the gumbo pages
me   |    email

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

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

Page last tweaked @ 9:24am PST, 4/28/2000

Blame this page on:
Chuck Taggart

Looka! Archive

March 2000
February 2000
January 2000

December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999

Recent Epinions:

1. Mi Piace: It pleases me

2. Wusthof: Knives for Serious Cooks

3. The Isle of Skye

4. The French Laundry (Wine Country, CA): Meal of a lifetime

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

6. Volkswagen New Beetle: Fun fun fun!

Now reading:

The American Way of Death Revisited, by Jessica Mitford.

A For Anything, by Damon Knight.

Breakfast on Pluto, by Patrick McCabe.


Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

by Peter Blegvad

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Lookin' at da TV:

"The Sopranos"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"The Simpsons"
"Star Trek: Voyager"
The Food Network

Weblog looking:

The BradLands
Ethel the Blog
Hit or Miss
Lake Effect
Mister Pants
Mr. Barrett
the nubbin
One Swell Foop
Q Daily News
Robot Wisdom
Running Tally
Slightly North of Tomorrow
Strange Brew
The Other Side
Web Queeries
Whim and Vinegar

Brig's big blog portal
Matthew's GLB blog portal

<< | webloggers | >>


The Fray
The Onion

Hosted by WebCom

Made with Macintosh

weblog and (almost) daily blather

  Friday, April 28, 2000
We're off!   Wes and I take off at 11am, fly from LAX to the vile Dallas-Fort Worth airport, catch a prop puddlejumper to Baton Rouge and drive into New Orleans today. We'll proceed immediately to the Napoleon House to drop off a last-minute printing of the Festival Tours T-shirts for Nancy. Then we'll head off to the Camellia Grill, where I plan to have a potato, onion and cheese omelette with fries, plus (I hope) split a pecan waffle witih Wes. I'll have a chocolate freeze and, if I'm feeling adventurous and hungry enough, a piece of their famous chocolate pecan pie. (I'll be changing my name to Mr. Chuck Creosote when I get back...)

Well, at least that's $50 I'll be saving...   Once again, as two other years recently, the official poster for this year's Jazz and Heritage Festival sucks.

Because once again they've gotten hack pop artist George Rodrigue to paint it. And once again he's put that goddamn blue dog in it.

He did two lousy (and nearly identical, as is so much of his stuff) posters within the last several years, one of Pete Fountain and one of Louis Armstrong, each with the blue dog at his feet. The painting this year is of Al Hirt, once again with the blue dog at his feet. The blue dog has NOTHING to do with New Orleans, or the Jazz and Heritage Festival. It has only to do with Rodrigue lining his pockets by painting the same thing over and over and over and over ...

Save your money on the poster this year.

Paramount's behind Dr. Laura.   Executives at Paramount Studios say that they "stand firmly behind" the forthcoming TV show featuring "Dr." Laura Schlessinger. (Gee, if I were behind her I don't know if I'd be able to resist the overwhelming temptation to kick her firmly in the arse.)

The Paramount execs are absolutely right about one thing, though. "Once it is on the air, the judgment will be made. Ultimately, viewers will give us the answers."

In other words, the best way to deal with this show is not to protest, is not to complain, is not to while. It is to ignore it completely, and not to watch it. From the stories I've heard about how she can't even keep from alienating her studio audience, I have no doubt that this poor excuse for television will tank quickly and go away.

  Thursday, April 27, 2000
Yes, we're all like that.   Friends of mine in California invariably think I'm a little weird, because (among other things) while I'm having a meal, I'll be talking about the last meal I had as well as planning the next one. This is merely part of the New Orleanian character, but I grant that the behavior is a little unusual for Californians. Invariably, when these friends finally come to New Orleans with me and meet my family, friends and fellow Yats, they say "My God, they're all like that!"

This is just to preface my saying that as of tomorrow when I leave for Jazzfest, I'll have every single meal planned out from dinner on Friday, April 28, until dinner on Sunday, May 7. (Camellia Grill, Jazzfest booths, The Pelican Club, Jazzfest booths, ova by my momma's, Bayona, Irene's, The Pig Stand in Ville Platte, the crawfish boil in Eunice; breakfast at the B&B in Opelousas, dinner at Liuzza's, Jazzfest booths, dinner at Gamay, lunch at Uglesich's, dinner at Dean & Becky's, breakfast at Elizabeth's, shrimp boil at Peter & Sarah's, Jazzfest booths, and po-boys for Sunday dinner. *urp*)

Our chances to be spontaneous will be during the four days we'll be on the Fairgrounds, where among the 50 or so food booths we have to choose from will be such delectables as Creole's stuffed bread from Lafayette; crawfish sausage and hot sausage po-boys from Vaucresson's; crawfish boudin, boudin blanc, shrimp boudin and boudin balls (*); alligator pie, crabmeat-stuffed shrimp and fried green tomatoes; BBQ oyster po-boys from the Red Fish Grill; the triple threat of the crawfish sack, oyster pattie and crawfish beignets with white remoulade sauce from Patton's in Chalmette; roast beef and/or fried potato po-boys from Elizabeth's in Bywater; pheasant, quail and andouille gumbo, crab and crawfish stuffed mushrooms, and crawfish enchiladas (but unfortunately no Atchafalaya gator this year, phoo) from Prejean's in Lafayette; crawfish étouffée; Oysters Rockefeller bisque; the delectable strawberry lemonade; jama jama and fried plantains; Cuban sandwiches ... and lots lots more. Yum yum yum!

* -- A few years ago I had gotten an order of boudin balls at the Fest. They're boudin sausage taken out of the casing, looking sort of like rice dressing; then they're formed into golf-ball-sized balls, batter dipped, breaded and fried until golden brown. Yum yum yum. A couple of girls from out-of-town passed by, saw them, and heeded the insiders' advice to ask a local what it was. "What's that?" one of them asked. "Boudin balls!" said I. "Um ... what's boudin balls?" Without hesitation, I replied, "They're the breaded and deep-fried testicles of the wild Atchafalaya freshwater boudin."

Their eyes widened, a look of horror crossing their faces. I think I mighta put 'em off o' da boudin balls...

As if there wasn't enough to be appalled about...   The Sheriff's Office of Jefferson County, Colorado, is going to begin selling 3-hour videotapes of the aftermath of the Columbine massacre, set to background music (used without permission) of an outraged Sarah Maclachlan and an indignant Cheryl Wheeler, for a fee of $25. Have you no sense of decency, sir?

Mistah Hopkins, he scapegoat.   I'm guessing that this Reuters headline is not a tribute to Joseph Conrad, but is in fact just bad grammar.

Don't feck with me, fellas.   The real-life Erin Brockovich busts her ex-husband and that biker ex-boyfriend of hers for trying to extort money from her. You go, girl!

Paulie, Silvio ... make it happen.   If I were Tony Soprano, I'd just have this guy whacked.

  Wednesday, April 26, 2000
Jazzfest, T-minus two days and counting.   I can already taste the Creole's stuffed bread (one of the greatest things to eat, ever, anywhere) and the fried soft-shell crawfish (dressed and garnished with batter-dipped fried jalapeño slices).

Wow indeed.   Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez has written a wonderful essay on the Elián case. If you need another perspective (and you do), read it. (Thanks to Jason for the link!)

Republicans hypocrites? Nawwwww...   Michael Kinsley points out the utter hypocrisy of GOP politicians who are against Elián González' reunion with his father and for his staying in the custody of those wingnut relatives in Miami. Such a view is in direct contradiction of the Republican Party platform, it seems.

Danger! Peeps!   Of all the horrific Easter candy that's out there, nothing is more vile and disturbing than the Marshmallow Peep. I can't quite figure out the appeal of these little pink, yellow or blue monstrosities; indeed, I couldn't figure out why I ate two of them (pink ones) in a rather morbid fascination at a party last Saturday night.

