the gumbo pages

looka, <'lu-k&> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look", in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans; usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  
2. --n. My weblog, focusing on food and drink, music, New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news, movies, books, sf, media and culture, Macs, politics, humor, reviews, rants, my life, my opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles my fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 12:28pm PDT, 5/31/2002

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Chuck Taggart (who?)
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Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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Friends with pages:

mary katherine
pat and paul
roxi and merck
tracy and david

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)
   Broadcast schedule
   "Down Home" playlist
   Live MP3 audio stream

   Subscribe to the
   "Down Home" weekly
   playlist email service

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream

Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete shows!)
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (Science fiction radio)
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

The Sazerac Cocktail

   (A work in progress; Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

Alcohol (and how to mix it)
   (David Wondrich)

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

Bar Asterie
   (Martin Doudoroff)

DrinkBoy and the
   Community for the
   Cultured Cocktail (Robert Hess, et al.)

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Chef Talk Café



Food Network

The Global Gourmet

The Online Chef

Pasta, Risotto & You

Slow Food Int'l. Movement

So. Calif. Farmer's Markets

Zagat Guide

My adventures on Mardi Gras Day 2002


Click here for a new daily recipe from Chef Emeril!
In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

Wally's Wine and Spirits

The Wine House

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

Now reading:

At Swim, Two Boys, by Jamie O'Neill.

Everything's Eventual, by Stephen King.

Café Royal Cocktail Book, (Coronation Edition, 1937), by W. J. Tarling.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
The Proclaimers
Red Meat
The Red Stick Ramblers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Uncle Tupelo

Miles of Music

No Depression


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival

Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston

The Mirror Project


Bloom County / Outland,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Get Your War On
by David Rees

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Films seen recently
(with ratings):

Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (***)
Spider-Man (***-1/2)
Donnie Darko (****)
Murder by Numbers (**-1/2)
The Time Machine (**-1/2)
Y Tu Mamá También (****)
Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (****)
Training Day (**-1/2)
A Beautiful Mind (**-1/2)
Gosford Park (****)
The Count of Monte Cristo (***)
Brotherhood of the Wolf (**)
Black Hawk Down (***-1/2)
Vanilla Sky (*-1/2)
2001: A Space Odyssey (*****)

Lookin' at da TV:

"Six Feet Under"
"The Sopranos"
"The Simpsons"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"The X-Files
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"Iron Chef"
"Father Ted"
The Food Network

Weblogs I read:

The BradLands
Considered Harmful
David Grenier
Eat, Link and Be Merry
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jonno / now
The Leaky Cauldron
The Making of a Restaurant
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
The Other Side
Q Daily News
This Modern World
Web Queeries
Whim and Vinegar
Wil Wheaton Dot Net

Matthew's GLB blog portal

<< web loggers >>


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

Must-reads: (progressive politics & news)
Borowitz Report (political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable)
The Deduct Box (Louisiana politics)
The Fray (your stories)
Landover Baptist (better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (news, opinions, extreme irreverence) The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (news 'n laffs) (not the actual White House, but it should be)

The Final Frontier:

Astronomy Pic of the Day
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

Epinions I've written:

1. John O'Groats: Home cooking, better than home

2. Bombay Sapphire: Gin haters, repent!

3. The Cajun Bistro, WeHo: Skip it

4. Absolut Kurant: I'd sooner drink Robitussin

5. Sanamluang: Best Thai food in L.A.

6. Volkswagen New Beetle: Fun fun fun!
and more...

What's in Chuq's Visor? (My favorite Palm OS applications)

AvantGo *
Launcher III *
Showtimes *
WineScore *
Zagat Guide *

(* = superfavorite)

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit on an Apple iBook 2001 running MacOS 9.2.2 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

weblog and (almost) daily blather

  "This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York island,
  From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me."
  -- Woody Guthrie

  Friday, May 31, 2002
Pure Old Apple Vodka,  homemade by yours truly, gets decanted tonight after three weeks of infusing (750ml of SKYY vodka and 3 sliced apples; two Granny Smith, one Golden Delicious) and three weeks of mellowing. I'm going to shake it with ice and maybe a few dashes of Aromatic Cocktail Bitters No. 2, then serve it up in a cocktail glass, perhaps garnished with an apple slice on the rim. I'm excited.

I'm thinking that this is something I'm always going to want to have in my bar. Only real "apple Martinis" at my place! (Of course, if I'm going to call it a Martini in front of Wes, I'll have to put in at least a drop of vermouth.) I hope I can use this elixir to convert at least a few folks away from that vile "sour pucker" stuff. The taste of real, crisp, sweet and tart apples as opposed to Borg-green artificially flavored Jolly Rancher candy with grain alcohol in it? Yes, please.

To crown it all, my very generous and talented friend Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh was kind enough to make me a gorgeous label for my bottle:

Pure Old Apple Vodka
Beautiful! (He's a marvelously talented graphic designer. Hire him for your next major motion picture! I'll put you in touch.)

Hmm ... "Chas." I rather like the sound of that. My grandfather used to abbreviate his name that way.

Next project rolling.   I might want to start another batch of apple vodka soon, as I suspect this batch won't last long (particularly if we serve it at a cocktail party). There's already been a new project steeping for the last week, though. Five days ago, three pints of deep red, beautiful, fragrant strawberries near the height of the picking season went into a 2-liter jar and were subsequently submerged in a fifth of Sauza Hornitos reposado tequila. Coming for the Fourth of July ... Tequila por mi Amante. Stay tuned.

Movin' on up ... to the Eastsiiiide ...   Congratulations to Kevin on a new domain of his very own, I'm always happy to see someone liberated from the slums of Geocities (although his abode was certainly one of the spiffiest in that particular slum).

"S-E-P-A-R-A-T-E."   That's the word that knocked me out of a spelling bee in fourth grade, making me the runner-up rather than the winner. (The old "seperate" bugaboo; I have never once misspelled that word since.) It's a commonly used word, one I should have known. However, I'm not too sure how many people use the word "prospicience" on a daily basis. Or "kakemono" (Should this even count? This is not an English-language word per se, but a direct import of Japanese), or "caulicolous," or "stultiloquence" (one which I rather like, actually), or "culgee" ("A jewelled plume surmounting the sirpesh or aigrette upon the turban"), or "hermeneutics," or "soavemente," or "toreutics," or "throstle," or "roriferous," or "tiralee," or "objicient," or "icteric," few of which are in my Webster's Collegiate and many of which aren't even in my Unabridged. Sheesh.

My favorite word in English, by the way, is "defenestrate".

  Wednesday, May 29, 2002
"Gibt es Schwarze in Brasilien?"   Dubya's latest amusing gaffe doesn't appear to be getting any coverage in the American press (because if the American media report it, the terrorists have won). German news magazine Der Spiegel reports on a meeting between Bush and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the President of Brazil. Our fearless leader astonished the Brazilian president by asking him, "Do you have blacks in Brazil?" (Here's an English translation of the article.)

I'm glad to know his foreign policy is fueled by such a keen awareness of other nations and cultures.

(One reader has written in and claimed that this is false, indeed defamation, and that the German reporter made it up. Any substantiations? Given the editorial prestige of Der Spiegel, it would seem to be a rough equivalent of TIME or Newsweek making up such a story.)

Zooba zabba.   The Onion A.V. Club currently features an interesting and entertaining interview with Tom Waits.

10th Grade, Four Courses and Dessert.   Apparently high school kids are no slouches in the cooking and entertaining department these days.

  Tuesday, May 28, 2002
D'oh, I missed Eurosong!   That's what happens when I don't pay attention and stack up a busy holiday weekend with other plans. The Eurovision Song Contest was held on Saturday. I missed it. Turns out Latvia won.

Damn. I was rooting for Ireland. "My Lovely Horse" got robbed!

  Friday, May 24, 2002
Cocktail of the day.   It's the most popular cocktail in Bakersfield, California. Why, you may ask? I did, and looked it up -- it 's the "national drink" of the Basque people, and there are lots of Euskadi folk and Basque restaurants in B'field (known otherwise only for Buck Owens' place and for being the hometown of a lot of people I know who couldn't wait to move to L.A.)

What is it? It's the Picon Punch, and it seems that Bakersfield is the place to go to get 'em 'round these parts. It's based on a bitter orange spirit called Amer Picon, which itself is based on bitter oranges, gentian and cinchona. It was invented by a Frenchman named Gaëtan Picon in 1837, and the drink evolved from a French aperitif and stomachic on its own through the hands of the Italians and apparently into the hands of the Euskadi, who revere it.

The thing about Amer Picon is that it's almost impossible to get in the States these days, unfortunately. Even worse, about 20 years ago the manufacturers of Picon lowered the proof almost by half! It went from 78 proof to 39; one can imagine how that probably affected the flavor.

Fortunately, since the late 1940s the Torani syrup company has come to the rescue. They're the same folks that make all those Italian syrups in myriad flavors for sodas, coffee, cocktails, etc. Oddly enough, they don't seem to publicize this stuff, nor sell it or even refer to it on their website. Fortunately, an online spirits house called Beverages and More sells it via their site for $12.99 a bottle, with great service and fast shipping (mine got to me in about three days).

Ths version of Amer Picon, called Torani Amer in its new incarnation, has the same flavor as the original spirit and most importantly the same proof. It's delightfully bitter and bracing; if you like Campari you'll probably like this too. Sweetened in the punch and lightened by the soda, it's an absolutely yummy concoction that'll stimulate your appetite, settle your stomach afterward, and will be an enjoyable and relatively unusual addition to your pantheon of cocktails.

Picon Punch
The National Drink of the Basques

2 ounces Amer Picon (Torani Amer)
Few dashes of grenadine
Soda water
Lemon peel
1/2 ounce brandy (optional)

To do it Italian-style, coat the inside of a tumbler with grenadine. Add the Amer and ice, top with about 4 ounces soda and stir. Twist the lemon peel over the drink and garnish. If you feel the cockles of your heart need further warming, float a tablespoon or so of brandy on top.

Toast to your and your friends' health, and learn to say something in Euskara, the language of the Basques. Start with "Topa!", which is "Cheers!", or "Kaixo!" (kai-SHO), which is a greeting.

You can get anything you want at Alice's restaurant.   This month the Online Chef site features an interview with Chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, one of the birthplaces of "California cuisine" in the 1970s, which emphasized the best and freshest local ingredients, obtained seasonally. (Hey, don't forget that if you go to Chez Panisse on a Monday, it's $30 cheaper for the prix fixe than on the weekend!)

What they're doing in Fargo these days.   Intense research on defartifying beans, apparently. What greater boon to mankind could there be than this?

