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. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news, movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, Macs, politics, humor, reviews, rants, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 10:58am PST, 1/31/2004

If you like, you are welcome to send e-mail to the author.
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Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

2003:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2002:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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.

Regime change for America, 2004.

Dean for America

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Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)
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Grateful Dead Radio
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KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
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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)

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

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
   (Sando, LaDove,
   Swanky et al.)

Nat Decants    (Natalie MacLean)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Food-related weblogs:
Hacking Food
Honest Cuisine
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu

à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

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

Reading this month:

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, by Al Franken.
The Joy of Mixology, by Gary Regan.
Best Food Writing 2003, edited by Holly Hughes.

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
The Reivers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Richard Thompson
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

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

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

Xquzyphyr & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

The Pianist (****-1/2)
Chicago (****)

Lookin' at da TV:

"Six Feet Under"
"The Sopranos"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"Odyssey 5"
"The Simpsons"
"Iron Chef"
"Father Ted"
The Food Network

Weblogs I read:

The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
Anil Dash
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
The Leaky Cauldron
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Ted Rall
This Modern World
Web Queeries
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

Must-reads: (progressive politics & news)
Borowitz Report (political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Daily Mislead
The Deduct Box (Louisiana politics)
The Fray (your stories)
Izzle Pfaff! (my favorite webjournal)
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

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple iBook 2001 running MacOS X 10.2 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

  "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to
  stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is
  morally treasonable to the American public."

  -- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918

  Saturday, January 31, 2004
What are they hiding?   Via Oliver Willis: "What's more important: Karl Rove's resume or a full accounting of the murder of 3,000 Americans?"

White House Holding Notes Taken by 9/11 Commission
Panel May Subpoena Its Summaries of Bush Briefings

The White House, already embroiled in a public fight over the deadline for an independent commission's investigation of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is refusing to give the panel notes on presidential briefing papers taken by some of its own members, officials said this week.

The standoff has prompted the 10-member commission to consider issuing subpoenas for the notes and has further soured relations between the Bush administration and the bipartisan panel, according to sources familiar with the issue. Lack of access to the materials would mean that the information they contain could not be included in a final report about the attacks, several officials said.

"We're having discussions on this almost hourly or at least daily," said the commission's vice chairman Lee H. Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana. "We retain all of our rights to gain the access we need... This is a priority item for us to resolve, and we are working to resolve it."

What the ... I would really love to hear whatever spin Republican apologists want to try to put on this one. Explain how the administration's behavior in this situation is right. (Bet ya can't.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, January 30, 2004
Not the biggest henge in the world, but certainly the tastiest.   Eddie Izzard quite rightly called Stonehenge "one of the biggest henges in the world", but when it comes to henges, Stonehenge has nothing on MeatHenge. Any food-related weblog that's got a pack of bacon as its logo is a place where I want to be, daily. Why don't you go too?

I'm generally not one to plug plugs for my site on other sites (a remarkably self-indulgent thing to do, it seems to me), but Hengemaster Dr. Biggles was kind enough to make and praise my recipe for blackeyed peas with sausage as well as take lots of nifty pictures of the process and the final dish, and for that I offer him my humble thanks. I've been way behind on getting a digital camera and offering photos of the dishes on my recipe pages, and that was a good little nudge to help me get my ass in gear and get more photos taken. Hmm, maybe he'll let me nick one of his pictures for the blackeyed peas recipe page on my site ...

My weekly visit to John O'Groats, one of my very favorite restaurants, is threatened by my new dietary philosophy, and this vexes me terribly.

John O'Groats Inside the original dining room with counter. The John O'Groats Club Sandwich: a work of art

Over the last 14 years or so I've probably tried every single thing on their breakfast and lunch menu, and at dinner, when the menu's completely different, I order a different thing pretty much every time I go in. But when I go to John O'Groats for my traditional Friday lunch, 95 times out of 100 I'll get the same thing -- The John O'Groats Club Sandwich. This is not your typical, boring coffeeshop club sandwich involving toasted wonder bread with that wholly unnecessary third slice cluttering everything up, cut into quarters and served with points facing up, with turkey roll and limp bacon. O'Groats' club is a work of art, the ultimate evolution of the club sandwich. Sourdough bread is cut in thick slices from a whole round loaf and toasted until it's abrasive enough to sand the roof of your mouth (which I love, and gives the sandwich fabulous texture as well as flavor); white meat turkey is carved off the bone; Swiss cheese is sliced by hand and piled on; applewood-smoked bacon, in slices big enough that only 2 are necessary, and perfectly cooked for the sandwich, just this side of crisp but not limp; kind of chewy-crisp); and the whole thing is crowned by a pile of perfect, crisp, brown and house-made (not frozen) French fries. It's probably my favorite comfort meal in the city of Los Angeles, other than my own red beans 'n rice.

Problem is, that sandwich as served is probably 21 or 22 points, not counting the fries which in today's case would have added another 14, bringing my favorite Friday meal to a total of 36 points, and I only get 24 in a day. I'd have to use almost 1/3 of my FlexPoints for the week.

