the gumbo pages

looka, <lʊ´-kə> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look"; in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans, it is 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, cocktails as cuisine, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news of the reality-based community ... and occasionally movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, complaints, 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.

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New Orleans music for disaster relief

Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens

"Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" is a 4-CD box set celebrating the joy and diversity of the New Orleans music scene, from R&B to jazz to funk to Latin to blues to zydeco to klezmer (!) and more, including a full-size, 80-page book.

Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), liner notes by Mary Herczog (author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Now for sale at your favorite independent record stores, or order directly from Shout! Factory Records, where all profits will be donated to New Orleans disaster relief through the end of March 2006.

The box set was the subject of a 15-minute profile on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" on Feb. 6, 2005, and a segment on Wisconsin Public Radio's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" on Apr. 3, 2005. Here are some nice blurbs from the reviews (a tad immodest, I know; I'm not generally one to toot my own horn, but let's face it, I wanna sell some records here.)

*      *      *

"More successfully than any previous compilation, Doctors... captures the sprawling eclecticism, freewheeling fun and constant interplay of tradition and innovation that is at the heart of Crescent City music." -- Keith Spera, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"... if you DO know someone who's unfortunate enough to have never heard these cuts, press this monumentally adventurous box and its attendant booklet upon them. It's never too late to learn" -- Robert Fontenot, OffBeat magazine, New Orleans

"... the best collection yet of Louisiana music." -- Scott Jordan, The Independent, Lafayette, Louisiana.

"[T]he year's single most awesome package" -- Buddy Blue, San Diego Union-Tribune

"This four-CD box set doesn't miss a Crescent City beat ... For anyone who has enjoyed the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this is Jazz Fest in a box. ***1/2" -- Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times

"... excellently compiled, wonderfully annotated ... New Orleans fans will know much of this by heart, though they may not remember it sounding so good; those who don't know what it's like to miss New Orleans will quickly understand." -- Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press.

"... a perfect storm when it comes to reissues. This box set is musically exciting, a complete representation of its subject matter, and just plain fun to listen." -- Charlie B. Dahan,

"... one of the best impressions of a city's musical blueprint that you're likely to ever find." -- Zeth Lundy,

"... an unacademic, uncategorized album that suits the city's time-warped party spirit." -- Jon Pareles, The New York Times

A new book featuring the best of food weblogs.

Digital Dish is the first ever compilation volume of the best writing and recipes from food weblogs, and includes essays and recipes contributed by me. Find out more and place an order!

U.S. orders:
How to donate to this site:

Your donations help keep this site going. PayPal's the best way -- just click the button below, and thanks!

You can also donate via the Honor System, if you wish (but they deduct a larger fee from your donation and I keep less).

(Also, here's a shameless link to my Amazon Wish List.)

Buy stuff!

You can get Gumbo Pages designs on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads at The Gumbo Pages Swag Shop!

Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

June 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006

2005:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2004:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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.

My Photos on Flickr
My Darlin' New Orleans...

The Flag of The City of New Orleans

Shop New Orleans! Visit the stores linked here to do your virtual online shopping in New Orleans. The city needs your money!

Greater N.O. Community Data Center
New Orleans Wiki

Gambit Weekly & The Times-Picayune
Scat Magazine
WDSU-TV (Channel 6, NBC)
WGNO-TV (Channel 26, ABC)
WNOL-TV (Channel 38, WB)
WTUL-FM (91.5, Progressive radio)
WVUE-TV (Channel 8, FOX)
WWL-TV (Channel 4, CBS)
WWNO-FM (89.9, classical, jazz, NPR)
WWOZ-FM (90.7, Best Radio Station in the Universe)
WYES-TV (Channel 12, PBS)


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

2 Millionth Weblog
A Frolic of My Own
Dispatches from Tanganyika
Home of the Groove
Humid City
Hurricane Katrina Aftermath
Library Chronicles
Mellytawn Dreams
Metroblogging N.O.
People Get Ready
Da Po'Blog
Suspect Device Blog
The Third Battle of New Orleans
World Class New Orleans
The Yat Pundit
Your Right Hand Thief
Cocktail hour.

   The Internet's most comprehensive
   and indispensible database of
   authenticated cocktail recipes,
   ingredients, reseearch and more.
   By Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)

Museum of the American Cocktail
   Founded by Dale DeGroff and many
   other passionate spirits in Jan. 2005.
   Celebrating a true American cultural
   icon: the American Cocktail.

*     *     *

The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non of cocktails,
   and the quintessential New Orleans
   cocktail. Learn to make it.)

The Footloose Cocktail
   (An original by Wes;
   "Wonderful!" - Gary Regan.
   "Very elegant, supremely
   sophisticated" - Daniel Reichert.)