  Thursday, May 23, 2002
Tonight on "Down Home".   Featuring a brand-new release of Paul Brady's monumental July 1978 Dublin concert, when he was at the height of his traditional music career and the recordings of which were lost until this year, featuring performances and accompaniments by the incredible lineup of Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Liam O'Flynn, "Matt Molloy and Noel Hill. (!!!)

Also, new music from Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, plus new and vintage blues from Corey Harris and Victoria Spivey. Tune in at 88.5 FM, or via our webcast at

Peeve Infuriation of the day.   Bicyclists who blow through stop signs, and otherwise ignore traffic regulations.

This is addressed to the guy I almost killed while driving to work this morning, and all his ilk. Listen, you pedaling fuckwad ... perhaps you're too stupid and careless to worry about your own apparently worthless life, but I don't particularly care to bear the lifelong burden of guilt for killing you just because you can't be bothered to stop at a stop sign like everybody else. But I don't suppose you give a crap about others if you don't give a crap about yourself.

While we're at it, all you bicyclists need to teach this to your children as well. This is the second time in as many months I've nearly hit someone who ran a stop sign on a bike, and last time it was a little girl who looked about seven or eight.

What I wouldn't give to at least once see a cop pull over a bicyclist for this, and write him or her a nice, big fat ticket with the same fine I'd have to pay if I had done that with my car. Jesus.

Update, 1:51pm: Whew. I was hopping mad this morning when I wrote that entry, first thing upon getting to work. I've since calmed down and turn it into a plea -- if you ride a bike, be EXTRA careful, particularly in a huge, trafficky city like Los Angeles. I'm guessing you don't want to die, and you an be assured that I don't want to kill you.

Eric kindly wrote in with a great story; just because you think it's safe and/or legal to run that stop sign, it ain't necessarily so:

First off, let me say I'm a biking advocate who stresses the importance of following the rules of the road.

However, when I was in college, one time I willfully disregarded those rules. The town where I went to school, Socorro, New Mexico, had only one road with traffic signals. One afternoon, I came up to one of the signals. There were no moving vehicles within a half-mile of me, and the sensors in the pavement that changed the lights were not calibrated for bikes. Rather than stopping and waiting, in one motion I ran the stop light and a stop sign while turning intothe bank.

A policeman in a car down the road turned on his siren and pulled up to me at the ATM. He asked to see my driver's license. It was a Missouri license, which he looked over very carefully. Finally he said, "Son, I don't know about where you come from, but around here, bikes have to obey the law." And he wrote me a ticket for running the light.

I knew several people in that town who were arrested for DUI while leaving the bar on bike.

I'm sure Eric's days of being a bike scofflaw are long over. As much as I want to laugh at the last comment, I've heard of people being seriously injured or worse after getting plammed by some drunken or reckless bike rider.

Let's be careful out there.

Sealed with a twist.   "Dat dere fancy wine, wit da screw top" was how Archie Bunker used to described his favorite cheap jug wine, and screw tops seem to have become synonymous with cheaper wines in recent times. No longer. More and more high-end wines are beginning to use screw tops, for one good reason -- to protect the fine wine inside. (Registration required; userid annoying, password annoying)

According to the article, "3% to 5% of all cork-finished wines are compromised by the cork... [and] a badly corked wine smells like a wet dog." Time to stop being snobbish about screw tops, I guess. Perhaps a compromise can be made for tradition's sake; I do recall at least one or two northern California wineries that use a soft, expandable plastic material for their corks, easily removable with a corkscrew and unlikely to introduce off-aromas and bad flavors into the wine.

"See how they massacred my boy!"   An excellent article on the special effects of the "Godfather" movies. Ever wonder how they managed to shoot Moe Greene in the eye?

  Wednesday, May 22, 2002
Notes for a Foxtrot.   Michael Schiavo offers an excellent article on the new Wilco album, along with James Baumann's reviews of both the record and a recent concert, via

What Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is, like Berryman's The Dream Songs or Whitman's Leaves of Grass, is something purely, utterly American. And not in the Appalachian-fiddle-Texas-highway-at-sunset-back-alleys-of-Chicago sense. Tweedy has taken the genetic sound of America and introduced to it what some believe to be an apocryphal, exotic aspect of our country: middle-class intellectualism. But the suburbs are not foreign or sinister; it's time to realize this: they're as native as a coalmine.
Save the record industry! Lobby your Congressperson NOW!   As we all know, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes illegal any technology that can be used to circumvent copy protection. You must immediately phone, e-mail or telegram your Congressional representatives to have them ban Magic Markers immediately! Why, this Magic Marker technology could mean the death of the record industry! It must be banned!

Speaking of copyright...   Turner Broadcasting CEO Jamie Kellner says it's "theft" to skip over ads when you're watching commercial television ... *giggle*. Well, throw me in jail for taking a leak or making a cocktail during the commercials, pal. Funny, funny, funny.

Yale's LawMeme responds with a Lettermanesque rapier, in the form of their list of Top Ten New Copyright Crimes; here's the shortlist, but read the whole article for the annotations, commentary and all those delicious Kellner quotes.

10. Watching PBS without making a donation.
9. Changing radio stations in the car when a commercial comes on.
8. Channel surfing during commercials, especially with Picture-In-Picture capability.
7. Getting into a movie after the previews, but before the main feature.
(I'll add -- not to mention getting to a movie after the goddamn commercials before the previews.)
6. PBS.
5. Inviting friends over to watch pay-per-view.
4. Blocking pop-up ads on the Internet.
3. Not buying things from the advertisers on television shows.
2. Watching MTV if you're over 35 or Matlock if you're under 40.

And the Number One new copyright crime, sure to destroy publishing and the entire entertainment industry as we know it ...

1. Libraries and librarians.
Did you ever wonder what'd it look like to pop a water balloon in zero gravity?   Wonder no more. (Neat!)

Nice assets.   While Enron struggles to keep themselves from being obliterated by a huge lightning bolt from the Cosmos, and while poor weepy Mrs. Kenneth Lay opened a thrift store to sell all her luxury crap, five former Enron employees are converting their assets into cash, courtesy of Playgirl magazine.

The five were picked from dozens of Enron ex-employees earlier this year, and are being paid an undisclosed sum - reportedly more than the $5,600 severance pay offered by the company.
You go, boys.

  Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Whew.   The Librarian of Congress has rejected the proposed new royalty rates for Internet webcasters. These exhorbitant rates, retroactive for three years and with mind-boggling documentation required, would have put most small non-commercial webcasters like KCSN out of business on the web. I'm glad somebody in Washington is using his head these days.

I'll have the monkfish instead, please.   Seven hundred chefs across the United States have signed a pledge to stop serving Chilean sea bass, which is in great danger of extinction from overfishing. (Shades of redfish during the 1980s "Cajun food craze".)

White wine!   Good for your lungs! Red wine! Good for your heart! Cocktails! Good for your health in general!

May I pour you something?

I'd buy that for a dollar! (Har har har!)   Although I do confess that there are a bunch of shows I watch regularly, I'd have to say that somethng like this is a really good argument for killing your television.

That's Incredible: The Reunion
Memorable moments from the groundbreaking reality series; hosts John Davidson, Fran Tarkenton and Cathy Lee Crosby reunite, along with standout people and animals who appeared on the show.
Read a book instead.

Quote of the day.   "I must say that I find television very educational. The minute somebody turns it on, I go to the library and read a book."

-- Groucho Marx

If nothing else, it's hideously ugly.   The featherless chicken, that is; bred for chicken farmers in hotter countries, where the beady-eyed fowl don't have to expend so much energy trying to keep cool (and their farmers don't have to expend so much dough on air conditioning). Would I wanna eat one? Well, does it taste good? Is it good for you? If so, I'll give it a shot. (Um, the skin isn't that pink by the time it's ready for the broiler, is it?)

The Cheez Whizzes.   "CheezMuzik", the venerable, long-running (since my early high school days at least) and kinda weird radio show on WTUL in New Orleans (the second-best radio station in the city) rated a recent mention in the hometown rag. The show, one shift of which is programmed and hosted by my old high school classmate Lenny Bertrand, is ... uh, well, it's kind of ... well, mellow, but much more than just that. I used to enjoy listening to it on Sunday mornings way back when. Read about it, and maybe you can catch their webcasts if you decide you need a little Cheeze in your life.

Geer shenius.   Um, I mean, sheer ... you know. What? Shotglass Chess, that's what! Brilliant idea whose time has come, despite the fact that these guys stole the idea from a "M*A*S*H" episode from 30 years ago, with Hawkeye and Trapper actually playing shot glass checkers. (Purloined from Brad.)

  Monday, May 20, 2002
Uhhhrrrmmm ... food hangover.   I'm a little groggy this morning. We actually ate too well last night -- amazing barbecued baby back ribs (South Carolina/Georgia style, with a tangy, mustardy barbecue sauce), my aunt's fabulous baked beans with the addition of a cinnamon stick and some chipotle Tabasco, Maytag blue cheese cole slaw, cheddar biscuits, sinfully good custardy creamy chocolate brownies, and fruit salad with Angostura bitters. *bloat* Then, off to the final "X-Files" gathering ...

December 22, 2012.   Speaking of which ... it actually wasn't bad at all. I rather liked it. (Too bad I wanted to slap a few people amongst our viewing audience, the ones who couldn't stop flapping their yaps for the entire two hours.) They seem to have set it up beautifully for the next "X-Files" movie, and a potentially big movie at that.

Go ahead and encourage them, why don't you?   Government representatives seem to be falling over themselves this weekend declaring that further terrorist attacks in this country are "almost certain", with the FBI director giving the bad guys ideas by saying it was "inevitable" that we'll eventually see pedestrian suicide bombers. The "Morning Fix" commentary on the issue amuses, yet gives one pause:

More thin-lipped prognostications of doom

Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday he is almost certain that terrorists will attack the United States again. "It's not a matter of if, but when," he muttered, generously doing his part to instill an ongoing and odious sense of dread and fear in the culture so as to keep the money pumping into the military-industrial complex and keep the war churning so as to create a nice, docile Afghanistan over which we can more easily lay our oil pipelines sans resistance from pesky environmentalists or strong-willed independent governments, as well as to ensure an ongoing and generous supply of Cheney's regular rat-blood transfusions and various injectable chemical compounds which serve to keep his thin twisted little lips from simply turning all the way inward and devouring the last remaining grain of his soul. "Lockstep support of every decision I make regarding the loss of your civil liberties and the ramrodding of a goddamn tank and nuclear warhead into every orifice of your pathetic little life is the only answer to properly defending ourselves in this time of need and patriotic somethingorother," he might've added. "God bless America."

