

I ran into my friend Phil Butler at the Farmer's Market today. Xabi the Grandpuppy had escaped from the Jaguar and was making a run into the SPCA booth to hang with the Bad Dogs.

I was dragging Xabi back to captivity and Phil talked about his doggie that was still locked down in his car.

Then Phil gave me a look like....."What did you think?"

Uh....think about what? Dogs escaping from cars?


Phil had sent me an article the day before Christmas, when I was fully buckled down.

I just read it, two minutes ago.......

After a week of watching my friend Mary die.....a person no less gnarly and standup than Phil....though she never had to spend 2800 days being tortured in a POW camp. Mary spent her life smacking heads and cutting nuts in defense of all these same ideals as Phil....just on a different battlefield.

Mary is now hors de combat.

Phil is still in there punching...

What the fuck are we thinking?

Have a read: John Kerry asked Phil to write this letter, and to testify before the new congress.

If Mary were able, she would be polishing Phil's armor.

To Support and Defend

Oath of Office – 1 July, 1957

I, Phillip Neal Butler, having been appointed a Midshipman in the United States Navy, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, and to bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, so help me God.

Upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1961, I had the honor of repeating this oath to be commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy. I served 20 years as an active duty commissioned officer. During that time I became a Naval Aviator, flew combat in Vietnam, was downed over North Vietnam on April 20, 1965 and became a prisoner of war. I was repatriated on February 12, 1973, having served 2,855 days and nights as a POW – just short of 8 years. The Vietnamese were not signatory to any international treaties on treatment of prisoners. They pronounced us “criminals” and freely used torture, harassment, malnutrition, isolation, lack of medical care and other degradations during our captivity. I was tortured dozens of times during my captivity. But I often thought of our Constitution and the higher purpose we served – a purpose that helped me resist beyond what I thought I’d ever be capable of. Ironically, we POW’s often reminded each other “that our country would never stoop to torture and the low level of treatment we were experiencing at the hands of our captors.”

This Oath of Office, the same one sworn to by all officers, government officials, presidential cabinet members, senators and representatives of our nation, has had a powerful affect on me. It has given me an over-arching purpose in life – to serve the greatest and most influential legal document ever written. The only different oath is specified for the President of the United States in Constitutional Article II, Section 1 (8.) It mandates that he or she will “…preserve, protect and defend the Constitution…”

So what in the world has happened during the past 8 years of the George W Bush administration? The only defensible answer is that he and his subordinates have trampled our precious Constitution and the Rule of Law into the ground while our elected members of Congress have stood idly and complicitly by. Our highest elected officials have utterly failed in their duty of greatest responsibility.

During these years we have seen gross attempts to institutionalize torture. Our Constitution, Article VI, (2) commonly known as the “Supremacy” clause clearly states that treaties made shall become “the supreme law of the land,” thus elevating them to the level of Constitutional law.

The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, ratified in 1949 states in Article 17 that “No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.” This and numerous other ratified treaties clearly stipulate that “prisoners” is an inclusive term that is not limited to any nation’s uniformed combatants.

Other gross Bush administration crimes, in addition to authorizing torture, of general and Constitutional law include: 1) the use of “signing statements” to illegally refrain from complying with laws. 2) authorization of the illegal suspension of Habeas Corpus 3) authorization of wire tapping and other intrusive methods to illegally spy on American citizens. 4) unilateral declaration and pre-emptive conduct of war in violation of U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 8 (11)

These violations of our Constitution and rule of law have resulted in reducing our nation to the level of international pariah. Our beacon of liberty and justice no longer shines throughout the world. We no longer set the example for other nations to follow. We no longer stand on a firm foundation. We have lost our national, moral gyro.

I despair when I think of the personal sacrifices made by so many in U.S. wars and conflicts since 1776. If our forefathers were here to see they would surely be angry and disappointed. And I think they would issue a clarion call for redress and setting an example for the world, by punishing those who are guilty. The only way our nation can right itself is for Congress to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes.

I therefore call on my elected representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives to bring criminal charges against President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Legal Council William J. Haynes, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former Legal Council David Addington and potentially other high officials and uniformed officers. There is no other option if you are to carry out your responsibilities. Citizens of the United States and of the world are watching you. Do your duty. Support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Respectfully submitted to the Congress of the United States,

Phillip Neal Butler, PhD
Commander, USN (ret.)
Citizen of the United States of America