The Hoskins Cocktail
   (An original by Chuck;
   "It's nothing short of a
   masterpiece." - Gary Regan)

*     *     *

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Menu
   (A few things we like to
   drink at home, plus a couple
   we don't, just for fun.)

*     *     *

Peychaud's Bitters
   (Indispensible for Sazeracs
   and many other cocktails.
   Order them here.)

Angostura Bitters
   (The gold standard of bitters,
   fortunately available everywhere
   worldwide. Insist on it.)

Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6
   (Complex and spicy orange
   bitters for your Martinis,
   Old Fashioneds and many more.
   Order them here.)

Fee Brothers' Bitters
   (Classic orange bitters,
   peach bitters and a cinnamony
   "Old Fashion" aromatic bitters.
   Skip the mint variety, though.)

*     *     *

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

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

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

The Art of Drink:
   An exploration of Spirits & Mixology.
   (Darcy O'Neil)

Beachbum Berry:
   (Jeff Berry, world-class expert
   on tropical drinks)

The Cocktail Chronicles
   (Paul Clarke's weblog)

The Cocktailian Gazette
   (The monthly newsletter of
   The Museum of the
   American Cocktail.)

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

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

Drink Trader
   (Online magazine for the
   drink trade)

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)
   (Ladies United for the
   Preservation of
   Endangered Cocktails)

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

Martini Republic: Drinks
   (featuring posts by Dr. Cocktail!)

The Ministry of Rum
   (Everything you always wanted to know)

The Modern Mixologist
   (Tony Abou-Ganim)

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

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)

Spirit Journal
   (F. Paul Pacult)

Spirits Review
   (Chris Carlsson)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

The Wormwood Society
   (Dedicated to promoting accurate,
   current information about absinthe)

Let's eat!

New Orleans:
Culinary Concierge (N.O. food & wine magazine)
Mr. Lake's Non-Pompous New Orleans Food Forum
Notes from a New Orleans Foodie

Food-related weblogs:
Chocolate and Zucchini
Honest Cuisine
Il Forno
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu
Waiter Rant

More food!
à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Chowhound (L.A.)
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
Southern Food & Beverages Museum
Southern Foodways Alliance
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine
Wine Enthsiast
The Wine Spectator
Wine Today
Zinfandel Advocates & Producers

Wine/spirits shops in our 'hood:
Colorado Wine Co., Eagle Rock
Mission Liquors, Pasadena
Silverlake Wine, Silverlake
Chronicle Wine Cellar, Pasadena

Other wine/spirits shops we visit:
Beverage Warehouse, Mar Vista
Wally's Wine & Spirits, Westwood
The Wine House, West L.A.

Reading this month:

Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock 'n Roll, by Rick Coleman.

The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories, by Philip K. Dick.

Microcosmic God: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Vol. 2, by Theodore Sturgeon.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

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

Tom Morgan's Jazz Roots

Miles of Music

New Orleans

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

No Depression


Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA

Talking furniture:

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream

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

Bob Walker's New Orleans Radio Shrine
   (A rich history of N.O. radio)
   (Comprehensive listings)

Air America Radio
   (Talk radio for the
   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete
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)

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

In the cinema:
Syriana (****)
Match Point (****)
Underworld Evolution (**)
Munich (****)
Transamerica (****)
The New World (****)
V for Vendetta (****)
The Frighteners (***1/2)
Eating Out (**)
Dead and Buried (***)
Heavenly Creatures (****)
Minority Report (****)
Tarnation (***)
Crash (**)
The Constant Gardener (***-1/2)

Lookin' at da TV:

"The West Wing"
"Battlestar Galactica"
"The Sopranos"
"Six Feet Under"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"One Tree Hill"
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
"The Simpsons"
"Father Ted"
The Food Network


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
(My pics therein: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)

My photographs at Flickr


The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
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

by Jonathan Rosenberg

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

Lulu Eightball,
by Emily Flake

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

by Walt Kelly

Suspect Device,
by Greg Peters

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

XQUZYPHYR & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak


Polly Ticks: (Progressive politics & news)
Daily Kos (My favorite political weblog)
Eschaton (The Mighty Atrios)
Hullaballoo (The Mighty Digby)
Media Matters for America (Debunking right-wing media lies)
Orcinus (David Neiwert)
PostSecret (Secrets sent in via postcards; astonishingly beautiful, funny and sad.)
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall)
TAPPED (The American Prospect Online)
Think Progress
TruthOut (William Rivers Pitt & Co.)

Borowitz Report
(Political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Fray (Your stories)
Landover Baptist (Better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (Opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (Scarily funny news/satire)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert. (Read this.) (Not the actual White House, but it should be)

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
Creek Running North
Ethel the Blog
Un Fils d'un État Rouge
Follow Me Here
Franklin Avenue
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jesus' General
Mark A. R. Kleiman
The Leaky Cauldron
Letting Loose With the Leptard
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
Martini Republic
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
No More Mr. Nice Guy!
Not Right About Anything
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Respectful of Otters
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
Whiskey Bar
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?
Your Right Hand Thief

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
michael p.
tracy and david

The Final Frontier:

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


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site


"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

"There ought to be limits to freedom."