The best way to prevent any further terrorist attacks is to quietly beef up intelligence gathering and behind-the-scenes efforts as much as humanly possible -- just do the job. All this hot air-blowing in the media seems to have little purpose other than to further the air-blowers' political agenda.

Speaking of which...   Matt Deatherage articulates the above GOP hypocrisy with regards to the above rather well. (Via Damien)

Now that the Bush administration has revealed it had specific warning in August 2001 that Al-Qaida wanted to hijack one or more US airplanes, after eight months of saying there was no warning at all, Bush says criticism has a "whiff of politics." The Florida Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee says that criticizing Bush is morally wrong: "The only thing that this uproad does is give aid and comfort to the enemy."

This is the same group of GOP incumbents that has said if you oppose anything on their agenda, from giving billions to oil companies to restricting free speech in high schools, you're "aiding the enemy." The same group that has tried repeatedly to blame it all on the Clinton administration even though Gore's task force called for increased airport security (the GOP-led house, backed by airline money, killed that inconvenience)...

The GOP has used 9/11 to ram regressive reactionary policies down the nation's throat for eight months, most having nothing to do with real national security or with the investigation, and any criticism is "helping the enemy." Now there's evidence that some dots could have been connected, and they have the gall to complain about "politics."

To suggest that the government is above any kind of criticism, that it's anti-American to criticize the government for anything right now, seems rather anti-American itself, doesn't it?

  Friday, May 17, 2002
"Your stolen art? I threw it away, dear."   Stéphane Breitwieser had spent years going around Europe, stealing near-priceless works of art from poorly guarded museums, and building up his own private stash at his mother's house. After he was finally arrested, his mother (presumably to eliminate evidence) cut up and destroyed 60 paintings and 112 objets d'art, the estimated value of which was US$1.4 billion. *boggle*

Yeah you rite.   Gambit profiles consummate New Orleanian writer/cartoonist Bunny Matthews, whose cartoons were among the things that kept me from being fatally homesick when I first moved away from New Orleans.

Quotes of the day.   My, how times and tunes change. And such sour grapes, too. Truth be told, RealNames was really pretty useless.

"We're condemning the court's decision as well as the government's prosecution. We're 3 years old, and Microsoft was prepared to give us the trust of owning a core part of the browser. That doesn't seem the behavior of a monopolist."

-- Keith Teare, CEO RealNames (20% Microsoft Investment), June 2000

"Microsoft seems to be playing the role of the referee who decides whether any innovations succeed."

-- Keith Teare, ex-CEO RealNames, after MS cancel contract ... so the name you get allocated really does depends on how much you pay (via NTK)

The Friday Five.   A complete trifle, but amusing. It's a site that asks five questions of you at the end of each workweek. Question #4 reminded me of one of my recent favorite movies, and question #5 sent me into a delightfully traumatic flashback mode, so ... why not?

1. What shampoo do you use? Whatever's cheapest and has the least offensive smell. (I hate perfumes.) Usually it's Suave Balsam and Protein, which has almost no aroma at all, but this time it's White Rain Coconut. I do like things that smell like food.

2. Do you use conditioner? What kind? No. Waste of money, I think.

3. When was the last time you got your hair cut? May 1, 16 days ago.

4. What styling products do you use? Why, Dapper Dan, of course! Not this stuff...

Shopkeeper: I can get the part from Bristol, It'll take two weeks. Here's your pomade.

Everett: Two weeks? That don't do me no good.

Shopkeeper: Nearest Ford auto man's Bristol.

Everett: Hold on, now. I don't want this pomade, I want Dapper Dan.

Shopkeeper: I don't carry Dapper Dan. I carry Fop.

Everett: No, I don't want Fop ... goddammit! I'm a Dapper Dan man!

Shopkeeper: Watch your language, young feller. This is a public market. Now, if you want Dapper Dan, I can order it for you. Have it in a couple of weeks.

Everett: Well, ain't this place a geographical oddity? Two weeks from everywhere!

(Okay, I lied ... none, actually. Very rarely a tiny bit of gel.)

5. What's your worst hair-related experience? Any hair-cutting experience involving a) my mother, and b) this little hair-cutting gizmo she had that was loaded with a double-edged razor blade and run through the victim's hair. Tortures of the damned, sir ... tortures of the damned.

  Thursday, May 16, 2002
KCSN Spring Pledge Drive!   It's been going on since last Friday, in fact, and tonight's my turn. If you're a listener to either the broadcast or webcast versions, please become a member of KCSN and support us with your dollars.

We offer the most diverse musical programming of any radio station in the city -- classical, opera, jazz, swing, early R&B, Americana, bluegrass, world music, country, folk/roots and traditional music, surf, lounge, Broadway, an all-Beatles show with NO commericals, German music and news, Grateful Dead, New Age, Western, children's music, old-time radio drama, twangin' rockabilly, music of the African diaspora ... plus our award-winning student-produced news program "Evening Update", the Overnight Jukebox and more! No other radio station in Los Angeles offers this kind of diversity, no matter how "hand-picked" their music is.

But wait, there's more! If you pledge online, KCSN's fabulous Anonymous Benefactor will match your pledge 2:1! That's right, your $10 a month will be worth $30, etc. Triple your power!

A regular membership is just $10 a month on your credit card (about 33¢ a day -- and less than four days' worth of morning lattes from large corporate coffee chains!), and for your membership at that level we'd be pleased to offer you one of the following gifts as our thanks (or, for a pledge of $65, choose one gift CD from these or any others we may offer on our website):

The "Down Home" Five-Pack:
($10 a month on your credit card!)
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Evangeline Made: A Tribute to Cajun Music
COREY HARRIS - Downhome Sophisticate
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Let the Good Times Roll: 20 of New Orleans' Finest R&B Classics
JERRY DOUGLAS - Lookout for Hope

Or, mix and match any 5 CDs, from above or with our other single titles:
THE TWANGBANGERS - Tour of the USA Sampler
THAD COCKRELL - Stack of Dreams
BUDDY & JULIE MILLER - Buddy & Julie Miller
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Chitlin' Circuit Soul
THE HOLMES BROTHERS - Speaking in Tongues
Or any other title you see on the website.

Or else choose one of these titles:

Real Folk Blues Series: MORE Real Folk Blues
4-CD Collection - each CD contains two full-length LPs
$10 a month on your credit card!

A rich collection of Chess Records classics by Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf. Each individual CD features two complete LPs, with both well-known and rare tracks by these four blues masters, and everything digitally remastered. "I'm in the Mood," "Mannish Boy," "Killing Floor," "One Way Out" -- all the best stuff all in one place.

Roots Music: An American Journey
4-CD Box Set
$10 a month on your credit card!

Few independent labels have surveyed a wider, deeper expanse of the American musical grain than Rounder Records has done since 1971. This 4-CD anthology presents 68 gems from the archives without duplicating a single artist. From the blues of Mississippi Fred McDowell to the bluegrass of Alison Krauss, from the Texas country of Jimmie Dale Gilmore to the Celtic fiddle of Natalie MacMaster - a treasure trove.

There are so many great things to come from KCSN, and a very successful pledge drive this time around will help propel us further. Do your part and pledge! You'll get our undying thanks, and lots of great, diverse radio, 24 hours a day.

Senator Springsteen?   Apparently not. (Thank Gawd. I think he does more good for humanity making rock 'n roll.)

Eek.   It looks like The Oxford American, "The Southern Magazine of Good Writing" and a favorite of mine, may be teetering on the verge of financial collapse. This would be bad. Not only do I enjoy the writing, but their annual music issue (focusing on Southern and roots artists) has become indispensible. I hope they make it.

Sometimes a topiary is just a topiary.   And some people really should have better things to worry about.

  Wednesday, May 15, 2002
The Death of Evangelism?   Matthew Sturges wrote an excellent article on how he feels evangelism is the worst way for Christians to "spread the Word", and compares such methods (and the distrustful reaction many have to them) to telemarketing. He says, and I agree, that the best way to spread the word is not by proselytizing (something I dislike intensely), but by example, by simply living your life.

I especially like his summary of his main points:

To all the Christians out there, I say the following:

  • Put your money where your mouth is. Be a shining example. Don't lecture on love -- be loving. Don't proselytize about forgiveness -- just forgive. Don't make promises of joy -- be joyful. Actions speak louder than words. And the words, the words you've been using, they're dead. They're like the shouted "No!" of a parent who never follows through with discipline. People hear it and shrug. So what?

  • People watch Christians. They want to see bible-thumping Christians be fallible and fail, because prideful people deserve a comeuppance. Let them see Christians that laugh at misfortune, love with all their hearts, and live with joyful abandon. It's what Jesus did. And it's what we should be doing, too.

  • Oh, and stop hating people. It really makes us look bad. Case in point: Jesus never said anything bad about homosexuals, but he did have an awful lot to say about being judgmental. See where I'm going with this?
Amen, Matt.

I have to say, though, that this probably represents the way he'd like things to be, rather than the way things are. The huge growth in evangelical churches in the South, as pointed out in this MeFi thread, means that somebody's listening to the proselytization, and getting something from it. If this huge growth represents fundamentalist viewpoints as well, then it worries me; I suspect that not a whole lot of those folks listen to point three, for starters. The idea of a neo-fundamentalist majority happening in this country one day leaves me with a more-than-vague uneasiness. (It scares the crap out of me, frankly. Imagine President Ashcroft. Brrrr.)

Open minds certainly help. If you can make the effort to read it, Alan Wolfe writes in The Atlantic about "The Opening of the Evangelical Mind":

Of all America's religious traditions, evangelical Protestantism, at least in the twentieth-century conservative forms, has long ranked "dead last in intellectual stature." Now evangelical thinkers are trying to revitalize their tradition. Can they turn an intellectual backwater into an intellectual beacon?
I hate to keep skipping to the endings, but I liked his conclusions as well:

Fundamentalist Christians did neither themselves nor America a favor by fencing themselves off from the rest of the country. Withdrawal encouraged fanaticism and paranoia in them and confirmed to others a sense that if this was religion, they were better off without it. Evangelical Christians who take ideas seriously can combat both tendencies. One need not agree with their view of the role that religion ought to play in the public square to consider it a credible, even necessary, view for Americans to ponder. And they bring to their advocacy an enthusiasm for ideas, and a commitment to debating them, that belies any stereotypes of sectarian fanaticism. To succeed in the university and therefore in America, evangelicals will have to put their defensiveness to one side. They will also have to learn to practice their faith as they see best while treating people of other faiths -- and, indeed, people of no faith -- with respect.
Live your life as an example, and respect the beliefs of others? What a concept.