If you have any of these left over from Easter, or if you've succumbed to the 50% off post-Easter get-rid-of-the-damned-Peeps sales, you'll definitely want to study the Peep Research site before you consider eating any. Learn about, among other things, which solvents and toxic chemicals are unable to dissolve a Peep, which one does, and the horror that was left behind. Run away!

Warning! Disgusting blog entry!   For those of you with weak stomachs, I suggest you skip this particular entry and move on to the next one. Consider yourself warned. I take no responsibility, etc.

Okay, for you brave souls who didn't heed what you read on the Peep Research site, here's a recipe for you (found on soc.motss):

Blue Peep Pie

by Martha McLemore

This pie requires one cookie crumb or graham cracker crust. The pink Peeps look nice in the chocolate cookie crust. The blue... well, the blue ones rank right up there with those abominable lavender chickies, in my opinion, so use whichever crust you like for them.

     1 cookie crumb pie crust
     1 four-serving box blue gelatin
     1 cup boiling water
     1 cup whole milk (or half-and-half/light cream)
     3 cups cold, but thawed non-dairy whipped topping
     2 tablespoons blue Curaçao or similar blue liqueur
     15 (1 package of 3 boxes) blue Peeps
     1 cup fresh blueberries for garnish

Freeze crust while you prepare the pie filling. Pour one cup boiling water over gelatin in heat proof bowl. Stir to dissolve gelatin. Add 1 cup cold milk and liqueur. Blend well and refrigerate until gelatin has thickened, but not set firm.

Fold in thawed topping to chilled gelatin mixture. Mix completely so that no streaks remain, but avoid overworking. Spoon filling into frozen crust. Snip apart each family of Peeps. Arrange in concentric circles atop pie filling. Use fresh blueberries to fill in gaps between Peeps. Refrigerate for at least three hours.

Peeps refrigerated for longer than 36 hours will begin to "weep" and ooze melted sugar. With the blue or lavender Peeps, this is a particularly disgusting sight.

Serve with Blue Genie cocktail or blue Kool-aid.

Mmm-mmm-mmm, huh? Next I think I'll adapt a Red Velvet Cake into a Blue Velvet Cake, and write in icing on the top, "HEINEKEN?!? F#(& THAT SH*T! PABST BLUE RIBBON!!"

Nope, not a joke. Real.   Have you ever seen a biker chick that looks like Barbie? Specifically, Harley-Davidson® Barbie? No, I didn't think so. How 'bout that rough trade Ken, though? Actual ad copy follows:

Ken® doll (sold separately) looks hot in his denim shirt, white knit tank top, and black leatherette chaps worn over his blue jeans. Silvery stud accents and a silver and black Harley-Davidson shield buckle complete his outfit. He's got that true cool biker edge with his chest "hair" and "beard," and the "born to ride" tattoo on his forearm!
Yes, mothers across the country undoubtedly will be flocking to the toy store to buy these for their eight-year-old daughters. (Well, biker-chick mammas will, at least.)

  Tuesday, April 25, 2000
"Friday Night Live" is here!   My friends and radio colleagues Ellen "L.A. Ell" Bloom and John "Juke" Logan have just released their first CD compilation of live performances from their long-running radio program "The Friday Night Blues Revue"! Ironically, the program (along with all other music programming) was killed by KPCC just over a month ago. Relive some of the coolest performances from 8 years of the Blues Revue, and you can order online from the Pacific Blues website.

Eh-dwahn begins to wait.   The latest trial of former Louisiana governor Edwin "The only way they'll get me is if they catch me in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy" Edwards finished on Friday and went to the jury today. He faces a possible sentence of over 300 years in federal prison if they finally get him on extortion, bribery, racketeering and all the other charges related to riverboat gambling during and after his last term. It looks like they might actually get him this time; half the jury is comprised of middle-aged white women, the demographic that seems to like him the least and is the least impressed with his legendary charm and sense of humor.

That sense of humor hasn't gone away, and is still evident even on the witness stand, as an amusing Time magazine article tells us:

"Are you perjuring yourself?" [Prosecutor Jim] Letten often demanded, once prompting this reply: "No. And if I were, you've got to assume I wouldn't be telling you." Asked if he recalled a soirée at which he approached someone who was angling for a riverboat license and asked his name, Edwards sniffed that no such thing would ever happen. "I'm a politician," he said. "I would have asked someone else who he was and then gone up and acted like I knew him."
Incidentally, I think my favorite Edwards line is from back when he was running for re-election to a third term after having had to sit out one (the only gubernatorial term limit in Louisiana prohibits you from holding office for more than two consecutive terms, but you can run again after that). About incumbent Republican Dave Treen, who ran on an honesty platform, Edwards said, "Dave Treen is so dull and slow that it takes him an hour and a half to watch '60 Minutes'."

While I might think he's hilarious and quite a Louisiana character, I also think he's a HUGE crook whose butt needs to stew in prison for a good long while.

I wonder if it's in the Chamber of Horrors.   New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani unveiled a wax statue of himself at Madame Tussaud's in London today. "Giuliani said the smiling wax figure, dressed in a navy-blue suit, white shirt, red tie and black brogues, was better-looking than the live version." That's not the only way the wax version is better than the live one; the wax version doesn't talk, either.

This was no boating accident!   Woo! A special edition of "Jaws", as well as several other Steven Spielberg films, are finally coming out on DVD.

Crawfish season   is lousy this year, due to the lack of normal rainfall in Louisiana; they're scarce and expensive. Still, I don't think I'm willing to eat a blue one...

Speaking of Japanese crawfish ... I recently learned that the Japanese word for crawfish is "zarigani". Way back when, in the days leading up to the infamous Crawfish-Sea Urchin Battle, Hiroki claimed that the Japanese word for crawfish translated as "cockroach in water". Was he pulling my leg? Let's hear from you, Japanese-speakers!

Drink! Feck! Arse! 404!   The other day Matt posted a link to his new "not found" page, which goes right along with his nifty new design. I love custom 404 pages, the funnier and cleverer the better. I hope that my own such offering, which I've had for a while now but never really linked to, is amusing and frightening enough to prompt people to type in URLs on my site carefully. The distinguished cleric you see, by the way, is Fr. Jack Hackett, beloved resident of Craggy Island, Ireland, and one of the four main characters in my favorite comedy series, "Father Ted". Don't forget, if you get BBC America on your cable or satellite service, you can see "Father Ted" every Wednesday at 5 and 10pm Pacific time.

  Monday, April 24, 2000
Four days until Jazzfest!   It all starts this Friday. Unfortunately, that's a day I'll miss, since we'll still be in the air. But we oughta get into town in enough time to stop at the Camellia Grill for a potato-onion and cheese omelette the size of a rolled-up newspaper, and then head to the Howlin' Wolf to see Wilco. Then we'll hit the Fairgrounds first thing Saturday morning, get a Creole's stuffed bread and a fried soft-shell crawfish po-boy, and likely start with Terrance Simien, Mem Shannon, Germaine Bazzle or maybe Andrew Hall's Society Brass band, or Maracatu Nacao Memambuco from Brazil. Damn, already I can't decide.

I'll likely be filing daily Jazzfest reports from the road, since my sister is now computer-connected. Stay tuned.

Oh, this is rich.   So much for my not writing about this anymore.

That looney second cousin of Elián González is now saying that the photograph of the smiling boy in the arms of his father is fake -- "The picture, that is not Elián", she said.

Tell me ... how crazy is that?

In a nutshell.   A couple of friends of mine were summarizing how the González case played out, which went something like this:

Government: Hand over the boy.

Miami jerks: No way. You'll have to come take him by force. And if you do you might get hurt.

Government: C'mon, please hand over the boy. It's the law.

Miami jerks: No way.

Government: Please?

Miami jerks: Screw you.

Government: What would it take for you to be reasonable and hand over the boy?

Miami jerks: We refuse to be reasonable. You'll have to come and take him by force.

Government: Okay, we will.

Government takes the boy by force.