Sure, it's doable, but ... it's going to be tough to fit that in. Time to start tweaking. They were out of turkey today, so I substituted a pounded, grilled chicken breast, and removed some of the generous helping of Swiss cheese until it looked as there were just a one-ounce slice left. No mayonnaise (which pains me), and substituting Dijon mustard instead (which changes the flavor of the sandwich, but I can get used to that). With those minor changes I probably got it down to 12 points or so, which isn't too bad. Then there were those goddamned French fries ... boy were they good today (as usual). French fries area a half a point each, so I kept eating fries until I was out of points for the day -- I managed to get 18 fries out of that (about 2/3 of the total). Sure, that's fine, but that leaves me with 0 points for dinner (and it ended up being two raw carrots once I got home from the radio station).

Looks like I'll have to 86 the fries except for maybe once a month or so, 'cause that's what pushes the whole thing over the edge. My pal Paul Tyler, John O'Groats' general manager, executive chef and highly genial host, assured me that they'd do everything they can to accommodate my dietary needs from now on, with appropriate portion sizes, different sides, etc. (This is one of the many things -- aside from the always-wonderful food, of course -- that makes him a great restauranteur.) So next time I'll have half a cup of potato salad for 4 points, or a side of fruit for 2. That'll probably work well, 'cause I'll still get to eat that magnificent sandwich, the sandwich that never ceases to make me feel better at the end of a crappy week at work.

John O'Groats is located at 10516 West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, and is one of the best places for breakfast anywhere. Second that for lunch, and they serve an almost entirely different menu of wonderful dinners from Wednesday through Saturday. Show up there more than once and Paul will make you feel like a part of the family.

The Cocktailian.   Kumquats are in season, and if you wanted some ideas for what to do with them, all ye with kumquat trees in your backyards ... try the Kumquat Caipiroska -- fresh kumquats muddled with citrus vodka and sugar. Yum!

Recipe of the day.   Speaking of kumquats ... my new issue of Gourmet magazine arrived yesterday, and had an absolutely fabulous looking recipe for a dessert they call Sauternes-soaked Genoise with Candied Kumquats. It's too bad there's no picture in the online version, because I want to make it immediately.

It's not too outrageous, either -- it has a Weight Watchers Point value of 7 per serving. This is a bit better than, say, pastry chef Mr. Lou's Banana Cream Pie as served at Emeril's Restaurant in New Orleans (one of the three or four best desserts in the city). One serving of that puppy contains 1,595 calories, 85 grams of fat, and a Weight Watchers Point value of 38. That's per serving. (Did I say that was per serving? Jaaaaaaaaysis ...)

Georgia creationists are at it again.   It's terrible what happens when cousins marry, isn't it?

A proposed set of guidelines for middle and high school science classes in Georgia has caused a furor after state education officials removed the word "evolution" and scaled back ideas about the age of Earth and the natural selection of species.

Educators across the state said that the document, which was released on the Internet this month, was a veiled effort to bolster creationism and that it would leave the state's public school graduates at a disadvantage.

"They've taken away a major component of biology and acted as if it doesn't exist," said David Bechler, who heads the biology department at Valdosta State University. "By doing this, we're leaving the public shortchanged of the knowledge they should have."

Georgia's schools superintendent, Kathy Cox, held a news conference near the Capitol on Thursday, a day after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article about the proposed changes.

A handful of states already omit the word "evolution" from their teaching guidelines, and Ms. Cox called it "a buzz word that causes a lot of negative reaction." She added that people often associate it with "that monkeys-to-man sort of thing."

Still, Ms. Cox, who was elected to the post in 2002, said the concept would be taught, as well as "emerging models of change" that challenge Darwin's theories. "Galileo was not considered reputable when he came out with his theory," she said.

"That monkeys-to-man thing"? "Galileo was not considered reputable"? Georgia citizens, please do what you can to remove members of the Peacock family from your boards of education. The world thanks you.

Screwed again.   Imagine my surprise.

Bush's Aides Put Higher Price Tag on Medicare Law

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 -- The Bush administration said on Thursday that the new Medicare law offering prescription drug benefits and private health plans to the elderly would cost at least $530 billion over 10 years, or one-third more than the price tag used when Congress passed the legislation two months ago.

Conservative Republicans said the new estimate confirmed their worst fears, while Democrats said it vindicated their view that the law gave far too much money to drug manufacturers and insurance companies. The bill passed narrowly in the House after Republican leaders gave assurances that the cost would not exceed $400 billion.


(Thanks, Wes!)

Looks like the political floodwaters are rising.   Finally. I'd say they're dark, murky and up to his mid-thigh.

Bush's Risky Options

The intensifying debate over prewar American intelligence about Iraq presents [George W.] Bush with difficult and risky alternatives as he balances election year politics with calls to overhaul the intelligence apparatus and to restore the nation's credibility around the world.

... "They've made a pretty huge mess of it," said one senior Republican who has been talking to Mr. Bush's top advisers about what steps to take next. "They wove this giant story, based on intelligence assessments that in hindsight -- and this is hindsight, remember -- were wrong.