Plasticize yourself!   No, I don't mean what that wacky German doctor does to you after you die. I mean ... well, haven't you always wondered what you'd look like as a Lego figurine? I sure have. Now, I no longer have to wonder. I look like this:

Chuq as a Lego

(Wow. It's just occurred to me that this is my first ever self-portrait.)

Not a bad likeness, actually. Of course, this is a pretty representational view of myself. One needn't be so representational when visualizing oneself ... go wild!

Peeve of the day:   When someone's making change for you, and you hold your hand out for the change ... and he or she ignores that and puts your change down on the counter right next to your outstretched and upraised palm.

I hate that.

Dude, I told you to pay that bill.   An Oakland, California musician who grew marijuana in his basement was killed by his roommate, was was angered by a $1,000 utility bill for the home they shared.

I never had this problem. When I was in gradual school, my roommate grew this sad, pathetic little pot plant in the closet, with only one growlight. He stripped it of leaves, and then one day I came home to find him breaking off pieces of twigs and lining the little sticks up in his pipe. That was the end of the pot plant. As for my roommate ... fortunately, I never had to shoot him.

Fox presents "Canada's Worst Animal Maulings".   Well, not yet anyway, but I'm sure the network wishes they had cameras with this one. We hear of wild animal problems in the Great White North, like rampaging polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba. However, such attacks pale in comparison to the mad feline of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. A vicious, marauding Siamese named ... Cocoa Puff.

"We fled the house," [the cat's owner] said. "We all ran for our lives."
Polar bears, shmolar bears.

Quote of the day.   "It's like my sister, who called me this morning at 7am. I picked up the phone and she said, 'Hi, no one died, you got a great review in the Times.' I wonder if non-Jews do this."

-- Writer Amy Bloom

(Yes they do, Amy. Incidentally, if anyone ever calls me at 7am, they must start off by saying "no one died.")

  Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Caviar and white chocolate (and other upsetting notions).   Perhaps the weirdest dessert I've ever had was at one of my very favorite Thai restaurants, Saladang Song in Pasadena. I've adored every single dish on their menu ... except this one. Asian cultures tend to have a vastly different concept of dessert from Westerners; they tend to be not as sweet, and that's just for starters. This particular dessert was called "Saladang 'Underground'", described on the menu as "Mixed sweet tubers in syrup, served warm and topped with coconut cream". Tubers? Potatoes? Well, maybe yams. That sounded good. I love coconut cream! Except this ... was a salty coconut cream! The tubers were less along the lines of yams and more along the lines of yuca -- non-sweet, extremely starchy and a flavor best described as "pasty". Next time I'll just get the ice cream.

Asian cultures certainly don't have a monopoly on this kind of stuff. The Guardian sings the praises of some very odd desserts, including those that are salty, plus combinations like the aforementioned caviar and white chocolate, beetroot and green peppercorn jelly, and mango with pine. (Erm.)

"P.P.S. She's a Baptist, so don't tell her you're gay."   Esquire graces us with a new piece by David Sedaris. I also came across a pretty good interview with him in the Onion A. V. Club, where he talks about "his fans, his desire to exaggerate, and the rudeness of the French."

Videodiscus linearicus! zzzzzap!   Hmm. My magic isn't quite up to snuff. I seem to have ended up in the middle of an explosion, with my face smeared with soot like poor Neville Longbottom.

I'm a Harry Potter fan, and I'm looking forward to the DVD release. Flawed as the film was, it was still a good deal of fun, and was a definite "yes" for the collection. Unfortunately, from what I've read on DVD File about its menu system that's more like a puzzle than a DVD menu, I'm gonna want to get my wand and try to transmogrify it into an easily navigable menu. Who has time to deal with a puzzle every time you want to access an extra feature?

Most frustrating is the fact that just about all of the best features on the disc cannot be accessed without picking up clues, completing tasks, and solving puzzles in all of the other sections. There is simply no way to access the extras on this disc in a traditional, linear way. While I'm all for a cool interactive experience for tots, I'm baffled as to why a simple page has not been included that lists all the main video-based supplemental features. Alas, it takes a lot of work to get to most of this stuff, which is bound to disappoint those who are not fans of menu clicking and taking notes while they use a DVD.
Professor McGonnagall may flunk me for saying so, but this'll be annoying. If I wanted to solve puzzles I'd have bought the video game.

Quote of the day.   "Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit."

-- W. Somerset Maugham

  Monday, May 13, 2002
The crustacean cure, a perfect panacea.   (Redundancy in the furtherance of alliteration is no vice.)

Okay, getting to the point ... one sure-fire way to alleviate homesick depression is to go out and eat a lot of lobster. Butter sauce. Steamed clams in broth. Wine. Ocean, and the crisp salty air. Mmmmmmm.

New Jay due.   Former Uncle Tupelo and on-hiatus Son Volt frontman Jay Farrar will be releasing a 5-song ep, "ThirdShiftGrottoSlack", featuring four songs from the Sebastopol sessions that were previously unreleased. I've already heard some of them, and I'm glad they're getting a release.

My god ... it didn't suck.   After seeing the previews last week, I was about to despair, and was getting myself into MST3K mode for last night's "X-Files". To everyone's surprise, though ... it was pretty good. Touching, but not overly sentimental, and not silly. Nice job for your last episode, Mr. Gilligan.

I have slightly higher hopes for the series finale now.

  Friday, May 10, 2002
Reilly redux!   Last night was the opening night of the return engagement of Charles Nelson Reilly's fabulous autobiographical one-man show, "Save It For the Stage: The Life of Reilly". It's at the Canon Theatre in Beverly Hills, running Tuesdays to Sundays until June 16.

Although we agreed with the relatively minor criticisms of the show being a bit too long, we nevertheless loved it. It's consistently hilarious and often touching, and never fails to remind us that this man is an Actor who trained with Stella Adler and won a Tony in his Broadway career, and is a longtime opera and theatre director ... as well as being That Guy on "Match Game".

Last night was the premiere, and at KCSN there was an opening night extravaganza on "The David and Peter Show with Miriam", the fabulous Broadway music show which comes on right after mine. Miriam and Peter were there, and called in with live interviews with many of the celebs who were in attendance. Last night's broadcast also featured lots of recordings from Reilly's Broadway shows, plus snippets of a recent interview that was so funny I nearly wrecked the car on the way home. Laughing hysterically and wiping tears from one's eyes while trying to negotiate a fast-moving freeway interchage can be a little dangerous.

If you're local, call the Canon Theatre at (310) 859-2830 and book tickets for a show; Tuesdays to Saturdays are 8pm, Sunday matinée is 3pm. You'll thank me later.

Quote of the day.   "Hi sweetie! How's the show so far? ... *gasp* ... Shut up! You are not sitting next to Angie Dickinson!"

-- David, to Miriam as she phoned in from the premiere of "Save It For the Stage: The Life of Reilly"; last night at the radio station.

As the anthrax goes rolling along...   The DNA sequence of the anthrax sent through the US Mail in 2001 has been revealed and confirms suspicious that the bacteria originally came from a US military laboratory.

Taggart's Aromatic Cocktail Bitters No. 3.   Oh, how haughty and pretentious-sounding. Please, get over yourself.

It was just an experiment in home bitters-making, based on a recipe by Robert Hess that he called "House Bitters No. 1" that was in turn inspired by the five ingredients that were listed on the bottle of Abbott's Bitters (defunct since the late 1940s) as well as Gary Regan's "Orange Bitters No. 4" (reformulated and soon to be made and sold by the Sazerac Company as "Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6"). I added a bit to it, based on what I and others had reported tasting in Abbott's Bitters, and spent a month making an experimental batch of homebrewed aromatic cocktail bitters.

We had an Official Tasting last week, and ... well ... the consensus was that for being bitters, they weren't terribly bitter.

They weren't bad, though -- not by a long shot. They were very aromatic (during stage 2, when the ingredients were simmering on the stove, the fabulous smells that filled my house were dizzying), very spicy, and a good seasoning for a cocktail. Just not terribly concentrated, not terribly mellowed (Abbott's Bitters were barrel-aged, probably for at least a year) and, unfortunately, relatively un-bitter. Even though I have enough of No. 2 Bitters to last me for a while, I'm going to start a new batch. At least I'll run out of the first batch fairly quickly; you need two to three times as much to get the flavors going. Eventually I hope to arrive at a formula I like so much it'll get me to invest in an oak barrel. One gallon sized oak barrels are available from wine supply stores (at a cost of $89, yikes!); I'll char the inside with a propane torch and age that sucker all year. Good things'll come to those who wait, eh?

Okay, here's what's going into the big Mason jar for the next batch. We need to up the bitterness, so I'm using roughly the same amount of gentian that the French use when they make homemade vin de gentiane aperitif, plus a little of the cinchona and quassia that made my homemade batch of Regan's No. 4 delightfully bitter:

Taggart's Aromatic Cocktail Bitters No. 3

2 cups rye whiskey (Old Overholt)
1 heaping tablespoon gentian root
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cinchona bark
2 teaspoons quassia bark
1 heaping tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 heaping teaspoons cardamom seed, whole
2 heaping teaspoons cardamom seed, crushed
1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon bark (crushed)
2-1/2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 tsp allspice (whole berries, crushed)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (whole nut, crushed)
1 teaspoon blade mace (crushed)
3 ounce fresh orange peel (from 6 medium blood oranges)
1 heaping teaspoon fresh kola nut, minced
2 cups water
1/3 cup dark molasses

Add all but the last two ingredients to the whiskey in a 1-liter Mason jar. Shake vigorously, then set aside and shake daily for 14 days.

Strain out all the solids through several layers of cheesecloth and reserve the liquid. Crush up the remaining solids, then place in a saucepan with the 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for one hour. Place the water and solids into a different 1-liter Mason jar and shake vigorously; set aside and shake once daily for 7 days.

Strain the infused water through several layers of cheesecloth and discard solids. Add to the infused whiskey, add the molasses, shake vigorously until the molasses is dissolved, then let sit undisturbed for 7 days. Don't shake the jar or move it.

After 7 days, siphon or carefully pour off the liquid from the sediment, leaving all of the sediment behind; you'll have to sacrifice some of the fluid -- so be it. Strain through cheesecloth again, then taste it. If it's too bitter, melt 1/4 cup sugar and cook until it's a dark caramel syrup, then add to taste. When happy, put back into the jar or into well-washed 12-ounce brown glass beer bottles.

Let it mellow for a month before using it, then use dasher bottles for serving (leftover empty Angostura bottles, Worcestershire, actual antique bitters bottles, etc.) It's less concentrated than Angostura bitters, so use at least double the amount you normally would.