Miami jerks: We can't believe you used force to take the boy! We had no idea you were going to do this!

Hypocritical Republican jerks: This is an unprovoked, illegal use of force. Government should never trample on civil liberties like that (unless it's on our long list of civil liberties we don't like).

I tell you what -- if it had been my kid in the hands of these people, I'd have told Reno to do the same thing. Go in there and get him. And keep thinking about how you'd feel if it were your kid.

Jason Levine, who's been kind enough to link to some of my comments on this matter in his blog Q Daily News, presents this excellent comparison for your consideration:

Imagine that you return home one day, and your spouse and kids are gone. You worry your heart out, and then on TV the next day, you see a small news piece reporting that they were found in the snow in Canada; your spouse died of exposure, and your kids have been taken in by your cousin. When you go to get your kids back, your cousin hides them, saying that he doesn't agree with the way that they're being raised here -- he doesn't like the exposure to weapons in American schools, he doesn't like the fact that there's no national health care to protect them from disease, and he doesn't like the entire environment of conspicuous consumption here. No matter how much you assert the fact that they're your kids, you aren't allowed to see them. Then, an actual court of law rules that your kids have to stay in Canada until they determine whether or not you have the right to bring them back to the United States.

That's what's happening here. It doesn't matter how icky you find Communist Cuba -- people elsewhere find the United States to be just as nasty. But they don't have the right to take our kids in the name of trying to give them a better life.

By the way, anyone who says that they went in and got him without a warrant is woefully misinformed (and in the case of certain Republican senators, they're boldfaced liars). Here's the warrant.

  Saturday, April 22, 2000
What a mess.   I'll likely stop commenting on this issue after today, but in the meantime ... we all saw the awful picture of the crying child being taken by a female FBI agent (who was doing her best to comfort him). But the boy is back with his father now, and that's the right thing.

However, none of this would have been necessary if the Miami relatives had obeyed the law rather than taking it into their own hands. They refused even to release the boy to his father despite the fact that the boy had been ordered to stay in the United States until the next court proceedings, and they had been given every opportunity to coopera te with the law. They didn't, hence that scene. It's not Reno's fault. It's Lázaro's fault.

 [Elian and 
his dad] Although it may have been momentarily traumatic for Elián, I think this picture says it all -- he's smiling with his dad and little brother. And he's back with his dad where he belongs, the man who has legal custody of him both in the U.S. and Cuba, the man who raised him, the man he grew up with, the man who has never been shown to be anything but a loving father who wants his son back.

  Friday, April 21, 2000
Easter dinner!   There'll probably be lots of hams served this Sunday. Perhaps my favorite way to have ham is to make Tom Fitzmorris' recipe for Root Beer Glazed Ham. If you wanna be really authentic, use Barq's root beer (a New Orleans brand, now gone national), and use the finest quality ham you can find. That means from a specialty butcher shop, not out of a can. It's fabulous.

Dr. Laura a hit on TV?   Not exactly.

Althogh only time and ratings will tell, it looks like that mean, shrill, homophobic, boring, boorish, bombastic bully and poor excuse for a "counselor" Laura Schlessinger's much ballyhooed and berated attempts at joining the ranks of already-vile daytime television may be in trouble already. An insider on the set told Page Six columnist Richard Johnson:

"She just can't get the hang of being a TV host. She's having a hard time walking with the microphone and talking at the same time, and just looks awkward on camera. The worst part is, she won't listen to anybody's advice."
Another report from an audience member during the first taping describes the show as "DOA". As if we didn't already know, "Doctor" L. is not a people person and seemed to alienate her audience throughout the program.

A second topic [on the show] was teenage mothers. Schlessinger asked the audience whether they would attend a baby shower given by an unwed teenage mother. "Most of the audience said it's a life coming into this world, of course you should go," said Jim. Schlessinger's reaction was swift and mean. You should not go, Jim heard her say. You're only encouraging teenagers to get pregnant. Unwed mothers should be ashamed of themselves, and there should be more shame in the world. When one audience member said she would attend the shower anyway, everyone clapped.

"A bad time was had by all," Jim said. "She'd better get happy," he said, referring to the overall negative tone of the show, "or I think it's gonna bomb."

Most people disagreed with Dr. Laura during the TV show taping, Jim said, but Dr. Laura always had an easy answer. "She just said her view and then walked away from them while they were still talking," he said. She never realized that "it wasn't radio, it was real people... On the radio she can just cut off people who disagree with her," Jim said. "But with [a TV] audience, it's harder for her to do that."

One woman in the audience was on the verge of tears when Dr. Laura asked her opinion about the unwed teen mother issue. Jim reports that the woman told Dr. Laura that the child was a real living person, and that friends and family should attend the shower. "The woman told Dr. Laura that this wasn't a perfect world," Jim said. "Dr. Laura just couldn't get that."

What are the Webby people smoking?   I've just begun to explore the Webby Awards site, particularly the People's Voice section, to have the opportunity to vote for some sites I admire. After looking at the Arts section, I have to wonder what substances the "esteemed judges" were consuming to have included this site for voting in the Arts category.

Far be it from me to criticize someone's site in public; I'm sure this site is perfectly useful to people who want information about or who want to download the Web Stalker software, but does anyone think such a page deserves a nomination for the "Oscars of the web" in the Arts category? Maybe in the "Recreate 1993" category; it almost looks like a gopher listing. There are a couple of other nominees that are almost as befuddling.

I plan to write-in The Fray, although I think that site for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Bill Viola exhibit is pretty darn cool. But unless there's some huge mistake or it's a joke (and that's what I currently think; they can't be serious), I have to wonder if these are the same "esteemed judges" who nominate in the non-People's Voice categories, and why anyone should bother. Sheeeesh.

And you thought I was kidding.   In direct assault upon my "get this shit over with already" wishes, here comes CBS with the first of what are probably many TV movies about Elián González. Ay caramba.

  Thursday, April 20, 2000
Happy Pesach, y'all.   Passover begins today. For a New Orleanian take on kosher cuisine, the Times-Picayune tells us about the Kosher Cajun, New Orleans' biggest, best (and only) kosher deli. Think about a little extra oomph in your Seder ingredients, too - there's one lady back home who puts scallions and cayenne pepper in her matzo balls. For a Mediterranean touch, try adding fennel and roasted garlic. Be creative! There's more to life than just matzo meal and schmaltz.

This week's Los Angeles Times Food section features several Passover recipes, including Charosets of the world, where you can learn to make Central European, Greek, Sephardic, Yemenite and California-style charoset (my favorite part of the Seder), plus apple-glazed matzo brei. (Links will probably expire by 4/26/00; download the entire Food section in PDF if you like).

Departamento de Adios.   Lalo Alvarez' site weighs in today on the latest problem in the González case; will the IRS get involved as well as the INS?

A Treasury Department spokesman said the IRS became suspicious after a preliminary review of tax returns from Florida showed that over half of Little Havana's residents were claiming Elián as a dependent.
"Papá, yo quiero al INS mas que el IRS," the child didn't say.

Can I please just pound them? Please?   Which them, you ask? People who use apostrophes inappropriately, that's who. (Okay, I'm not a violent person, but maybe I could just pound them with a Nerf bat. Repeatedly.)

It's the English minor/college activist in me, but every time I see a sign which commits the heinous offense (e.g., "ORANGE'S ON SALE TODAY!"), I'll take out a pen and correct it if I can, and restrain myself from fussing at whomever's responsible. Learn how to do it! Before I end up getting arrested!

(Don't even get me started on the inappropriate use of quotation marks.)

  Wednesday, April 19, 2000
Anti-Castro zealots, 1.  People who aren't interested in seeing a child torn from his father 'cause some people don't like his father's country's president, 0.   By now everyone's heard the Appeals Court decision. What a god-awful disaster this all is, and now it's going to stretch out to weeks or months. Who knows how much more screwed-up this kid is going to get, and how badly he'll be turned against his own father by the people who made that hideous video.