"It's exposed a huge problem in our intelligence gathering. But who wants to take that on in an election year? Or while you are fighting terrorists?"

I don't think scapegoating the intelligence services is going to work. The intelligence was there all along indicating that there was no imminent threat from WMDs in Iraq; they just picked and chose the bits of ingelligence that fit their agenda.

It seems that the preliminary reports from the House and Senate intelligence committees have similar findings to David Kay's, who said that "his months of searching in Iraq had convinced him that Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction immediately before the war, and he called for an independent inquiry into why U.S. intelligence agencies were so far off the mark." However, if you keep reading deeper into the article, we hear:

"They just kept turning the page," said Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), chairman of the House intelligence committee. "If it was true yesterday, it must be true today." Goss said the intelligence community provided enough caveats in its findings to signal the intelligence's murkiness to policymakers. "I don't fault the analysts. They tried to move the dots ... in a way that made connections. Did the analysts fumble? I don't think so. They just didn't have enough pieces of the puzzle."
Citing even what may turn out to be faulty intelligence as "evidence" will, I think, not turn out to be an excuse for launching an unnecessary war. No Republican ever provided one iota of hard evidence that there was an imminent threat to the region, much less the United States; all we kept hearing from Bush is "there is no doubt in my mind" and "I firmly believe" and "it is my firm conviction that". Sorry, that doesn't constitute evidence. As far as the intelligence goes, critics are slowly but surely probing further into what they see as a whitewash, including among many other things intense pressure from Dick Cheney's office, "who wanted the [CIA] to endorse the view that Sadadm was actively pursuing nuclear weapons" and who "bullied and intimidated" CIA officials to repeat that assertion.

Better buy yourself a boat, Mr. Bush; it's a long row back to Crawford.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Da Oscas.   And so this year's Hollywood hooey gets its early launch. We won't have nearly as much time to "catch up" and see most or all of the nominated films we've missed, but ... oh well. I'll definitely try to catch "21 Grams" and even "Seabiscuit" (although it looked disturbingly heartwarming from the trailers).

Not too many surprises in a fairly thin year -- "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" should sweep everything, and if it doesn't get the Best Picture Oscar, then the Academy should be disintegrated upon Marvin the Martian's next visit. It was nice to see an Irish film get three nominations (almost par for the course for Jim Sheridan; there should be some celebrating while we're over there in a few weeks); I really must get out to see "In America". All the foreign-language nominees look really fascinating too -- I hope they all end up having a run out here (which they probably will).

As much as I liked his performance, I was kind of surprised to see Johnny Depp nominated; he's been ignored for too long, but it's just like the Academy to nominate him for a summer fluff piece. Frankly, I'd love to see it go to Bill Murray, if for no other reason than to hear what he'd say in his acceptance speech. Eleven-year-old girls seem to have good luck when it comes to actress nominations, so let's pull for Keisha Castle-Hughes. The biggest dilemma for me, though, will be in the adapted screenplay category -- Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens really deserve it for LOTR but ... goddamn, I really really want to see "American Splendor" get it too.

Oscar party (which is what it's all about for me) in just over a month! As is traditional with our friends who throw it each year, we're to bring food that was eaten in or suggested by one of the nominated films. I'm going to try not to be too obvious ... perhaps a bottle of Suntory Whiskey for "Lost in Translation", a bottle of cheap rum (or Navy Grog cocktails) for "Master and Commander" ... (I'm sensing a motif here.)

A B.A. in Bacon?   That's a degree I'd want to get. One day maybe I can gather my Fat Pack friends, save up a week's worth of Flex Points and have an artisanal bacon tasting of our own. (Hey, cooked crispy bacon is only 1 point per slice!). My favorite quote from the article:

Rob Hurlbut, the president of Niman Ranch, said it best:
"Bacon should be listed as an aphrodisiac."
Amen, my brother.

Quote of the Day: An editorial reply.   Our brilliant, genius friends Dave and Steve simply could not let Mr. Nash's verse in yesterday's quote post go unanswered:

The pig, it is no sham,
Supplies us bacon, sausage and ham.
But please don't think me rude or brash
To disagree with Mr. Nash.

The pig, he loves us, and gives his life
To ease our mortal suffering and strife.
The promise of pork makes life less glum;
Would Mr. Nash call Jesus dumb?

The pig has many things to please us,
But careful with your reference to Jesus.
Pigly pleasures he did not know, sir;
Assuming. at least, that he kept kosher.

You may think me a bona-fide dork
To think that Jesus partook of pork.
But I say how can the Holy Trinity,
Without pork, know true divinity?

(Steve, with liberties taken by me)
Rest assured I wasn't implyin'
That you thought Christ was bacon-fryin'.
But I'm wondering, after a fashion,
Will they eat pork in Gibson's "Passion"?

Unfortunately, that was the last of the email exchanges. Waah.

They're baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!   Yay! The 'dudes are together once again!

One of the premier originators of American roots music and pioneers of what was to become the "Americana Sound," the subdudes, have reunited and will release their first album in eight years, Miracle Mule, April 20 on Back Porch Records, distributed by EMI.

