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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 and drink, 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 @ 12:39pm PDT, 6/30/2000
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Cocktail hour: Let's eat! Recent Epinions:
1. John O'Groats: Home cooking, better than home
2. Bombay Sapphire: Gin haters, repent!
3. The Cajun Bistro, WeHo: Skip it
4. Absolut Kurant: I'd sooner drink Robitussin
5. Sanamluang: Best Thai food in L.A.
6. Volkswagen New Beetle: Fun fun fun!
Angry Candy, by Harlan Ellison.
Jumping Off the Planet, by David Gerrold.
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, by Philip José Farmer.
Dining Out, by Andrew Dornenberg and Karen Page.
Comix: Lookin' at da TV: Weblog watching:
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Hit or Miss
Jonno (if you must know)
One Swell Foop
Q Daily News
Slightly North of Tomorrow
The Other Side
Whim and Vinegar
Brig's big blog portal
Matthew's GLB blog portal
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Friday, June 30, 2000
Quote of the day: "Bugs and caterpillars walking around in salads freak many people out. But when I see them, at least I know the greens are fresh."
-- Tom Fitzmorris, in today's New Orleans MenuLetter.
What do John Rocker and the Vatican have in common? Apologizing for past transgressions while omitting certain transgressees, apparently.
The loudmouthed, lamebrained, homophobic, bigoted baseball player (like anyone should give a crap what a baseball player says anyway) returned to New York yesterday after being bitchslapped into the minor leagues, and offered an apology to New Yorkers for the nasty things he said about them. However, his published comments included very nasty remarks also directed at gay people, young mothers, immigrants and people with AIDS, none of whom were included in his apology.
The people of New York seemed to accept his apology with grace and elegance:
"He could burn in hell for all I care," said a New York fan earlier this week.Put yourself in her shoes. This week, the Supreme Court overturned a Nebraska law banning so-called "partial-birth abortions". Incidentally, there is no such term in medicine and has never been used by physicians. The term was invented by anti-abortion activists "to do what it does so well: offend public sensibilities", as the following article says.
"We should kick his butt," said another.
If every you were tempted to support the banning of a legitimate medical procedure by a bunch of conservative legislators who know nothing of either medicine nor the particular necessary circumstances in which a certain medical procedure is warranted, then you need to read the story of a woman who had to undergo such a procedure, which saved her life and ended her daughter's suffering. Don't presume to judge other people's actions unless you can put yourself in their place and see things from their perspective.
Wednesday, June 28, 2000
Homeward bound! This morning, the United States Supreme Court made this simple statement with regards to the Elián González case:
The application for stay presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the court is denied. The petition for a writ of certiorari (the appeal) is denied.I'm amazed that there were no dissenting votes, even from that ultra-conservative rabid bulldog Scalia and his toady Clarence Thomas, who this week voted to do away with Miranda warnings.
Capetown's bouquet. In my introductory wine class at UCLA a few years ago, I tasted a South African wine for the first time. It was amazing; I had never tasted anything like its smoky, peppery flavor and aroma. South Africa has an amazing winemaking and growing region in Stellenbosch, and they make some world-class wines. I urge you to seek them out.
A fellow named Kevin Kidson (who's apparently connected with the South African wine industry) was kind enough to provide me with some websites: a good online reference for South African wines; the online newsletter of the South African wine industry; a site on what's happening in the Cape winelands; and a site where you can buy South African wines online for worldwide delivery. (Thanks, Kevin!)
Third "secret" of Fatima yawner, big B.O. floppola. Mark Morford, in today's S. F. Gate Morning Fix, advises and calms us thusly:
And of course the ever-dour Vatican would like to remind all good and properly terrified Catholics that they are not required to actually believe, as in literally, any sort of divine prophecy that feigns to portend a sad procession of nuns and priests being calmly massacred by arrow-wielding soldiers atop a sad mountain peak in an apparently war-torn wasteland, as envisioned by a now 93-year-old cloistered nun sometime back in 1917, when she was but a peasant girl romping in a Portuguese field and allegedly witnessing glowing visions of the Virgin Mary in a blazing halo of white light and Hallmark-prefiguring rapture. Please be advised: You are not required to believe this.That boy sure is a smartass, ain't he? (Heh.)
Happy to report that the Vatican, however, is taking this one in stride, sort of brushing it under the proverbial prayer rug after keeping the Third Big Secret of Fatima nervously locked away for five successive popes, and then finally deciding it was relatively safe to reveal that the thing basically paints the overly pious in very unpleasant light indeed, what with all the gunfire and corpses and Saving Private Ryan-grade wretchedness. Because bad PR is bad PR and even the Vatican knows it has to come clean about one small thing at least once a millennium, and isn't it refreshing?
Don't laugh the would-be censors off. The National Coalition Against Censorship's web site features an essay by author Judy Blume about those misguided fools who would attempt to ban the Harry Potter books, the most popular children's books in recent memory. She says, "The real danger is not in the books, but in laughing off those who would ban them."
My husband and I like to reminisce about how, when we were 9, we read straight through L. Frank Baum's Oz series, books filled with wizards and witches. And you know what those subversive tales taught us? That we loved to read! In those days I used to dream of flying. I may have been small and powerless in real life, but in my imagination I was able to soar.
At the rate we're going, I can imagine next year's headline: "Goodnight Moon Banned for Encouraging Children to Communicate With Furniture." And we all know where that can lead, don't we?
Tuesday, June 27, 2000
Ooh ... more spiritual experimentation. No no, I'm not converting. "Spirits-related" experimentation, I should say. Here's a whole tutorial with several recipes on how to make homemade liqueurs, including an exciting-looking one for a 35-proof pomegranate liqueur. If I can pull that one off, I'll never need to use that artificially-flavored, non-alcoholic "grenadine" syrup crap in a drink again. God knows the last time grenadine has been made with real pomegranates (which is what it originally was; "grenade" is French for pomegranate).
I just picked up some orange bitters at the incredibly well-stocked Wally's Wine and Spirits in Westwood, the best liquor store in L.A. Orange bitters are pretty much unheard-of these days, although they were very common in the 1930s and pre-prohibition. In fact, the original Martini recipe was a relatively non-dry 3:1 gin/vermouth ratio, with four drops of orange bitters added. I'll make mine a little drier than that, but I'm looking forward to trying orange bitters in my Martinis as well as other cocktails.
I picked up some peach bitters, too. I'll probably have far fewer uses for this, but I can't wait to serve Bellinis with a few dashes of peach bitters floating on top. The absolutely perfect summer morning drink. Yum!
(Okay, how does this sound for brunch? Bellinis, then pecan-crusted French toast served with praline-caramelized bacon, then andouille cheese grits topped with fried eggs and Creole sauce?)
I'd hazard to guess that outside New Orleans, 99+% of all bars will stock no bitters other than the now-ubiquitous Angostura. It's not bad, but there's much more to be had for you to make interesting cocktails. I'm now stocked with Angostura, Peychaud, orange and peach bitters, so I just might have one of the more well-stocked bars in Los Angeles. Care for a cocktail? :-)
Tens of thousands of cases of wine destroyed in Napa fire. A devastating fire which destroyed the historic Kornell Champagne Cellars in St. Helena, California destroyed the wine stocks and dreams of dozens of small winemakers, including many handmade vintages.
"These wines were produced from vines that we planted in the early 1990s," [Robert] Foley [of Foley Vineyards] recounted bitterly. "Each bottle was hand-chamoised by my wife, hand-filled with a siphon hose, hand-corked with a single-lever hand corker, hand-capsuled, hand-labeled and hand-stacked in a case... all so it could burn here."As someone who's gradually been discovering the joys of fine wine for the last few years, I found this hard to read. I can't imagine what some of these winemakers must be feeling, to see ten or more years of work destroyed.
Like the other limited-production winemakers, Foley stored his wine at the Kornell Cellars because there was no room for it on the small estate where he lives and works.
Now playing. I've been listening to a lot of Prefab Sprout this week, after a long hiatus. I've decided that they've got to be one of my very favorite pop bands ever. Paddy McAloon is a feckin' genius!
Elián case goes to the Supremes. I have a hunch that the latest desperate action to wrest this little boy away from his dad will result in the boy, his dad, his stepmother and his baby brother leaving for their home in Cuba by Wednesday night. I'd be surprised if the Supreme Court even agreed to hear the case, given that there are absolutely no unresolved issues of constitutional law involved.
Well, I suppose calling them the "Peckers" is out of the question... PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), hell-bent on making complete fools of themselves this week, sent a letter to the president of the Green Bay Packers football team, telling them they want the team to change their name.
PETA vegetarian campaign coordinator says that the name Packers "promotes violence and bloodshed because it refers to meat packers, or those who work in slaughterhouses." (Oh, please.) He goes on to suggest naming the team the Green Bay "Pickers", referring to "picking fruits, vegetables and other crops", or possibly the Green Bay "Six-Packers", referring to "the state's brewing history."
The team president dismissed the idea, saying they'd been the Packers since 1919 and planned to stay that way. In an unconfirmed report, an apparition of Vince Lombardi appeared, bathed in shimmering light, and told PETA to take their dopey idea and shove it up their asses sideways.