Y'know, I'm getting to the point where I wish Castro would either fall or die, just so that I don't have to listen to any more of these rabid, foam-at-the-mouth anti-Communists who believe anything is justified in their opposition to Communism.

Play the blues, baby ... yeah you rite!   My friend and (until recently) fellow DJ John "Juke" Logan, a mighty fine blues singer, harmonica player and songwriter, has just launched a web site for his label, Mocombo Records. Besides his own fine records, the label features East L.A. blues icons The Delgado Brothers, and more projects on the way.

  Tuesday, April 18, 2000
"We are rich in each other / now what good is gold?"   I am now the proud and thoroughly delighted owner of a copy of one of the finest albums of the 1990s (or ever):   "King Strut and Other Stories", by singer, songwriter, guitarist, poet and cartoonist Peter Blegvad.

Back in December (on the 2nd, in fact), I mused/whined about never having been able to find this record, which I was lucky enough to hear in the music library when I worked at KCRW. On Friday night I was presented with a copy of it by a supremely wonderful human being, and nearly passed out. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Wes! (But I'm not going to name my next cat after you, 'cause that would just get confusing.)

There's this German guy named Dieter who must have a pile of 'em, because over the last few weeks he's been auctioning several of them off on eBay (which is where Wes found it). My musical advice for the year is to try and get one of these CDs. Here's a little bit about what "The Rough Guide to Rock" has to say in its entry on Peter: looked as if Blegvad was destined forever to remain a fringe acquired taste, until the masterly "King Strut & Other Stories" (1990) appeared on Silvertone. This was as articulate and insightful a collection of songs as a listener could desire or an artist dream up - less arty, better crafted, but as philosophically marbled as before. The songs were really short stories set to music, or, as Blegvad put it, 'condensed narrative in rhymes'.

If Jorge Luis Borges had written songs instead of prose, they would sound like these. Epiphanies, short stories, epigrams, quotable quips, all for the price of a deletion.

Given how online auctions tend to go, it's likely to cost you more than the price of a deletion these days. But go for it -- I was willing to pay almost anything for this record, but was lucky enough to receive it as the best gift I've gotten in recent memory. Some other names involved in the project to tempt you along: Andy Partridge (co-author and co-producer of the title song), Chris Stamey (co-producer of the rest of the album, plus guitar and keyboards), B.J. Cole (pedal steel), Peter Holsapple (guitar), Anton Fier (drums).

It's brilliant. Get one if you can. Good luck.

The abuse in Miami goes on.   A pediatrician who has been advising the government on the Elián González matter has said that the boy should be removed from the custody of his Miami relatives immediately, because he is being "horrendously exploited".

"Elian Gonzalez is now in a state of imminent danger to his physical and emotional well-being in a home that I consider to be psychologically abusive," wrote [Dr. Irwin] Redlener, a New York pediatrician who is head of the Children's Health Fund.

He took particular issue with a home video that the relatives released to the media, in which Elian tells his father he does not want to return to Cuba.

The tape shows "obvious signs of a very distressed, angry and coached young boy being exploited, much the same as we'd see in a hostage situation when such videotapes are being made," Redlener told CNN on Tuesday, adding that his letter was written voluntarily, not at the government's request.

The doctor wrote: "I believe there is no justification whatsoever to wait any longer in carrying out these actions that I believe are legally appropriate and, more important, clearly in the best interest of this child who continues to be horrendously exploited in this bizarre and destructive ambiance. It has gone on far too long."

The so-called family responded predictably by saying that the doctor couldn't possibly know this because he had never talked to Elián. "Tell him (Redlener) to come and analyze Elian here." Redlener replied, "Whether I see him or not, the evidence (that Elian is suffering from psychological abuse) is already there." CNN also reports that despite his criticism of the Miami family, Redlener recommends that Elian's U.S. relatives play a role in a custody transfer to lessen the traumatic impact on the child.

Then, after the custody transfer, Lázaro's butt belongs in jail for contempt. But then again, that'd just make him a martyr in that wacky anti-Castro community...

So who's going to play Elián in the TV movie?   This morning some friends of mine were wondering how many Elián González made-for-TV movies are already in pre-production. Steve Kelley offers:

Well, you figure there are at least five:

  • The one from the Miami-relatives' anti-Castro point of view: "Escape to Freedom: The Elián González Story"

  • The one from Dad's point of view: "A Father's Love: The Elián González Story"

  • The one from the Justice Department/INS point of view: "Showdown in Miami: The Elián González Story"

  • The one from Castro's point of view: "Cuba's Great International Public Relations Coup: The Elián González Story"

  • And the one from the point of view of the non-Cuban segment of Florida's population: "Get This Shit Over With Already: The Elián González Story"
Sancho fights back.   Daniel Castro, Ph.D., AKA "Sancho" from 15 years of public radio, was very rudely ousted in March by the management of KPCC in Pasadena, and their new masters at Minnesota Public Radio -- everyone else got to say goodbye to their listeners and do a farewell show except Sancho. Dr. Castro describes his final conversation with KPCC's general manager, who rather disingenuously claims that Dr. Castro wasn't treated any differently from any other former KPCC DJ:

On [Saturday, February] the 26th, we did our program and left. Monday, she called the school where I work.

She said, "You know about the format changes?" and I said, "Yeah, I called you three months ago and told you I wanted to talk to the Minnesota people about what they were gonna do with us, and at that point you said you'd get back to me."

She said, "Minnesota has made the decision to go all-talk on March 11." I asked, "So when's our last show?" And she said, "That was your last show. That's what we decided."

I said, "I've been doing this show for 15 years, and that's how I'm treated? I don't get paid like you do, lady. I volunteer myself. Why can't I do a last show?" And she said, "We don't believe you need six hours to lament why you're not going to be on the air anymore." That's a quote.

Sancho's long-running show was a huge presence in the Latino community of Los Angeles, and in the parts of central California and southern Texas where the show was syndicated. He spoke the kids' language, connention with countless numbers of them, and kept at them with his message of literacy and staying in school. His presence is keenly missed by the community, who have decided that they aren't taking this lying down.

A petition drive is being organized -- email Antonio Perez at or snail mail P. O. Box 307, Pasadena, CA 91102 for a petition package.

Thuggin eternally.   Funeral and memorial customs in New Orleans have always been more elaborate and steeped in ritual and tradition. The newest addition to this is the dead man's shirt -- T-shirts bearing the images and birth/death dates and a photograph of thet deceased, who in the beginning was typically a young black murder victim who has died in a gang-related killing.

By 1994, when New Orleans had one of the highest murder rates in the country, the shirts had become ubiquitous here. They have since become popular in other cities as well, like Philadelphia and Detroit. Today, when the murder rate in New Orleans has dropped substantially, by 55 percent since 1994, many say the shirts are even more popular here.

"At first we would see the T-shirts only when young people were killed," said the Rev. Norwood Thompson, pastor of the First Zion Baptist Church in New Orleans. "Now it has escalated into a kind of tradition, and you can see T-shirts when anyone dies. It's almost like an obituary."

Kathleen Rhodes, owner of Rhodes Funeral Home, said, "The T-shirts have become a part of African-American culture in New Orleans. Each step of the way, the time people take to prepare for a funeral helps them let the person go. The T-shirt is now often one of those steps."

(The link to the New York Times requires registration, which is annoying but free, and they don't seem to spam you.)

Peter Blegvad lyric snippet of the day:   An excerpt from "Gold", from "King Strut & Other Stories":

Gold would be worthless
If it didn't require
Such heartbreak to seek it,
To find it and mine it.
Things remain precious
As long as they're rare,
But if gold could be found
Lying 'round everywhere

It'd be the lowliest of metals,
Too soft for serious use.
Pretty, of course
And warm to the touch,
But no longer alluring
If you've handled so much...

Quote of the day (reprise):   "Phil Collins should be required by law to distribute 40% of his income to unemployed musicians. He makes too much money for garbage, and people doing good work don't make anything."  -- Peter Blegvad

  Monday, April 17, 2000
Taxes due today.   Feck.