Miracle Mule features all original material recorded live to analog tape at Warren Dewey Sound Design in Santa Monica and co-produced by the band and Freddy Koella, guitarist with Bob Dylan's band. The resulting sound is a rich, warm, soulful mix of the influences that have informed the subdudes music over the years, including roots-rock, funk, gospel, and blues, a product of their native New Orleans background. The new album continues the band's tradition of amazing vocal harmonies matched with guitars, keyboards, accordion and percussion.

The original subdudes band recorded five albums for High Street Records, including a live album released in 1997, a year after the band broke up following nine years of consistent touring. During the ensuing years, several spin-off groups emerged, including Tiny Town, Three Twins and the Tommy Malone Band. Three of the original band members, Tommy Malone (vocals, guitar), Steve Amedée (vocals, percussion, mandolin) and John Magnie (vocals, keyboards, accordion) ran into each other in the spring of 2002 in Colorado, jammed together and the seeds for the new band were sown. Since then, the group has added Tim Cook (vocals, bass, percussion) and Jimmy Messa (bass, guitar) to the mix.

The subdudes will support the release of Miracle Mule with extensive touring, including an appearance at South By Southwest, plus shows at many festivals over the spring and summer.

This is very good news. The subdudes are amazing (and include several former members of Little Queenie and the Percolators to boot) and a whole lotta fun in concert. Go see 'em.

Man, this is already looking like a great year for reunions, with the Planxty reunion shows that started off at Glór in Ennis, Co. Clare last Friday and Saturday and the 12-show Dublin run starting ... eek! ... this Friday! JAYsis! ... I'll be seeing Planxty three weeks from tomorrow.

"Did we say "WEAPONS of mass destruction?   No no, what we really said was, um, 'step into class reduction!' It's an education thing. Really. Like, 'leave no child behind,' that sorta thing."

What do they take us for? It's interesting, isn't it? When the U.N. weapons inspectors said they needed more time, BushCo said no.

U.S. Retreats From Iraq Weapons Claim

WASHINGTON - The White House says it needs more time to determine whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, an issue the Bush administration once was so confident about that it was cited as a justification for waging war.

The issue was injected into the presidential campaign when retired chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kay said he had concluded, after nine months of searching, that deposed President Saddam Hussein did not have stockpiles of forbidden weapons. Confronted with Kay's statement, administration officials declined to repeat their once-ironclad assertions that Saddam had them.

Democrats pounced on Kay's conclusion as evidence that President Bush duped the nation about the reasons for going to war.


Isn't it also interesting that the White House needs more time to reach a determination, but the president's aides have refused additional time for the 9/11 commission to complete its report?

The President is fortunate that until now, the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States has received far less attention than controversies over the design for a World Trade Center memorial. At every step, from his opposition to its creation, to his abortive appointment of Henry Kissinger as its chair, to his refusal to provide it with adequate funding and cooperation, Mr. Bush has treated the commission and its essential work with contempt.

In the latest development, the President's aides refused additional time for the 9/11 commission to complete its report. Although the original deadline in the enabling legislation is May 27, the commissioners recently asked for a few more months to ensure that their product will be "thorough and credible."

Earlier this month, Thomas Kean -- the former New Jersey governor who has chaired the commission since Mr. Kissinger recused himself -- explained why the commission needs more time. As the genial Republican told The New York Times, he is only permitted to read the most important classified documents concerning 9/11 in a little closet known as a "sensitive compartmented information facility" (or SCIF). He cannot photocopy the documents, and if he takes notes about them, he must leave the notes in the SCIF when he leaves. Other recent statements by Mr. Kean, which he subsequently modified, suggest that the White House has ample reason to worry about what the commissionUs report will say. In December, he told CBS News that he believes the 9/11 attacks could have been prevented -- and that incompetent officials were at fault for the failure to uncover and frustrate the plot...

Mr. Bush doesn't want his re-election subject to any informed judgment about the disaster that reshaped the nation and his Presidency. But why should such crucial facts be withheld from the voters? What does the President fear?


The suggestion (the outright statement, really) is pretty clear: the White House is afraid that the outcome of the election will be influenced by public response to the commission's report. Why might that be, I wonder?

Could it be because the Bush administration ignored every bit of intelligence the CLinton administration gave them on the way out, and let the 9/11 hijackers right into the country when they should have caught them?

Clues Missed on 9/11 Plotters
Investigators, saying eight men had doctored passports, challenge FBI and CIA claims. Alleged mastermind was given a visa despite charges.

WASHINGTON - Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, plot, obtained a visa to come to the United States just weeks before the attacks despite being under a federal terrorism indictment, a report by the federal commission investigating the attacks revealed Monday.

And as many as eight of the hijackers entered the country with doctored passports that contained "clues to their association with Al Qaeda" that should have been caught by immigration authorities, commission investigators said.

The newly disclosed findings challenge previous claims by top CIA and FBI officials that the hijackers' records and paperwork were so clean that they could not have aroused suspicion.