It's not Abbott's Bitters, not even close; it's not even an imitation thereof ... let's say it's inspired by what I tasted in Abbott's Bitters. In any case, it's a fun project, and it's nice to have alternatives to Angostura around the house for Old Fashioneds, Manhattans and Pink Gins. Plus, it's cool to serve a drink to your guests and casually boast, "By the way, I made those bitters, y'know."

  Thursday, May 9, 2002
Cheese, cheese and more cheese!   Okay, we've had a sufficient rest since my week's worth of babbling about Clementine last week ... now there's more. Meredith Brody reviews them in the New Times Los Angeles, musing on the poetry of the grilled cheese sandwich. We get a list of all the sandwiches that they're gonna add to the menu, too ... whoo!

Tonight on "Down Home".   Some Jazzfest spillover, featuring a bunch of artists we didn't get around to last week -- traditional jazz from Kermit Ruffins, new and traditional Cajun from Kevin Naquin & the Ossun Playboys, New Orleans piano from Marcia Ball, Fish Head Music from The Radiators; plus old-time fiddle from Jake Krack, new music from dobroist Jerry Douglas, and some zydeco and bluegrass for Mom.

Tune in locally in Los Angeles at 88.5 FM from 7pm to 9pm, or listen anywhere at

Will there be no escaping it?   It made its insidious inroads in the early 1990s. It began to supplant The Real McCoy not long after. It spread and spread, much to my extreme annoyance. And now we're led to understand that all the way in February of 2152, the captain of the first starship Enterprise will be serving an esteemed Vulcan ambassador ... a glass of feckin' passionfruit iced tea?! Outrageous!!

If you can't get real iced tea on a starship, pal ... you can forget about me ever signing up for Starfleet.

Smile, Father! You're on Candid Camera!   The Smoking Gun's pointed caption to a recent photograph by New Orleans photographer Kerri McCafferty is priceless.

Memo to Catholic priests everywhere: If you plan on attending a future Mardi Gras, try not to be photographed shirtless next to a drag queen and some chiseled guys in biker shorts. Because that photo op just cost Rev. Thomas Bouterie his pastor's post at a church outside of New Orleans.
While it's a shame that this guy can't have fun at Mardi Gras without hurting anybody or doing anything illegal without losing his job for it, ya gotta think that given his job (and primarily, the attitudes of his employer), this was probably a wee bit, ah, indiscreet of him. Oh well, I guess he figured that New Orleans was a long way from Houma. (Gawd, to be a closeted gay priest in Houma, Louisiana ... how's that for hell on Earth?)

Angostura: not just for cocktails.   The Massachusetts Beverage Business Site has a fascinating article on the history and use of that ubiquitous-yet-nearly-forgotten bar item, Angostura Bitters. At the very least they're an absolutely essential part of any bar, and an absolutely essential ingredient in several classic cocktails. My eyes bugged out when the bartender at Traxx claimed that "nobody wants bitters anymore" when leaving them out of my Manhattan; in Trinidad, she probably would have been deported on the very next boat to leave port.

In the unlikely event you've actually read the label of a bottle of Angostura, you see the various things that Trinidadian and other Caribbean folk use these bitters for, including "soups, salads, vegetables, gravies, fish, meat, fruit juices, grapefruit, mixed cut fruits, stewed prunes, stewed figs, preserved fruits, jellies, sherbets, water ices, ice cream, sauces for puddings, hard sauces, plum puddings, mince and fruit pies, apple sauce and all similar desserts, regulating the quantity according to taste."

* Several dashes on vanilla (but not chocolate) ice cream makes it into a truly exotic treat.

* One teaspoon of Angostura Bitters in a glass of water is a sure-fire cure for tummyache.

* Add a spicy and exotic touch to homemade citrus sorbets by adding bitters to taste.

* Shake some on your breakfast grapefruit.

* A dish from Chef Wendy Rahamut -- Marinate peeled tails-on shrimp in allspice, chili powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon steeped in dark rum and added to crushed garlic and lime juice. Make a salsa of green onion, cilantro, tomato, green (unripe and not too hot) Scotch Bonnet pepper, ancho chili powder, lime juice and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. The bitters help take the edge off the heat, and make the dish lively and bright.

The Trinidadian sky (and your imagination) is the limit.

  Wednesday, May 8, 2002
Lies! Damned lies!   My friend Mary, who went to Jazzfest (and I didn't ... did I mention that I didn't feckin' go?) and yesterday sent out a spew of thoroughly obscene food porn after returning this week, also (bless her) tried to soothe the feelings of those of us who weren't able to attend:

And now, a special word for Chuck, Wesly, John and Fiona, who skipped Fest this year, and Robin and Diana who left before the second weekend; darn good thing you guys didn't come this year, because it was perfectly dreadful, especially second weekend, when the twin horrors of ghastly food and weather, combined with the cancellation of all acts not involving members of the Grateful Dead or Jimmy Buffett, gave the millions who attended a glimpse of hell, thus causing mass conversions and avowals to lead good and virtuous lives henceforth. Bad, it was, I'm telling you, so very very bad, and your decisions not to attend/stay on longer were well made indeed. You can go now and read other emails. Move along, I say, nothing else to read here.

( that they are out of the way, of course it was heavenly...)

I think I'll just go to Total Recall and have my memory partially wiped. Jazzfest? What's that?

I do have to share her and Steve's experiences at Peristyle, though ... one of New Orleans' (and America's) truly great restaurants and one of my all-time favorite places anywhere.

At Peristyle I had arugula and fennel salad with aged chêvre and a grilled filet of cobia over a griddled potato cake, topped with asparagus, red onions, crabmeat and an asparagus vinegrette, while Steve had frisée and watercress "lovingly tossed" with jambon de Paris, topped with warm Camembert and a honey and herb marinated duck breast on basmati pilaf, with a dried peach-flecked poultry reduction. For dessert, we split a chocolate cake with chocolate and coffee mousse, topped with ganache, and limoncello-doused ladyfingers layered with lemon mascarpone mousse, with fresh raspberries. Everything was perfect.
I have no doubt.

Quote of the day.   "I insist you try my balls. I have them available just so I can say that."

-- Heidi Trull, chef-owner of Elizabeth's, my favorite neighborhood restaurant back in my family's old neighborhood of Bywater, New Orleans; to my friend Mary, regarding the restaurant's excellent boudin balls

Drink! Drink!   Comedian Kevin Gildea writes in The Irish Times about the legendary Irish madness for drink; "it's a way of pretending to be who we really are", says he, with some choice observations:

It's no wonder people drink too much -- there's too much to drink. There's a new drink everyday. Red Bull and Vodka -- what mad eejit thought of that drink? A drink that knocks you out and wakes you up at the same time. It's no wonder people are going around shouting their heads off (their upper bodies wildly alive) while they simultaneously fall down (their legs asleep).

People aren't happy with the one, plain drink -- they want all sorts of combinations. We crave new tastes. I can't wait for alcoholic sausages.

(Mmmmmmm, alcoholic sausages...)

Egyptian burritos?   Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker on a the hidden life and times of a colorful Greenwich Village restaurant that is loyal to their regulars, but probably no one else (via Jason):

[T]here are a lot of regulars, and they seem more at home than they might at a conventional restaurant. "You're really not allowed to be anonymous here," [the restaurant's owner] Kenny [Shopsin] has said. "You have to be willing to be who you really are. And that scares a lot of people."

One evening, when the place was nearly full, I saw a party of four come in the door; a couple of them may have been wearing neckties, which wouldn't have been a plus in a restaurant whose waitress used to wear a T-shirt that said "Die Yuppie Scum." Kenny took a quick glance from the kitchen and said, "No, we're closed." After a brief try at appealing the decision, the party left, and the waitress pulled the security gate partway down to discourage other latecomers.

"It's only eight o'clock," I said to Kenny.

"They were nothing but strangers," he said.

"I think those are usually called customers," I said. "They come here, you give them food, they give you money. It's known as the restaurant business."

Kenny shrugged. "Fuck 'em," he said.


Apparently I'm cooler than I am uncool.   Well, according to Rolling Stone, anyway. That's a magazine I used to read a lot when I was younger, but it ceased being relevant for me many years ago (the bulk of my music periodicals these days are things like OffBeat, Dirty Linen, Folk Roots, et al.) I recently found some links to RS for some lists they've done that I found amusing -- The 50 Coolest Records Ever, and The 50 Uncoolest Records Ever. I own six of the former and two of the latter (actually, to be specific, the latter list is "the uncoolest records we recommend you go out and buy immediately").

My "cool" records:
The Great 28, Chuck Berry
Blondie, Blondie
Revolver, The Beatles
John Wesley Harding, Bob Dylan
Odelay, Beck
Howlin' Wolf, Howlin' Wolf

My "uncool" records:
Breakfast in America, Supertramp
Sunshine on Leith, The Proclaimers

Come again? The Proclaimers, uncool? Okay, they look like a coupla four-eyed geeks, but The Proclaimers are awesome. Sunshine was one of my favorite albums of 1989, and these guys'll put on one of the best and most energetic live shows you'll ever see.

I guess the lack of Rolling Stone's relevance in my life is demonstrated by the fact that other than the former six, I've got about 5,000 other records in my collection that I think are pretty damned cool.

Is the Pope Catholic?   A harsh criticism of Karol Wojtyla from Bill Keller in the New York Times (via Medley): he compares this pope and his actions to those of the Communists:

The pope lamented last week that the child abuse scandal is eroding trust in the church. But that is rather backward. American Catholics have reacted so explosively to this sordid affair precisely because they felt so little trust to begin with. The distrust is the legacy of Pope John Paul II.

One paradox of the Polish pope is that while he is rightly revered for helping bring down the godless Communists, he has replicated something very like the old Communist Party in his church. Karol Wojtyla has shaped a hierarchy that is intolerant of dissent, unaccountable to its members, secretive in the extreme and willfully clueless about how people live. The Communists mouthed pieties about "social justice" and the rule of the working class while creating a corrupt dictatorship of bureaucrats. Russians boiled this down to a cynical adage: We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us. For American Catholics, the counterpart is: They pretend to lead, and we pretend to follow.

Like the Communist Party circa Leonid Brezhnev, the Vatican exists first and foremost to preserve its own power. This is disheartening for the many good Catholics who hope this crisis will provoke a renaissance in their church. Nobody quite says it this way, but one reason many Catholics see the moment as ripe for reform is that this pope is on his last legs. Soon, the hope goes, a vigorous new leader may emerge.