Battlefield Band's battle won.   Saturday night my old pals Battlefield Band gave yet another terrific performance, this time at Caltech. They've been kind enough to appear on my radio show twice -- once last year for an interview, and once in 1991 for a brilliant live performance. Scottish folk/roots music doesn't get much better than this.

They're working under some hardship these days, too. Their singer/guitarist Davy Steele had a mild stroke a few weeks ago, right before their U.S./U.K. tour was to begin. He's going to be fine, but was ordered to rest and stay home. At the last minute, and "at great expense" (as co-founder Alan Reid put it), Pat Kilbride was recruited to join in Davy's place for this tour. Pat has the distinction of being the only Irishman ever to have been in Battlefield Band, and in addition had actually been a member of the band before, back in the late '70s. Alan remarked that "I'm the only one left who's been around long enough to vouch for that." Pat had to work from charts, and work very hard he did. He was brilliant. You'd never know he'd only been in the band for three days. Fair play to ya, Pat.

Fiddler/multi-instrumentalist John McCusker, whose compositions get better and lovelier all the time, seems to learn (to his delight) a new American affectation every tour or so. Tour before last it was the plaid pants, and before that it was calling people "Bubba". This time it was the neo-Valleyspeak "Hel-LO! What-EV-errrrr!". After uttering it the second time, he lapsed back into his native Scots accent and murmured, "I've really got to stop doing that..."  John, who was barely 18 when he joined the band and is now 27, also shared the anecdote of having been on a car trip recently with an old friend. "We're the same age, and after a while we realized that when we were ten years old, we had both been given Battlefield Band records for Christmas." Founding bandmate Alan did a slow burn.

Their latest record is entitled "Leaving Friday Harbour", and it's wonderful.

G is for Gorey, smothered under a rug.   Edward Gorey, the wonderful writer and illustrator, died on Saturday at age 75. Aww.

Also passed on: my favorite ninny.   Actor Larry Linville, who portrayed Maj. Frank Burns on TV's "M*A*S*H" for five years and in reruns ever since, died last Tuesday at age 60. So long, Ferret Face. Thanks for all the laughs.

My family once saw Linville, who was in New Orleans doing a dinner theatre production, at a local restaurant. My kid sister, who was around 6 at the time, was dared to go up to him and say, "Frank Burns eats worms." She was just about to do it when she was grabbed by the back of the collar and whisked back to the table by my mom, who thought better of it (and who hates being mortified by her children in public).

MS server software "backdoor" downgraded to "pinhole".   Microsoft now say that their earlier admissions of a backdoor in their web server software were incorrect.

Jason was kind enough to point out an article on the NTBugTraq site saying that no backdoor existed at all, although Microsoft now say that there is still a very slight vulnerability.

  Friday, April 14, 2000
Don't worry.   Even though I'm still still bitching about the boy (and you might want to read about this), there's fun stuff to talk about first.

Gee, Microsoft security is SO excellent!   The Microsoft Corporation's "Freedom to Innovate" apparently seems to include placing a backdoor password in some of its Internet software -- "a phrase deriding their rivals at Netscape as 'weenies'" -- that could be used to gain unauthorized access to hundreds of thousands of web sites around the world.

A Microsoft security manager said the backdoor was "absolutely against our policy" and a firing offense. Well, that's nice; at least they fessed up. I know that Microsoft couldn't possibly be that officially stupid ... but it's already there, ain't it? Their lack of quality control of their software seems now to include deliberate security holes as well as the myriad inadvertent ones. I have to wonder if we could ever have heard about this if it hadn't been discovered by someone outside of Microsoft.

French Quarter Festival starts today!   A terrific (and free) prelude to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival begins this weekend and continues through next weekend -- The French Quarter Festival. It's mostly geared for the locals, who will be joined by throngs of visitors the following weekend for Jazzfest. There'll be several stages for music and lots of food. It's a tremendous amount of fun. Did I mention that it was free? (My favorite price!)

Quote of the day:   "If it's free ... take two!"  -- Dean A. Leone, M.D.

Jazzfest - two weeks and counting!   Two weeks from today, Wes and I are heading down to New Orleans for the Jazz and Heritage Festival, for my money the greatest music, food and cultural festival on the planet. I can smell the food already.

We'll be stayin' ova by my sister's, and since she's newly computer-connected, I'll most likely be able to provide daily reports from Jazzfest. In the meantime, have a look at my own Jazzfest page, which includes a running log of all the food, music and fun I wallowed in at the '94 Fest as well as an insider's guide to Jazzfest, for any of y'all who might be going.

Irene's Cuisine gets eight thumbs-up.   My friend and regular Gumbo Pages contributor Michael Pemberton recently sent me some more food porn, this time about the absolutely fabulous French Quarter Italian-Creole restaurant Irene's Cuisine, one of the best-kept culinary secrets in New Orleans. (I must apologize to the locals for giving it away, as it's difficult enough to get a table; they don't take reservations.) I'd been meaning to eat there for the last couple of years (it's relatively new, maybe 4 or 5 years old), but never got around to it. I'm gonna get around to to it this time.

We went to Irene's last night. This was the fourth time for me, and I'm still always amazed at what they come up with for their nightly specials. The server starts describing them, and just when you think the dish couldn't possibly sound any better, they go in for the kill with the final set of ingredients. Last night, our waiter started off by saying that the softshell crabs are really excellent right now (and he's right, they're great all over town), and then he continued on with their softshell crab special. The scene was something like this:

"Tonight, we have a jumbo softshell crab, lightly fried with a sesame and ginger crust..." (one of my eyebrows raises up) "...stuffed with a delicate crawfish and shrimp mousse..." (both eyebrows up, eyes now wide open) "...on a bed of angel hair pasta covered with a roasted garlic and red pepper coulis".  (SCHWING!)
I had no choice but to order it, and it did not disappoint. It was the sort of Asian/Creole-Italian fusion that I expect at places like the Pelican Club or Lemon Grass, but had never come across at Irene's before. It was, to put it mildly, fantastic. In fact, it was so good that I decided halfway through that I was going to gorge and finish the whole dish and forgo dessert. That's a big decision, because the desserts at Irene's are simple but fantastic (especially the tiramisú and crème brûlée).

I also had their soup of the day, which was a surprisingly rustic choice for them; cabbage, potato, and andouille in a base made from chicken stock. Not the taste explosion of other soups I've had there, but still very tasty. We also split a bowl of mussels, which is my favorite appetizer there. The portion is huge, usually around 15 mussels, and they're served in a spicy marinara sauce that is stunningly tasty. Actually last night the sauce seemed different, it was a bit lighter and creamier, almost like a spicy tomato bisque. Still excellent, and there was a frenzied rush to sop up all the sauce with the hot, fresh-baked bread they serve. Combine that with the plate of bruschetta bread they always bring out as lagniappe right when you sit down, and I was definitely near food-coma time. Dessert would have killed me.

The bad news about Irene's is that even on a Wednesday we had to wait about an hour. The good news is that we waited in their main waiting area/wine room, which is a beautiful room of dark wood with a live piano player. Time goes by pretty fast in there, especially with a glass of wine or two. When that room fills up they have people wait out in the garage, which is much less pleasant. We haven't had to wait in the garage yet, and I think I'd rather just come back another night then wait out there. The other good news was that dinner for four, including a round of drinks while we were waiting and bottle of moderately price wine with dinner, including tax and a big (and well deserved) tip, was incredably reasonable. It's the cheapest great restaurant in the city.

You must go.

Michael added a P.S. to his letter: "We have the Palace Café on Sunday and NOLA on Tuesday. Then a week off before Jazzfest. Pray for us."  You can do it, bra.

Those Miami Gonzálezes are one effed-up family.   In two Salon articles, one yesterday and another six days ago, we learn disturbing things about the people who had never seen their very distant relative Elián until 4-1/2 months ago, but who would be his legal guardians if they succeed in wresting him from his father.

