the gumbo pages

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, focusing on food and drink, music, New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news, movies, books, sf, media and culture, Macs, politics, humor, reviews, rants, my life, my opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles my fancy.

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

Page last tweaked @ 9:08am PST, 11/30/2000

Blame this page on:
Chuck Taggart (who?)

Looka! Archive

October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000

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

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

The Sazerac Cocktail


Cocktail Time

Bar Asterie

Ardent Spirits

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily


Food Network


The Global Gourmet

The Online Chef


In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

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!

Now reading:

Magic Terror, by Peter Straub.

Papal Sins, by Garry Wills.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go, by Philip José Farmer.


Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

by Peter Blegvad

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

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Lookin' at da TV:

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

Weblogs I read:

The BradLands
Eat, Link and Be Merry
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Hit or Miss
Jonno (if you must know)
Lake Effect
LanceLog 2000
Mister Pants
MonkeyFist (+ MF Food)
Mr. Barrett
the nubbin
One Swell Foop
Q Daily News
Robot Wisdom
Slightly North of Tomorrow
Strange Brew
The Other Side
Whim and Vinegar
Wild Oats

<< web loggers >>

Must-reads: (Progressive politics & news)
The Deduct Box (Louisiana politics)
The Fray (stories)
The Onion (news 'n laffs)
Spaceflight Now (just like it says

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

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

(* = superfavorite)

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weblog and (almost) daily blather

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

  Thursday, November 30, 2000
"There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about," said Oscar Wilde. He died 100 years ago today, after having been broken by Victorian England and his prison sentence for "indecent acts". Read up on the man, his life and work in oodles of biographical web sites as well as online sources for his writing. (Don't miss Jonno's Oscariana site, including the random quotes generator.)

Goddamned hypocrites.   The habit of the Republican Party and the Bush campaign to speak (shout, or scream) against one thing and then turn around and do the exact same thing they're screaming about apparently knows absolutely no bounds. What they're fighting the Gore campaign about in Florida is exactly what they're trying to do themselves in New Mexico:

Picking over presidential "undervotes" and trying to divine voters' intentions just ain't right! Or at least that's the argument Republicans and Bush family surrogates have been making for the last several weeks in Florida. Doing so can lead to endless recounts, changing the rules after the votes are cast, "mischief," and a number of other bad things.

But apparently this is a rule that only applies east of the Mississippi.

In New Mexico on Tuesday, Republican party officials prevailed upon the state canvassing board to have a judge, of all people (state District Judge David W. Bonem), consider whether undervotes in Roosevelt County should be re-examined and possibly included in the county's tally. Gore currently leads Bush by 483 votes in New Mexico, and there are 570 undervotes in Roosevelt County, which voted for Bush 2-1. Mickey Barnett, a Republican national committeeman for New Mexico, said he found it "highly unusual" that 10 percent of the voters in the southeastern New Mexico county chose not to vote for president. That's of course the same argument Republicans ridicule when it's made in Florida by the Gore forces.

Why is this so under-reported? How do they get away with this crap? To quote my friend Steve Kelley, "The Democrats are complete morons for not screaming this story from every rooftop." It makes me want to slap all of them. Just let them count the goddamned votes in Florida! If they hadn't been fighting this all along, the votes would have been counted by now, and we'd have been done with it a long time ago.

This only adds to my loathing for the Republican Party (I refuse to call them the "G.O.P"). The very idea of their running the next administration, stacked with Poppy Bush cronies, sickens me.

Drinkboy updates!   Jeez, it's practically newsworthy when the estimable Robert Hess updates his fabulous DrinkBoy site, which he did just the other day. Classy gent that he is, this month's featured cocktail is The Sazerac, which is, of course, my favorite.

I have the tiniest quibbles with his recipe and technique, though -- I use a little more Peychaud's Bitters than he does, and I also tried one of those "Martini atomizers" for coating the glass with Herbsaint. I decided that the old-fashioned method of swirling the liqueur in the glass by hand incorporated a sense of ritual into the making of this drink that I find pleasing.

Pish posh to all that, though. Anyone who drinks Sazeracs is a gentleman (or lady) and a scholar.

(Incidentally, if you didn't catch the link on the right, or my frequent references to it, here's my wee treatise on and recipe for The Sazerac.)

Mam-MA! I got ma name in da papuh!   Our beloved local newspaper and table-coverer for boiled seafood, the New Orleans Times-Picayune, did an article on weblogs today. They were kind enough to mention me as well as New Orleans resident Jonno (Say, bra!), plus Jason and Peter (natch) and a bunch of other folks. C'mon y'all, we wanna see more blogs outta New Orleans!

They're Made Out Of Meat.   No, I'm not referring to the Terry Bisson's story of the same title. I'm referring to hats. That you put on your head. Made out of meat. (My favorite is, of course, the pork pie.)

And speaking of pork...   If you thought a turducken was intense, wait until you try a Fowl de Cochon. It's been The Latest Thing for a while now in Louisiana, and it consists of a de-boned pig stuffed with a de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck stufffed with a de-boned chicken stuffed with a de-boned quail, and two dressings (jeez, only two?). We're already plotting to get one (probably from a place called The Gourmet Butcher Block in Gretna) when I'm home for Jazzfest next year, and we'll need to round up about 30 more people to help us eat it. Shouldn't be too hard. "Hey, who wants some pig?!"

  Wednesday, November 29, 2000
Waterlife.   Noah is back to writing and making art on his site again (which I am very happy to see), and he's got a wonderful new photographic exhibition on his Show and Tell section, entitled "Imageworks 3:  Waterlife". Go see it.

Interesting? Waste of time?   I've had an interest in languages for a long time (one of these days I'm gonna take Linguistics 101, dangit), but I've always found the artifical language Esperanto to be rather odd. Created with Utopian ideals as an "international" language (although I'd say that its trumpeted ease of learning only applies to people who speak Romance languages), it's the universal language that almost nobody speaks.

Alternet has an interesting article on the current interest in Esperanto called "Tour of Babble" (chuckle), which has one comment that, to me, hits the whole Esperanto idea right on the head:

But on a broad scale, Esperanto has long since stopped being a means to an end. Esperanto is now an end in itself, a leisure pursuit, a hobby. In this respect, Esperantists are not that different from the people who attend Star Trek conventions and speak only Klingon.

If the events of the past century are any indication, there never was much chance that common language alone would be enough to make people get along. After all, Irish Catholics and Protestants both speak English. Normando's wife, Anya, who grew up in Croatia, made this point emphatically when the topic of the former Yugoslavia arose: "The problem there has nothing to do with language."

Unless you're a linguist or a linguistics hobbyist, I myself think it'd be a tad more useful to learn an actual language, one that's part of a culture. I'd love to expand and improve upon my French, and to progress past the two years of Irish I had at UCLA to the point where I could listen to Irish-language radio, plus it'd be useful for me to pick up some Spanish. I think all this would be far more useful than Esperanto, but that's just my humble opinion. Your mileage may, of course, vary. To all the outraged Esperantists who may be about to write to me ... saluton! To all the outraged Klingon speakers who may be about to write to me ... Qapla! (I promise not to say "G__ a l___." :-)

Um... whoop-de-doo.   Wow! A Madonna concert! Streaming live on the web! Quoth Mark Morford of the SF Gate Morning Fix:

"Ohmygod, there's nothing like listening to Madonna's weak little voice on a tiny computer speaker and watching her awkward gyrations in jerky streaming video in a little 2" window!" squealed most of the 9 million fans who somehow still believe Madonna has any talent whatsoever besides exceptional marketing skills. "That one song she sings about like, dancing and boys and stuff? That totally changed my life."

