Friday, July 10, 2009

The Diety strikes again......

Once again....proof that there is a God....and She has a Sense of Humor.....

Strange scenes inside the gold mine.....

Wednesday we are working on The Beach for our government spook buddies. We have a long-term contract with an arm of the military that has been seeking to stop the next war now.

Sort of like Code Pink.....with PhD's.....and lots of guns, boats and airplanes.

Anyway, I am at 13th, lighting up the Webers to get the BBQ's going. We use chimneys rather than charcoal lighter. Chimneys need two or three pieces of newspaper, rather than a toxic dousing of hydrocarbons.

I am always stunned at people that walk by some bozo pouring Kingsford lighter fluid on a smoking pile Kingsford briquettes and go: "Ahhh.....Barbeque! It smells so good!" This kind of comment...which is not rare at all.....makes actual chefs want to chop off an arm and gnaw on it.

Don't people know that Kingsford was started by Henry a great way to dispose of industrial and agricultural by-products of his various Michigan operations? Briquettes and lighter fluid rank right up there with bitter hatred of the Jews and support for Hitler in the whole "Henry Ford Lifetime Achievement" roster. Well, there were some union massacres in there, too....but the Jews have recovered.

Barbeque has not. Unions, either.

Anyway, tearing up the Herald for kindling....possibly its greatest use since it abandoned actual journalism some years back (Orville excepted)....I found myself reading the obituaries for the previous day.

Selby Henderson has died. His wake is right now, at the Rio Grill.

Selby was a 25 year employee of the Rio. An Englishman.....a leader of Lovers and Strangers, the best local band back in the time when Monterey could support actual music. Selby was a strange kind of Englishman....knew absolutely nothing about football (soccer) or rugby or cricket. Knew a lot about his adopted country's sports, all good barmen must.

Selby was a consummate modern restaurant worker. He had been at the Rio so long he almost wore the badge of ownership. One knew he had the backing of management regardless. But still.... he was a barman and waiter.....and depended on the good will of his people for his actual income. He walked that thin line of profitability and hospitality like Nureyev. I wish Obama would tap less lawyers and more waiters and barmen for State Department roles. Life would be better.

There are very few Carmelians who have not at some point humiliated themselves at Selby's bar or at one of the tables in Selby's station. Selby was a price. A fair price. Having a drink at Selby's bar or a meal at one of his tables was a weekly ritual for hundreds of locals. Whatever else awful and crazy was going on in town, the state, the nation, the world, your life.....a small, polite, normal interaction with Selby would give each of us who were his constituents a dose of reality and perspective. Selby treated each of us the same each time.....drunk, sober, angry, besotted with love, frustrated by divorce, full of hope for the new business, grasping at straws as the shit hit the matter.

Selby was one of our mini-Mayors....

There is a larger town in Carmel that is defined not by geography but by habit, practice, custom, gentility....hospitality. Selby was one of our few gentlemen. Gentle Men.

To find out about his passing on the day of his wake .....while lighting a fire with his obituary....was personally challenging. I am a Master of Irony....but only a blue belt.

I immediately drove to the Rio. 110 CIA agents be damned. I had time for just a quick cruise of the room and a token drink in his honor. Every knucklehead in town was there: Bob Marsh, Ciney, many of the ex-Rio girls and boys, all the social folks, all the drunks......The crowd was not dis-similar to the crowd at the Bill Bates memorial the week before.....maybe a bit younger and more twisted....but everyone sharing the same sense of rotten humor. Rotten sense of humor...

So....the CIA awaited. I had to go....and miss the best restaurant party in twenty years.

On to Brinton's to buy glasses for the flower arrangements my idiots forgot to pack for my spook clients.....and a second chimney for the second Weber. And two Presto Logs to start the bonfires for my spooks with no drama. And mantles for the Colemans....

Scotty helped me find my fifteen tall glasses (Brinton's is cheaper than almost anywhere, by the way....all you Home Depot and OSH and Nordstrom/Macy's people should get a clue....local does not mean more expensive....) helped me load up and head for the exits, trying to make up for my fifteen minutes with Selby.

On the way out, I got stopped by a camera crew from KSBW-8 in Salinas.

"Can we have a minute of your time?" Sure.

"We are doing a story about people spending more time in their gardens, growing their own food and such...rather than going out and socializing."


"Do you find yourself spending more time at home in your garden rather than going out to restaurants and parties......"

Help me, Jesus. I just had an awkward conversation 20 seconds ago, on camera, at the register with a woman with more plastic surgery than Michael Jackson who recognized me from last fall's Weekly article about culinary Rebels and the whole machine gun thing......This "journalist" does not realize that I am a busy caterer in the middle of a full-on catering melt-down involving the CIA..... walking party goods to his commercial catering vehicle.

Well, yes. We paid a crazy woman thousands of dollars to build us raised beds near The Store to protect us from the "Aliens !" style Cachagua gophers so we could have maybe less dust around our place that irritates the drunks and crackheads that are our main clientele... and more access to rare herbs that we use in cooking.

"Ummm, yes. This year we built raised beds to grow our own herbs and vegetables."

"Is that in response to the economic slowdown....growing your own vegetables?"

Well....we spent thousands of dollars building drip-irrigated beds to grow herbs and vegetables that we could have bought commercially at a quarter the price.....We hired a crazy woman to help us start our garden after she started a new business building gardens after having been fired from a commercial travel agency. We like her and wanted to help.


"Do you get a sense of relaxation, working in your garden....and eating the vegetables you grew yourself?"

Most of the things we planted died. We lost hundreds of man hours better spent billing clients for the work we had acutally done.....and paying the nice man from the IRS for lost tax returns.......

"Ummmm. I found that I am only good at growing crops that are currently illegal. And...I don't want to lose my house, so I am staying away from that aspect of home farming.......but everything we planted this year died except the chard and kale.....and it was not really relaxing watching money disappear."

"So, do you find yourself spending more time at home in your garden, and cooking your own food than going out to restaurants and parties?"

Fucking Selby. I know he was behind this........


"Oh, yes. Absolutely."

"That's great....thank you for your time."

They filmed me as I carried by fifteen vases for the CIA beach party....and my presto logs and my chimney and my butane for the Coleman lanterns.....and loaded into my obvious commercial catering vehicle.

Lord......I love your Sense of Humor. Take care of our buddy, Selby.

And please send us a ironic folk are getting thin on the ground.


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