Marisleysis, his second cousin and putative daily caregiver, was hospitalized for "nervous collapses" three times before the boy arrived and eight times since (conveniently timed to cause further delays in the boy's return).

[Marisleysis] has said on TV that she thinks Elián would be tortured if he returned to Cuba. Does anyone have a moment's doubt as to what she is telling this 6-year-old?
What the feck? Is she nuts? Elián will not be tortured when he returns to Cuba. In fact, Elián is already a folk hero in Cuba, and after he goes home he will live better than any other 6-year-old kid in the country.

And why is he saying he doesn't want to go to Cuba? Or even to Washington? (Although we only have his great-uncle's word for this.) And should we be surprised that a boy whose only traveling experience ended with his mother's death and his near-drowning doesn't want to travel?
Now we apparently have more than just the great-uncle's word; we see a video of Elián telling his dad he doesn't want to go to Cuba. We also see the boy quickly and furtively glancing off-camera ... to the people who are obviously coaching him. This video is about as convincing as the ones that came from North Vietnam during the war. "Oh sure, we're being really well-treated."

The great-uncles Lázaro and Delfín both have two DUI convictions. This fact has been underreported by the Miami Herald, described as "more of a cheerleader than a fact-finder when it comes to Cuban-Americans, [which] was in the embarrassing position of having to attribute this story to the New York Times.

The blood level of Elián's 49-year-old great uncle, Lázaro, was at more than twice the legal limit when he was arrested for drunken driving in 1993, after police spotted him swerving between lanes. Officers noted that he "had extreme poor balance, red, glossy bloodshot eyes [and] slurred speech [and he] was in a total daze" when next arrested in 1997. (A previous conviction came in 1991, but court records for DUIs are no longer available dating back that far.)

His brother, Delfín, a frequent visitor to the house of Elián and a major player in the custody battle, was so drunk that he was arrested driving the wrong way in traffic on a main thoroughfare, resulting in one of his two convictions. Brenda Shapiro, who has served as a juvenile guardian in numerous family custody disputes, stressed that Lazaro's drunken-driving convictions should give one pause in a custody battle. If she were the attorneys for Elián's father, she said, "I would make it clear that I wouldn't want my child riding with him."
The boy's twin cousins Cid and José quickly disappeared from in front of the cameras when their multiple violent felony arrests were revealed. "So much for the man who is seen hovering over Elián, coaching him to raise his fingers in a V for victory sign when the cameras roll," says Salon.

If he were from any other country, Elián would have been sent home to his only surviving parent on the fastest jet possible last November. Instead, Elián has been made the poster boy for religious fanatics who claim that he was a miracle brought to them from the waters -- a young Moses or Jesus borne to them from an evil land. Reports of the family seeing the Virgin Mary in their mirrors -- as well as the Virgin of Guadalupe -- have spread like brush fire.
Oh, for God's sakes. Shame on you people. Shame.

UPDATE:  Welcome, Camworld readers. There are more comments on the Elián issue in later blog entries, April 18 and April 19, and perhaps more later on.

  Thursday, April 13, 2000
Sorry, Jon.   It's gonna be a bitchy day.

I think Lázaro González is a coward.   Elián González' so-called "family" of distant relatives in Miami are stooping nearly as low as they can go. After being ruled against again and again, they now claim that the boy will suffer "abuse and neglect" if he's returned to his father. (In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that Juan Miguel González is anything but an anguished, loving, caring father.) Today they say they'll defy federal orders to release the boy to his dad.

It seems ironic that people who say they're here to escape tyranny and find freedom in the United States, but feel free to defy the legal rulings and break the laws of the United States when it suits them.

And the great-uncle ... grrrrr. Read this week's Newsweek, in which there's an article about the history of the boy's ordeal. The most telling quote:

At first, [Juan Miguel] went on, his uncles Lázaro and Delfín González agreed that "Elián should be returned immediately to me. Then all of a sudden," he said, "things changed." His uncle Lázaro began arguing that Elián should stay in Miami and even offered Juan Miguel money (reportedly $2 million) to give up his claim to the child. "I tried to convince him rationally," said Juan Miguel, but Lázaro replied that he couldn't "back off." Why? Because he would "look bad in front of the Cuban people in Miami."
The emphasis above is mine. Sounds like he doesn't give a damn about the kid or the father. He just doesn't want to look bad in front of the fervent, foam-at-the-mouth anti-Castro Cubans.

Those short-sighted fools are actually going to force federal marshals to go into the house and remove the boy themselves (although Attorney General Reno says it won't come to that, at least not immediately). Can you imagine how much more traumatic that will be than if they just drove him to be reunited with his dad themselves? If anyone's abusing this child, it's them, along with all those busybodies linking arms outside the house. I'd like to see how those people would feel if they were separated from one of their children for 4-1/2 months by people who kept refusing to return the child, just because they don't like where the parent lives.

The boy belongs with the father with whom he grew up, period. Fidel won't live forever.

Ignorant inbred racist rednecks, 0. The rest of us, 1. Ball's in their court.   The South Carolina Senate voted yesterday to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse. Good move.

However ... today, they're trying to force through a "compromise" -- they'll take the flag down from the statehouse dome, but fly it on a 20-foot pole on capitol grounds instead. Bad move. Oh yeah, that's a big compromise. Let's get that flag removal bill through the House intact and signed into law, please. Get rid of the damned thing.

To those who protest, saying that the flag is a symbol of "Southern heritage" ... that's a load of crap. There's a lot to be proud of in the South -- the beauty of the land, the wonderful cuisine, the gentility and hospitality, the traditional music. There's a lot to be ashamed of too -- a history of racism (although the South certainly has no monopoly on that), and the ongoing glorification of the symbol of those who would break apart the Union to base their legal and economic system upon the enslavement of other human beings. That's nothing to be proud of.

And listen up, y'all ... in case any of you forgot to read your history books, the Confederacy LOST. In how many countries do you see people waving the flag of the historically and morally losing side of a civil war, 135 years later? Sheesh. The South lost. Get over it already.

It was a very good year.   The New Jersey Star-Ledger, the official newspaper of the Soprano family, weighs in on the second season of "The Sopranos".

  Wednesday, April 12, 2000
Into The Fray.   This month's feature in The Fray is written by Glassdog's own Lance Arthur and is entitled "My Stupid Childhood". The followup question is "What's the stupidest thing you did as a kid?" I'm pleased to have written my first story for The Fray in response, about how I once tried to cut a Mardi Gras bead in half so that I could see what was inside it. (Don't ask.)

Louisiana's French Roots   There was a good AP story today about French cultural roots in Louisiana and the continued French presence there. Louisiana still has over 300,000 French speakers, and sometimes it seems that the French have more interest in our French than the Louisianians do. CODOFIL, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana, tries its best to keep the language alive.

Okay, I stand corrected already!   More on the raging Wright/Brown/Duchovny controversies ...

Wes (who is a consummate "X-Files" fan, and I should know better than to write anything about the show without consulting him first) informs me that the "X-Files" episode from the sixth season that Duchovny wrote is actually pretty good, and that he's got another one coming soon. I suppose that, if nothing else, it can't possibly be as wretched as the one Gillian Anderson wrote. :^)

He also managed to find several different quotation sites that attribute the March 31 quote entry to A. Whitney Brown rather than Steven Wright, so I guess that's settled. So endeth Sloppy-Looka!-Attribution-By-Chuck-That-Was-Fixed-By-Wes Day!

It took him a week to figure this out?   Dr. Orthopedic Surgeon (who was, to my great relief, sans Makita when I saw him yesterday) took more x-rays and says that my ankle is definitely not broken. Woo.

Shrimp and grits!   Those in the know tell me (as astounding as it may seem) that the Shrimp and Grits at Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill, N.C. is better than the Shrimp and Grits at Uglesich's in New Orleans. (We'll have to see about that.) It's a big main course at Crook's, while only an appetizer at Uglesich's (but so good there that I could order three orders of it and call it a meal).