Deconstructing Harry. Film Threat magazine takes a two-part look at Harry Knowles. In case his name isn't familiar, Harry's the former nobody who's made himself into a bit of a movie mogul with his Ain't-It-Cool-News site. Seems that it ain't so cool after all. Film Threat's Ron Wells, who described his experience interviewing the 28-year-old Knowles as being "like talking to two 14-year-olds", tells the two-part "Deconstructing Harry" story in "Ain't it Unethical?" and "The Geeks Strike Back".
Laura Schlessinger interviewed: Nag this, lady. Even in what should be a relatively unbiased interview by Time magazine, "Dr." Laura comes across as harsh, inflexible, condemnatory, and downright pissy. The interviewer was not entirely successful in keeping all bias out of the questions. Schlessinger herself was entirely unsuccessful in her attempt to come across as a reasonable human being. Well, if the shoe fits... (Contributed by Wes.)
Nonexistent band name of the week: The Miami Relatives.
Monday, June 26, 2000
With his fist holding tight / to the string of his kite. David Tomlinson, the English actor who portrayed George Banks, father to Jane and Michael, in the film "Mary Poppins", died peacefully in his sleep Saturday morning at age 83. (Thanks to Matt for the link.)
"Mary Poppins" was, to the best of my recollection, the first film I ever saw in a movie theatre. It was 1964, and I was about three years old. My parents dressed me up in a little brown suit with a bow tie and matching short pants and took me to the Pitt Cinema on Elysian Fields (which is now the parking lot of a Walgreen's).
I distinctly remember that we were still getting popcorn and stuff at the concession stand when the movie began. I heard the music starting from inside the theatre, and excitedly jumped up and down and shrieked something like, "We're missing it, we're missing it!" (To this day I hate it when the movie starts before I get inside the theatre.) The "Mary Poppins" soundtrack was also the first LP I ever owned, and I wore it down to almost nothing.
"I don't want to be a pie!!" We saw "Chicken Run" this weekend. I loved it. I was worried that Nick Park and the Aardman folks might not be able to sustain a feature, but they did. It's gorgeous, stunningly shot and animated, gently and occasionally hilariously funny, and the fact that Mel Gibson did one of the main voices didn't even annoy me (much). My one regret is that we saw it at a Sunday matinée, in a theatreful of noisy kids. All the sophisticated "Great Escape" and "Stalag 17" references went over their heads, so see it at night with a theatreful of grown-ups if you can.
Today's winner of A Poke in the Eye with a Sharp Stick... drum roll, please ... and the winner is ... PETA! *poke*poke*poke*
Some wingnut from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is all upset and frothing at the mouth over the stultifyingly boring CBS program "Survivor", because the hapless castaway-candidates for a million bucks speared and ate a few rats during their survival "ordeal". The PETA protesters marched outside CBS offices shouting, "Rats have rights! Survive on veggies!"
Rats. Vermin. Gee, these demonstrators would have been very popular in Europe during the bubonic plague, eh? Why aren't they out protesting in front of extermination companies, I wonder?
"You have people who think it's fun to trap rats, cut off their legs, skin them and eat them," said RaeLeann Smith of PETA. "There's nothing funny about that. It's disgusting."Well true, I'll give her that. It is disgusting. Who'd want to eat a rat unless it was for a million bucks? Ick. But I, for one, had no qualms about swiftly killing the nasty, vile, vicious, disease-ridden rat that appeared in my house last year, courtesy of my neighbors and their garbage pile. Ugh.
Mark Morford opines in this morning's SF Gate "Morning Fix":
So then here's PETA, a doubtlessly well-intentioned group of ardent animal lovers constantly shooting itself in the cute widdle paw with its own ridiculous fanaticism, not just threatening legal action against a parody Web site with a similar Web site address (which is almost understandable), and not merely stomping around all indignant-like outside shrugging, fur-selling department stores, but going so far as to publicly protest, say, the tragic death of speared fish or a few dozen cooked rats on a remote Pacific island by way of the obnoxious and apparently very, very hungry cast of CBS' 'Survivor.' Oh my yes, now people will take you seriously.
Just raising awareness? Hardly. Just trying to protect the God-given rights of every living creature? Go soak your head. Raising snickers on millions of normal, animal-loving citizens who, because of such absurd and dangerously simpleminded actions, wouldn't go near PETA's slavering dogmatism with a ten-foot polecat? Bingo. Get over yourselves, PETA-people, before the ability to make basic distinctions abandons you forever.
Friday, June 23, 2000
Today's kvetching. Not necessarily in order.
1. Stickers on fruit that do not come off easily, and which leave gummy residue one the peel.
2. Scumbag ISPs (namely, "Interactive Internet Solutions") who harvest my phone number from InterNIC and call me at work with pre-recorded sales pitches ... may they alternately roast, freeze and be put through the wood-chipper in the tenth circle of Hell.
3. Idiots who yammer on cell phones while driving instead of paying attention to the road and other drivers and who, in the process, nearly kill me.
Thursday, June 22, 2000
I most certainly do NOT bibble! Steve Baum, our esteemed Ethelblogger, has posted what he calls his list o' nifty words. It's great. I love language, and I could spend hours with this. It would also be a great compact basis for an extremely fun round of the Dictionary Game. (By the way, I have always recommended that the Dictionary Game be played while consuming copious amounts of high-quality alcoholic beverages. It's much more fun that way.)
My favorite so far (and I've only been through the Bs) is...
BorborygmusI first learned this word (one of my all-time favorites, even better than defenestration, which is also on the list) when I was in the seventh grade, from a George Carlin record.
This is rare in everyday language, but you will find it in the medical literature, where it turns up mostly in the plural, borborygmi. It's not an unusual medical condition, it being caused by the normal movement of gas and fluid in the intestines. However, excessive noise might indicate that the sufferer has one of those ailments that can upset our delicate and finely-balanced internal economies, for example lactic acid intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome.
Outside medical matters, you are most likely to encounter the adjective, borborygmic, which is used figuratively, mainly it would seem in matters related to noisy plumbing. For example, in Ada by Vladimir Nabokov you'll find "All the toilets and waterpipes in the house had been suddenly seized with borborygmic convulsions", and E. Fenwick wrote in Long Way Down: "The room was very quiet, except for its borborygmic old radiator".
The word is related to the sixteenth-century French borborgyme, but our term comes directly from Latin, which in turn descends from the Greek word borborugmos with the same meaning.
One hour later, as I continue to skim the list, I have to ask myself ... does the language really need a word for this? Are there that many of them that they require their own word?
tyrosemiophily, (n.) - The collecting of Camembert cheese labels.Sheesh. English can get really weird.
Is rock criticism dead? Could that be the explanation for why rock critics from coast to coast are falling all over themselves in praise of that vile, misogynistic, homophobic, violence-advocating, moronic, utter pile of shit, i.e. the new album by rapper Eminem? (Not a piece of shit, but a pile of shit.) It's bad enough just to listen to it, but I fail to understand why he seems to be getting away without any serious commentary for some of the most offensive "lyrics" I've ever heard. "Oh, you can't take him seriously!" say the yes-men. Bollocks. Salon's Eric Boehlert offers a more honest look at the album for what it really is. Call me an old fart at 38 if you will, but I fail to understand how anyone could praise (or even own) this album and not be embarrassed.
Wednesday, June 21, 2000
Yet more on nonlethal weapons. My optimism for the promise of true nonlethal weapons tends to get smothered by the reality of how existing weapons are used by police. While I still believe that technology can eventually produce safe nonlethal weapons, many of today's such weapons can injure, maim or even kill.
I've gotten some interesting email on this subject this week. Angie Brown wrote in with:
Ever since "Star Trek" showed us the phaser, everyone wants the cops to use one. Only one problem -- it was fiction!MonkeyFister Kendall Clark (whose emails are always more than welcome) commented thusly:
I produced a Discovery Channel hour on "new" weapons. What a crock. The bean bags from Seattle have been around forever but more departments are using them. They are "rubber bullets lite" -- not as deadly, but they leave wicked welts.
The WebShot weapon must be used outside only. Ceilings get in the way and you have to be too close for it to work. Someone with a knife (or sword) is lethal at 20 feet, they can move fast. The WebShot technology is a loser.
Cops will never tell the truth [about these weapons] because they like to go to trade shows and buy new toys.
During the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles this summer, look for pellet bombs (a projectile bomb filled with hundreds of rubber pellets that spray at knee level and hurt like hell) as well as pepper spray in many delivery systems.
On the drawing board there's a sonic wave that makes you shit your pants and vomit (good for crowd control), as well as the uber-stink bomb called the "Attitude Adjuster." Its odor is a combination dead bodies, feces, sulfur and garlic, yum! Both are iffy at best.
In any event, none of these weapons are phasers and cops will be bashing heads and firing projectiles for a long time still.