Breaking News   From The Onion (sorry I don't have a little "breaking news" graphic like CNN or your classy local TV news people):

Man Who Threatened To Move To Canada Before Election Still Here

CEDAR FALLS, IA-- Despite repeated pre-election threats of expatriation, area resident Ron Glick remains a U.S. citizen, acquaintances of the 43-year-old reported Monday. "For weeks leading up to the election, Ron kept saying, 'I swear, if that clown wins, I am moving to Canada,'" coworker Paula Vogel said. "Well, he's been at work every day since, so unless he's commuting from Winnipeg, he's still here." Glick has threatened to renounce his citizenship every four years since 1980, when Reagan's victory was supposed to have precipitated his emigration to Spain.

  Tuesday, November 28, 2000
Not much to blog about today, unless you want to hear me talk about cleaning my kitchen after Thanksgiving (you don't). I'm burned out on election everything, but I'll toss this in.

Last night Bill Maher on "Politically Incorrect" mentioned a sign that was seen being held by a protester in Florida:  "Counting votes isn't 'stealing the election' ... not counting them is."

Actually, I should mention something that I hope you've already done, but it may not be too late if you've kept all your leftover turkey refrigerated (including the carcass). The heck with sandwiches or Turkey Tetrazzini ... make Leftover Holiday Turkey Gumbo! It's delicious, and you get to use a whole cup of bacon fat. (Mmmmmm, baaaaacon fat ...)

All the news that's fit to print, even if it's wrong.

The august New York Times has written an article about my hometown, but incorrectly captions a photograph of the Cabildo and St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square as "elegantly and fastidiously maintained houses [lining] Coliseum Street in the Garden District". Uh ... no. (swiped from Jonno)

Good Lord, no.   Tom Fitzmorris' New Orleans Menu Daily has had a new semi-regular feature recently:  links to recipes that make us glad we live in (or are from) New Orleans. Today's shocker ... Tuna Rice Slice. Sweet sufferin' JAYsis!

  Saturday, November 25, 2000
Lassie for President?   Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving.

We were doing some shopping yesterday and met a nice family who were visiting from Texas. To our pleased astonishment, they were all Democrats (gee, didn't know they still had any of those in Texas), and the mom was actually an election judge who told us many interesting things about the election process in her county.

At one point she said, "You'd better hope that Al Gore pulls ahead in Florida. We know George W. Bush. That man doesn't have the I.Q. of the average collie."

Well, I feel reassured. I had thought that Dubya had the I.Q. of a cabbage, but I feel much better now that he's as smart as a below-average collie. Lassie used to do a great job rescuing Timmy from the well and barking instructions to the rescuers. Too bad she didn't run for president.

Meanwhile, SF Gate columnist Mark Morford of the "Morning Fix" speculates as to George W.'s reaction to Dick Cheney's hospitalization: "Oh great, now who's gonna run the country? Crapola. Did I just say that out loud?"

"Down Home" runs as usual today, the finest in roots and traditional music from 3 to 5pm Pacific time (6 to 8pm Eastern, 2300 to 0100 GMT/UTC). Tune in at!

  Wednesday, November 22, 2000
Happy Thanksgiving!   Have a happy, fun, safe, food- and drink-filled Thanksgiving, y'all. I'll be cooking my brains out and having 5 or 6 people over, so I'll be busy ... no Looka! for a few days, most likely.

Here's the menu for tomorrow, with some of my dishes along with some Susan Spicer dishes I got from a magazine. We're keepin' it New Orleanian and Southern this year, for the most part.

Sazeracs and assorted cocktails

Assorted cheeses (Cabrales and Idiazabal from Spain, Tome de Savoie from France, Kerrygold Dubliner from Ireland), olives (Lucques from France, Niçoise from Tunisia, plus garlicky Sicilian green olives), Serrano ham, chorizo de Cantimpalo plus crackers

* * *

Apple-Onion Roast Turkey with Calvados Gravy
(The turkey will be rubbed with a mixture of bacon fat, apple butter and a just a touch of sage)

Savory Wild Mushroom, Andouille & Leek Bread Pudding with Parmagiano-Reggiano Cheese

Spiced Baked Sweet Potatoes and Pears with Bourbon Cane Syrup Glaze

Medley of Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Fresh Herbs, Cipolline Onions and Garlic
(It's a mixture of gold, red and purple fingerling potatoes ... yum!)

Smoky & Spicy Greens (Mustard, turnip and collard greens with spinach, seasoned with smoked ham hocks and chipotles)

Cranberry, Ginger & Peach Preserve

2000 Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Nouveau
1998 Dr. Loosen Riesling, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

* * *

Semolina Soufflé Cake with Tart Cherry Pinot Noir Sauce & Pistachio Crème Anglaise

1997 Bonny Doon Vin de Glacière, assorted digestifs and after-dinner cocktails

I'm actually kinda on schedule. Yesterday I did all the shopping (it was a madhouse, ugh) and made the turkey stock for the gravy and basting, the two dessert sauces and the cranberry preserve. Today I have to make the bread pudding, greens and sweet potatoes, bake the cake and brine the turkey. Tomorrow morning the turkey gets the apple butter-bacon fat rub and into the oven, then I've pretty much just got to baste that sucker and roast the potatoes. Should be a cinch, and this year I might even get to socialize with my guests before dinner!

Oh God, I have to clean up today too. The bathroom! (*scream*)

Back to the classroom with you, Dubya.   Yes, I'm burned out on all this election crap, but I just heard something I can't let pass by.

I just heard Dubya making a statement about how dyspeptic he is at the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that the manual recounts will continue and that the Secretary of State must accept them. Dubya read the statement his speechwriters wrote (I have to give him credit, he reads from the TelePrompTer very well), then took a few questions from the press ... speaking off the cuff. While complaining about what had happened in the decision against his campaign, he said:

It's the job of the legislative to write the law, and it's the job of the executive to interpret the law.
Actually George, it's the job of the executive to enforce the law, and the job of the judiciary to interpret the law. Back to Civics 101 with you. Should you prevail in the election, you'll need to pass the final exam with a "C" or above before you'll be allowed to become President.

  Tuesday, November 21, 2000
Woo!   No more day job until next Monday. I'm taking all day today and tomorow off to shop and cook. Too bad I can't shop and cook for a living.

Welcome Oregonians!   The Oregonian newspaper published one of my recipes in their Thanksgiving food section this week. It was pretty cool -- they figured out all this spiffy nutritional information in their test kitchen, apparently. However, the changed the recipe a little bit, so accept no substitutes! Use my original recipe for Baked Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Pears with a Bourbon-Cane Syrup Glaze.

One thing though ... while I'm glad and honored that they saw it to publish my recipe, it might have been nice if they had, like, asked me first before swiping it and republishing it. According to my web site's copyright notice, I must now find the editor of their food section, étouffée him or her, and then feed him or her to Dr. Lecter. *sigh* ... what one must go through to protect one's intellectual property.

  Monday, November 20, 2000
Talkin' turkey.   Even if it's too late to do it this year, start thinking about deep-frying your turkey for Thanksgiving this or next year.

It's been a Louisiana tradition for many years, and it will quite probably produce the best turkey you've ever tasted. It's much better than roasted, not greasy and lightning fast compared to the oven -- you can cook a 12-pound turkey in 42 minutes.