They fucked up, and they don't want anybody talking about it close to the election. How can we trust these people? In my opinion, we can't. Get 'em out. (Thanks, Wes 'n Steve!)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, January 26, 2004
Weekly weigh-in.   186.5 pounds. Pfeh. Only down this much from 188 last week. Still, not too bad, I guess, considering that I've lost 11.5 pounds in 17 days, and that includes being in New Orleans for a week.

I guess this is where things start to taper off. Actually, two pounds per week is supposed to be ideal, but I'm annoyed that I only lost 1.5 pounds this week. I can't fudge it any less than that, though, because I embrace my little sister's philosophy of weighing oneself -- buck naked, bone dry, after a poop and a looooooong exhale.

Weapons of Mass Election.   A new report has called for the halt of the deployment of SERVE, an internet-based voting technology, in 2004 until underlying security issues have been resolved. SERVE is "a project aimed at providing uniformed service members the ability to register, request an absentee ballot, vote and check registration status via the Internet, and is apparently highly flawed and extremely high risk for security breaches (including alterations of votes and untraceable vote-buying or -selling) and denial-of-service attacks.

SERVE is currently scheduled to be used for the 2004 presidential primaries and general election and is expected to handle up to 100,000 votes for Arkansas, Florida (Christ, not again), Hawaii, North and South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

This report should be required reading for all members of Congress. (Thanks, Wes!)

A Year of Cheese.   (Via Sauté Wednesday):  Every week for the past year, the San Francisco Chronicle's food writer Janet Fletcher has written an article about a different kind of cheese from around the country and around the world. I've only ever had nine of these, and I'm eager to read each article and try each cheese (Cheese Store of Silver Lake, here I come! Yes, I know cheese is like 3 points per ounce, shut up.)

The above link has links to all the articles, so dig in and try some Abbaye de Belloc, Abondance, Appleby Cheshire, Azeito, Beafort, Bellweather Ricotta, Bleu des Basques, Brescianella, California Crottin, Camembert (and I don't care how fucking runny it is), Capricious Goat Cheese, Cashel Blue, Chimay, Epoisses, Fleur Verte, Garrotxa, Gorgonzola, Grafton Village Cheddar, Hudson Valley Camembert, Il Forteto, Ladotiri, Lamb Chopper, La Tur, L'Etivaz, Mahon, Manouri, Matos' St. George, Mezzo Secco, Monte Enebro, Montgomery Cheddar, Mozzarella di bufala, Mt. Vikos, Ossau-Iraty, Pedrozo Dairy's Black Butte Reserve, Peluso Teleme, Piave, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Raschera, Reblochon, Ricotta Salata, Roccolo, Roquefort, Rouelle Cendre, Saenkanter, Sainte-Maure, Sally Jackson's sheep's milk tomme, Sant'Andrea, Sottocenere, Spanish Urgelia, Surchoix Gruyere, Tumalo Tomme, Tuscan Pecorino, Vermont Shepherd Cheese and Windsor Blue.

(Any Venezuelan Beaver Cheese? "Not today, sir, no.")

Quote of the day.   A bit of verse, actually.

The pig, if I am not mistaken,
Supplies us sausage, ham and bacon.
Let others say his heart is big,
I think it is stupid of the pig.

-- Ogden Nash

All thanks and praise to stupid pigs everywhere.

Oh dear.   This is perhaps the most unfortunate URL for a church web site that I've ever seen.

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  Friday, January 23, 2004
Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.   Home since Wednesday, in fact, from my visit back home. It's been a busy few days and all. Sorry to have had postings dry up, but I generally don't post when I'm on vacation (something I recommend for every weblogger).

Despite the hugely obscene food porn that I'm about to write, I am happy to report that in sixteen days on Weight Watchers, I seem to have lost 11 pounds (and only gained one back in New Orleans, believe it or not). Hey, y'know, this ... could ... WORK!!

Now only 22 (my goal) to 29 (my doctor's goal) pounds to go. Goddammit, I want some French fries ... must ... resist ... resistance ... not ... futile ...

Sending Tuba Fats to the next life.   The jazz funeral of Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen, one of New Orleans' most beloved brass band and traditional jazz musicians, took place on Sunday, January 18, 2004. I was lucky enough to be back home at the time, and wouldn't have missed it for the world.

I was planning to join the second line, but wandered into Gallier Hall just as the service was starting. Even though I was quite a bit underdressed (to my chagrin), I was immediately handed a program and ushered into the service, which was just getting started. Family, friends and fans mourned together, the Tremé and Tuxedo Brass Bands played, one of Tuba's young relatives played "St. James Infirmary" on solo trumpet, Deacon John made me cry with a beautiful hymn, the preacher gave a great sermon, telling the congretation that Tuba's life is "to be continued" -- just like an episode of the old Batman and Robin TV show -- in the next life. There were tears, there was laughter, there was great music and a magnificent sendoff to a great musician.

The funeral parade and second line left Gallier Hall, went down St. Charles to Poydras, down to Carondelet, across Canal to Bourbon Street and through the French Quarter down St. Ann St. to Jackson Square, where they stopped in front of the bench were Tuba and his Chosen Few Jazzmen and Brass Bands played for free, then up St. Peter to Preservation Hall, where he was a member of numerous ensembles, then up to N. Rampart and over to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, where he was laid to rest.