The problem with nonlethal weapons is that the police are getting more and more willing to use them in cases where otherwise they might not do anything; witness the massive pepper spraying, cs-gassing, beanbag and rubber bullet shooting that occurred in Seattle.The biggest problem is that they mostly don't work in the way you think they should, including the new beanbags (from what I've been reading and hearing about for the last couple of days). Don't forget that people have been killed with rubber bullets (especially in the north of Ireland), and I wasn't thinking of those when the reemergence of the Diallo case got me thinking about a true nonlethal weapon.
It's a mixed bag, at best, I think; I haven't heard of any Diallo-like shootings being averted by the use of nonlethal weapons, and I've seen lots of police brutality with nonlethal weapons where otherwise there might have been nothing at all (or where otherwise, as in Chicago '68, the billy clubs only would be deployed). Lots of billy-clubbing in Seattle in addition.
I think on balance the proliferation of nonlethal weapons will end up not being a good thing.
I really really like the idea of nonlethal weapons ... I just wish that they could come up with something that'll really work -- stopping someone without hurting them. I guess it's just so much easier to put a hole in someone ... and as Kendall pointed out, "Easier, yes; but also more 'effective' in 'fighting crime' and 'wars on drugs' and other fascist bullshit." Amen, brother.
One of the most commonly used nonlethal weapons in the cops' arsenal has been pepper spray. Most people tend to think of it as a personal defense weapon; you buy a keychain pepper spray attachment at the hardware store and delude yourself into thinking it'll keep you from being mugged. But the police use of pepper spray has been absolutely appalling, nothing short of torture in some instances (like when it was dabbed into the eyes of peaceful sitdown protesters; I was outraged when that action was ruled to be legal).
Kendall finished his letters with an excellent point: "I think this all bears some additional investigation because I'm pretty sure it's not a matter of technology but, rather, of will and priorities." I hadn't thought of it that way. Police agencies are going to have to actually give a damn about whether or not they can protect and serve without inflicting injury or death, and if they do the right thing they'll pursue the technology when it becomes available ... we can hope.
Delicious frou-frou cocktail recipe of the day. I've been digging through the fairly comprehensive Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide by Herbst and Herbst, looking for interesting cocktail recipes in addition to my own off-the-cuff mixological experimentation. Last night I found a terrific one. It's a little foofy, but definitely delicious; it has more of a kick than you might think but not as much as you'd guess from its name. It's called a Velvet Hammer, kin to the Alexander, and of course I tweaked the recipe (as is my usual wont) by changing the white crème de cacao to the ever-fabulous Godiva chocolate liqueur. This gives it a little color as well as sublime flavor.
The Velvet HammerIf you love the flavor of orange and chocolate together (and I do), then this is the drink for you. Use milk if you're counting calories (but then again, who's counting calories when they're ordering cocktails?).
1 ounce Cointreau (do not use triple sec; use the good stuff)
1 ounce Godiva liqueur
1 ounce cream or half-and-half
1/2 ounce brandy
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. You may optionally dust the surface of the drink with a small amount of cocoa.
Excuse me, did someone say ... cocktails? My interest is piqued immediately! (Oh wait, it was me. Never mind.)
The Hartford Courant in Connecticut offers an article on summer cocktails. Apparently there's a bit of a renaissance of classic Latin cocktails like the Caipirinha and the Mojito, and they offer their own recipes for the Pimm's Cooler (signature drink at Napoleon House in the French Quarter), the classic Mai-Tai, Sangria, Tom Collins and the mint julep (which is not one of my favorites, I must confess). Cheers!
Peristyle returns soon! Yay! Yay! Tom Fitzmorris reports in today's New Orleans MenuLetter that Chef Anne Kearney's fabulous restaurant Peristyle will finally be reopening soon. This is fantastic news for all lovers of fine food in New Orleans.
Peristyle was devastated by fire last year, and its reopening has suffered delay after delay. Chef Kearney explained during a cooking demonstration at Jazzfest that it was typical city bureaucracy; Tom said in the MenuLetter that it had sat untouched for so long that people feared for the restaurant's future.
Postcard were sent out this week to longtime and prospective diners all over New Orleans, saying that reservations would be taken at the old number, (504) 593-9535, starting July 5. MenuLetter reports that "it was unclear as to whether that would be the opening day, or whether that would be the first day they'd start answering the phone. It looks like a lot of work is left to be done." (Subscribe to the free week-daily New Orleans MenuLetter!)
I invite you to read my epinion on Peristyle; looks like the phoenix is having a second rising.
A mansion on St. Charles is the "real world"? Uh, nope. Y'know, I don't know too many twentysomething college kids who get to live in a columned mansion on the grandest avenue in New Orleans unless they're one of the few blue-blooded kids who grew up in one. Sheesh. Gambit, New Orleans' alternative weekly, pays a visit to the "Real World" as it lands in their backyard.
As much as I've tried to avoid it, MTV's odious "The Real World" series has come to the Crescent City, and I'm afraid I can't help but peek in (train-wreck syndrome, ya know). It's my home on TV, though, so at least there's that. I'm hoping the music will be good (although as my pal Steve Hochman pointed out in the L.A. Times last week, there's already too much zydeco, which is music from rural Louisiana and not New Orleans.) Well, there's Danny too... but despite that, I fear it'll still be rife with all the bullshit clichés that people who don't know New Orleans heap upon New Orleans (again, don't get me started on "The Big Easy" ... just don't).
I've missed the first two episodes, but next week I'll see how unbearable it probably is. I can't believe I'm actually going to tune in. Grr. *slap self*
Tuesday, June 20, 2000
So long, Mama Livia & Mrs. Pynchon. Nancy Marchand, matriarch of the Soprano clan and publisher of the Trib, died Sunday night. North Jersey (and the world of acting) will never be the same.
More on the Kenny G controversy. New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist (and former Wynton Marsalis road manager) Lolis Eric Elie weighs in on the Kenny G abomination of recording over a classic Louis Armstrong recording, for which he was duly taken to task in a blistering commentary by Pat Metheny. Lolis begins:
Under normal circumstances, I would no sooner buy a Kenny G CD than I would buy a vial of crack cocaine.I'm right there with Lolis and Pat and everyone else who's outraged by this. Louis Armstrong's music is sacred, particularly to New Orleanians, and what G has done is truly an outrage.
I fear the debilitating effects of both illicit drugs and bad music. (I'm not at all sure that American society is well-served by the fact that only one of these is illegal.) [more]
City of champions? Try city of losers.
"Fans" of the Los Angeles Lakers demonstrated their joy at the team's championship win by erupting into a riot, torching cars, vandalizing businesses and setting fires in the street. I suppose I can't place blame for this sort of thing on L.A. "fans" solely; it's happened in Chicago and Denver too. Then there are the English soccer hooligans. I just can't understand this mentality at all. How come they can't be like the Irish, who manage to celebrate their teams' wins by actually celebrating and not destroying things?
It's times like this that I'm glad I'm completely apathetic about sports.
Quelle surprise. Left-wing activist Lenora Fulani, now a member of the Reform Party, has quit her job as co-chair of fringe right-wing gadfly-wingnut Pat Buchanan's campaign for the presidency, and has withdrawn her support.
Fulani said Buchanan put his conservative issues above their common interests in political reform, trade and foreign policy.Buchanan should be pleased by this development, in a way. At least it got his futile and nearly universally ignored campaign back into the news for a day or so.
"I must and do object to your efforts to transform the party into a party of, and for, only social conservatives," Fulani wrote Buchanan on Sunday.
More on nonlethal weapons. The other day, as I was writing about Bruce Springsteen's new song and the Amadou Diallo case, I lamented the fact that our advanced technology couldn't seem to come up with safe and reliable nonlethal weapons so that cops can incapacitate suspects instead of riddling them with bullets.
I was thinking specifically of a sf short story I had read when I was a kid. I can't remember the title or the author (or even the plot), but for some reason I distinctly remember the nonlethal weapon used by the cops in the story. It was called a "meshgun", and fired what was vividly described as a "spume of tanglemesh", a substance consisting of tiny threads that enveloped and immobilized the target. The tanglemesh was designed to shrink slightly and tighten its grip if the target struggled, and the police possessed the only equipment available that could soften and remove the threads. This is a smashing idea (and if anyone can remember this story, please let me know).
Seems that Seattle police have begun deploying a crude but apparently effective non-lethal weapon -- a beanbag round fired from a shotgun that bruises you and knocks the wind out of you rather than blowing a hole through you the size of a dinner plate and turning your internal organs into mincemeat. Among other newer nonlethal weapons being introduced is one that sounds like a meshgun precursor -- "a Spiderman-style net gun known as the WebShot, designed to wrap and immobilize a suspect." Let's keep going in this direction, shall we?
Another moronic made-for-TV movie set in New Orleans. Why don't Hollywood TV-movie producers just leave us alone? Unless they're going to do it right, that is (and almost nobody has, ever). Times-Picayune columnist Angus Lind lends his opinion of "On Hostile Ground", which he describes as "yet another bad movie making New Orleans look like the squirrel capital of the country."
So few have gotten it right. Jim Jarmusch did in "Down By Law". Alan Parker and co-scenarist William Hjortsberg weren't too bad in "Angel Heart". And God bless Hugh Wilson and everyone associated with "Frank's Place". But DON'T get me started on "The Big Easy" ...