You'll need the cooking apparatus, of course, which is now fairly easily available online in several different places. Always fry your turkey outdoors (and that means NOT under the carport) so that you don't burn your house down. Then just enjoy.

People all over the country are discovering this technique (my fried turkey page has been getting 10 times the usual number of hits recently), and we might even be seeing people doing this in the Big Apple -- The New York Times Magazine weighs in on our turkeys (annoying but free registration required):

Like most of our sans-culotteries, this revolution began in the South. Much of what we consider American food -- Maine lobster, perhaps, excepted -- originated there, not only because that's where the farms were but also, arguably, because that's where our greatest overeaters continue to dine. And without slighting Virginia's country ham and corn pudding, Kentucky's elusive burgoo, the beautiful hard-shell swimmers from Maryland or the she-crab soup from South Carolina, most of the truly astonishing Southern food was somehow created or discovered in Louisiana. This may also be because, by and large, Louisiana is and always has been the most bizarre state in the Union -- and a higher compliment I cannot pay.

Her singular topography, bayou lifestyle, subset of French-speaking Cajuns and fascinating politics exist nowhere else in the country. Oysters Bienville, gumbos and jambalayas, the exploitation of the merliton, all those crawfish extravaganzas and, probably, the roux itself either came from or are identified with Louisiana. And now, from her garages, driveways and backyards overhung with Spanish moss and cottonmouths, comes the Deep-Fried Turkey Insurrection, and I want to be its James Madison.

(Thanks to Jonno for the NYT story!)

Sock it to me!   I had a surprise guest on "Down Home" last Saturday. As I had mentioned, we were the official radio station for the L.A. Conservancy's driving tour of San Fernando Valley architectural delights, "How Modern Was My Valley". Who shows up along with the two producers of the event but ... Miss Joanne Worley! I'd been a big fan of hers since watching "Laugh-In" as a kid, and it was great to meet her.

We had a complete blast for the entire show, between me playing lots of car cruising songs and '50s blues and R&B (here's the playlist), Jeff and Mary-Margaret from the Conservancy talking about the tour and the architecture, plus Miss Worley (former honorary mayor of Toluca Lake) with her reminiscences of life in the Valley amidst its landmarks. She was kind enough to take a picture with me -- I'll put it up once the film's developed and the pic get scanned. (Damn, I need a digital camera.)

  Saturday, November 18, 2000
Tour the Valley with KCSN!   The Los Angeles Conservancy is conducting a weekend-long driving tour this weekend, called "How Modern Was My Valley: Touring Postwar San Fernando Valley". Some very prominent Modernist architects, like Lloyd Wright, R. M. Schindler and Richard Neutra among others, designed buildings in the postwar building boom in the Valley, which before World War II was primarily orange groves.

KCSN is providing the soundtrack for the tour on Saturday and Sunday, and my program "Down Home is participating between 3 and 5pm, playing lots of classic R&B, car cruising songs, Western swing, postwar Cajun music plus lots of rootsy stuff from the mid-40s to the early 60s. Tune in to 88.5 FM if you're driving around on the tour, or if you're elsewhere listen to our live audio stream (Windows Media Player required).

Just follow the tape and read the TelePrompTer, George.   You've heard the term "hit your mark", right? Lots of folks who work in film, television and theatre are familiar with the term. An "X" is made on the floor with some masking tape so that the actor knows where he or she is supposed to end up. Common enough.

Is Dubya so stupid that he has to have a dotted line and an arrow so that he knows how to get to his mark?

Photo of Dubya 
and the dotted line pointing to the big podium he has to walk up to


("The podium. The podium, Mr. Bush. That big thing you stand behind when you talk. That's what you have to walk up to. Oh, never mind ... just follow the dotted line and arrow, okay? Dick, you're good with just the mark, right? Fine.")

  Friday, November 17, 2000
Steal this election.   If George W. Bush ends up becoming president (after losing the popular vote by double the number of votes by which John F. Kennedy won it in 1960) on the basis of barely over 300 votes tipping the bizarre winner-take-all Electoral College because of over 20,000 Gore votes that were thrown out because of confusing ballots as well as the Bush camp's grousing over hand recounts and dimpled/pregnant/hanging chad-counting that are actually mandated in Texas election laws signed by the two-faced Bush himself... gee, I wouldn't feel terribly uncomfortable using the word stolen to refer to the election, as does Jacob Weisberg in Slate:

I've been resisting the conclusion that either side is trying to steal the presidential election, if only because it sounds so intemperate. But based on the statements made by the two candidates on national television last night, it does seem to me that Al Gore is seeking an equitable outcome while George W. Bush is trying to grab the presidency of the United States with minimal regard for law, precedent, or elemental fairness. [more]

Up the Creek!   I saw an amazing band at Largo the other night, a young bluegrass-based folk/roots group called Nickel Creek. The three-member core of the band are a bunch of young 'uns originally from southern California but mostly resident in Nashville these days -- the brother-sister combo of Sara and Sean Watkins on fiddle and guitar respectively, and the astonishing 19-year-old mandolinist, composer (and now singer) Chris Thile.

I have Chris' two solo albums, one done when he was 13 and the other 15. They're both full of amazing tunes, most of which he composed, and even more amazing mandolin playing. He was one of those amazing child prodigies who sounds like he's been playing for 50 years while still in his teens, and now that he's almost a grown-up it's dizzying to think of how far he'll go with his music. Chris is one of those musicians who's a joy to watch as well as listen to, his playing almost effortless, and while he's playing he's completely immersed in the joy of the music.

The show had so many highlights I hardly know where to begin, but I'd have to say that it was their performance of "The Fox", a traditional song that lasts about two and a half minutes on their record but a the show was a ten-minutes extravaganza that included a segue into "Subterranean Homesick Blues" in its entirety, and several musical quotes from that old funk song that goes "jungle boogie get down!" (but whose title escapes me). The special appearance by former Toad the Wet Sprocket singer Glen Phillips to sing a song from Sean's forthcoming solo album, plus Sara's gorgeous version of "Ain't Misbehavin'" were pretty cool as well.

Their "major" label debut is on Sugar Hill Records and is eponymously titled. Get it. You can get their 1997 self-produced and -released debut, plus Chris' solo albums, from the band's website as well, plus keep an eye out for Sean Watkins' solo album, out on Sugar Hill in March '01.

Great new deal for AOL subscribers!   America Online announced their new Platinum Plan for their customers -- only $23.95 for 1000 hours a month!

Their unlimited hours plan will be renamed the Gold Plan and reduced to 750 hours per month. "We are offering them 33% more time online for only 9% more," said AOL C.E.O. Steve Case. "This is truly the deal of the century!"

Weird email of the day.   Although I've been toying with the idea of some kind of Gumbo Pages swag (probably t-shirts and mugs via Cafe Press -- stay tuned), perhaps this person's jumping the gun a bit.

Date: Fri, 17 Nov 2000 14:40:55 EST
Subject: (no subject)

How can I order a pair of EARLs can you E-mail a Phone # so that I could
actually talk with a human being. To say the least I love your shoes but
am a bit frustrated................
L. J.

Nope ... no footwear here, sorry. Unless you're complimenting me on my shoes, in which case thanks very much, but they're not for sale because I'm wearing them at the moment.

A letter from Michael Moore to would-be president Bush:

Dear Governor and President-in-Waiting Bush:

This has to be the first time in our history that a candidate who is losing BOTH the popular vote AND the electoral vote insists on being anointed President of the United States.

I can understand why you expect this title to be yours. You have spent your entire life having everything handed to you. You have never had to earn your place. Money and name alone have opened every door for you. Without effort or hard work or intelligence or ingenuity, you have been bequeathed a life of privilege.