-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."

-- George W. Bush, describing what it's like to be governor of Texas, Governing Magazine, July 1998

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

-- George W. Bush,, December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."

-- George W. Bush, Business Week, July 30, 2001

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.3 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.)

LOOKA!Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

 "Eating, drinking and carrying on..."  -- Adelaide Brennan

  Friday, July 28, 2006

Ardent Spirits.   Gary and Mardee Regan's latest newsletter is out, featuring bar crawls, the London Bar Show, amusing quips and anecdotes and much more to keep you cocktailily sated. ("Cocktailily?" Did I just invent a new adverb? But is it a good adverb or a baaaad adverb?)

Keeping you cocktailily sated this summer.   I'm going to use it until someone threatens to make me stop.

This week's Los Angeles Times Food Section features the work of some local bartenders (including one who is, um, smokin' hot) and their summery libations involving lots of muddling of cool fruits -- just the thing we need when it's 108°F outside.

Check out the fresh Bellini with the addition of thyme-infused simple syrup, Mojito muddled with watermelon and cucumber (although I'd definitely leave out the soju, which I don't much care for, in favor of a good light rum or cachaça), a Prosecco cocktail muddled with grapes and pomegranate and what'll be the latest addition to my roster of drinks for or teetotaling friends, the Cranberry Delicious, which spikes your Ocean Spray with lime juice, mint leaves and Angostura bitters.

Non-alcoholic cocktail of the day.   Wes and I were bartenders at a barbecue thrown by some friends last weekend, and we were asked to do a little cocktail flight; we had planned on small servings of four drinks, but most everyone was pretty well squiffed by the time we finished three. (Oh well, ya lightweights!) It was a lot of fun, and none of them had ever tasted the first two. We started off with the classic Gimlet -- nice and summery, and managed to win a couple of gin converts in the process. We then moved on to Daniel Reichert's wonderful Jamaica Farewell, because 1) We love it, and b) I wanted an excuse to use my "Pimento dram", a.k.a. Jamaican allspice liqueur, and see if people could guess that spicy underlying flavor. Cloves were guessed at, nutmeg, cinnamon ... well, yes and no. I think only one person came up with allspice, but only after guessing the above incorrectly. I'll be emailing out a bunch of recipes for the dram. We finished up with a classic Manhattan, 'cause sometimes it just doesn't get any better.

There were a few guests at the 'cue who don't drink, though, and we hated to see them condemned to soda for the whole night. Our friend Jennifer handed me a bottle of Trader Joe's Dixie Peach, an all-juice blend that really tastes like peaches, and asked me what I could concoct. The result met with enthusiastic approval. No name yet, so I'll just purloin Trader Joe's name for the moment ...

The Dixie Peach

Build over ice in a small rocks glass:

1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice.
4 ounces Trader Joe's Dixie Peach all-juice blend.
2 dashes Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6
2 dashes Angostura bitters.

Stir to combine, garnish with cherry, lime wedge and orange slice.

Not bad fo' da sperm o' da moment.

Watching Beirut die.   Chef Anthony Bourdain writes in Salon: "We went to Beirut to film a TV show about the city's newly vibrant culinary and cultural scene. Then the bombs started falling, and we could only stand on the barricades of our hotel balcony and watch it all disappear -- again.

This is a fantastic and utterly heartbreaking article, which seems to distill the essence of this newest war in a way that the American news media has been completely unable to do.

Oh, just change the law.   (Via Wes.) Our government, once again making us so proud to be Americans.

An obscure law approved by a Republican-controlled Congress a decade ago has made the Bush administration nervous that officials and troops involved in handling detainee matters might be accused of committing war crimes, and prosecuted at some point in U.S. courts.

Senior officials have responded by drafting legislation that would grant U.S. personnel involved in the terrorism fight new protections against prosecution for past violations of the War Crimes Act of 1996. That law criminalizes violations of the Geneva Conventions governing conduct in war and threatens the death penalty if U.S.-held detainees die in custody from abusive treatment.

In light of a recent Supreme Court ruling that the international Conventions apply to the treatment of detainees in the terrorism fight, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has spoken privately with Republican lawmakers about the need for such "protections," according to someone who heard his remarks last week.

Gonzales told the lawmakers that a shield is needed for actions taken by U.S. personnel under a 2002 presidential order, which the Supreme Court declared illegal, and under Justice Department legal opinions that have been withdrawn under fire, the source said. A spokeswoman for Gonzales, Tasia Scolinos, declined to comment on Gonzales's remarks.