Maybe so. But like the Communists, John Paul has carefully constructed a Kremlin that will be inhospitable to a reformer. He has strengthened the Vatican equivalent of the party Central Committee, called the Curia, and populated it with reactionaries. He has put a stamp of papal infallibility on the issue of ordaining women, making it more difficult for a successor to come to terms with the issue. He has trained bishops that the path of advancement is obsequious obedience to himself. Alarmed by priests who showed too much populist sympathy for their parishioners, the pope, according to the Notre Dame historian R. Scott Appleby, has turned seminaries into factories of conformity, begetting a generation of inflexible young priests who have no idea how to talk to real-life Catholics.

[...] Nor is the pope about to let America's uppity laity exploit the current crisis to claim a greater voice in their own affairs. The American policy on handling sexual abuse is to be dictated by Rome. And while a large majority of Catholics want leaders who mishandled marauding priests to resign, the culpability of bishops is not even on the Vatican's agenda. It now seems clear that the pope declined to let Cardinal Law resign because he feared it might give the laity the idea their opinion mattered. Cardinal Law promptly marched home and quashed efforts by restive Boston Catholics to organize an association of parish councils. How Soviet is that?


  Tuesday, May 7, 2002
Wilco's Three-Act Greek Tragedy   Salon writes about Sam Jones' upcoming film about Wilco, entitled "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart".

Jones recognized a classic structure. "It fell together pretty naturally," he says, "into three almost Greek parts. The first part is all about creation and the joy of creating. The second part, which is conflict, is about the conflict with Jay [guitarist Bennett] and the record company and some of the mixing with Jim O'Rourke, and then the third act is redemption and Wilco came out smelling like roses with a better record deal and a band Jeff is happy with. The story line's one that's been told thousands of times. Our hero goes through major conflict and comes out on the other side a winner."
Apparently Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is "a surprise hit", debuting in the Top 20 at No. 13 this week in the midst of widespread critical acclaim and almost zero commercial radio airplay. Pretty cool.

Down with Verisign/Network Solutions.   For the last month or so it's been widely reported in the weblogging community and beyond that Leslie Harpold had her domain name stolen from her. It was registered with Verisign, formerly the only domain name registrar and now merely the absolute worst among many. In their most recent outrage a forged fax was sent to them to transfer to someone else, without even checking with Leslie to authenticate. Now they're admitting it's their fault, but they're refusing to do anything about it.

Basta. Just say no more. If you have a domain name registered with Verisign, transfer it elsewhere at once. Don't take the chance that you can lose your domain just because some crook wants it and can easily get Verisign to give it to them. I recommend in Paris, France, or the more expensive but ever-reliable

Good news, too -- Hoopla is back, although thanks to Verisign at a different URL.

Enron's smoking gun.   The Los Angeles Times is reporting this morning that company internal memos show that "the company sought to manipulate power prices in California, creating artificial shortages through the use of aggressive trading tactics during the energy crisis." They created an energy crisis when there was none, and drove up prices (login "annoying", password "annoying").

Let the indictments begin. Why don't we bring the tar and feathers while we're at it?

  Monday, May 6, 2002
Leaping to the Valley.   Saturday's fun was heading over to my favorite sf bookstore, Dangerous Visions (uh, actually the only one in the city that I know of) for an appearance and signing by one of my favorite sf writers, David Gerrold. Of course, I saw "The Trouble With Tribbles" when I was 8, got When HARLIE Was One when I was 12 and The Man Who Folded Himself, one of my all-time favorite novels, a year later (and it really fecked with my head; that was one I definitely had to re-read when I was older). I've been a fan for years.

His newest is Leaping to the Stars, the final installment in his trilogy about the Dingillian family and their journey from a tube-house in El Paso up the equatorial elevator, off to the Lunar colony and out on a starship. They're favorably compared to the best of Heinlein's "young adult" sf (although from what I understand with much better characterization; Gerrold really makes you feel for his characters), and they explore some familiar themes in his work -- journeys of discovery, growth and self-realization and the nature of consciousness, to name but a few. He also takes particular aim at self-righteous religious fundamentalists in this one, but for the most part doesn't dehumanize them.

These books are really good for bright kids, and I recommend them for adults as well. Enjoyable, thought-provoking reads.

I was very proud of myself for not asking him, "So David, when the hell is the next Chtorr book coming out, anyway?!"

Why we probably won't go see big movies on opening night ever again.   We went to the Pacific Theatres' Hastings cinema in Pasadena to see "Spider-Man" Friday night, and enjoyed the movie ... well, at least as best as we could. The actual moviegoing experience as provided by the Pacific Hastings was so wretched that it damn near ruined the evening.

1. - Starting time was at least 10 minutes late, no doubt due to the huge crowd, but when you have a 960-seat theatre you really ought to learn about handling crowds efficiently.

2. - This isn't particular to Pacific Theatres -- it's endemic to most theatre chains now -- but I don't pay $9.50 and up to sit through a bunch of goddamned commercials at the beginnin of the show. Get rid of them.

3. - It was instantly apparent that there was a problem with the projection. On the left-hand side of the image there was a shadow from a poorly seated aperture plate, as well as a purple stripe from the film's soundtrack area that was constantly visible and maddeningly distracting throughout the entire show. I complained immediately, noticed one half-hearted and wholly unsuccessful attempt to adjust it, and then nothing more. It was just as bad as when I complained, throughout the entire show. My guess is that the 1.85:1 aperture plate being used in that projector was from a different theatre in the complex and wasn't the right one for this room -- each aperture plate is cut to exacting specifications given the focal length of the lens, the throw of the projector and size of the auditorium, etc.

4. - There was a huge splotch on the lower left-hand corner of the screen, presumably from someone splashing a large cup of soda on it. Given the expense of repairing or replacing a projection screen that's 60 feet across, one presumes they're just going to leave it there. It was incredibly distracting.

5. - At least 25% of the audience behaved abominably during the show, constantly talking, shouting at the screen and at other people, getting up and down constantly, playing with their cell phones and bringing squalling infants who should have been left home. I was ready to go around and start smacking people.

6. - The air conditioning was insufficient, and it was schvitzingly hot in there.

7. - Inquiring for the theatre management after the show resulted in a boy of about 17 who identified himself as the "manager" being the only person to receivve my polite but fervent complaints. He proceeded to introduce me to another high-school boy, some sullen kid that he introduced as "the projectionist". His reply:  a shrug and a mumbled, "Well, I tried to fix it, but it wouldn't go." The boy-manager apologized sincerely, but offered me no recompense for what I feel was a wasted evening. I assured him that I'd never attend this theatre again.

I really love the experience of seeing films on a big screen -- it's part of the thrill of going to the movies. But if I can't go to the movies anymore without having to deal with crappy projection, an unprofessional and indifferent staff and a bunch of goddamned Neanderthals who think they're at home in their caves instead of in a public place where they're expected to have some common feckin' courtesy -- and a $9 - 10.50 ticket price on top of that -- well, the home theatre experience is looking better and better. I really hope it doesn't come to that as our only option for being able to appreciate movies.

At least we were with good friends and had had a good meal beforehand. Maria's Italian Kitchen is a nice little family-owned group of restaurants with seven locations on the outskirts of the L.A. area. Maria grew up in Hoboken, down the street from Sinatra's house, and she knows food. The pasta and fish dishes were excellent and very inexpensive, and I thoroughly enjoyed the two Negronis I had.

I was startled, though, by the garnish in the drink. Traditionally it's an orange wheel, cut in half and perched on the rim of the glass, but this one was garnished with something that looked like a fat green grape, spiked on a cocktail pick. I had my mouth all prepped for a grape, and when I bit into it ... well, let's just say I was freaked out a bit.

Imagine someone handing you a vanilla ice cream cone and reinforcing your expectations by saying, "This is a delicious, creamy, cold vanilla ice cream cone." You've got your mouth all prepped for it, taste buds all ready to receive the perfume of the vanilla, the rich mouthfeel of the cream, the sensation of the icy temperature. You take a big lick ... and it turns out to be hot horseradish mashed potatoes. Now, I love hot horseradish mashed potatoes, but in this case I probably would have been so startled that I'd have spat them out. This was kinda like that.

It was most definitely not a grape. I was so discombobulated that I couldn't quite tell what it was, except that it was a not-grape. The waitress inquired for me, and it turned out to be a pickled baby green tomato. Apparently it was this bartender's own weird idea. Two points for creativity, pal ... but, um, how 'bout an orange slice next time?

Le phew; Chirac elected, bien sur.   We knew he would, and over 80% of the French electorate turned out to do what was important -- vote for the crook, à la Edwin Edwards. Compare this to the average turnout for an American federal election -- a pathetic 37%.

Tom Tomorrow (yes, one of my favorite cartoonists has ane excellent weblog as well) pointed out something that made my eyes light up ... yes!

The French election didn't prove that third (and fourth and fifth) parties can never be anything but spoilers. The French election proved the wisdom of a system of run-off voting, which would have certainly been a cleaner way to deal with the last American presidential election, and perhaps ultimately more indicitive of the will of the voters. But August already beat me to this one, and I agree with most of what he says, so go read him.
Here's a bit of what August had to say:

What would have made this a lot easier? If we had a system like France. In 2000, not a single candidate took the majority of the vote- Bush and Gore both took 48% apiece. Were this virtually any country in the European Union, there would have been a runoff between the two a few weeks later. And my god, doesn't that make an assload more sense than everything that happened in Florida -- or for that matter, the entire electoral college in general?
He has more interesting comments regarding the utility of fringe candidates to mobilize the lazy American voting public. Worth reading.

Cocktail of the day.   Saturday night, dinner and cocktails with friends, and experimentation! We tried out one that none of us had tried before, and I'm always willing to be a cocktail guinea pig (within reason). It's easy to make, with at least one ingredient that everyone with a well-equipped bar should have, plus one more that you should treat yourself to more often. Amontillado sherry, one of Spain's great gifts to the world, is nutty, delicious and almost worth getting bricked up behind a wall for. Being fortified it'll keep longer than regular wine, but I suspect that after your first sip it won't last terribly long.

The specific gin we used for this cocktail was a relatively new one called Hendrick's from Scotland; it employs a few unique botanicals among the usual mix, including rose petals and cucumber! Absolutely lovely stuff.

I really enjoyed this cocktail, and I'm doubly glad for it because as it's an excellent variation on the classic Martini it's brought me just a little closer to true and full Martinihood.

from The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, by David A. Embury
Faber and Faber, London, 1953

5 parts or more (2-1/2 ounces) gin
1 part (1/2 ounce) Amontillado sherry

Stir well in a bar glass or Martini pitcher with large cubes of ice
and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a large piece of lemon
peel over the top.

If you are in a hurry or if you do not have lemon peel available,
a few dashes of orange or lemon bitters (not more than two or three
dashes to each drink) make a reasonably satisfactory substitute. Also,
some people like both the bitters and the twist of lemon.