You learned at an early age that, in America, all someone like you has to do is show up. You found yourself admitted to a wealthy New England boarding school simply because your name was Bush. You did not have to EARN your place there. It was bought for you.

You then learned you could get into Yale with a "C" average. Other, more deserving, students who had worked hard for 12 years to earn their place at Yale were denied admittance. You got in because your name was Bush.

You got into Harvard the same way. After screwing off during your four years at Yale -- and maintaining your "C" average -- you took someone's else's seat at Harvard, a seat that they had EARNED.

You then pretended to serve a full stint in the Texas Air National Guard. But one day, according to the Boston Globe, you just skipped out and didn't report back for a year and a half to your unit. You didn't have to earn your military record because your name was Bush.

After a number of "lost years" that don't appear in your official biography, you were given job after job by your daddy and other family members -- jobs you didn't have to earn. No matter how many of your business ventures failed, there was always another one waiting to be handed to you. Finally, you got to be a partner in a ball team -- another gift -- even though you put up only 1/100 of the money for the team. And then you convinced the taxpayers of Arlington, Texas, to give you another perk -- a brand-new multi-million dollar stadium.

So it is no wonder to me why you think you deserve to be named President. You haven't earned it or won it -- therefore it must be yours!

And you see nothing wrong with this.

Why should you? It is the only life you have ever known. [more]

  Thursday, November 16, 2000
It doesn't just smell fishy ... I'm gagging on the stench of rotting fish.   Okay, so ... right-wing arch-conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Network hires John Ellis, George W. Bush's cousin to work the Election Night Decision Desk. Ellis helped make the erroneous decision to call Florida for Bush in the middle of the night. Fox News was the first network to make this projection. As Salon's Eric Boehlert puts it, "Ever since, the Bush camp has been playing the 'we won' card; Fox's call made it a participant in the election, not merely an observer.

In an interview with the New Yorker's Jane Mayer, Ellis bragged about how he spent much of Election Night on the phone with his cousins talking strategies and exit-polling. Mayer deftly lets Ellis hang himself with his own self-important words: "At 2 a.m. Ellis called his cousins and told them, 'Our projection shows that it is statistically impossible for Gore to win Florida.'  [Ellis said,] 'It was just the three of us guys handing the phone back and forth -- me with the numbers, one of them a governor, the other the president-elect. Now, that was cool.'"

On Monday, when the New Yorker hit newsstands, Fox News vice president John Moody admitted that Ellis had erred, but defended hiring him, suggesting it would have been unfair not to hire him simply because of who he was related to -- a remarkably genial interpretation of conflict of interest. By Tuesday, after the revelations of Ellis' information-trading, Moody came down harder, saying that Fox was pondering disciplinary action against Ellis for misusing his position of power at the channel.

Since Ellis was working for Fox as a consultant on a 30-day contract, that point seems moot.

But Ellis isn't just a Bush cousin who happens to work in television and stumbled into an awkward position on Election Night. He's a former Gingrich foot soldier, a raging partisan who is steeped in the Clinton-hating tradition of the far right. (That's something the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, New York Times and even the New Yorker itself have failed to report in recent days.) Fox, of course, knew that.

Ah, but Dubya says he's going to return integrity to the White House. Isn't he now? Wasn't this a great way to start?

Abuse of power.   Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris (pictured on the front page of this morning's Los Angeles Times with a grim and squinting visage and looking rather like Darth Vader) defied a judge's order not to act arbitrarily in rejecting hand recount results and arbitrarily rejected hand recount results.

This is a woman who's a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, who actively campaigned for George W. Bush, and who apparently has future political aspirations of her own. The situation is so obviously, screamingly partisan that if the situation were reversed, with Bush ahead in the popular vote and Electoral College and Gore up by 300 in Florida with a Democratic secretary of state pulling this, the Bush people would be screaming treason.

As for Harris' future in politics, I only have one bit of advice ... get a makeover, honey.

Beginning of the end for DuKKKe?   Agents from the FBI, Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Postal Service searched the home of "former" Nazi and Ku Klux Klansman David Duke and seized several boxes of documents. The speculation is that they're looking for information on whether or not Duke paid income taxes on the $150,000 he got from selling his mailing list to Gov. Mike Foster.

Gee, maybe he and Edwin Edwards can share a cell one day.

Holy crapola.   Time magazine is currently running a story on the Electoral College, how things will work next month, and what might happen if some strange scenarios, like no candidate getting an electoral majority and such, end up happening:

Q:  O.K., let's assume a total nightmare. The Electoral College doesn't pick a President, the House and Senate don't pick a President -- all by Jan. 20. What happens?

A:  Clinton has to leave office and the Speaker of the House [Dennis Hastert] becomes President. If he can't serve, Strom Thurmond, the president pro tempore of the Senate, becomes President.

Q:  President Thurmond?

A:  Under this system, anything's possible.

Makes one wonder if the system might need some tweaking (like making senile 98-year-old segregationists ineligible for presidential succession). I think that Strom Thurmond probably actually died about 25 years ago, but so far he's failed to notice. He's good for something, at least -- the world's greatest poster boy for term limits.

Do svidaniya, Mir.   The Russian government has decided to scuttle the Mir space station to concentrate its cash-strapped resources on the International Space Station Alpha. They're going to try to dump it in the ocean, but warn that some pieces might hit land, because re-entry "is not an exact science". Just try to keep it off my house, please.

Damn. And I really wanted to be on "Destination Mir", too.

  Wednesday, November 15, 2000
Stick to the only reliable news source.   The mainstream press, from the New York Times to CNN, have proven that they cannot reliably cover this election mess. Trust only one source, the most accurate source ... The Onion. Today's headlines:

Nation Plunges Into Chaos:  Pro-Bush Rebels Seize Power in West; D.C. in Flames

Bush Executes 253 New Mexico Democrats; Retakes State's Five Electoral Votes

NBC News Reverses Earlier Report of Gore's Death; Network retracts yet another projection, describes Gore's life status "too close to call"

Serbia Deploys Peacekeeping Forces to U.S.; Kostunica pledges full support to troubled N. American nation as it struggles to establish democracy

Communication With Florida Cut Off; Phone, Internet lines severed; Burning Vehicles Choke Roads

Clinton Declares Self President For Life; Issues Martial Law Directive for former U.S., now "Holy United Imperial Americlintonian Demopublic"

Recount Reveals Nader Defeated
TALLAHASSEE, FL-- A third recount by Florida election officials has "definitively determined" that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader was defeated in the state. "There was a very significant 25,603-vote discrepancy between the first two counts, with Nader losing by respective margins of 2,812,339 and 2,837,942, so we decided to conduct a hand recount," Florida Attorney General Jim Smith said. "We now know that Nader lost by precisely 2,821,278 votes." It is not yet known whether Nader lost to Gore or Bush.

Brunch!   How's about continuing the "food porn" about my birthday weekend food extravaganza that began yesterday? We had a bunch of folks over for brunch on Sunday, which was a lot of work but a lot of fun as well.

We started with an assortment of cheeses and olives from Spain and Italy, including a superb and smelly blue-veined cheese from Spain called Cabrales (which came wrapped in layers of some kind of leaf), and some absolutely fabulous and enormous olives from Sicily. There's a great little Italian grocery and deli called Roma, which is right down the street from Wes' place, with great prices on produce and lots of nifty imported stuff. The little old Italian guy in there is always giving out tastes of stuff, which then of course causes us to buy a pound of whatever we've just tasted. (Lagniappe is good business, lemme tell you.)