I have a total of 35 photographs of Tuba's funeral and second line; please feel free to browse.

Yes, you CAN eat in New Orleans and only gain a pound.   Dunno how long one can keep that up, though. In addition to using up every single FlexPoint that Weight Watchers gives you (35 per week in addition to 24 points daily, which is my target), you'd have to use the Tom Fitzmorris technique of only eating half of what's on your plate. He sends the rest back to the kitchen, but that seems rather wasteful; I'd take the rest home and have a nice lunch the next day.

The highlight was perhaps the BBQ shrimp po-boy at Liuzza's By The Track. It's a 9-inch French bread pistolette that's got the nose cut off, then hollowed out and filled with peeled shrimp in BBQ Shrimp sauce in all its spicy, buttery glory. There were no less than 3 dozen shrimp in that po-boy, and actually quite a few more than that. I ate about 2/3 of the shrimp, 1/3 of the bread (with three big sops of sauce) and left most of the sauce on the plate. That left me with some points to spend at dinner, and actually I was full after that. Of course, if I hadn't been on Weight Watchers I would have eaten every crumb of bread and sopped up every droplet of sauce, like my brother-in-law did. (Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my spiff new/used digital camera to the restaurant.)

I did, however, bring it to Elizabeth's, the pride of the Bywater. I had been seriously jonesing for my beloved praline bacon, and although it was different this time -- ground pralines packed on top of limp bacon rather than a praline sauce on crisp bacon -- it was still pretty darn good. After that was the Duck and Sweet Potato Hash with Poached Eggs and Hollandaise Sauce. I asked for the Hollandaise on the side -- given that it's 2 points per tablespoon, and there was probably 8 points worth in the little cup, I needed to be prudent. I used my sister Marie's trick of dipping the end of my fork in the sauce before each bite -- that way I got the flavor but was left with about 80-90% of the sauce still in the cup when I was finished. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more duck meat in the hash than what my serving had, but it still tasted mighty good.

Da jernt. Mmmmm, praline bacon ... Duck and Sweet Potato Hash

I also saved my pernts for a fa-a-a-abulous dinner at the home of some old friends in the Marigny -- an appetizer spread consisting of at least four different cheeses (a Brie-like cheese the name of which I forget, but with better flavor than a garden-variety Brie; a stinky cheese the name of which I also forget, a Maytag blue cheese, tawny Port and chopped walnut spread ... and something else), diced smoked chicken in a spicy sauce on endive leaves, really good and peppery hog's head cheese from LaPlace served with a variety of crackers (hoo-boy, do I love hog's head cheese), huge superduperjumbo shrimp with a cocktail sauce horseradishy enough to open my cold-addled sinuses, plus champagne and white and red wines. We then had the Commander's Palace Salad -- mixed lettuces, crumbled hard-boiled eggs, crumbled bacon and shaved Gruyere cheese, with homemade brioche croutons. Main course was Jamie Shannon's amazing Creole Bouillabaisse, with a thick broth made from cooking fish bones, shrimp shells and crab shells all day long, crushing them and cooking every molecule of flavor out of them, then straining. The soup had huge shrimp, oysters and chunks of catfish in it. For dessert, we had huge double-chocolate chunk brownies and and Easy Bake Oven Shortcakes with Louisiana Strawberries -- or so we planned. We actually ran out of bellyroom for the shortcakes, which was really a shame as the little feckers took 22 minutes to bake. Each. Washing down dessert were two dessert wines (Justin Obtuse 2001 and a late harvest red of some kind; memory is hazy as I was pleasantly squiffed by this point) and the Fall 2003 bottling of George T. Stagg Single Barrel Bourbon -- this one coming in at an astonishing 143.2 proof (the bottle Wes and I have from the year before is only about 126 proof or so). Woof.

My sister Melissa and I also made a pilgrimage to Uglesich's -- Anthony was in fine form, and seemed more relaxed than I'd seen him in a good while. I think perhaps it's because he sees the light at the end of the retirement tunnel. They had signs up in the restaurant about their new website,, which has information about the forthcoming cookbook. Anthony told me it was due out mid-October, so I guess that'll be it -- he always said the cookbook would come out once he and Gail retired. I started off with my favorite appetizer, fried oysters in blue cheese vinaigrette, and asked Anthony for his advice on some of the less commonly ordered dishes -- I wanted something I'd never had before. He recommended the Crabmeat and Potato Patties, which were crabmeat dressing with a thin layer of something like mashed potato all around, then pan-fried and served with a spicy dipping sauce and tartar sauce, with eggplant dressing on the side. He was right -- yum yum yum!

I also made a stop at the Camellia Grill, which was the emptiest I'd ever seen it. Apparently they haven't been paying their bills, or something, and I heard that they have been forced into bankruptcy by three of their creditors, including the linen supplier -- no more linen napkins. Food was as great as ever, though. I figured an omelette would be about 35 points, so I opted for a burger -- they do one of the best ones in town. And my iced tea refill was free! (Finally!)