Embury suggests Gordon's gin for this drink; try Hendrick's if you can find/afford it, Plymouth if you can find it; otherwise good ol' Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray No. 10 will do nicely.

Regarding the subject of the lemon twist, Embury continues from the Gordon recipe:

Few people realize the importance of the 'twist of lemon' in the preparation of cocktails, particularly the Martini. Some regard it as a fancy, rather frivolous, and wholly meaningless gesture. Nothing could be further from the truth. The lemon must be fully ripe but the skin must be soft and flexible. A hard, dried-out skin will not exude its oil when twisted. When the bit of lemon peel is twisted over the glass, the surface of the cocktail should be sprayed as if with an atomizer with the oil of the lemon. This simple operation transforms a mediocre cocktail into a good one and raises a good cocktail to the level of frankincense and myrrh!
Hmm. Did the Wise Men also bring cocktails among their gifts? I'll have to concoct a "Magi Cocktail" for Christmas the year...

Want an exciting, romantic holiday destination?   Just bring your lead-lined underwear. Meals included. (It's comforting that the "quality of the food is guaranteed", too.)

  Sunday, May 5, 2002
Broadcasting live from Jazzfest.   Today on WWOZ's live audio stream you'll be able to hear live Jazzfest performances from Sunday: Papa Wemba & Viva La Musica of the Congo (2:20pm Central Time) and Corey Harris (3:45).

  Saturday, May 4, 2002
Shock and horror at Jazzfest.   Hearing this story made me feel just a little bit better -- just a little bit -- that I wasn't able to make it home this year. As you'll see, an integral part of the experience just wasn't there, at least not for the second weekend. I now hand Looka! over to today's guest columnist, my friend Michael Pemberton, to describe his bizarre and upsetting experiences of Thursday last with this great story.

I'm a man of very few rituals. Sometimes I put my left shoe on first, and sometimes I start with my right. Sometimes I wash my hair at the beginning of my shower, sometime at the end. One of my very few rituals involves Jazzfest. I've now spent about 20 days at the Fest over the last four years, and each day has begun with a standard series of events that have become familiar, and actually almost comforting. Then today happened.

Today was already going to be a little weird, because my wife Louise had to work all day and couldn't go. I've never been there without her, so my equilibrium was already a little off. But I bravely went forward, and after working half a day I met some friends at Fahy's (our regular bar), then hopped on a bus for the Fairgrounds. Taking the bus to the Fest was another first, but, still, I remained unfazed. Then the bus went flying by our usual parking spot at __________ and _____, and let us out near the Sauvage St. entrance. Yet another first (we normally go in the Gentilly Blvd. entrance), but even though things felt a little weird I didn't really feel that anything seriously troubling was a foot. Yet.

The first sign that things were more than slightly off kilter occurred soon after I entered the Fairgrounds. A ways ahead of us I heard a couple of little girls scream, and as we approached them I saw a live crawfish walking down the sidewalk, towards the entrance, waving his claws at anyone and everyone. At first I felt bad for him because I knew he would soon be crushed, but then I started admiring him for the spunk he was showing by trying to make his escape from the boil pot. I know I'd much rather be killed trying to make a break for it than be boiled alive with a bunch of cayenne pepper, potatoes, onions, garlic, and a little bit of lemon. I actually stopped and saluted him, and would have tried to rescue him if the crowds hadn't swept me away. So even though Mr. Crawfish was yet another strange occurrence that was not part of my "going to Jazz Fest" ritual, I was still doing okay. I was even happy. "Rock on, Mr. Crawfish! You've almost made it!"

So once inside, I did the usual thing and went right to the Creole's Stuffed Bread booth to get one of their wondrous little buns filled with ground beef and pork, smoked sausage, spices, and a little cheese, which I would then split open, squirt in some of their fabulous green salsa, and then slowly and lovingly eat while I wandered across the way to the strawberry lemonade stand. Louise and I did this with Chuck the first time we went to Jazzfest four years ago, and I still can't really imagine any other way of beginning a day at the Fest.

When I was about 100 feet from the booth, which last weekend was in its usual place between the Cracklins and the Crawfish Monica, I noticed with some confusion that the "Creole's Stuffed Bread" sign wasn't on the facade over the window. "Strange," I thought, but I assumed there must have been some problem with the sign. I thought, "You know, signs sometimes break." As I walked up closer, it became clear that not only was the sign not there, but that the entire booth was empty.

Shock! Horror! Worst of all possible scenarios! I swear that at that exact moment, a dark cloud passed over the bright sun. I quickly gathered myself after the initial panic, and remembered that they have a booth in the kids food area where they also sell the same stuffed breads. I made a beeline for the kids area, tossing aside the Orleans Parish school children who were on field trips at the Fest, and charged up to the food booths. Another empty booth! No explanation! No Creole's Stuffed Breads! Total panic!

I was frozen in place for a few minutes. I then went up the booth next to the empty stuffed breads booth and demanded that the 14-year-old pouring lemonade tell me what had happened to the Creole's Stuffed Bread people. He gave me a look of total incomprehension in return; in retrospect I guess this was fair, but at the time it maddened me all the more. I think I might have even told him to fuck off. Afterwards, all I could think of to do was call Louise at work for advice. Was this a bad enough omen that I should just pack it in and go home? Was all this caused by bad vibes because I didn't help rescue Mr. Crawfish? What were my options? Turns out Louise was in a meeting, so I left a panicky voice mail, and then wandered back into the Fairgrounds, dazed and confused.

Luckily, within a few minutes I found myself outside of Prejean's booth, where I got a double order of the crawfish enchiladas. The sight and smell of them perked me up a bit, at least enough to get me to wander over and get my strawberry lemonade. That perked me up even more. I then joined my friends, ate my enchiladas, drank my lemonade, and realized that things were actually going to be okay. Turned out to be a great day, with lots of friends, primo food, and great sets by John Boutté, Earl King, and Ralph Stanley (among others).

Later in the day I walked back by the Creole's Stuffed Bread booth, and they had hung a sign saying something like, "Because of unexpected supply problems, Creole's Stuffed Breads will not be available during the second weekend of Jazzfest. See you next year!" This caused another brief panic attack, for two reasons. First, that means that when we go on Sunday, there still won't be any stuffed breads! If I had known that, I would have stocked up last week! Second, what the hell kind of supply problem could lead to stuffed bread shortage? Was there suddenly a nation-wide sausage shortage?!? Imagine the implications! Luckily I had friends around to talk me down as I imagined all these doomsday scenarios. You know, you can never overestimate the power of friendship. Especially on a day like today.

-- by Michael Pemberton

Of course, Wes points out, "and correct me if I am wrong here -- wouldn't a bad day at JazzFest (i.e., one without Creole's Stuffed Breads) still be better than even a good day NOT at JazzFest?"


By the way, sorry for the blank spaces in Michael's story when he was describing their usual parking place. I turned 'em on to that spot, and I consider that to be a locals-only secret that I don't want to give away. Sorry, I'll tell you everything else about Jazzfest ... except that.

Broadcasting live from Jazzfest.   Today on WWOZ's live audio stream you'll be able to hear live Jazzfest performances from Saturday: Raful Neal with Oscar "Harpo" Davis (1:30 Central Time), Sister Teedy Boutté (2:50), Luther Kent and Trickbag (4:15) and Liz McComb (5:45).

  Friday, May 3, 2002
Heidorn speaks.   Pop Matters magazine reviews Uncle Tupelo's 89/93: An Anthology, and includes a lengthy interview with former UT drummer Mike Heidorn.

Zooba zabba squeeba zabba zee yah yaaah ...   There will be not one but two new Tom Waits albums out soon (woo!), and for a limited time his record company, Anti Records, will be offering live streams of both. If you can't wait until the official release on May 7, have a taste today.

Broadcasting live from Jazzfest.   Today on WWOZ's live audio stream you'll be able to hear live Jazzfest performances from Henry Gray & the Cats (12:15 Central Time), Tab Benoit (1:25), Henry Butler (2:45) and Michael White & the Original Liberty Jazz Band with Thaïs Clark (5:45).

¡Viva Oaxaca!   This week's L. A. Times Food section has a great article on what's rapidly becoming one of my favorite regional cuisines, that of Oaxaca in the south of Mexico. (Highly annoying registration required; use userid "annoying", password "annoying")

It's pronounced "wa-HA-ka", by the way.

If you've never had Oaxacan food but say to yourself, "Oh, big deal ... I've had Mexican food before," you have no idea. The first time I went out for Oaxacan -- at the original Guelaguetza location just a week or so after they opened -- I went with a good friend who's a native of Mexico. As no one at Guelaguetza at that time seemed to speak English (and the menu was all in Spanish), I figured that with a native Spanish speaker from Mexico I'd have no trouble. Wrong. "This isn't from my part of Mexico," he said. "I don't even know what some of these words mean!"

Clayuda, memela, tasajo, cecina, chilacayota, chiles chilhuacles ... learn these words. If you're in Los Angeles, go to these places. You'll thank me later. (And follow all of the above links now and save the articles, as the bleeding L. A. Times will shovel them into the pay-for-access archive in four days.)

Or, you can try some of these recipes, some of which are pretty easy. I love that Oaxacans use lots of chayote squash, which back home we call mirlitons.

More on vegetarian "meat".   Casey kindly wrote in with some interesting links and comments regarding my question the other day -- "Why do so many vegans, some of whom eschew the very idea of meat with a jihad-like ferfor, try to create all these bastardized products that are supposed to be like meat?"

Not surprisingly, it's not the hardcore vegans who are doing this, but primarily people who once ate meat and then gave it up for various reasons. (You can take the boy out of the meat, but you can't take the meat out of ... um, never mind.) Here's an interesting list of responses both for and against eating meat-substitute foods from a vegetarian perspective.

Casey goes on to comment:

Personally, I eat all sorts of meat-analogues, for a variety of reasons. I usually cook with the meat-eating housemate, so it's easy to substitute "veggie sausage" for Schnitzel on German food night, or to match him burger for burger. Some of that is upbringing, too. Since a lot of people were raised to believe "dinner = meat + starch + vegetable," it's hard to get past that thinking sometimes. And yes, I could bring a container of couscous and vegetables with me on a picnic, but sometimes I'd rather just slap veggie cold-cuts on bread with everyone else.

I suspect that faux-meat products aren't designed for the strident vegan but for the casual and new vegetarian. Tasting some of the worst products, I'd tend to think they might be manufactured by people in the meat industry to try and make vegetarians recant. But that's just my conspiracy-theory lobe throbbing.

Seitan is pretty depressing stuff, IMO.