During this noshing course we served Bellinis -- white peach puree (which I had harvested and frozen back in July) in a champagne flute, filled with Italian sparkling wine (a Foss Marai prosecco in a beautiful cobalt blue bottle), topped with four dashes of peach bitters for a little extra peach perfume. Yum!

Next was a Canary Islands fruit salad, with fresh pineapple, mango, papaya, banana and tangerine, with a dressing made from the juice of two tangerines, reduced bay half and a shot of Mandarine Napoleon liqueur added (departing slightly from the recipe's call for "orange liqueur"). I felt a little weird about serving something like this out of season in the middle of fall, but 1) I had originally tried to do the brunch in July and it got pushed back to November, and I had kinda had my heart set on making this dish for a while ever since my friend Jordan had sent me a fantastic recipe calendar from his trip to the Canary Islands last year, and 2) the fruit was good quality and available, having come from Hawaii, Mexico and Brazil, so what the hell.

The main course(s) were andouille-cheese grits topped with poached eggs and Creole sauce; fresh spinach and Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese souffle; and on the side... caramelized bacon. I got that idea after hearing my old high-school friend Mitchell Gaudet talk about how they served bacon at brunch at Elizabeth's, a great little neighorhood restaurant in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans. I decided to steal the idea and made a sauce from brown sugar, water, a touch of cane syrup, vanilla, ground pecans and a dash of cayenne, then brushed that over the bacon before baking it until crisp. You can't drain it on paper towels like normal, so it's got a little more juicy bacon fat in it. Mmmmmmm, baaacon fat. (I got two "better than sex" compliments on that one.)

I had made the Creole and praline sauces ahead of time last Thursday, but did most of the work on Sunday morning. I was up at 8, preheated the oven, and started cooking at 8:30. I did not stop moving for one minute until we served at 12:45, only 15 minutes behind the schedule I was shooting for, which is not bad. I guess I did okay, considering I was executive chef, line cook, prep cook, dishwasher and co-server.

After all that, I had a brief but much-needed nap, and a well-deserved Sazerac.

Dinner at Ducz.   Sunday night, after I recovered from brunch cleanup, Wes took me out to dinner for my birthday and surprised me by pulling up in front of this new "California-Pacific Rim" restaurant called Ducz (pronounced "ducks")that we had really been wanting to try. We had been to the bar there before (which is very nice), and started getting to know the bartender. He's pretty good, and if we decide we like him enough we're going to give him a bottle of Peychaud's bitters and teach him how to make Sazeracs. Even though between the two of us Wes and I make the best (and just about only) Sazeracs in town, it's nice to be able to order them out at a bar every now and again.

This new restaurant, only open for three months now, is from the same folks who brought us the Parkway Grill and the Arroyo Chop House, two of Pasadena's best. The chef, Fred Iwasaki, is Wolfgang Puck-trained, having formerly cooked at Chinois on Main in Santa Monica (one of my old favorites).

After cocktails (a vodka Martini and a Sidecar), we dove right into the appetizers, which we split: "Char-su", which was the best Chinese-style roast pork I had ever had (even better than Saladang Song's pork the night before, which was hard to beat), marinated in sesame oil and garlic, served with white asparagus tips, julienned Japanese scallions and drizzled all over with a blueberry vinaigrette. We also got a grilled Sonoma duck salad with a raspberry-caramel plum wine reduction sauce that was incredibly complex, sweet and savory and incredibly yummy.

One thing that surprised us is that the portions are Louisiana-sized here, unlike lots of California restaurants. They apparently encourage family-style dining here, with everyone sharing everything, and you get plenty plenty. Wes got a huge portion of beef tenderloin with red wine and cumin reduction sauce, served with roasted red baby potatoes drizzled with plum vinaigrette. The first bite of the beef made him moan. I had a bite. I moaned too.

I got grilled salmon with black bean sauce, served with Chinese broccoli, Eryngii mushrooms (which I had never had before), snow peas and yaki soba, all wrapped in a huge banana leaf and drizzled with asparagus vinaigrette. It was was excellent but I think it came in second to Wes' magnificent beef dish. I washed it all down with a very nice 1998 Ramsay Pinot Noir from Napa Valley.)

We also over-ordered, which was easy to do at this place. They offered side dishes, so we got a side of stir-fried vegetables, and when it arrived we knew we had WAY too much food. We had some of them, though, and they were perfect -- snow peas, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, peppers and some other stuff in this gorgeous demi-glace gravy that was so thick and rich it turned into jello when I brought it home.

Dessert! We were tempted by the waiter's challenge of their ultra-rich chocolate truffle cake, which he said he'd never seen anyone completely finish (this got Wes' ears perked up -- don't ever suggest to him that he won't be able to finish a good meal), but he settled for a Strawberry-Armagnac mousse cake, which was white chiffon cake with fresh strawberry slices and a big thick later of white chocolate Armagnac mousse. I ended up with an absolutely fantabulous Caramelized Banana Tart -- the tart shell was first layered with melted chocolate, then a layer of vanilla creme brulee with chopped bananas, then topped with a fan of thinly sliced bananas and sugar that was caramelized under the broiler.


I finished the meal with what ended up finishing me off -- a wee glass of Booker's Bourbon, a small-batch bourbon from the Jim Beam folks, and the personally supervised product of Jim's grandson Booker Noe. It smelled wonderful, with vanilla and caramel and spice, and tasted even better. I guess I didn't realize how strong it was at the time, because it was so smooth ... but Wes said I was "visibly tipsy" as we left, and I was completely fine even as we were heading into dessert. I looked the stuff up on their website the next day and found out that it's an undiluted, unfiltered bourbon that goes right from the barrel to the bottle with no dilution to a standard lower proof ... and was therefore (depending on the particular batch) between 121 and 127 proof, or 60.5 - 63.5% alcohol. I don't think I've ever had alcohol that strong while drinking it neat, but it was so smooth going down that I couldn't even really tell. Jesus, no wonder I was smashed. :)

If you're in the Pasadena area anytime soon, definitely give Ducz a call.

  Tuesday, November 14, 2000
Lucky 13.   Don't let James Baker or anybody else pull the wool over your eyes. Read these 13 myths about the 2000 Presidential election.

Irregularity.   Too bad we can't just give Palm Beach County a big dose of Metamucil.

Various mathematicians and behavioral decision theorists are beginning to use terms like "statistical impossibility", or at least statistically extremely unlikely, for Pat Buchanan to have actually garnered the votes he did in Palm Beach County, without them being mistaken votes for Gore. One researcher at Duke University has placed the probability of the bizarrely large number of votes for Buchanan being actual intended votes at 0.00003712. One group of scholars from Harvard, Cornell and Northwestern Universities have written a paper on the irregularities, finding that the voting pattern was "extremely anomalous". A PDF file available from a researcher at M.I.T. shows the results as 8 standard deviations from the norm in a graph of Florida counties, and he calculates the probability of those being actual Buchanan votes as "less than 1 in 3000 trillion".

Those are some odds. But I guess they're okay with Florida's partisan Republican Secretary of State, who has actively campaigned for George W. Bush.

Food, glorious food!   I'm so sick of politics and election results that it's almost put me off my food. (Fortunately, "almost" doesn't mean "completely".)