Spam of the day. Occasionally one actually catches my attention:
From: SWORDS <email@example.com>Oh yeah. We definitely have the same customers. People come right to my site to read about Louisiana cooking, then immediately buy swords from these bozos and go around raping, pillaging and cleaving people in twain.
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 13:43:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Proposed Link
As sword manufacturers from Toledo, Spain we did some market research and found out that many of our prospective customers go to sites just like yours The Gumbo Pages. We desire very much to work together with you. Not only will that bring us sales, but it will also enhance your visitors' appreciation for your site and they'll thank you for linking them to the products they really like.
Our site is full of medieval and renaissance products from 52" Battle ready swords to small mini rapier letter openers and intricately detailed suits of armour. There is something for everyone, especially active wrestling fans that can relate to the battle.
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I got a laugh from this, but it still didn't stop me from reporting their asses to SpamCop. I hate spam.
Spam of the day, part deux. I swear, this has been the weirdest spam day in recent memory.
From: Steel Building Promo <firstname.lastname@example.org>Gee, how did they know that I was in the market for an industrial strength steel building? I think I might wait until they've got something cool, like the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building, or even the Bradbury Building. But I'll have to wait until my next non-rent paycheck.
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 17:03:53
Subject: Steel Building Clearance
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Monday, June 19, 2000
Fun! "Ride the Rails for KCSN", our radio station's fundraising event last Saturday, was quite a success. We had hundreds of listeners stop by for food, drink and live music, plus rides on the brand-new subway and docent-led tours of the new stations (pretty cool looking stations, I might add). I had a blast doing the live broadcast from the location, too. Thanks a million to all the KCSN listeners who came by!
Good for the Supremes. (No, I don't mean Diana Ross and the gals, I mean those eight qualified Justices and Cl*r*nc* Th*m*s). Today the U.S. Supreme Court denied review and let stand a lower court ruling that overturned the Tangipahoa Parish School Board's decision to require teachers to issue a disclaimer before students were taught about evolution, stating that it was in no way intended to contradict views of creationism. This was apparently a compromise measure to begin with, after the board voted 5-4 against requiring the teaching of oxymoronic "creation science" in parish schools.
There's been a cadre of idiots who for years have been attempting to force the teaching of creation myth as science in Louisiana schools, and in each and every case they've been bitchslapped by the Supreme Court (despite the presence of Rehnquist, Scalia and Cl*r*nc* Th*m*s). Unless you're just stupid, how many times do you have to put your hand on the stove before you realize that it's hot? Sheesh.
In other (bigger) Supremes news and a victory for those who would continue to support constitutional separation of church and state, they ruled that public school districts cannot let students lead stadium crowds in prayer before high school football games.
SEE-ya. The New York police officer who referred to Bruce Springsteen as a "fucking dirtbag" and a "floating fag" after hearing about the new song "American Skin" has apologized and resigned from the force.
Saturday, June 17, 2000
Live remote broadcast today! This afternoon from 1-4pm, KCSN will be holding a fundraiser called "Riding the Rails for KCSN". It'll be held at the new North Hollywood Metro Station (which won't open for another week), and will feature live classical, jazz and bluegrass music, samples from restaurants from all over the area, rides on the new subway (which again, doesn't open to the public for a week) accompanied by live Western music, plus a live broadcast from the site. If you're in range, tune in to my roots/trad/folk music program "Down Home" between 2 and 5pm this afternoon ... 88.5 FM!
Friday, June 16, 2000
Looking down on me. Matt turned me on to the idea of looking for one's house and parents' house and so forth from space, via the satellite images on the Terraserver. I had a modicum of success, although it's hard to pick out the actual individual houses from some of these images.
I found my old high school Holy Cross, in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, fairly easily. (Here's a better view of the Administration Building, which dates back to 1879; the gym/bandroom, where I spent five years playing music, is at the top.) Here's my grandparents' old neighborhood in Bywater, where my mom and uncles grew up and where I spent a lot of time as a kid. My grandparents' old corner grocery store, Neidermeier's, is right on the bottom left edge of the image and hard to see; here's a higher view of the neighborhood (the corner of Mazant and Royal is three blocks to the left of the intersection at the lower left corner of the image, and one block up). Here's the neighborhood where I grew up, in New Orleans East (my old house is just above the dead center of the image, with the light-colored roof). And here's the general area where I live now, in Los Angeles ("Hey, I can see my house from here!")
The Terraserver is nifty. Gee, looks like Microsoft is good for something after all. :-)
Goddammit. Am I going to have to disable my web site's guestbook-signing function just because of one abusive asshole? *sigh*
C'mon, wouldn't you two feel naughtier in a motel room? Peter writes about his noisy neighbors in a hilarious new blog entitled Neighbor Sex.
Ah, such memories. When I lived in Culver City, the manager of my building was a young law student whose dad was the owner. He once had a roommate whose sole name was (I swear to Gawd) ... "Hawk. Just Hawk." Hawk schtupped his petite little girlfriend at all hours of the night; his mechanical, robotic grunting punctuated by her banshee-like screeching would never cease to rouse me from a sound sleep at, f'r instance, 2:30am. There were times when I was ready to go downstairs, turn on the hose, and fire it through their open window.
"CELERY! APPLES! WALNUTS! GRAPES! IN MAYONNAISE!" If you ever wondered where Waldorf Salad came from (or needed to explain how it's done to a rude, befuddled Torquay hotel owner), as well as Peach Melba, Crepes Suzette, peanut butter and jelly and lots more commonly beloved foods, head on over to "Who Cooked That Up?" and learn. I learned that not only iced tea but peanut butter and hot dogs were introduced to the world at the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904! Gotta love that fair. But didn't George Washington Carver do something with peanut butter before then? (Thanks to Dan of Lake Effect for the link.)
Overheard line of the day: Two bearded, yarmulke-wearing gentlemen entered the establishment where I was having lunch yesterday. One said to the other, his voice tinged with anticipation, "So what's for lunch today? Are we having treyf?"
[Jefferson Parish school] board member Karen Barnes said she has not seen the ruling, but said she "doesn't have a problem with prayer at school."(Aah, ain't that America.)
"In fact, I encourage prayers at school," Barnes said. "I think all those who are not in favor of prayers at school should refrain from expressing their opinion."
Quote of the day, part deux: "I think that all good, right thinking people in this country are sick and tired of being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being told that all good, right thinking people in this country are fed up with being sick and tired. I'm certainly not, and I'm sick and tired of being told that I am."
-- Monty Python
Thursday, June 15, 2000
Shrub trimming at the Death House. Dubya is "confident" in his Texas death penalty machine, despite his last-minute reprieve for Ricky McGinn. However, a Chicago Tribune investigation reveals a horribly dysfunctional system at work in Texas. (The previous story is continued in part two.)
Under Gov. George W. Bush, Texas has executed dozens of Death Row inmates whose cases were compromised by unreliable evidence, disbarred or suspended defense attorneys, meager defense efforts during sentencing and dubious psychiatric testimony...Gee, no wonder he's so confident. Or is it really what I've suspected all along? That he hasn't a clue as to what's going on?
Of the 131 cases where a Death Row inmate has been executed in Texas under George W. Bush:
- 40 involved trials where the defense attorneys presented no evidence or only one witness during the sentencing phase.
- 29 included a psychiatrist who gave testimony that the American Psychiatric Association condemned as unethical and untrustworthy.
- 43 included defense attorneys publicly sanctioned for misconduct -- either before or after their work on these cases.
- 23 included jailhouse informants, considered to be among the least credible of witnesses.
- 23 included visual hair analysis, which has consistently proved unreliable.
These stories come on the heels of another report in the Tribune on the failure of the death penalty in Illinois, which convinced the state's Republican governor to declare a moratorium on executions.
(Thanks to my pal Tom Krueger for forwarding the stories.)
Today's cocktail idea. I've been getting a lot of email about my epinion on Bombay Sapphire Gin. Everyone's saying stuff like "it's the only gin", and "as soon as I tasted it, I fell in love", and "welcome to the club!" Looks like I'm in damned fine company.
Barry, a regular Looka! reader and correspondent, wrote in with a cocktail idea he'd picked up in San Diego. Make your Sapphire martini as usual, after having prepared a special garnish. Take a queen sized green olive (pitted), dispense with whatever was stuffed in it and replace it with Gorgonzola cheese. Repeat 2-3 times. Spear with a toothpick and add to the martini. "It is amazing how well these three flavors go together," Barry says. "THE perfect combination. If I could figure out how I would make a dinner out of this one I would. Wait, it already is! Woohoo!"
Funny that he should bring up this particular take on the martini. The other night Wes and I were quaffing some cocktails, and I was jokingly trying to invent bizarre drink combinations. I came up with what I call The Gorgonzola Martini -- vodka, cream and Gorgonzola cheese (shaken, of course). I couldn't decide, though, whether the drink should be cold or warm. :-)
Quote of the day: "He hadn't a single redeeming vice."