Because what comment can you offer, other than, "What the fuck?"

Quote of the day.   Paul Krugman, on rewriting recent history (i.e., four years ago), via Atrios:

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the Bush administration continues to be remarkably successful at rewriting history. For example, Mr. Bush has repeatedly suggested that the United States had to invade Iraq because Saddam wouldn't let U.N. inspectors in. His most recent statement to that effect was only a few weeks ago. And he gets away with it. If there have been reports by major news organizations pointing out that that's not at all what happened, I've missed them.

It's all very Orwellian, of course. But when Orwell wrote of "a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past," he was thinking of totalitarian states. Who would have imagined that history would prove so easy to rewrite in a democratic nation with a free press?

When will someone, preferably a reporter on live television, contradict and correct him when he says something like this?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"How does the richest, freest country on Earth handle a disaster?"   This is the question posed by Oyster, from whom I've shamelessly purloined these links. From Loki at Humid City comes a story from the Advocate in Baton Rouge of an extremely important and underpublicized article about FEMA trailer parks in south Louisiana. "The images described," says Oyster, "are unbelievably outrageous, even for those of us who have practically subsisted on outrage in recent months and years."

1. At several sites in South Louisiana, hundreds of identical white trailers stand in rows in cleared fields -- but over 9 in 10 of the trailers are empty.

2. One of the very few residents living in the Morgan City "Femaville" is a single mom with five kids -- 4 are under 12 years old. Since there's no bus service (or phones or mailboxes) at the trailer park, she must walk "several miles" to the grocery store. Frequently. In the South Louisiana summer heat. Lugging groceries and an 18-month-old.

3. It gets worse. In one respect, FEMA seems extremely protective of displaced citizens' right to privacy. They refuse to give out displaced citizens' contact information to parish officials who want to make them aware of available temp housing near their former homes. So -- due to this lack of communication -- there are families who have lived in tents for the past six months because FEMA apparently won't tell them about available housing, and FEMA won't let Parish officials contact the displaced citizens, either.

HOWEVER, this "respect" for privacy suddenly evaporates when a Femaville resident wishes to free associate with a reporter who is inquiring about the aforementioned outrages and absurdities.

[A FEMA spokesperson] confirmed that FEMA does not allow the media to speak alone to residents in their trailers.

"If a resident invites the media to the trailer, they have to be escorted by a FEMA representative who sits in on the interview," [a FEMA official] said. "That's just a policy."

Government "Minders" in your living room, watching what you say during an interview -- it's "just a policy".

Just a policy... Just a policy... That's quite a useful little phrase.

Go. Read the rest, all the linked articles and posts, especially this one.

I hate to channel Charlton Heston, but ... God damn this government to hell.

Soul Kitchen is out today!   Okay, all you fans of New Orleans, New Orleans food, wonderful writing and delicious characters ... Poppy Z. Brite's third novel in the Liquor series (fourth, if you count the prequel) hits the shelves today. I got just one word for you ... YEAHYOURITE!

Screw all the Amazon shit, and screw your local bookstore too. You need to buy this book in New Orleans. Get it now from Garden District Book Shop on Prytania Street, and call ahead and tell him you want to order an autographed copy; Poppy will be signing on August the 5th. But hey, if you can't wait, order it now!

I can't wait to read Soul Kitchen, plus her novella D*U*C*K will be out in later this year. We'll get a nice big dose of Rickey, G-Man and the rest of the cast this year, and this pleases me immensely.

Sno-balls on da radio!   Promoted from the comments (thanks, Christine!) ... NPR learns about the thing of beauty that is the New Orleans snowball, and profiles the legendary Hansen's Sno-Bliz, now run by the late Mary and Ernest Hansen's granddaughter Ashley.

Yes, I know that Tales of the Cocktail was last weekend.   I couldn't go, so I couldn't bear to write about it, or even think about it.

Those of you did may torment me in the comments by telling me how much of a wonderful time you had. Make it good.

The Cocktailian.   In the most recent edition of Gary Regan's fornightly column, the Professor, our cocktailian bartender, offers the surprising combination of whisky and beer in the same glass ... and it's not a mere Boilermaker, but a fine peaty Scotch with a strong stout. And bitters! Must investigate ...

Wanna buy a used guitar?   Wanna practice strumming? Even better, wanna play the blues? Well, you couldn't possibly have a better opportunity for the perfect instrument than this one -- blues master Robert Johnson's guitar is for sale, and is referred to as "The Holy Grail."

The price? A cool six million.

I'd have to be a record-setting Lotto winner (or I'd have to sell my soul to The Devil) to afford it, and I'd have to have that sucker thoroughly authenticated, but ... oh my Gawd, how cool would that be? I nearly fainted when a friend brought one of Eddie Lang's guitars over to my house once, but Robert Johnson's guitar?