'Twas a fun, food- and drink-filled weekend, mostly in conjunction with my celebration of my thirty-mumbleth birthday on Saturday. There were ten of us for dinner that night, and we went to Saladang Song, which is a new sister establishment of what's arguably the best Thai restaurant in Pasadena, Saladang ("song" means "two" in Thai). Their menu is quite different from the main restaurant next door. Saladang Song features food that they call "more unabashedly Thai", the even more authentic and "honest" food of Thailand that one finds from street vendors, outdoor carts and cafés. Most of it was completely unfamiliar to me, and being a fan of places like Sanamluang and Jitlada I'm pretty used to excellent, authentic Thai food.

The first "wow" came from my appetizer, called Miang Rambutan. Rambutans are a southeast Asian fruit that's related to the lychee, with a similar color and consistency but much more tart. The dish consisted of lettuce cups filled with rambutans, tiny diced tofu, peanuts, ginger, onion and a big pile of toasted unsweetened coconut. You top it with some of the tangy sauce that accompanies the dish, roll the whole thing up like a taco, and down it goes. It was an absolutely amazing combination of flavors, and disappeared in what seemed like two minutes.

My favorite appetizer to order (just so I could say the name, which was fun) was Ping-ping-ping, which was a sampler plate of their three different skewered and grilled offerings:  Luk-chin-ping was grilled beef balls, Meuk-ping was grilled spicy calamari, and Moo-ping was grilled marinated pork (my favorite). The oddest looking starter was Tod-mun-kao-pohd, deep-fried sweet corn cakes (in a corn batter filled with big fat kernels of fresh corn), served with a familiar cucumber and rice vinegar salad. They almost looked like funnel cakes, but tasted like nothing I'd ever had before.

I had tastes of many different entrées, including a fabulous variation on my favorite Sanamluang dish, pad kee mow. It's wide flat rice noodles with chili, onions, tomatoes and Thai basil, and this version was filled with roast duck. Absolutely amazing. Also amazing was some of the "limited edition" noodle dishes. Ka-nom-jeen-sao-nam was steamed rice noodles, white as snow, surrounded by little piles of pineapple, shredded cabbage, garlic and dishes of fish sauce, Thai chiles and a big bowl of sauce. The sauce was a coconut gravy with fish balls floating inside, and the waitress assembled the dish for us at tableside. Gloppy but scrumptious. Another white noodle dish, Ka-nom-jeen-nam-prik, consisted of a spicy peanut sauce, cabbage and batter-fried shrimp and vegetables.

The rice-based dishes were equally outstanding. Kao-moo-dang was red roast pork, tender and delicious, better and more flavorful than any roast or barbecue pork I've ever had in any Chinese restaurant. Kao-phad-ka-na was more along the lines of what you'd expect to see in other Thai restaurants, with chicken, dried chiles, cashews and onions over rice ... but that didn't make it any less fabulous.

Dessert was another story. We were being adventurous, and wanted to try some of the admittedly bizarre desserts that were offered. Perhaps the most bizarre of all was Kao-niew-moon-pla-haeng, which was sweet sticky rice (which I really like), topped with ... crushed dried fish. For people used to the most Western concept of what desserts tend to be like, this was unusual at best, and off-putting at worst. Actually, it was really interesting. The rice was as tasty as I had expected it to be, and the fish ... well, it didn't really taste like fish, was somewhat salty, and had an almost nutty flavor (but the fish undertones were definitely there). I'm glad I tried it, at least.

Not so with the Saladang "Underground", which consisted of "mixed sweet tubers" in syrup with various toppings. You can get it served cold and topped with either crushed ice or ice cream, but I got it served warm with coconut cream. The yams (or yam-like tubers at least) in the dish were good, but there was something that I think was taro that was very starchy and not to my taste ... and the coconut cream drizzed over it was very, very salty. I didn't get very far with that one, I'm afraid. My friend Mark, who had ordered a delightful house-made raspberry ice cream, looked at me as if I had lost my mind. "Dried fish? Tubers? What's wrong with you? I ordered ice cream!" Next time I'll get the sticky rice with coconut, which I think will be delicious and a lot safer.

Saladang Song is big and noisy and very bustling, and you may have to wait in line to get in. The staff is top-notch, never missing a beat and extremely friendly. If you don't mind having to raise your voice a bit to talk, I can guarantee you a delicious and eye-opening meal.

  Monday, November 13, 2000
The heck with Canada ... blame TV.   Karen Hughes, Dubya's communications director, made a comment on the news today that really pissed me off. She accused Al Gore of trying to "overturn the results of this election".

Don't these jerks understand that so far there is no result to this election, until all of the votes have been counted?

We have television news to thank for a portion of this mess. As the Ed Kosner, Editor in Chief of the New York Daily News points out:

The notion that Bush is the presumptive President and Gore the loser trying desperately to snatch away Bush's rightful victory stems only -- ONLY! -- from the fact the networks mistakenly called him the winner at 2:20 a.m., prompting newspapers all around the country, including two in New York, to give him the election.

  Friday, November 10, 2000
Um, Republicans ... it ain't over until it's over, so shut up.   Apparently the Republicans are calling for Gore to concede because he supposedly lost the recount in Florida, even though they still haven't finished counting and won't be able to certify the results for another week, plus the they still haven't even received all the absentee ballots, and the margin separating the candidates is just over 300 votes. As my friend Steve Kelley said, "Yeah, THAT will make your election look legitimate."

Steve also pointed out that the Repubs keep saying how classy and graceful Nixon was when he conceded in 1960. Apparently that's not the case, according to a Salon article entitled "The Fallacy of Nixon's Graceful Exit". Columnist Gerald Posner says that in 1960, "the GOP candidate fought hard behind the scenes to make sure the election wasn't stolen from him -- just as Al Gore should do."

Yep, we're an international laughingstock.   No, not because we as a nation may have elected a simpleton like George W. Bush as our president, but because we still use 40-year-old technology like punch cards for voting.

Gee, when's the last time you used a keypunch machine to encode one line of code on a punch card, in COBOL or FORTRAN, so that you could run your program (a huge stack of cards). Why not use today's technology to prevent misleading ballots, punch cards sticking together, mechanical voting machines breaking down, etc.?

  Thursday, November 9, 2000
There MUST be another election in Palm Beach County, FL.   Not only was the ballot layout confusing and quite probably illegal, but it has now been reported that over 19,000 votes have been invalidated due to there having been two candidates picked. Countless people who have complained about the misleading ballot said that they had punched the slot for Gore after mistakenly punching it for Buchanan, and even Buchanan says that the discarded votes are Al Gore's.

George W. Bush must not be allowed to be President of the United States based on mistakes, voting irregularities, and the disenfranchisement of nearly 20,000 citizens. Insist that there be another election in Palm Beach County. You can send an email to the Florida Director of Elections via this link, and make your voice heard. Call your Senators and Representatives.

Dump the Electoral College.   The Founding Fathers of this nation are sometimes a bit over-revered. Some people think that any word from the mouths or pens of the Founding Fathers are barely short of divine. But the men who framed the U.S. Constitution initially gave the right to vote only to white men who owned property and paid taxes. Women had no right to vote, blacks were property with no rights whatsoever, and there was no direct election of U.S. Senators, who were chosed by state legislatures.

Things change.

The Electoral College is a remnant of the past, one that's just as archaic as the things mentioned above, and should be abolished. The 21st Century is not the 18th Century, and the voice of the people should be paramount. (If Bush can win by 700 votes in Florida, thereby winning Florida and getting all of their electoral votes, why can't Gore win nationwide by a one-point majority of 275,000?) It's time for the Electoral College to go, and even Republican Senator Arlen Specter says so too -- he apparently plans to introduce a constitutional amendment.