-- Oscar Wilde
Tuesday, June 13, 2000
The Boss doesn't let any foulmouthed cops keep him from playing what he wants. Bruce Springsteen played his new song "American Skin" on the first night of his 10-night stand at Madison Square Garden. The New York Times' Jon Pareles reviews the song and the show, and emphatically states that it is not an "anti-cop diatribe". He sees the song's warning of "you can get killed just for living in your American skin" as a warning to the police (who face danger daily) as well as to Diallo.
New epinions. It was a slow day at work today, and I managed to get some writing done:
If you're not a member of epinions, it's free. Before reading what I wrote there, why don't you go ahead and sign up via my site, so's I can get my big whopping elephant three cents for each review you read? C'mon, Daddy needs a new pair o' shoes...
Psst! Hey FOX! You're lame! FOX, the network with dual personality disorder ("Simpsons" ... "Greed". "X-Files" ... "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire"), does in fact run three of my favorite shows. One of them, perhaps my favorite of all, "Malcolm in the Middle", had their season finale a few weeks ago. At the end of the episode, they had a big promotion for their "Where's Dewey?" website, where you can have loads of fun with clues to his location all summer long during reruns. Oddly enough, though, there hasn't been a peep about it since that one promo spot after the season finale.
Checked wheresdewey.com lately? There ain't nuttin' on it, and hasn't been since the finale. "Check back here for more info coming soon!", it says. I can't believe they trumpeted this site at the end of the show but still haven't even built it yet. Lame lame lame.
Happy birthday, Markie! One of my best friends has a birthday today, turnin' the big three-five. (Whoops, I'm probably not supposed to say that. Ahh, screw it; he still looks like a teenager anyway.) I hope you're off having a great time tonight. And yes, I'm already thinkin' of a restaurant. :-)
Monday, June 12, 2000
Controversy for The Boss. Bruce Springsteen has recently introduced a new song in concert entitled "American Skin", which references the shooting of Amadou Diallo in New York. Predictably, New York police are outraged and are calling for a Springsteen boycott, which includes telling other cops not to work security at his 10-concert stand at Madison Square Garden. (Gee, sounds like they don't really give a crap about doing their job by protecting and serving the public, 'cause if they did they'd be there doing their jobs as usual.)
An excerpt from the lyrics:
41 shotsI haven't heard the song yet, but I've heard it described as a keyboard- and bass-driven rock ballad, "more sad than angry".
41 shots and we'll take that ride...
Lena gets her son ready for school
She says now on these streets Charles
You got to understand the rules
Promise me if an officer stops you'll always be polite
Never ever run away and promise Momma you'll keep your hands in sight
Is it a gun?
Is it a knife?
Is it a wallet?
This is your life...
It ain't no secret
The secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin
Bob Lucente, president of the New York state chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, made a complete jerk out of himself by saying, among other things,
"He has all these good songs and everything, American flag songs and all that stuff, and now he's a floating fag. You can quote me on that."Apparently Bob, besides being an offensive homophobe, is another one of those foolish people who don't understand that "Born in the U.S.A." is an angry song, not an "American flag song".
Apparently I'm one of those people who don't understand why a bunch of cops can shoot an innocent unarmed man 41 times and still be entirely exonerated. I wasn't there, but ... 41 times? The man was holding a wallet. 41 times? 41? If they wanted to take him down, couldn't they have taken him down with one shot? Or two? Or three? Or four? Or five? Or six? Or seven? Or eight? Or nine? Or ten? Ten shots ... think about being shot once. (I can't even imagine it.) Now think about being shot ten times. Now think about being shot forty-one times. Forty-one.
I think The Boss has a right to protest if he wants to. So do the cops, obviously, but not to the exclusion of doing their jobs.
Some confused Springsteen fans are joining in with the cops' call for a boycott, saying on their site that "You don't stab your fan base in the back and then reach out your hand for the cash!" Call me crazy, but I fail to see how writing a song protesting something you feel strongly about (the shooting, 41 times, of an innocent man by the police) is stabbing your fan base in the back.
I also fail to understand why, on the cusp of the twenty-first century, in our technologically-driven society, we seem to be unable to come up with effective, safe, non-lethal weapons for police to use, so that the cops don't have to keep riddling people with bullets... but that's another rant, isn't it?
Diallo by toon. Slate has a page featuring a compendium of editorial cartoons on the Diallo slaying.
Get out those fascist-killing guitars. Thanks to contributor Justin Voss for helping to jump-start the new section on my Wilco page for their new release with their songwriting partners Billy Bragg and Woody Guthrie, Mermaid Avenue, Vol. II. So far there are five songs with chords (no tab yet), and if anybody's figured any of the others out, please do mail them to me.
Sunday, June 11, 2000
New links added. I've put a few links to my favorite food- and drink-related websites over on the right-hand sidebar, just under the Looka! Archive links. I invite you to peruse and enjoy them.
Saturday, June 10, 2000
Pat Metheny barbecues Kenny G's ass. I've already gotten this article in my email twice this past week, and made sure to go to the Pat Metheny Group web site to make sure it's authentic ...and it is.
When asked his opinion of Kenny G recently, Pat responded with a wonderfully (and justifiably) scathing opinion on G's lack of talent, and the monstrous temerity he has for daring to overdub his own feeble instrumental honking over a classic Louis Armstrong recording. A few excerpts:
not long ago, kenny g put out a recording where he overdubbed himself on top of a 30+ year old louis armstrong record, the track "what a wonderful world". with this single move, kenny g became one of the few people on earth i can say that i really can't use at all -- as a man, for his incredible arrogance to even consider such a thing, and as a musician, for presuming to share the stage with the single most important figure in our music.Wow. You go, Pat.
when larry coryell presumed to overdub himself on top of a wes montgomery track, i lost a lot of the respect that i ever had for him -- and i have to seriously question the fact that i did have respect for someone who could turn out to have have such unbelievably bad taste and be that disrespectful to one of my personal heroes. but when kenny g decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great louis's tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that i would not have imagined possible.
since that record came out - in protest, as insigificant as it may be, i encourage everyone to boycott kenny g recordings, concerts and anything he is associated with. if asked about kenny g, i will diss him and his music with the same passion that is in evidence in this little essay. normally, i feel that musicians all have a hard enough time, regardless of their level, just trying to play good and don't really benefit from public criticism, particularly from their fellow players. but, this is different. there ARE some things that are sacred - and amongst any musician that has ever attempted to address jazz at even the most basic of levels, louis armstrong and his music is hallowed ground.
to ignore this trespass is to agree that NOTHING any musician has attempted to do with their life in music has any intrinsic value -- and i refuse to do that... everything i said here is exactly the same as what i would say to [kenny] gorelick if i ever saw him in person. and if i ever DO see him anywhere, at any function - he WILL get a piece of my mind and (maybe a guitar wrapped around his head.)
I had no idea this had happened -- usually I ignore Kenny G not unlike I'd try to ignore a gnat at an outdoor dinner party. And I'm not a huge fan of Pat's music either, as my tastes tend more toward Armstrong and early jazz than Metheny. But I'm a fan of Pat the man now. Tell it like it is, baby.
Friday, June 9, 2000
The Warner Collection is finally out. From the late 30s to the early 60s, Anne and Frank Warner travelled the remote corners of the United States, befriending folks and recording their traditional songs. The Warners collected and recorded over 1,000 songs, an astonishing body of work. They compiled and wrote a seminal volume, "Traditional American Folk Songs", which belongs on the shelf of anyone with an interest in traditional ballads and in American music in general. But the recordings, finally donated to the Library of Congress in 1972, have remained unheard by anyone other than Warner family members and friends, and a few music scholars. Now the rest of us get to hear it.
Appleseed Records have finally released Volume one of The Warner Collection, entitled "Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still". It's a wonderful collection, including songs that otherwise would have been lost, songs that are still sung today primarily because of these recordings, and glimpses into our country's past -- like the singing of "Yankee" John Galusha, born in 1859 and who sang for the Warners until he was in his nineties.
If you're a fan of the great band Cordelia's Dad, you'll want this -- the band have been mining this collection for some of these best and most powerful songs for years. Get it.
The 3rd Annual Free Reed Festival is on! Diss accordions in front of me, and you and I are goin' rounds.
The accordion gets a bad rap, and you'd almost think it deserves it. As my friend Cliff Furnald, editor of RootsWorld magazine says, "Too many guys in powder-blue tuxedoes playing 'Lady of Spain.'" (Don't forget the cheesy toupées, either.) But if you make fun of accordions, it's patently obvious that you've never heard the music of Clifton Chenier, or Steve Jordan, or Maria Kalaniemi, or any of the myriad musicians from around the world and from wildly varying musical traditions who make fantastic museum with the many types of accordions.
Cliff wanted to have an accordion festival, but figured that his home turf of New Haven, Connecticut probably wouldn't draw the crowds that the music demanded and deserved, so he started a virtual festival on the web. Throughout the entire month of June, The Free Reed Festival will feature accordionists from here, there and everywhere, playing music that you've probably never heard before and that will dazzle you. Check it out. And if you've never heard Clifton Chenier, go out and buy one of his records, preferably "Louisiana Blues and Zydeco", "Bogalusa Boogie" or the Rhino compilation "Zydeco Dynamite". He was, is and forever shall be the King of Zydeco. He will change you life. Trust me. Do it.