There are few if any Uglesich recipes floating around out there, but Crook's is very generous with their recipe. My friends Michael and Louise say this dish of spicy sautéed shrimp with bacon, garlic, mushrooms and scallions over cheese grits one of the best dishes ever, and I'm looking forward to trying it next time I cook dinner.

Mmmmm, crawfish chowder.   Two recipes for crawfish chowder from the New Orleans Times-Picayune -- spicy Caribbean style and creamy style. Remember to use Louisiana crawfish whenever you can. Those imported Chinese crawfish have almost no taste.

  Tuesday, April 11, 2000
Well, I did only start watching it this season...   Two friends of mine (Michael and Michael) have informed me that Duchovny did in fact write an "X-Files" episode previously. I'm kinda glad I missed it.

Errata this, errata that...   Another reader informs me that the quote I attributed to Steven Wright on March 31 has also been attributed to A. Whitney Brown, but he said he wasn't sure. Can we get a confirmation on that? I swear I can hear it in my head in Wright's voice.

(Yes, this one really is) Steven Wright Quote of the Day:   "I bought some powdered water, but I didn't know what to add."

  Monday, April 10, 2000
Red Meat is good for you!   I had the pleasure and delight to welcome my favorite honky-tonk country band, Red Meat, as my guests for an interview and live performance on my radio program "Down Home" on Saturday. They performed two songs:  "Lolita", from their debut album Meet Red Meat (about a guy who loved a girl named Lolita and got her name tattooed on his arm, but when she dumped him, he resolved to find another girl ... named Lolita), and "Higher Power", a terrific four-part harmony Louvin Brothers gospel number. Thanks a million to the band and to their manager Owen Bly for making it happen.

They did a fantastic set that night at the Culver Saloon, too. This isn't some mainstream pop-country crapola, this is as real and rootsy as it gets. Singer, guitarist, fiddler and trombonist Scott Young is also their wonderful principal songwriter, who has a deep reverence and knowledge of true country music but doesn't take himself too seriously ("Well she's the girl with the biggest hair and the longest nails / and I kinda like the way her perfume smails..." Sheer brilliance!). Bassist Jill Olson and Telecaster guitarist Michael Montalto are veterans of The Movie Stars, one of my all-time favorite bands. Max Butler is the newest member, on pedal steel, and Les James keeps the rhythm going. Last but not least, the vocal artistry of singer and frontman Smelley Kelley is dazzling, and a lot of fun to watch.

Opening and closing with acoustic and electric sets were East L.A.'s own The Blazers, who play a fiery, rockin' mix of norteño, cumbias, R&B, blues, country and rockabilly. They've recently added a percussionist and are recording a new album of traditional material (woo!).

The three words that best describe last night's "X-Files" are as follows, and I quote ... stink, stank, stunk!

Please, Fox ... no more self-indulgent, ego-stroking written-and-directed-by-one-of-the-stars vanity episodes. If you let Duchovny do one, I'm outta here.

And I don't get to see "The Sopranos" season finale from last night until tonight. D'oh.

  Friday, April 7, 2000
Purr.   Louie and I finally got the presskit page up on our site for his feature film, "Staccato Purr of the Exhaust". On it, you'll find an entertaining and fascinating story of how this film came to be, a veritable "how-to" on guerrilla independent filmmaking. Read it, get inspired by it; it's a great story. Then, if you've got one in you, go make a movie.

"We're all going to heaven, lads! Weyyyyyy!"   Delightfully evil being that I am, I've managed to turn several of my cow orkers into raving "Father Ted" fanatics; they now agree with me that it's one of the funniest shows ever on TV. The tapes have so far been difficult to obtain, and only in the European PAL video format.

But! Erick, one of the Ted monsters, informs me that episodes of "Father Ted" are now being run on BBC America, which some people have on cable or satellite. Check out their "Father Ted" site, and see it on Wednesdays at 5:00 and 10:00pm Pacific Time, repeated at 10am PT on Thursdays.

Mrs. Doyle, the housekeeper:  Speaking of cake, Father ... I have cake!

Father Ted:  Oh, I'm fine for cake, Mrs. Doyle.

Mrs. Doyle:  Are you sure, Father? There's cocaaaine in it.

Father Ted:  (horrified) What?!?

Mrs. Doyle:  Oh no, what am I going on about? Silly me, not cocaine, oh, what do you call those things ... raisins!

C.Y.F.A.   Reader/contributor Greg Beron writes in with:  "The arbitration agreement you signed is due to a California Supreme Court ruling which invalidated a clause buried in Kaiser Permanente's contract that forced their policyholders to submit to arbitration. The reasoning was that since many of their policy holders were on group plans, they had no choice in the matter. So... now you have to sign one before they'll look at you."

Feckin' lawyers/doctors. (My regular doctor is cool. He doesn't make me promise not to sue him.)

Speaking of suits...   A doctor who aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon (a specialty described by a cow orker of mine, who has two screws in his knee and apparently has bed memories, as "Dr. Mengele coming at you with a Makita with a blood splash guard") has sued the Nike Corporation. She fell and hurt her wrist and says it was the sneakers' fault, not the more likely explanation that she tripped over her own feet.

As much as I might love to sue my landlord because my driveway slab is 2" higher than my lawn, it's nobody's fault but my own that I tripped over my own feet and ended up with my right ankle in this removable cast-thingy. It was an accident, just like the above accident. Sheesh. I hope this eejit doctor doesn't have the gall to require her hapless patients to sign the same "don't sue me" waiver that I had to sign at the orthopedist's this week. JAY-sis. (link via Q)

  Thursday, April 6, 2000
One ring to rule them all, one ring to bind them...   Well, I felt like being a traffic whore today and joined the Webloggers' Webring. With one exception, this is the first webring I've ever considered joining that didn't require the member to put a huge, obnoxious, ugly graphic/box for navigation. So now I'm in. So much for their property values. You can find the webloggers' navigation link at the bottom of my Big List O' Blogs; look on the right-hand side and scroll down a bit.

The first and only other webring I ever joined -- which long predates anything that ever came up with -- was EUROPa, the Expanding Unidirectional (formerly "Useless") Ring Of Pages. It was started in December of 1994 by Denis Howe, founder of FOLDOC, the Free Online Dictionary of Computing, at Imperial College, London. (Imperial has one of my favourite Internet domains --, which is, of course, pronounced "ick ack uck.") Amazingly, EUROPa is still intact and still going strong; my own EUROPa page is still up after over five years, and recently got a facelift.

Quote of the day:   "The King of Spain is waiting in the bar, but your table is ready."
          -- Sirio Maccioni, owner of Le Cirque, to Ruth Reichl,
          then-restaurant critic of the New York Times

  Wednesday, April 5, 2000
Madonn'!   Last Sunday's episode of "The Sopranos" was one of the most astonishing hours of television I've ever seen. (CAUTION! Don't follow the link if you haven't already seen it.) I figured that it would all build up to a final-episode showdown between Tony and Richie, but what happened ... I didn't see that coming at all.. Favorite horrifying/hilarious Line of the Week Award goes to Christopher: "It'll be a while before I eat anything from Satriale's."

Followup to "What, no fuckin' ziti now?"   Speaking of lines, they're having a "Name Your Favorite Line Contest" for Season 2 of "The Sopranos." Last season the viewers voted the above line (spoken by A.J. when Livia declined to come to his birthday after a fight with Tony, and therefore not bringing A.J.'s favorite dish); this season vote for contenders like "The federal marshals are so far up my ass, I can taste Brylcream." (Uncle Junior); "I think it's time for you to start to seriously consider salads." (Tony, to Junior's obese henchman/errand boy Bobby "Bacala" Baccalieri); or better yet, email a write-in vote for Christopher's abovementioned line from last week.