Quotes of the day:   "It's a done deal."

-- Florida Governor Jeb Bush, to his older brother, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, on election night, assuring him of a victory in the Florida vote.

"Well, there's no need to get snippy."

-- Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, to George W. Bush after calling to retract his concession and hearing Bush's reaction.

"Excuse me, but your younger brother is not the ultimate authority on this."

-- Gore, to Bush after Bush asserted that his brother Jeb had told him that the Florida election was a "done deal".

As if today wasn't bizarre enough, I've just learned that Michael Jackson is to portray Edgar Allan Poe in an upcoming movie. (I'm not kidding.)

  Wednesday, November 8, 2000
Jesus. The world is upside down.   So Al Gore wins the popular vote by almost 275,000 votes, but might lose in the Electoral College because of a 1200 vote lead by Bush and because thousands of elderly Jews may well have mistakenly voted for Pat Buchanan because of a very confusingly laid-out ballot?

I'm not counting any chickens until the very, very end.

Happy birthday, Mike!   My uncle Mike Luquet is 42 today, the number which is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of Life, The Universe and Everything. Good number.

It's the fashion police. You're under arrest.   Y'know, I wasn't born with the Fashion Gene, but good lord ... It's 3pm right now, and I'm watching commentator Tucker Carlson on CNN putting yet more of the endless spin on this bizarre election. He's wearing a red and white checked shirt, a black and yellow bow tie with diagonal stripes, and a brown tweed jacket. For God's sakes, somebody please go pick that boy's clothes for him.

  Tuesday, November 7, 2000  :: Election Day
Go vote.   This is the most important election I can remember. It's the difference between electing someone who can take the country forward, or electing someone whose amiable, blank stare will be controlled by big money, big business and the religious right wing.

Get up early if you have to, make enough time to get to your precinct, and go vote today. Remember what Molly Ivins said -- Vote with your heart where you can, but vote with your head where you must. (When I voted this morning, there was a line at my precinct for the first time in the 2-1/2 years I've been voting in this neighborhood. This is good.

In states where either Gore or Bush has a commanding lead, vote Nader. In the states too close to call, vote Gore. In either case, the imperative is to end Republican control in Congress by electing Democrats, also vital to the prospects for progressive change. (The Nation)

Fight congestion at the polls.   The California Secretary of State has predicted a record voter turnout in The Golden State, and there are similar predictions being made nationwide. In order to alleviate disastrously crowded polling places, we ask that Democrats and third parties vote today, while Republicans should go to their polling places tomorrow, November 8.

The Future is Now!   That was the slogan of my all-time favorite presidential candidate -- Jack Tanner, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1988. Among many other great positions and programs, he also announced back then that if elected he would have named Ralph Nader to his cabinet as Attorney General. He was the perfect candidate, and I wish I could write him in today. (Okay, he's fictional, but nobody's perfect.)

  Monday, November 6, 2000
Depends on what your definition of "1968" is, eh George?   George W. Bush has a lot of nerve questioning Al Gore's honesty. The first big lie in which he's been caught is a blatant one, to a direct question as to whether he'd been arrested after 1968. Sounds to me like a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, only worse:

What should count against Bush, though, is his off-the-charts hypocrisy. His campaign and the Republican National Committee are running TV ads at this very moment that excoriate Al Gore for fibbing. "Why does Gore say one thing when the truth is another?" one of them asks. As a certain politician once said, you can't take the high horse and then claim the low road.

In fact, there's a difference between Bush's fibs and Gore's. The difference is that Bush's tend to be consequential, while Gore's do not. When Bush said in the third debate that he backed a patients' bill of rights in Texas that he actually opposed, he was trying to create a false impression about his record on an issue that might affect how people vote. When he said he wasn't aware of the ban on interracial dating at Bob Jones University, or that he didn't meet with the Log Cabin Republicans because they were backing John McCain, he was lying to get out of tight spots he'd worked himself into. The same was true when Bush lied to Slater about his arrest record -- something I hear he has also done off the record with other reporters, by the way. He was trying to avoid disclosure of something that really could harm his candidacy.... (Slate via Q Daily News)

The new death of outrage.   Would-be Republican standard-bearers have been frothing at the mouth over Clinton and his misdeeds for years now, but Salon's executive editor Gary Kamiya points out today that "The GOP's moral watchdogs are strangely silent, now that the lying, evasive party boy turns out to be THEIR standard-bearer.

Here's what we know. We know that Clinton is an equivocating, evasive, cunning, legalistic good ol' boy who tried to cover up his misdeeds -- in other words, a typical human being.

Now we know (if we didn't already) that George W. Bush is also an equivocating, evasive, cunning, legalistic good ol' boy who tried to cover up his misdeeds -- another typical human being.

But the people who were braying for Clinton's head then are silent now. It's a world-class demonstration of hypocrisy.

Granted, being arrested for drunken driving 24 years ago isn't the end of the world. Nor is his failure to reveal it, although that makes me question his character and wonder what else he's covering up. Then there's his bullshit excuse for not coming clean from the beginning and admitting what he did. Finally, his out-and-out lie to the Dallas Morning News reporter who asked him directly and point-blank about the arrest. Add 'em all up...

None of these missteps are necessarily morally beyond the pale, but when combined with the innumerable other examples of Bush Jr.'s fecklessness, they paint a picture not just of a hopeless lightweight but a responsibility-shirking one. (To me, the worst thing about the whole episode was that it took this campaign-threatening bombshell to get Bush to hold a real, live press conference where he would have to face real, live questioners -- his first press conference, incredibly, in a month.) Moreover, regardless of how serious you think his sins are, they are ones guaranteed to send right-wing moralists into life-threatening convulsions: drugs (can anyone seriously now interpret his non-denials as anything other than tacit admissions?), avoiding Vietnam, being cagey with the truth.

If Bush is elected (which I fervently hope he is not), where will Henry Hyde, Bob Barr and James Rogan be when Bush's past is finally revealed?

One can forgive political operatives anything: They don't pretend to be engaged in anything other than getting their candidate elected, by any means necessary. But those who mount the bully pulpit and claim to be speaking in the name of morality must be held to a higher standard. And by failing to hold the Republican candidate to the same principles they held Clinton to, they have abdicated all right to be regarded as arbiters of public behavior. In fact, they have been revealed as nothing more than party hacks, practicing the most vulgar kind of instrumental, ends-justify-the-means morality, prepared to use the Bible or any other tool to defeat their opponent. It is impossible to take them seriously. And the next time they come forward raising a holy ruckus over some Democrat's misdeed, they should be laughed off the national stage.

Does the end justify the means?   The L.A. Weekly's Harold Meyerson writes that in an attempt to build a new progressive coalition, a Nader vote that weakens the opposition to Bush will weaken, not build, the progressive movement is Bush is elected.

I'm fond of the "strategic voting" concept as put forth by the editors of The Nation, which is summed up by Texas columnist Molly Ivins' rule of "Vote with your heart where you can, and vote for your head where you must."

If Nader draws enough voters to carry the Green Party over the 5 percent hurdle for ballot recognition, that vehicle provides concrete opportunity. If Democrats manage to win back majority control of the House, or even the Senate, their victory multiplies opportunities for educating and agitating on new issues. A Bush victory would be a terrible setback to our optimism, no way around it, but if Gore manages to win the White House, despite his weaknesses, the center-right moves a little bit our way and, in any case, becomes the object of purposeful leveraging.