Belgium boring? Hell no, and they have chip butties too. An interesting article about Belgian culture and cuisine (their reputation of being boring is camouflage they've developed after centuries of invasions, apparently; "Aah, nothing to see here. Why don't you move on to France or Holland? They've got loads of good stuff!"
If you go to Belgium, don't miss the bread and cake museum, The Dog's Toilet Poodle Parlor and the Museum of Underpants, and while you're there, have a mitrailleuse for lunch. (Thanks again to Owen Linderholm for more chip butty madness.)
Your tax dollars at work. $60 billion (that's sixty billion with a "b") for a missile defense system that cannot distinguish between enemy missiles and decoys.
In interviews, [critics] said that after the system failed to achieve this crucial discrimination goal against mock targets in its first two flight tests, the Pentagon substituted simpler and fewer decoys that would be easier for the antimissile weapon to recognize.In other words, the Pentagon rigged the test so that the system would pass muster. Sixty billion dollars for something that's ostensibly supposed to defend the United States from missile attacks and it doesn't really work. I can barely conceive of a dollar amount that high ... and it's wasted. (Not to mention that such a system is probably a bad idea, because it will upset the balance of power and send potential enemies into a tizzy.)
Thursday, June 8, 2000
Ticket brokers are the scum of the earth. Even though you can get arrested for selling a ticket above face value on the grounds of a venue in California, it's legal for you to set up shop across the street and resell tickets for astronomical prices. The "ticket broker" business has gotten huge in the last 20 years, and it's making it more difficult for the average person to get affordable decent seats at major concerts, if you can even get a ticket at all.
Where I grew up, this was called scalping. It's illegal. It should be illegal here. I fail to understand why ticket brokers can get away with this. (Oh, I really do understand ... lots of lobbying, and lots and lots of money spread around.)
Today's Los Angeles Times features a front-page story about secret deals between ticket brokers and venues who give hundreds of tickets to the legalized scalpers -- tickets that the general public never has an opportunity to buy. Scum scum scum.
Peeking through clothes with your X-ray vision is a sin! Ya ever wonder what happened to Willie Aames, who played Tommy in "Eight is Enough", was the buddy character in "Charles in Charge", and who did a "Blue Lagoon" ripoff movie as well? (No, me neither.) Well, your long wait for this information is over. Look! Walking down the street! It's a dog! It's a bus! No, it's ... BibleMan?
Aames has been portraying the Bibleman superhero character in churches and auditoriums around the country for the last five years (there's an official web site, of course). BibleMan apparently doesn't have any actual superpowers, but defeats the bad guys by quoting scripture. (C'mon, he can't even fly? What kind of superhero is that? And would he have been accepted into the Mystery Men? If I were The Forces of Evil, I'd be much more afraid of The Spleen, me.)
An anecdote from a recent BibleMan appearance:
After BibleMan left the stage, he proceeded to sign autographs for excited fans, some of whom waited in line for two hours.Sheesh. Apparently BibleMan's powers don't include humility or the ability to offer a simple "thank you".
"I had a crush on you when I was in high school," gushed one middle-aged mom more excited by Aames' presence then her children.
"I'll pray for you anyway," BibleMan responded.
I swear, the world gets weirder every day.
A born pervert. Sometimes scary, occasionally revolting and horrifying, but always astonishing ... Salon looks at photographer Joel-Peter Witkin.
Quote of the day: "What do you mean, who would all the men have sex with if all women were virgins until marriage? What a stupid question! They go to brothels, of course!"
-- The late Dame Barbara Cartland, justifying her belief that women should always be virgins when they marry, but men should never be.
Wednesday, June 7, 2000
Bummer, Fukui-san. I love "The Iron Chef". It's one of my very favorite TV shows.
It is therefore with sadness, rolling of the eyeballs and shaking of the head that I find out that Fuji TV, the Japanese network that produces the show, has sent cease and desist letters to all "Iron Chef" fan sites on the web, including ironchef.com and ironchef.net, and are demanding that links only point to the official Food Network site for the show. One such site owner offered a (heh) heartfelt apology:
Dear Fuji TV:Devil's advocate-at-law interjection: Blah blah blah trademark rights blah blah blah the trademark owners must police each and every usage of their trademark or they'll lose it blah blah blah.
I have been a bad, bad boy.
I am so very sorry that I have illegally used your intellectual property to help build a growing audience of fans for your program, Iron Chef. I apologize for knowlingly having advocated the acceptance of Iron Chef in the United States. I send you my heartfelt condolences, knowing that your corporation is benefitting hand over fist due to fans like myself and many others who provided free advertising for Iron Chef on our individual websites, the hosting for most of which having been paid for out of our own pockets.
Sigh. Another giant corporation who Just Doesn't Get It by not realizing that fan sites help them far more than they hurt them. Note that many, many TV production companies allow fan sites because they know it's free publicity, as long as the sites aren't actually harming the product. Somebody fly over to Tokyo and bap somebody at Fuji TV over the head. Better yet, buy the network execs sake until they relent and then pass out.
Yes, but how will this look for a non-animated film? Twentieth Century-Fox made movie history today, by being the first studio ever to distribute a film without film. Their new animated SF epic "Titan A.E." was sent as a 50GB data file via the Internet to a theatre in Atlanta, which exhibited it via digital projection.
Being an old film guy from way back, I hate to see film go as a medium of distribution. Sure, it'll take years, and this will certainly eliminate scratched, faded and damaged prints. Then there's the fact that a print gets more or less destroyed every time it gets sent to be put on a platter system in a suburban umptyplex mall theatre, usually handled by a minimum-wage high school kid instead of a professional projectionist. But I still don't think projected video looks good as film. Digital projection systems are many, many, many times more expensive than film projection systems, and are far more technically troublesome and tempermental. We'll see. I await further technological developments.
(My friend Dave Teal pointed out that 50 gigabytes isn't nearly as big as it used to be, and mentioned that a friend of his just bought a new machine with a 30GB hard drive. I remember about 9 or 10 years ago, when I got my first hard drive for my Amiga 500, that its massive 20 megabyte storage capacity would undoubtedly be more storage space than I'd ever need in my entire life ... heh.)
La recherche d'un Sazerac continue. You just can't get a Sazerac in this city to save your life.
I'm not surprised, really. A bar with a talented bartender who takes pride in his work, who wants to make his work into the creation of fresh, delicious, drinkable little works of art is a minority in the sea of guys who slop plain-wrap brands of liquor into glasses and fill them with some sort of liquid from a gun with ten buttons on the nozzle. The Sazerac is also the victim of the decline of bitters in today's cocktails. Oh, everybody has Angostura bitters, but that's it. No Peychaud's, which is the key to the Sazerac, and I've never seen orange or peach bitters anywhere.
I've been asking in every bar I've been in since I returned from New Orleans, and not only do Peychaud's bitters not seem to exist in L.A., but no bartender here that I've run across so far has even heard of a Sazerac. Oh well. The ones served at my house are getting better and better. Later this week, after I've called the bartender at the Sazerac Bar at the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans and picked his brain for secrets and technique, they'll be even better.
Tuesday, June 6, 2000
This guitar kills fascists. Finally. The long-awaited album "Mermaid Avenue, Volume II", by Billy Bragg and Wilco (with, of course, Woody Guthrie) was released last Tuesday. I'm late blogging about it because I'm late buying it, oddly enough. I completely forgot about it until this past weekend (it's hell being absentminded).
Sequels tend to be dangerous, but as sequels go I'd compare this record to "The Godfather, Part II" -- it's just as good as the first one, if not better. It's a little harder-edged in some places, quieter in others, with a touch of whimsy, a sense of history and full of the raging spirit of Woody's work, driven by fascist-killing guitars. It's also very relevant to contemporary times, as Uncle Bill talks about in the liner notes:
Woody Guthrie was the first alternative musician. While Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley were busy peddling escapism to the masses, Woody was out there writing songs from a different point of view with a lyrical poetry that captured the awesome majesty of America's scenery and the dry as dust humor of its working folks. He traveled the country with a newsman's eye for a story and a collector's ear for a song. And he brought it all back home to Coney Island, wher, in the house on Mermaid Avenue, he sat writing songs about hot rod hotels where he'd worked as a boy, and about the secrets of the sea that he'd fathomed during long, tense voyages on Atlantic convoys as a merchant seaman in World War II. Although at times he reached back to the Bible stories for inspiration, these songs also place Woody firmly in our modern world -- we can iagine him watching Joe DiMaggio on TV in Brooklyn, while flying saucers whizz by his open window.Equal justice under the law? Why isn't George Dubya Shrub personally intervening in the case of the man in Texas who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death despite the fact that his defense attorney was often asleep during his trial? In fact, Texas prosecutors yesterday told the federal appellate court that the man got a fair trial despite that fact. (Cue the sound of a mind, boggling.)