Law, shmaw, who cares about the law?   Not our President, according to the American Bar Association (and you'd think they'd know). They've just issued a comprehensive report saying that "President Bush was flouting the Constitution and undermining the rule of law by claiming the power to disregard selected portions of bills that he signed."

In a comprehensive report, a bipartisan 11-member panel of the bar association said Mr. Bush had used such "signing statements" far more than his predecessors, raising constitutional objections to more than 800 provisions in more than 100 laws on the ground that they infringed on his prerogatives.

These broad assertions of presidential power amount to a "line-item veto" and improperly deprive Congress of the opportunity to override the veto, the panel said.

In signing a statutory ban on torture and other national security laws, Mr. Bush reserved the right to disregard them.

The bar association panel said the use of signing statements in this way was "contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers." From the dawn of the Republic, it said, presidents have generally understood that, in the words of George Washington, a president "must approve all the parts of a bill, or reject it in toto."

If the president deems a bill unconstitutional, he can veto it, the panel said, but "signing statements should not be a substitute for a presidential veto."

The panel's report adds momentum to a campaign by scholars and members of Congress who want to curtail the use of signing statements as a device to augment presidential power.

I wish them luck, because this president doesn't care about the Constitution, or separation of powers, or the rule of law. He apparently cares about this, as he forewarned us long ago:

"There ought to be limits to freedom."
-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."
-- George W. Bush, describing what it's like to be governor of Texas, Governing Magazine, July 1998

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
-- George W. Bush,, December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."
-- George W. Bush, Business Week, July 30, 2001

Weaken his attempts to give further rise to a unitary executive by voting Republicans OUT in November.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Hey,"   said the email from my sister. "I see you haven't updated Looka! in a while." Yeah, because I'm a lazy bastard. You know that.

I had to update today, though. It's July 19! That's a very important day in history, as you know. It's the day Galway was liberated from the Indians, Marathon became Snickers, and most of all, the day the Ice Age ended. I couldn't let that pass.

The "new normal" in New Orleans.   I'm getting to the point where I want to hit anyone who says anything like "Oh, New Orleans is OK now, right? You had Jazzfest!" Given that I'm generally non-violent, and in fact the last time I struck another human being in anger was in the 8th grade, when a fat bully kid tried to steal my sandwich, I'd probably just hit them with a nerf bat or something soft, just for emphasis. Such a person might probably mean well, but how can any intelligent, aware person, anyone who's paying attention, think that something like that just magically healed in less than a year?

Once again the Los Angeles Times does a great job of keeping the city on its front page with this article last Saturday, in which they say, "Sure, Mardi Gras and Jazzfest came back. But everyday life in the city remains shattered."

They are signature scenes of the city: tourists on Bourbon Street, diners savoring breakfast at Brennan's, revelers dancing at Tipitina's, crowds at the street fairs and music festivals.

Almost 11 months after Hurricane Katrina struck, these scenes suggest the city is "back."

But most New Orleanians are stuck in a different scene, one set against a backdrop of moldy sheet rock, plywood, broken tiles and twisted metal littering median strips for miles at a stretch, and in which every park or defunct strip mall has become a trailer city.

Much attention has been paid to the storm's death toll and massive property destruction, but what is remarkable today is how much everyday life in this city has changed.

People make their homes in temporary lodging that offers neither stability nor the familiarity of their own belongings. The market where they shopped: closed. The schools their children attended: still shuttered and empty.

Lifelong bonds with cherished neighbors have been broken; in many neighborhoods, few are left. In their version of life in New Orleans, people wonder how their lives will feel normal again.

Marie Benoit, 52, feels the disjunction between the New Orleans the world wants to see and the one she lives in.

"They saw Carnival. They saw Jazzfest. They think everything is OK. 'Get over it; it's over,' " said Benoit, an elementary school teacher sent into premature retirement by Katrina. Her house remains a pile of rubble in the city's Lower 9th Ward. "But it's not over."

In fact, it's far from over.

At least 125,000 properties in New Orleans were damaged or destroyed by wind, water and fire. Rebuilding those that could be salvaged is only now, with the recent passage of the federal spending bill providing hurricane relief, beginning on a large scale. At the end of the school year, 25 of 128 New Orleans public schools had reopened; and just 12,000 of the city's 60,000 students had returned. By September, 57 schools with space for up to 34,000 students are expected to be open, although according to school officials, there only will be staff to handle 22,000.

Three of 11 hospitals are open in Orleans Parish, where New Orleans is located, according to Louisiana state statistics. The police force is down by about 200 officers from its pre-storm strength of 1,668.

Although power has been restored to most of the city, in severely ravaged neighborhoods, street after street remains dark after sundown. Water service is generally back, but the pressure is often very low due to leaks in the city's storm-fractured system.