The restaurant highlight of my home visit was without a doubt Tommy's Cuisine, a new joint on Tchoupitoulas in the Warehouse District. You may have heard about the big flap -- Tommy was Irene's head chef, partner and co-founder of Irene's Cuisine. They had a parting of the ways and he split, but ended up taking about 3/4 of the staff of Irene's with him. (We were greeted at the door by Sergio, who I believe had been the maitre'd at Irene's since it opened, and Dawain, the former Irene's waiter and my former 7th grade classmate who had taken care of us at Irene's many times before.) When Tommy opened his new place he hired another chef who cooked at Galatoire's for 35 years, decided to TAKE RESERVATIONS (which was the biggest complaint about Irene's from locals) and ended up with a menu that has every dish they served at Irene's, plus lots more. There are Galatoire's-like dishes (including grilled fish topped with Crabmeat Maison sauce), lots more specials and some killer desserts. I started with an excellent Crawfish Bisque -- dark, peppery and very flavorful, not a lot of crawfish tails and one big ball of dressing, but still delicious. Main course was Duck Tchoupitoulas (the re-named Duck St. Philip), roasted and glazed with a raspberry demi, which was absofeckingcompletelylutely perfect ("Best duck dish in the city," proclaims Wes). Dessert was a bittersweet chocolate mousse so thick it was almost like fudge, topped with whole hazelnuts and whipped cream, surrounded by a creme anglaise that was drizzled with raspberry coulis. Outrageous. I only ate half, and my 87-year-old grandmother leaned over and said, "Uh, are you going to finish that?" ... then scarfed down the rest. I know it's near-blasphemy (particularly to Wes, who considers Irene's his favorite restaurant in the city) and I hate to be disloyal to Irene's, but I think Tommy's is probably better -- no waiting, reservations that have you at the table as soon as you walk in, a nicer bar area, a nicer atmosphere, a bigger menu with more choices, the same perfect food and service and staff ... I think we all ought to give Tommy's a try.

My mom cooked up a storm, too -- a peppercorn-marinated pork tenderloin with a tawny port sauce, red beans'n rice, shrimp Creole and our traditional family "stringbean artichoke thing" -- all of which are surprisingly low in points. Shrimp Creole is actually pretty good for you -- shrimp are extremely low in points, and there's no added fat other than 2 tablespoons each of butter and oil to saute the vegetables for the entire pot (which is maybe 12 servings). One really good-sized serving is only 6 points including the rice. Same goes for red beans, if you don't eat too much sausage -- Fitzmorris wrote an article on red beans last week saying that if it weren't for the extremely high fiber content of kidney beans, several thousand New Orleanians now alive would in fact be dead.

My most surprisingly good meal was my last -- in the airport, of all places. The B Concourse has a variety of good places to eat, from Jester's Express (where you can get amazingly good hot sausage po-boys, red beans and jambalaya) to a Praline Connection (fried chicken, red beans with fried chicken livers, and lots more). I finally got my hot sausage po-boy with cheese on the way out -- it wasn't Gene's on St. Claude, but it was mighty fine enough, served with an unexpected side of very good fries -- a meal that wiped out about 2/3 of my FlexPoints for the entire week.

The most amazing thing about this trip is that by watching my portions and still enjoying my food without going overboard, I only managed to regain 1 of the 9 pounds I had lost before leaving for New Orleans. Doing lots of walking and exercise bike riding helped ... as did spending 2-1/2 hours marching in the second line behind the casket at Tuba Fats' jazz funeral.

Not too shabby for a boy on a diet.

Quote of the week.   From the State of the Union address, via BoingBoing:

Bush: "Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year."

Audience: [Applause]

Bush: [Frowny face]

A nice little jab in the ribs, which unfortunately doesn't make up for the piles of bullshit which filled the joint session chamber after the speech.

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  Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Busy busy busy.   Your working boy has still been sick. All the phlegmy muck seems to be working its way down from my head into my chest. By next week it should be down to my feet and then, I hope, gone.

Sorry about the lack of posting (there were at least two in-person "Where's my free content, dammit?!" questions from friends) -- besides being sick, this past week was the big push to get the liner notes done for the New Orleans box set. It ended up being a far more humongous project than I had imagined; the label asked for 3,000 words, and by the wee hours of yesterday morning, I had written 15,329. Hey, don't panic, y'all ... it's only five times longer than what you asked for. To my relief they didn't freak out, and after a preliminary look the reaction was more like, "Okay, let me read it again and then we'll see if we can make it work with the length." Woo! I guess the book(let) is going to be longer.

Oh, and we've settled on a pretty much official title for the set: "Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Box of New Orleans. The guy who's doing the discographical annotations suggested adding "Ol" between "Big" and "Box", which I like, but we haven't heard back from the label yet. We're still hoping for an April release date, just before Jazzfest, and this is the last stomach-churning week during which we have to complete the licensing. We've got to nail them all down by Friday. Keep your fingers crossed. (If any of y'all know John Boutté, please ask him to email me by Friday so I can get him in touch with the licensing people!)