These lyrics are but a fragment of a great creative outpouring that occurred in the years after World War II. Woody Was slowly being incapacitated by the Huntington's Disease that would eventually kill him. He knew that time was running out and yet he still had so much to say. When he died, the music he had written for these songs died with him. The Woody Guthrie Archive contains over two thousand more complete lyrics of songs he wrote during this period. Until that work has been appreciated, Woody Guthrie still has so much to say to us.
D-Day. The Allies stormed the beach at Normandy fifty-six years ago today, and today the National D-Day Museum opened in my hometown of New Orleans, the brainchild of historiana and University of New Orleans professor Stephen Ambrose. Not only is it good for the country, but I think it's particularly good for the city, too. I'm looking forward to seeing it on my next trip home. NOLA Live has an entire section of the site dedicated to local coverage of the museum.
Whacked by the Monkey Fist! (Iced tea redux.) Monkeyfist, one of my favorite web sites, featured a post yesterday in which contributor Kendall Clark took a look at my look at iced tea (see my Friday, June 2 entry).
Kendall and his wife are from Texas and Mississippi respectively, and share my lifelong enthusiasm for the joys of iced tea. But... they don't like Luzianne! And they're opinionated so-and-sos about it not unlike myself. Oh well ... de gustibus non disputandum est, I guess. I can't imagine why someone'd think it's nasty, though ... maybe the batches of Luzianne they had had been sitting around getting stale, or something.
I should be more specific in my praise of Luzianne tea by, in the interests of full disclosure, reiterating that I recently converted to Luzianne decaf for my iced-tea guzzling at home. Yes, I know decaffeinated anything is an abomination, but my doctor fussed at me and dangled words like "hypertension" and "convestigive heart failure" and "premature death" and other such nasties in front of me, and said that I have to cut down severely on the caffeine. I still maintain that Luzianne decaf is the only drinkable (and tasty, even) iced tea I've come across. I must admit, it's just not as satisfying as The Real Thing, but then again, I'm not a caffeine junkie anymore, and I don't mind that one bit.
Kendall and Hope like Lipton tea. They'd probably get a kick out of hearing all the nasty things my Irish friends have to say about Lipton. :-) Actually, Lipton's not bad at all. I once tried to make iced tea with Barry's, the brand that my Irish friends prefer (and my favorite for hot tea), but it just wasn't right for iced. It was too strong, and even when I diluted it, it still wasn't ... right. It's hard to put my finger on it.
Kendall brought up the subject of sun tea, which is his favorite method of brewing. I love sun tea too, and I neglected to mention it before. Unfortunately, I tend to be too impatient to make it. When I run out of tea, I want some NOW, and I've gotten good at my tried-and-true method -- two family-sized tea bags in four cups of BOILING water, brew for about 3-4 minutes (not too long, or it'll get bitter!), then add 4 more cups of ice water. Perfect color and strength. I'm in total agreement about those weirdo iced-tea machines. Why in the world do you need to spend $35 for a machine that does what you can do yourself with a saucepan or a sun tea jar for free? And that does a bad job to boot? Sheesh. More simplicity, folks, and less gadgetry!
I'm glad Kendall's picky about the size of the ice, too. My biggest problem with iced-tea-all-over-my-shirt is at one of my very favorite restaurants in L.A., the beloved John O'Groats. They serve iced tea in large Coca-Cola glasses (you know, wide-mouthed but narrow at the bottom), chilled with crushed ice. The crushed ice will for a dam even worse than the big ice, and when I tip the glass back to drain it of the last of the tea ... sploosh! Not much fun, even on a hot day.
He also asked about accoutrements -- lemon, lime, sugar, etc. While I'll take a splash of lemon or lime if it's readily available (I don't have to have it), my favorite way to drink it is all by itself. If I can savor the flavor and aroma of the tea, I'm happy. He's right on the money about adding sugar in restaurant tea, which is nearly impossible to dissolve. I once dined at a wonderful restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolica called Crook's Corner (the home of an absolutely incredible shrimp and grits dish) who served a homemade lemongrass syrup with their tea. I thought it was a very interesting idea -- you get to sweeten the tea with a simple syrup in which the sugar is already in solution, and you get a whiff of lemon without the acidity of lemon juice.
However, on the subject of flavoring iced tea ... we all know how I feel about those foul, demon-spawned, wholly and absolutely undrinkable anathemas that are Paradise Tropical Tea, and just about all of those other fruit-flavored teas. Feh. Feh feh feh. If you don't know how I feel, I invite you to find out.
I must confess, though ... I was served a blackcurrant iced tea at Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken's wonderful restaurant Border Grill in Santa Monica. The first time I dined there I forgot to ask my perennial question, "Is the iced tea you serve regular iced tea?" and I took a swig without realizing it was flavored. I have to confess that it was actually pretty good. It wasn't nearly as cloying and flowery-perfumey as that Paradise swill. Eh, I suppose I can make an exception every 10 years or so.
In case you didn't notice the recipe link above... notice it now. My friends and regular Looka! contributors Michael and Louise Pemberton sent me the recipe for the delectable Spicy Sautéed Shrimp and Cheese Grits from Crook's Corner, the aforementioned Chapel Hill restaurant. It's got shrimp, it's got bacon, it's got cheese. It's gooooood. There ya go. So make it already.
Another thing I love about living in L.A. is being able to do things like stop at the Elat Market, a Middle Eastern market right on the way home from work, to pick up a pint of ice cream from Mashti Malone's (my favorite Persian ice cream parlor in Hollywood) that's flavored with rosewater, saffron, cardamom and chopped pistachios. My Gawd, is it good.
This is cool! It's the rebirth of the Zeppelin!
I've always been a huge fan of airships, even though I've never been on one. I still have a copy of Popular Mechanics from when I was a kid, with a huge article on airships and fanciful designs of nuclear-powered ones they hoped might be in our future. I would have loved to have flown on the Hindenburg, too (well, had it not been owned by Nazis and full of explosive hydrogen). I don't know if it's part of this retro-'30s thing my brain seems to be stuck in, but travel by airship just seems ... cool and classy. So far the new German venture is only talking about cargo transport via airship, but wouldn't it be cool if they built one for passengers?
Monday, June 5, 2000
Drink! After our recent trip to New Orleans (which I'm still not finished recounting), Wes and I have become born-again cocktail aficionadoes. Not to say that we weren't consuming them before (he favors vodka martinis and I primarily favor Old Fashioneds), but now we're hell-bent on acquiring cool vintage barware and I've been learning a fair amount about the grand era of the cocktail.
Two terrific sites that have been helping me on this quest for knowledge and history (and drinks!) are Drinkboy and Cocktail Time. Drinkboy is the brainchild and labor of love of a fellow named Robert Hess, who has a great reverence for a bartender/mixologist who truly knows what he's doing (a rare commodity these days) and a complex, sophisticated, well-mixed cocktail. His site contains historical essays (including a particularly good one on the history of the Martini), his own observations, instructions on setting up a well-stocked bar, plus lots of classic cocktail recipes. Cocktail Time is similarly excellent, but now that it's been swallowed up into the Lycos Empire (and its creator Paul Harrington apparently no longer associated with the site), its future may be in doubt.
I've been living in my current place for two years now, and I still had all my barware packed in boxes. I'd been meaning to turn the broom closet in my kitchen into a liquor cabinet and bar ever since then, and I finally got my lazy butt in gear this past week and did it. Other than bruising my right palm from overly vigorous use of the screwdriver (remedied afterwards by drinking one; that vanilla Stoli is really good in screwdrivers, by the way), it turned out really well. Time for a cocktail party soon, I think!
Speaking of cocktails and cocktail parties... Wes and I watched "The Thin Man" yesterday. I can't believe that I hadn't seen that movie until now. It was wonderful, and Nora and Nick Charles are fabulous. The Dashiell Hammett-based mystery story was, to me, secondary to the remarkable chemistry between William Powell and Myrna Loy, and the sparklingly witty, cocktail-soaked dialogue was an utter delight. For instance:
Nora: Now, how many drinks have you had?Or...
Nick: This will make six martinis.
Nora (to waiter): All right. Will you bring me five more martinis Leo? And line them right up here.
Nora asks: Is that my drink over there?He's got the entire "Thin Man" series -- all six films -- on laserdisc, so we'll be working our way through them over the next several weeks. This should be fun!
Nick: What are you drinking?
Nick: (He picks up the glass and slugs down its contents) Yes. That's yours.
Today's word from A Word A Day: kakistocracy (kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-) noun
Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.Jeez, doesn't that describe just about all government these days?
[Greek kakistos, worst, superlative of kakos, bad + -cracy, government, rule.]
"Russia is proving the opposite. Late last year, the kakistocracy propping up Boris Yeltsin decided not to risk giving up power."
William Safire, Contrasting Elections, The New York Times, March 20, 2000.
Saturday, June 3, 2000
Mexican food is NOT Taco Bell! So saith Chef Rick Bayless. And me too.