Residents still complain of delays in mail delivery. Postal officials say service has resumed throughout inhabited areas of the city, but hundreds of residents in districts hit hardest by the storm are limited to retrieving their mail once every 10 days at a post office.

Twenty-eight of the city's 46 bus routes are operating; transportation consultants have recommended the routes be further cut to 24. More than 550 of the Regional Transit Authority's 1,340 employees did not return to work after Katrina. Scores of traffic lights throughout the city are still malfunctioning.

Dry cleaners are hard to find, and even in neighborhoods where some people have moved back and are trying to rebuild, there are no supermarkets, no banks, no restaurants, no churches.

I think I might just have this article printed on a little wallet-sized pamphlet so I can just hand it to people instead of saying, "No, you idiot, of course it's not all better now."

Don't misunderstand -- please go to New Orleans. We need you, and I guarantee you'll have a good time. And to interject some reality, go see all the still-devastated neighborhoods. But don't think for a minute that it's "all better" now just because New Orleanians continue to live their lives as best we can, and celebrate their culture, because that's what we do. It's like breathing.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's not just gin.   Thank you, thank you, Los Angeles Times Food Section. If there's any spirit that needs a bit of a boost, because of its intrinsic fabulosity and its wholly unwarranted and unjust overshadowing by vodka, it's gin. The Times has an article today that sings the praises of gin, including a tasting of 16 gins. Oddly enough, Plymouth gin is not included (!), but to their credit the one that comes out at the top of the list is the superb Hendrick's.

I've been very curious to try Kensington's, the new barrel-aged gin (and the only one like it), which the article describes as "a cross between gin and aged whiskey." Man, I can't wait to try that in a Martini, especially a sweet Martini.

"Napoleon is always right."   Mindboggling quote of the day, via Think Progress:

The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday heard testimony from Steven Bradbury, head of the Justice Department's office of legal counsel. When questioned by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on whether the President's interpretation of the Hamdan case was right or wrong, Bradbury replied, "The President is always right."

Don't believe me? Watch the video.

He's apparently completely serious, too. ('Cause if all these people weren't serious it'd be screamingly funny, not extremely scary.) Atrios wonders about "our new Constitution ... some time while we were sleeping the whole thing was replaced with one sentence. Why do these people hate America?"

Next up: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, but some men are created more equal than others."

Kneel before Shrub!   I look at this 2008 presidential candidacy and sometimes wonder if we don't already have him in office ...

Q: [D]o you support Supreme Court justices that will strictly interpret the Constitution or will you choose justices that have a more lenient view?

A: The Constitution is in writing -- can you all not read? Surely there is nothing that requires meddling, wasteful interpretation. You humans will concentrate on your work and cease your struggles to become media darlings for the sake of some futile cause. From time to time I will override the Constitution, and that will be quite black-and-white. You shall trust your ruler.

By the way, many members of the current administration will need a place to live after 2008. Can someone please invent the Phantom Zone before then?

Marty's Thelma.   Here's an excellent "Fresh Air" interview with Thelma Schoonmaker, who's edited every one of Martin Scorsese's films since "Raging Bull." (Thanks, Wes!)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Quotes of the day.   Visionaries, all of them. (Seen in a message board post.)

"Everything that can be invented has been invented.
-- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

"Get your feet off my desk, get out of here, you stink, and we're not going to buy your product."
-- Joe Keenan, President of Atari, in 1976 responding to Steve Jobs' offer to sell him rights to the new personal computer he and Steve Wozniak developed

"Computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps only weigh 1-1/2 tons."
-- Popular Mechanics, 1949

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."
-- Ken Olson (President of Digital Equipment Corporation) at the Convention of the World Future Society in Boston in 1977

Good thing the third was didn't come true, because my backpack would be much larger and heavier now, and it'd be murder on my back.

Bush celebrates Gargantuan deficit.   (Via Think Progress) You really can't make up stuff like this.

Today, the Office of Management Budget projected a $296 billion federal deficit for fiscal year 2006. Bush held a press conference arguing that this is a vindication of his economic policies.

Actually, it would be the fourth largest deficit of all time. Here are the top five:

1. 2004 (George W. Bush) $413 billion
2. 2003 (George W. Bush) $378 billion
3. 2005 (George W. Bush) $318 billion
4. 2006 (George W. Bush) $296 billion (projected)
5. 1992 (George H. W. Bush) $290 billion

When President Bush came into office, he inherited a surplus of $284 billion. At that time, the Bush administration predicted a $516 billion surplus for 2006.

The fact that Bush now considers a $296 billion deficit an occasion to celebrate shows how far we've fallen.

Hey, give the poor schmuck a break. He was only off by $812 billion with the prediction for '06.