R.I.P. Tuba Fats, 1951-2004.   Sad news from New Orleans:

Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen, the popular brass band tuba player and stalwart of the Jackson Square musicians' community, died late Sunday at his home of an apparent heart attack. He was 53.

Mr. Lacen was born in New Orleans. As a youngster at McDonogh 36 grade school, he aspired to play the trumpet. But band director Clyde Kerr Sr. reportedly steered Mr. Lacen instead toward the tuba, an instrument better served by a stout musician.

After that introduction, the tuba became Mr. Lacen's ticket to the world. He was among the young performers recruited for the Fairview Baptist Church Band in the 1960s by jazz banjoist Danny Barker. The schooling Mr. Lacen and his peers received from Barker helped rekindle interest in traditional New Orleans brass band jazz and its historic role in jazz funerals, second-line parades and other cultural traditions.

Mr. Lacen honed his traditional jazz chops working with Sweet Emma, Kid Thomas and other bandleaders at Preservation Hall. He later served in the Gibson, Olympia, Doc Paulin, Onward and Tuxedo brass bands, among others.

I feel doubly bad upon hearing this. In the first draft I had a Tuba Fats track on the box set, but we had to cut it due to length. :-(

Why I want to go to Serbia.   Well, because my good friend Dule is from there, and one day I'd love to have him show me around his hometown of Belgrade and the countryside. If possible, though, I want to go during the time of year when this is happening:

Mmm, roasted baby pigs ...
He says that around New Year's this happens at every bakery in town (bakeries being the only places with big enough ovens to handle large quantity orders of roast pig). You've got to get your order in early too, because the demand is high. Forget mad cows ... give me roasted pigs! Srecna nova godina!

Speaking of pork ...   here's a site right up the alley of all us porkophiles -- Porkopolis!

Within find a treasure trove of all things porcine, including a timeline chronicling human/pig history, a porconography dictionary, pigart gallery and a whole lot more ... including this delightful piss-take on that feckin' ubiquitous blue dog.

Am I a masochist?   Apparently. I'm going home to New Orleans tomorrow ... one week after joining WeightWatchers.

Doctor says I have to lose 35 pounds, so away we go. WeightWatchers is actually kind of cool, and in one short week I've already shown some progress. But New Orleans food ... oh shit. It's all about learning how to count "point values" of food (or "pernts", as we'd say back home), and once you're at your point target for the day, you're done eating. Wanna know how many pernts in a hot sausage and cheese poor boy from Gene's on Elysian Fields?

All of them. Plus 10. (Add 10 more if you want it with mynez.)

I am so screwed.

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  Monday, January 5, 2004
Bonne Année, y'all!   Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhaoibh, and Feliz Año Nuevo too.

It was a lovely holiday in and around our house this year -- great friends, gifts, food and drink, except when it wasn't lovely and included fever, chills, aches, fever, phlegm-o-rama and copious vomiting. Gotta love the oul' flu.

Queer Eye's food guy. features a two-part interview (here are the first and second bits) with food and wine maven Ted Allen of Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy". (I couldn't believe it when Mrs. Zalta spat out the foie gras, either.)

Undermining the sanctity of marriage.   I suppose all the shrill would-be lawmakers' and constitutional amenders' "Defense of Marriage" acts really don't count for Britney, do they? Oh yeah, it was just a joke ...

Cocktail of the Day.   This one came up first in Gary Regan's Bartender's Bible under the category of aperitifs. It was lovely, particularly when we've been using Carpano Antica Formula vermouth instead of garden-variety red vermouth in our cocktails. Man, that stuff is good.

Enjoy this one before dinner, or while reading "Henry V".


1 ounce sweet vermouth.
1 ounce dry vermouth.
1/2 ounce amaretto.
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.

Stir well for no less than 30 seconds, and
strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

This one's also good for people who don't want a terribly strong drink, as the alcohol content is a good bit lighter than something like a Martini or Manhattan.

Ride 'em, cowboy, and rest in peace.   John Hart, the monstrously great saxophone player for both Clifton Chenier's Red Hot Louisiana band and later on Rockin' Dopsie and the Cajun Twisters passed away on Boxing Day, at the age of 71.

Listen to some zydeco today, especially Clifton's "Bogalusa Boogie" album.

Rip dem LPs!   I've still got a lot of music on vinyl, some of which is incredibly rare. I'd really love to be able to carry it around with me in my iPod, but it ain't nearly as easy to rip an LP to MP3 format is it is for a CD. The New York Times offers a brief primer. (I use Griffin's PowerWave for the hardware, and Martin Hairer's Amadeus II v3.7 for the software.)'s "Bush in 30 Seconds" finalists.   Okay, so I didn't have time to watch and rate 1,000 30-second anti-Bush TV spots (which alone would have taken over 8 hours, not counting thinking, rating, clicking plus loading time); I managed to rate about 50. Enough people must have watched enough of them, though, because they're now down to 15 finalists. Head on over to Bush in 30 Seconds, watch and vote.

December Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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