For years Rick has gone out of his way to bring truly authentic Mexican cuisine to this country, and serves it in his Chicago restaurants Topolobampo and Frontera Grill. He's got a couple of terrific cookbooks, and now has a new TV show on PBS that's part cooking show, part Mexico travelogue. CNN has a story and interview. ("Yo quiero Taco Bell," says the cute little Chihuahua, "porque sabe a comida de perro!")
Friday, June 2, 2000
Have a brew! No, not beer, you big lush. It's National Iced Tea Month!
It's good for you, too. Learn why, and learn lots of nifty trivia, like the fact that iced tea was invented in 1904 at the St. Louis World's Fair, and that the U.S. is the only country where the majority of tea is consumed cold.
Here's an amusing anecdote from Mike Etherington's British Food Page:
In England there was no such thing as iced tea. Tea is only drunk hot and Brits are quite adamant about the way they do it. As we left the UK in 1996 there were canned varieties of iced tea starting to appear in supermarkets but I doubt you'd get a glass if you asked for one in a restaurant. You'd probably get a blank stare. We brought about 50 customers to Texas on a business trip and when they arrived after a VERY long trip to the 100 degree Texan weather, the hotel kindly laid on a buffet with 50 glasses of iced tea already poured. Thinking this was some soft drink, and being extremely hot and bothered the customers all took big gulps and then simultaneously spat 50 mouthfuls of it across the table. That sort of explains what Brits think of iced tea. (It was very funny - you should have seen the catering manager's face).I note with a not a small amount of irony that the inventor of iced tea at the '04 World's Fair was apparently an Englishman.
It seems that Irish folk share a similar opinion of iced tea. When my friends Mick and Margaret from Co. Kildare were visiting several years ago, they slagged me mercilessly for the very idea of my drinking iced tea. When I shot back with the hoary old "don't knock it until you tried it", Mick immediately took a swig of my tea and, although he didn't spit it across the table, had a look on his face as if he had just swigged a combination of sour milk, warm flat beer and turpentine. "God! That tastes like cat's piss, that does," he said. When I inquired as to how he knew what cat's piss tasted like, he replied that it would have to taste that bad.
(I thought the tea tasted lovely, meself.)
Do yourself a favor and learn to enjoy your iced tea without sugar; it's better for you, and you can learn to appreciate the flavor of the tea. (That "sweet tea" that I'm constantly offered in North Carolina and other places in the south is so sweet it nearly makes my eyeballs shoot out of their sockets.)
I recommend Luzianne iced tea. It's the best. I enjoy it in moderation now. I used to drink about 2 quarts of iced tea a day, and my doctor fussed at me and said I had to stop. Now I'm down to 2 glasses, which is just fine and doesn't seem to be sparking another addiction.
I've seen commercials for this new Lipton Cold Brew Iced Tea, where you don't have to boil the water and the stuff brews in cold water in 5 minutes. It looks like an abomination. Has anybody tasted this stuff yet?
I hate MediaOne. (Sorry Jon, it's going to be another negative blogging day. I'm all for that whole non-negative blogging thing, but only when it applies to individuals and not big nasty corporations.)
I tried tuning into CBS the other night to check out that dopey "Survivor" show, only to find the picture unwatchable, full of squiggly lines. I checked every other channel, and they looked fine. So I called MediaOne and waited several minutes to talk to a "technical service representative". He asked my name, address and phone number, and I told him the problem. "Okay", he said, "we'll have to send out a technician. Will you be home Saturday between 1 and 5pm?"
"Excuse me," I said. "You're telling me that I have to put up with this lousy picture for three days until you can fix it?" "Well yes, that's the first available appointment we have." *fume*
And no, I can't be home Saturday. I work at KCSN on Saturdays between 1 and 5. "Well, how about next Tuesday?" he said.
I know that the guy wasn't reponsible for this personally, that he was just trying to do his job ... but I laid into him anyway. He's a representative of his company, and he's got an earful from me. Whenever I've needed any kind of service from MediaOne, it has never been anything but lousy. It was lousy when they were Continental Cablevision, and it was lousy before that when they were Jack Barry Cable. They've been lousy and I've hated them throughout the entire line of corporate acquisitions since the mid-80s.
Their cable modem service isn't so great either. If I try browsing the Web when I get home from work, it's so slow ("Web hogs!") that it's barely better than when I had a 44K dialup.
I'm on a quest now. DSL for my online access, and a DirecTV dish for my television. I sincerely look forward to the day when I can call MediaOne and joyfully tell them to shove their "service" up their rosy red asses.
(Whew, catharsis. That felt good!)
Thursday, June 1, 2000
Thank you. Now, can we PLEASE send the boy home?? The U.S. Court of Appeals has denied the application for asylum filed on behalf of Elián González by his wingnut uncle. The uncle claims the six-year-old wants to leave his father and stay here, that the father cannot speak for his own child, and wants the boy's legitimate parent's rights to custody terminated.
When I was six, I wanted Lucky Charms with Bosco chocolate syrup for dinner, I wanted to be an astronaut, and I wanted my shoe to be a telephone just like the one Maxwell Smart had. If one of my uncles had petitioned the court to take me away from my dad so that I could have what I wanted, the court (before taking said uncle away in a straitjacket) would have told him what the court told Lázaro González today -- the boy's father speaks for him, period.
Unfortunately, the ruling denied a petition to strip the uncle of his temporary guardianship and restore full guardianship to the father, in which case he could immediately drop all appeals and take his kid home. *sigh*
Finally! A candidate I can get excited about. We might just get the campaign reform we've all been hoping for, with the Ficus for Congress campaign (I'm already ready for "Ficus for President".) CNN offer their news analysis.
Jeff Seeman, who is running the ficus campaign in Ohio against Republican Rep. Ralph Regula, said his campaign theory is simple: "Why not?"I haven't been this excited since I supported Jack Tanner for president back in 1988. He was the perfect candidate in every way. (Well, he was fictional, but nobody's perfect.)
"I don't think it would be better to have a potted plant represent us in Congress, but I certainly don't see how it could be worse," said Seeman, field representative for a national radio syndicator.
Like father, like son. When Shrub Senior was running for president against Michael Dukakis, he used a black man named Willie Horton as a pawn to further his political ambitions. Now Shrub Junior, running for president against Al Gore, is using a man named Ricky McGinn as a pawn to further his political ambitions. (Gee, ya think I'm cynical about politics?) Shrub is going to grant a reprieve to a convicted child rapist and ax-murderer scheduled for execution, for further review of DNA evidence.
Funny how he's never done that before, in hundreds of death penalty cases, with pleas coming from everyone from the condemned inmates themselves to the Pope. Funny how Bush claims that he doesn't interfere with the parole board in death penalty cases, except the parole board in this case voted 18-0 against commutation of the death sentence and 11-7 against a reprieve. But naw ... he's not using this guy to make himself look like a true "compassionate conservative". He wouldn't really do that. Would he? (Thanks to Jason for the Salon link.)
Today's website-related annoyance came not via email, but as an entry in my site's guestbook, to wit:
06/01/00 Justin Wilson firstname.lastname@example.orgThe clever little bastard, to make his point, posted this at least eight times in a row.
Funny how this page manages to remove all comments that aren't glowing tributes to Cajun food. All of the postings that have been critical of this site or of cajun food in particular will show up, then mysteriously disappear after a few days. Guess the owner of this site can't handle the heat. His fragile little world would be upended if somebody didn't appreciate his beloved cajun food and culture. Maybe the rest of you haven't noticed that only positive reviews are left in here. Boy, is that one-sided or what?
Just for fun, I tried replying to the supplied address. It bounced, of course. I've almost never received an abusive email or guestbook comment from someone's real address. This is because people who send abusive emails are fucking cowards.
(Also, as if you didn't already know, Justin Wilson is the name of a cornpone humorist and safety engineer from Louisiana who made a living for quite a few years by cooking on PBS.)
About two or three weeks ago, someone (presumably this same twit) made a post in the guestbook that was signed "Emeril Lagasse", using his actual contact email. Hafta admit I did a double-take, thinking for a second that it might've been The Man himself, but as I read the post I saw that it was a sophmoric, ill-informed rant against Cajun and Creole cuisine in general and Emeril in particular (the guy hates Chef's TV persona, apparently).
It was stupid and abusive, so I removed it. In fact, since I activated the guestbook in 1995, I've only had to remove a handful of posts, all of which were abusive rather than critical. I have a long-stated policy on unsolicited email, which begins, "First off, if you send me abusive email, I'll probably post it."
If someone had a legitimate criticism of my site, something constructive, not only would I leave it in the guestbook, but I'd probably act on it. Posting "CAJUN FOOD SUX", or something equally brilliant, over and over and over in my guestbook is not intelligent and meaningful criticism by anybody's standards. And if you don't like Creole or Cajun food ... fine. More for me. Shorter wait at Galatoire's. Also, you are welcome not to visit my site. But for Christ's sake, grow up.
May Looka! entries have been archived.
Several of my friends and loved ones contribute regularly to this blog. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Steve Gardner, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Tom Krueger, Eric Labow and Michael Pemberton.
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Chuck Taggart (email me)