(Almost a trillion dollars ... *boggle*)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, July 10, 2006

Guess what? Congressmen are not above the law.   Of course, a good ninth-grade civics student probably could have told you that, but they couldn't find one so they turned to a federal judge, who ruled today that the FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson's office was legal.

Easy, just pick it up and move it, right? (Wrong.)   The small Cajun town of Erath, Louisiana -- home to the great musician D. L. Menard -- has had serious problems with flooding over the years, the latest deluge coming from Hurricane Rita. The solution proposed by the outside consultants the town hired? Move the entire town. Predictably, longtime residents are not thrilled with the idea.

Radio Bitchslap.   You know, I can't stand Adam Carolla -- I find him a useless idiot who's painfully unfunny -- but I have to give him a point for how he handled the situation when a certain frothing right-wing nutjob currently adding to her infamy for dissing 9/11 widows (and whose name shall not be mentioned here) called into his radio show 90 minutes late. (Link to MP3 audio.) I wish more media outlets had handled her this way, instead of letting her on the air to spew and flog her book draw attention to herself (which is, I believe, her only agenda). This is especially true now that she seems to be a plagiarist.

The Bush Pilot.   This explains everything. It's all the German guy. (Via Crooks and Liars)

Where da kid at?   Because what this site needs is more celebrity gossip.

Our beloved regular poster "baconwrapped" returned from vacation this weekend to pose some important questions via email; namely, "What is up with the alleged Cruise baby? No one has actually seen the tyke, including, apparently, close friends of the Cruise/Holmes clan, who are wondering why they are being put off. Now there is some controversy over the very delayed birth certificate -- no one who signed the thing has actually seen the baby, either."

Place your votes:

1. Alien?
2. Baby swapping?
3. There is no baby?
4. Discretion on Tom's part? (Yeah, you're right. That's just too wacky a theory.)
5. Something actually grim and sad?

'Cause I get sick of politics and outrage overload.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, July 7, 2006

He's back.   The long weekend lasted longer than I expected.

Al Gore 3.0   Rolling Stone features a new interview with Al Gore. If only we could get a Democratic presidential candidate that sounds this articulate during the campaign (and why couldn't Gore sound like this six years ago?) ... *sigh*

Cheney's hit man.   Here's an excellent article in The New Yorker about David Addington, Dick Cheney's chief of staff and longtime principal legal adviser.

Most Americans, even those who follow politics closely, have probably never heard of Addington. But current and former Administration officials say that he has played a central role in shaping the Administration?s legal strategy for the war on terror. Known as the New Paradigm, this strategy rests on a reading of the Constitution that few legal scholars share -- namely, that the President, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority to disregard virtually all previously known legal boundaries, if national security demands it. Under this framework, statutes prohibiting torture, secret detention, and warrantless surveillance have been set aside. A former high-ranking Administration lawyer who worked extensively on national-security issues said that the Administration?s legal positions were, to a remarkable degree, "all Addington." Another lawyer, Richard L. Shiffrin, who until 2003 was the Pentagon?s deputy general counsel for intelligence, said that Addington was "an unopposable force."

The overarching intent of the New Paradigm, which was put in place after the attacks of September 11th, was to allow the Pentagon to bring terrorists to justice as swiftly as possible. Criminal courts and military courts, with their exacting standards of evidence and emphasis on protecting defendants' rights, were deemed too cumbersome. Instead, the President authorized a system of detention and interrogation that operated outside the international standards for the treatment of prisoners of war established by the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Terror suspects would be tried in a system of military commissions, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, devised by the executive branch. The Administration designated these suspects not as criminals or as prisoners of war but as "illegal enemy combatants," whose treatment would be ultimately decided by the President. By emphasizing interrogation over due process, the government intended to pre?mpt future attacks before they materialized. In November, 2001, Cheney said of the military commissions, "We think it guarantees that we'll have the kind of treatment of these individuals that we believe they deserve."

Yet, almost five years later, this improvised military model, which Addington was instrumental in creating, has achieved very limited results. Not a single terror suspect has been tried before a military commission. Only ten of the more than seven hundred men who have been imprisoned at Guantánamo have been formally charged with any wrongdoing. Earlier this month, three detainees committed suicide in the camp. Germany and Denmark, along with the European Union and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, have called for the prison to be closed, accusing the United States of violating internationally accepted standards for humane treatment and due process. The New Paradigm has also come under serious challenge from the judicial branch. Two years ago, in Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court ruled against the Administration's contention that the Guant?namo prisoners were beyond the reach of the U.S. court system and could not challenge their detention. And this week the Court is expected to deliver a decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a case that questions the legality of the military commissions. [The ruling was delivered last week, against the administration, finding the commissions to be unconstitutional.]