From The Onion:   This week's "What Do You Think?" column asks about how 12 state legislatures have taken masures this year to permit displaying the Ten Commandments in public buildings and schools. My favorite:

"The Ten Commandments should be posted in all courtrooms. And the U.S. Constitution should be glued onto Jesus' chest in every church in America."
          Heidi Mancuso, Psychologist
My day at the doctor's.   Today I went to see the orthopedist to whom I was referred by my regular doctor. Upon arrival at his office, on the 11th floor of a medical office tower adjoining a major hospital, I was first greeted by a sign that said "We do not validate parking", which costs $1.65 every fifteen minutes.

Then, before anything else, I was given a long form to sign which began:


Article 1:  Agreement to arbitrate: It is understood that any dispute as to medical malpractice,that is as to whether any medical services rendered under this contract were unnecessary or unauthorized or were improperly, negligently, or incompetently rendered, will be determined by submission to arbitration as provided by California law, and not by a lawsuit or resort to court process except as California law provides for judicial review of arbitration proceedings.
What the f#(&??

The damned thing finished thusly:

I've never seen such a thing in my entire life. My Sister The Nurse had never heard of such a thing in her entire life. This evening I'll ask My Uncle, The Attorney Who Specializes In Healthcare Law to see what he thinks. Needless to say, I found this extremely off-putting and told the receptionist so.

"Are you telling me that I'm required to sign this?"

"Yes," she replied, "or the doctor won't see you."

Another receptionist chipped in, "He'll see you, but he won't treat you."


Well, the doctor was nice enough, during the eight minutes he saw me. He said he didn't see an actual fracture on the films but would treat it as a "hairline stress fracture". Then he said he wanted to take an X-ray of his own, but needed insurance approval for another film and that I should come back in a week for that. I kept insisting, to him and to his plethora of receptionists, nurses and insurance people, that that wasn't necessary; my insurance does NOT require pre-approval, but they didn't listen, and now I have to go back in a week.

Meanwhile, I was put in a removable cast (Yay! Not a plaster one!) and told to keep off the foot until it's entirely pain-free, and that I can hobble into work tomorrow with my crutches. Whoop de doo.

I ended my doctor visit by being robbed for parking -- $6.60 for 47 minutes. Bastards.

To console myself, I stopped on the way home from the orthopedist and hobbled into The Cook's Library, one of my favorite indie bookstores which sells only books that are cooking- and food-related. I was bad and bought three things:   Norman's New World Cuisine, by chef Norman Van Aken; The Best American Recipes 1999: The Year's Top Picks from Books, Magazines, Newspapes and the Internet, edited by Fran McCullough and Suzanne Hamlin; and Dining Out:  Secrets from America's Leading Critics, Chefs and Restauranteurs, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (authors of the superb Becoming a Chef and Culinary Artistry). What the hell, I'll never catch up on my reading anyway!

  Tuesday, April 4, 2000  ::  Owwie owwie owwie
Sheesh.   Well, guess who broke his ankle last night.

Walk down stairs carrying heavy laundry basket, step off uneven pavement, twist ankle viciously inward, hear distinct *POP*, fall down, howl in pain, etc.

Swells up to size of baseball, ice down, howl again, take 600mg ibuprofen, go to bed, wake up, try to walk, ow ow ow ow, go see doctor, says it's bad sprain, get sent to x-ray, radiologist sees "tiny fracture", get crutches, referral to orthopedic surgeon tomorrow at 9am. I've had better days.

More Woody!   Wilco and Billy Bragg have gathered up leftover tracks from "Mermaid Avenue" and gone back into the studio to record more Woody Guthrie songs for "Mermaid Avenue II", due for release in June. Yay!

Please, get this over with and send the boy home.   Some quotes from Juan Gonzalez:

"If it's a case of giving me the boy to return immediately to Cuba, I'm willing to leave tomorrow, Monday, absolutely alone, to wherever I have to in the United States, travel from the airport to the place where the boy is, collect him, return to the airport and back to Cuba," Gonzalez said in a statement read late Sunday by President Fidel Castro.

"I do not want to talk to any kidnapper, nor accept any condition, or take part in any show or publicity over the handover of Elián," added the statement, read by Castro while the father was shown sobbing quietly seated close by. "Only the U.S. government can decide if they prefer this option."

My friend Steve quips, "It must be great to be a communist in Cuba. You can make the US look bad and you don't even have to lie." To be fair, there are two sides in a game of political football, and Castro is using the boy as the football too. But the U.S. government and the foaming-at-the-mouth Cuban exiles hate Castro so much that they've completely fucked up this kid rather than send him home with his dad where he belongs.

Meanwhile, Michael Moore apologizes to Elián on behalf of the United States. And why is it that I'm only just now learning that his mother did not selflessly attempt to bring Elián to freedom, but in fact kidnapped him after a Cuban court granted custody to the father?

Thank you, AOL, for making this sooooooooo easy.   I get maybe half a dozen to a dozen spams a day from AOL servers, and hardheaded SOB that I am, I report them all to So today I get this:

To better serve the Internet community, we have transitioned our Abuse response activity to the Member Services arena. We are pleased to announce this change, and look forward to serving the Internet community with increased efficiency and speed.

As a result of the department changes, we have "closed" the and mailboxes and replaced them with mailboxes for specific issues. You will need to re-submit your abuse issue to the appropriate mailbox in order for it to be processed. Please review and take note of the following changes:

** All unsolicited email complaints ("spam mail") should be sent to ""

** All usenet/newsgroup abuse issues should continue to be sent to "" (no change)

** All Internet security issues (hacking reports, mailbombs, denial of service attacks, port scans etc.) should be sent with all log info to

** All incidents of member harassment or threats should continue to be sent to "" (no change)

** All reports of AOL Web pages which do not comply with AOL's Terms of Service should continue to be forwarded to "" (no change)

** All reports of IRC abuse should be forwarded to "" (no change)

Great. All these addresses to remember now to deal with the frequent misbehavior of AOL users. I don't know why we should bother. AOL never seems to do a damn thing about their spam problem anyway.

  Monday, April 3, 2000
Roland et Michel, sans têtes.   Ever since the Warren Zevon show last week, I've had his song "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" stuck in my head. (Coulda been worse, I've had far worse earworms before; at least I like this song.) This leads to the inevitability of a link to this.

When I was 11 I got fifty cents a week.   Then again, that was just allowance, not a salary, and I wasn't nominated for an Oscar. Haley Joel Osment's gonna be in the Kubrick-cum-Spielberg sf epic-to-be, "A.I.", and he's gonna get $2 million.

  Saturday, April 1, 2000
Why doesn't the Cosmos want me to see this man?!   I've been a big fan of Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie Maclean for about 15 years now. I've got all of his records, and I've wanted to see him in concert all that time. But every single time he's come to Los Angeles in the last 15 years, I've been unable to see him. Usually it's because he doesn't tour that often, and almost always comes when I'm out of town. The one time I was in town, I was sick with a high fever and couldn't go.

Finally I got my chance. He was scheduled for a concert tonight as part of the Acoustic Music Series at the Cal State Northridge Performing Arts Center, right across campus from the radio station. What's more, he was scheduled to come into the station for an interview and live performance on my radio show. WOOHOO! Not only would I finally see him, but the first time I'd see him live would be a one-on-one show, just for me and my listeners!

Then yesterday I got a call from the producer of the Acoustic Music Series, with "lousy news" -- Dougie is unable to enter the country, because the goddamned INS denied him a visa. Concert's cancelled, and he's staying in Scotland.

Well gee, I'm glad the INS is doing such a great job protecting the citizens of this country from a great musical performance. Meanwhile, they can't even manage to fight through all the hysteria and send that kid back to his father. Sometimes the government really sucks.

March Looka! entries   have been archived.

Thanks to regular Looka! contributors Wesly Moore, Steve Gardner, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Tom Krueger, Eric Labow and Michael Pemberton.
chuq's links | the gumbo pages
creole and cajun recipe page | search this site
Chuck Taggart   <>