"Depressing" is the understatement of the year. Thanks, Casey!

Oh, dear.   My spidey sense is tingling ... that tonight I'll have a firm and long-awaited appointment with a webslinger.

I know I'll get at least one email from at least one friend of mine expressing shock that given the choice between "Spider-Man" and a new Woody Allen movie that I'd choose the former. Well, I'd been waiting longer for the former, and then I read the following. While I tend not to take stock in reviews before I see a film, this one from the New Times whooped me upside the head:

Like any Allen film -- excepting the self-consciously "serious" ones -- Hollywood Ending has a number of clever plot contrivances and first-rate zingers. It may not even be the worst film Allen has made. But it's the ways in which it's bad that make it so dispiriting an experience...particularly for those of us who are diehard fans.

What's particularly scary about Hollywood Ending, however, is that its flaws are exactly the sort of problems that often afflict aging directors, flaws that we've never seen in Allen before -- bad comic timing, slack pacing, an unsteady control of tone, a reliance on jokes that have long since become clichés.

While other Allen misfires suggested a great artist having a bad day, Hollywood Ending is the first Allen film to suggest a great artist losing it altogether. It even invites horrifying comparison to Buddy, Buddy, Billy Wilder's last project -- the only Wilder film where the great man's strong suits seemed to have utterly deserted him...

Oh dear.

He's got a point here, too:

[I]t's impossible not to grimace when [Allen's character] says "The heart is very unpredictable," a minor paraphrase of Allen's infamous explanation way back when for his romance with Soon-Yi. And that brings us to the matter of Allen's casting of himself. He may be the best performer of his own work, but the age disparity between Allen and his leading ladies gets more distracting with every film. They're getting younger as he gets older: First Tracy Ullman (24 years difference), then Helen Hunt (28 years), and now Leoni (31 years); not to mention the other two romantic objects in the film, Debra Messing (33 years) and Tiffani Thiessen (39 years -- younger even than Soon-Yi!). It's a valid issue that his onscreen pairings look so inappropriate -- Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow were only 10 years his junior. The film Allen is currently shooting has him costarring with Christina Ricci. Please, please, say that she's playing his granddaughter, not his girlfriend.
Yes, please.

Hello, folks!   No, it's not Mr. Bunny or Mr. McCool, but Mr. Softee that's driving everyone bananas with the ice cream truck music. Mr. Softee drives through the streets of Hartford, Connecticut selling his luscious frozen treats to happy children ... and infuriating adults who are apparently sick of hearing "Turkey in the Straw" over and over.

What a buncha grumps.

When I was a kid the ice cream truck in my neighborhood always played "Red Wing". Years later in college, when I heard Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger in concert perform the version with lyrics,

Oh you can't scare me
I'm stickin' with the union,
I'm stickin' wtih the union
Till the day I die!
it made me wonder if my old ice cream man had been a Wobbly.

Quote of the day.   "It will no doubt bring us comfort in our time to know that in its 1950 Christmas catalogue no less a pillar of conservatism than Sears, Roebuck & Company featured a doll-house equipped with a built-in bar."

-- Charles H. Baker, Jr., The South American Gentleman's Companion, 1951, page xi.

  Thursday, May 2, 2002
Pop beloved.   One of my all-time favorite bands emerged from the fertile Austin music scene in 1985, then going by the name of Zeitgeist. By 1987 and the release of their second album Saturday, they had changed their name to The Reivers, and their next album, 1989's End of the Day, became one of my proverbial Desert Island Discs. They did one more record then split up, unfortunately. They may not have made a huge impact, but it was a profound one on me and lots of others. Read about 'em in this excellent and long piece from the Austin Chronicle, and get a copy of the newly reissued End of the Day on Dualtone Vintage. Just do it. Trust me. You'll thank me later.

Happy birthday, Gerry Dorsey!   He turns 66 today!

You know who Gerry Dorsey is, right? No? Well, to be honest, early in his career he did change his name. However, that name change process was long and involved. There were lots of other choices -- Dinglebert Wengledank, Binglebert Zengleback, Engelbert Slaptyback, Slut Bunwalla, Gerry Dorsey (oh no, that's where we started right), Zinglebert Bembledack ... give up? The name Gerry finally decided on ... yes, it's Engelbert Humperdinck, your favorite singer! (Yes, he's got his own website. Who doesn't?)

Tonight on "Down Home".   Okay, okay ... as much as I've tried to ignore Jazzfest this week so that I wouldn't get depressed, I can't be sitting here in L.A. instead of La. and not do a Jazzfest show. Sheesh.

So tonight I'll be featuring artists who'll be playing today through Sunday at Da Fest, as many as we can cram into two short hours, including Dave Bartholomew, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Bruce Daigrepont, Papa Wemba, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Marcia Ball, Henry Butler, Snooks Eaglin, Dr. Michael White & the Liberty Jazz Band, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, John Mooney & Bluesiana and much, much more! Tune in to KCSN 88.5 FM in Los Angeles between 7 and 9pm, or if you're elsewhere head to the web and hit for our live audio stream.

Cocktails of the day.   It's beginning to warm up, and thoughts of things tropical begin to enter my head.

I've been devouring Charles H. Baker Jr.'s two magnificent two-volume sets, The Gentleman's Companion and The South American Gentleman's Companion, shaking my head with wonder as I go along. This guy's gig, from the 1920s to the 1950s, was to travel around the world several times, eating and drinking, and writing about it for Esquire, Town and Country and others. Where do I get a gig like this?

Each set of books is divided into a volume each on "Exotic Cookery" and "Exotic Drinking", the latter taking a wee bit more of my attention in this regular feature. Between the two drinking volumes we've probably got about 400 recipes to work with, most of which I had never seen before. Oh, the fun we'll have ...

I was particularly struck by this first one, though. It seems a lot of effort for a little bit of drink, but I'm fascinated by it. It's certainly easy enough, but it does involve a little more patience than most casual imbibers might be able to muster. I'm assuming that the best thing to use for this would be a good Brazilian cachaça.

from Furna de Onça Restaurant, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Take husked coconut, bore out 1 of the "eyes" in the "monkey's face" you'll find at 1 end. Pour-out water. Refill nut with any white rum like new Cuban or Key West aguardiente, or inexpensive white Puerto Rican or Cuban rum -- NOT brown or Jamaica. Cork tightly with a soft-wood peg driven-into the shell firmly. Bury in ground, dig-up after 6 months to a year. Drink the stuff neat, out of small glass. Naturally the longer you leave it buried the more mellowed it gets. Cachaça is the Brazilian word for new white unaged rum. Coquinha has a ruddy amber color and a most unusual and pleasant taste.

Okay, quibble ... cachaça technically isn't rum, since rum is made from molasses and this stuff is distilled directly from sugar cane juice, but I suppose it's an easy enough explanation for people who don't want to sit and listen to cocktailians yammer on about ingredients and distillation. I'll offer one more from Baker today, if you don't necessarily want to wait 6 months to a year for your drink. This one looks great ... you put de lime in de coconut and drink 'em both up!

from Bélem, Brazil, at the Mouth of the Amazon.

We met an ex-American Red Cross nurse down there who ordered a drink mixed for us at Madame Garé's French Restaurant -- best food in town, we found -- which will be possible to all readers who live in southern Florida, or any tropical region where you find coconuts. Actually this is no invention of Brazil, but is found all over thet West Indies and the Caribbean-Central American region. It is simple to do.

In highball glass put 3 or 4 lumps of ice, add 2 ounces of any good light rum (Jamaica won't do too well), 2 teaspoons bar syrup or sugar, juice 1/2 lime, and stir well to chill. Add enough fresh coconut water almost to fill. Stir once again and cap with chilled club soda for a tang...

Both soda and lime juice are omitted in the usual simple local drink. You could use grenadine instead of sugar or syrup, for sweetening. This sugar dosage is, of course, to taste... We've tried this drink and think that fine-cracked ice chills it quicker and is more attractive than usual lumps of ice.

Ah, much better for those of us who want our cocktails NOW, Daddy! If you don't want to pierce fresh coconuts, you can get canned coconut water (usually with young coconut flesh in it as well) of excellent quality at most Asian supermarkets, if you've got one in your area.

Kentwood's heartbreak.   Yes, that delighttul little Louisiana town, once known only for their spring water, now is the source of Louisiana's most insufferably overrated export -- the squeaky-clean singer/novelist Miss Britney Spears. Well, squeaky-clean until recently, that is ...

Miss Spears, once the pride and joy of her local Southern Baptist pastor, non-sequitired in a 2000 interview, "I don't believe in drugs or even smoking. I believe in God." Imagine the shock, the horror back home in Kentwood and all 'round the world, when an Aussie paparazzo snapped a picture of Britney ... *gasp* ... smoking!

Her pastor is furious. "Smoking and drinking isn't what Christ wanted," he said. Absolutely goddamn right. Says so right there in the New Testament ... um, "Thou shalt not smoke." I forget the chapter and verse. And in case you were wondering, that was Welch's Grape Juice that Jesus turned the water into at that wedding. Don't you forget it.

Well, now that she's started this downward slide, may I suggest a cocktail to go with that cigarette?

(Slow news day at the Post, apparently. Hey, isn't there some kind of brouhaha goin' on in the Middle East, or something?)

Quote of the day.   "Le souris est en dessus de la table; le chat est sur la chaise, et le singe ... est sur la branche!

  Wednesday, May 1, 2002
Twenty-one days and counting.   My homemade apple-infused vodka has been decanted, filtered and bottled. It now needs to sit and mellow for a while before drinking. Man, that's gonna be a long three weeks ...

Zagat's outtakes.   As you may know, the Zagat guides build their ratings and reviews from comments by regular folk who dine at the various restaurants. In addition to the guides, the web site has compiled some customer comments that have been considered unfit for print in the books, but were too delicious not to share. A few of my favorites:

Caught recycling wine not finished by diners. (Ick.)
Took a doggie bag home; the dog refused it.
Waitresses trained by Joseph Stalin.
The chef's responsibility is to turn on the microwave.
Like a skunk, it's small, it's cute and it stinks.
When can I go?!   There are some astonishing, ravishing new photos from the Hubble Space Telescope. Someone hurry up and invent warp drive, okay?

I see England, I see France ...   School prinicpal and teacher wingnuttiness, not content with expelling 8-year-olds for pointing a banana at someone, have perhaps gotten to their wingnuttiest. Parents are howling for the plattered head of a San Diego vice-principal who forced girls at a dance to undress in public so that she could check to see that they were wearing appropriate underwear.

The only reason this nutcase is still alive is that she is female. If this had been a male vice-principal he'd already be hanging from the nearest lamppost. Sheesh.

April Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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