For years, Addington has carried a copy of the U.S. Constitution in his pocket; taped onto the back are photocopies of extra statutes that detail the legal procedures for Presidential succession in times of national emergency. Many constitutional experts, however, question his interpretation of the document, especially his views on Presidential power. Scott Horton, a professor at Columbia Law School, and the head of the New York Bar Association's International Law committee, said that Addington and a small group of Administration lawyers who share his views had attempted to "overturn two centuries of jurisprudence defining the limits of the executive branch. They've made war a matter of dictatorial power." The historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who defined Nixon as the extreme example of Presidential overreaching in his book The Imperial Presidency (1973), said he believes that Bush "is more grandiose than Nixon." As for the Administration's legal defense of torture, which Addington played a central role in formulating, Schlesinger said, "No position taken has done more damage to the American reputation in the world -- ever."

I'd add the war to that damage list, and Bush's constant comtempt of world opinion, not to mention that of the American people.

Bruce Fein, a Republican legal activist, who voted for Bush in both Presidential elections, and who served as associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan Justice Department, said that Addington and other Presidential legal advisers had "staked out powers that are a universe beyond any other Administration. This President has made claims that are really quite alarming. He's said that there are no restraints on his ability, as he sees it, to collect intelligence, to open mail, to commit torture, and to use electronic surveillance. If you used the President's reasoning, you could shut down Congress for leaking too much. His war powers allow him to declare anyone an illegal combatant. All the world's a battlefield -- according to this view, he could kill someone in Lafayette Park if he wants! It's got the sense of Louis XIV: 'I am the State.'" Richard A. Epstein, a prominent libertarian law professor at the University of Chicago, said, "The President doesn't have the power of a king, or even that of state governors. He's subject to the laws of Congress! The Administration's lawyers are nuts on this issue." He warned of an impending "constitutional crisis," because "their talk of the inherent power of the Presidency seems to be saying that the courts can't stop them, and neither can Congress."

Does this administration sound anything like the America you grew up in? The America founded on a vision of freedom and democracy, even in the face of advsersity? The America that believes in the rule of law, with a government of checks and balances? The America you were raised and taught in your civics classes to love and respect? The America so many have died to defend? The frightening thing is that he has two-and-a-half more years to destroy what little is left.

Morford: Bush "dead to me."   I haven't posted one of Mark Morford's SFGate columns in a while. This is a good one.

It is like some sort of virus. It is like some sort of weird and painful rash on your face that makes you embarrassed to walk out the door and so you sit there day after day, waiting for it to go away, slathering on ointment and Bactine and scotch. And yet still it lingers.

Some days the pain is so searing and hot you want to cut off your own head with a nail file. Other days it is numb and pain-free and seemingly OK, to the point where you think it might finally be all gone and you allow yourself a hint of a whisper of a positive feeling, right up until you look in the mirror, and scream.

George W. Bush is just like that.

Everyone I know has had enough. Everyone I know is just about done. There is this threshold of happy deadened disgust, this point where the body simply resigns itself to the pain, a point where the disease, the poison has seeped so deeply into the bones that you just have to laugh and shrug it all off and go for a drink. Or 10.

I was having cocktails recently with a group of people, among whom were two lifetime Republicans, each in his 60s, corporate businessmen, one admittedly slightly more moderate than the other (to the point where, after once hearing a senator read off a long list of Bush's hideous environmental atrocities, actually let his conscience lead his choice and ended up voting for Kerry) but nevertheless both devoted members of the party.

Bush came up, as a topic, as a cancer, as a fetid miasma in the air. They were both shaking their heads. They were sighing heavily. They were both, in a word, disgusted. The more staunchly conservative of the two even went so far as to say he was so embarrassed and humiliated by this president, by this administration, so appalled at all the war atrocities and the wiretapping and the misuse of law, the fiscal irresponsibility and the abuse of the lower classes and the outright arrogance, that if the Dems could somehow produce a decent moderate candidate with a brain, he'd have zero problem switching allegiances and voting for him. Or her.

It may not sound like much. It may not seem like a major shift. But it is, in its way, sort of massive. For thoughtful Repubs with a conscience (they actually exist, I have seen them), there is little left to defend. There is little this administration has done among all categories of ostensible GOP values that they can look to with any sort of pride. Medicare? Shrinking the budget? Smaller government? Less intervention in our lives? Reduced spending? Increased respect in the international community? Responsible international citizen? Ha. Name your topic, BushCo has failed. Spectacularly. Intentionally.

Read the rest.

June Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

[ Link to today's entries ]

Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this weblog, providing links, comments and sometimes lots more. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Mary Herczog, Steve Hochman, Dave Schmerler, Nettie DeAugustine, Diana Schwam, Andy Senasac, Michael Yasui, Steve Gardner, Michael Pemberton, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Eric Labow, Tom Krueger, Greg Beron, Sean Burke, Shari Minton and Barry Enderwick.
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