We embrace Nader's ideas and creative idealism and hope that his strong showing will rattle the windowpanes throughout American politics. However, to realize the openings before us, we warn that there is greater urgency to preventing Bush and company from capturing all three branches of government for the right-wing agenda. In the long view, such tensions are symptoms of forward progress. We can learn to live with them.

  Saturday, November 4, 2000
Go "Down Home".   Please tune in to my weekly folk, roots and traditional music radio program "Down Home" this afternoon, between 3:00 and 5:00pm Pacific time (6:00 to 8:00pm Eastern, 2300-0100 GMT/UTC), via KCSN's live audio stream (Windows Media Player required). It's Day Two of our semi-annual Pledge Drive, and I've put together a great package of CDs as our gift to you for your pledge of $100:

Balfa Toujours, "Live at Whiskey River Landing" -- Cajun music at its finest from one of its best young bands, carrying on the tradition while making new songs in the tradition. Recorded live at one of Louisiana's best Cajun music venues.

The Blazers, "Puro Blazers" -- East L.A.'s own roots-rock powerhouse finally release their first all-Spanish album, and it's a lot of fun.

Solas, "The Hour Before Dawn" -- Irish music's most dynamic and hair-raising band since The Bothy Band with their fourth album, the first with new singer Deirdre Scanlon. (Hope you L.A. locals got a chance to catch them live at the Conga Room last night).

The Hot Club of Cowtown, "Dev'lish Mary" -- Hot jazz meets western swing once again in the Club's third terrific release.

Corey Harris and Henry Butler, "vü-dü menz" -- Acoustic bluesman Harris meets New Orleans piano legend Butler for an album of blues that'll knock your socks off.

We have many varying levels of membership, starting at our basic level of $40/year. We'd be thrilled to send you the "Down Home" 5-pack for a $100 pledge, too. Give the amount that's right for you, and help support what I think is the best, most unique and musically diverse public radio station in Los Angeles, KCSN 88.5 FM, now webcasting worldwide!

Answer the man, Dubya.   I haven't been checking Michael Moore's website recently, but my friend Brian emailed me an article this morning that needed linking to. Michael asks George W. Bush in an open letter:

1. Are you, Mr. Bush, unable to read and write on an adult level?

2. Are you an alcoholic and, if so, how will this affect your performance as Commander-in-Chief?

3. You say that you have not committed any felonies since 1975. What felonies did you commit PRIOR to that date?

I implore our nation's media to demand answers to these questions before Tuesday's election. The people have a right to know.

This goes hand-in-hand with Michael's article for today, asking if you've ever been arrested, much less if you've been arrested three times. Do you even know anyone who's been arrested three times? Would you really vote for someone who's been arrested three times (for theft, disorderly behavior, and the very serious and life-threatening crime of driving while under the influence of alcohol)?

  Friday, November 3, 2000
Bush lied; covered up DUI arrest.   George W. Bush was arrested in 1976 at the age of 30 for driving under the influence of alcohol, and lied to a Dallas Morning News reporter who asked him if he had been arrested for anything after 1968.

If the Bush camp does not refer to these statements and the covering-up of his drunk driving arrest as "lies", please note that as my friend Barry pointed out, if Gore or Clinton had said them, Bush would have immediately denounced them as lies.

NPR reported that Bush said that he "regretted that he had been arrested for DUI". Yeah, I'll bet he regrets he was arrested. The closest he had gotten to the truth on this issue (not close enough) was having told some reporters, in response to direct questions to whether or not he had ever been arrested for drunk driving (a simple "yes" or "no" would do) that "I did not have a perfect record in my youth".

Hey George ... someone who is 18 or younger is a "youth". Thirty years old is not "youth". Thirty years is the age at which one can be elected to the United States Senate, and five years older than the age at which one can be elected to the United States House of Representatives.

What other shady aspects of his past has Bush lied about? What about the "lost years" of his so-called youth that he refuses to discuss?

Dumb chic.   Bush's mental feebleness is becoming a running joke on late-night television, but despite this he may be bumbling his way right into the White House. Oddly enough, the media -- even supposedly august publications like the New York Times -- are breezing over his gaffes, his demonstrated lack of understanding of policy and issues, his campaign lies and his ruthlessness.

"If you don't stand for anything, you don't stand for anything!" Gov. George W. Bush said to a packed rally at Bellevue Community College on Tuesday night.

Then, realizing that his maxim didn't come out exactly right, he tried again. "If you don't stand for something, you don't stand for anything!" he cried. It still didn't sound quite right.

Nor did his promise, made just hours before at a rally in Portland, Ore., that "Never again in the halls of Washington, D.C., do I want to have to make explanations that I can't explain."

It's at this rally where Bush used the word "resignate" as a substitute for "resonate" (as in "issues that resignate with the American people").


The Bush camp seems to acknowledge the issue. The candidate is reading off a teleprompter more and more in these closing weeks, and hasn't held a full-blown press conference since his disastrous "subliminable" conference seven weeks ago. In fact, Gore and Bush have completely reversed accessibility standards -- Gore comes back on Air Force 2 just about daily to rap with reporters, while with the exception of a brief Friday-night availability on a Florida tarmac a few weeks ago, Bush is hermetically sealed, safe from anyone who would ask him to explain his record or proposals.

That the issue of Bush's intelligence is nowhere near as prominent as Gore would like can be attributed, in part, to the media, which while mocking Bush's gaffes has analyzed the two candidates' policies as if their respective understandings of their policies were equal. A Monday New York Times comparison of Bush and Gore on foreign policy issues, for instance, included a chart that characterized the two candidates' positions on the half-dozen or so military involvements that PBS's Jim Lehrer asked them about during the second presidential debate in Winston-Salem, N.C. On the question of the Balkans, rather than quoting what Bush actually said in the debate -- which revealed that he didn't know that the Europeans were shouldering any, much less a majority, of the responsibility for the ground forces there -- the Times based its characterization on the Bush camp's official policy position.

  Thursday, November 2, 2000
"Where is your passion?" Right there up on the screen.   Last night I went to the Directors Guild Theatre to see the inaugural film festival by the newly-created School of Film and Television at my gradual school alma mater, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. I got my M.A. in Communication Arts there in 1987, and while the film and television programs have been there since 1965, it's only just this year that the department has grown enough to be its own school within the College of Communication and Fine Arts.

The films were terrific, especially Chris Brown's "Americana: Forever a Rebel", a wonderful documentary filmed in Brazil. After the American Civil War (or as they call it, "The War Between The States"), about 20,000 former Confederates fled into exile in Brazil and formed their own community, with similar architecture in their homes, plus farm, social and religious practices. Over the generations they gradually intermixed with native Brazilians and began to be absorbed into Brazilian culture, but they maintain to this day their own identity as the "Confederados" and the still-living older generation speak fluent English ... with a very strong Southern accent. I had no idea these people existed, and it was a very enjoyable and fascinating film.

My other favorite was Rod Cohen's "The Howie Rubin Story", the oldest film they screened (1988-90), the most hilarious one in the festival, and the only one that had friends and classmates of mine who had worked on it. It starred and was co-written by Darin Morgan, Emmy-winning "X-Files" writer, whom I hadn't seen in a while and who was only one of two folks from the old-days gang that showed up. (Darin's still the only person I know that has half a dozen fan sites devoted to him.)

I was glad to see a full house, lots of LMU people as well as industry folks. It was a good opportunity for the school to profess the difference between themselves and certain other big Hollywood-connected film school across town -- rather than foster an atmosphere of competition, with students competing and fighting for the right to make a film or even use equipment, the atmosphere at LMU has always been collaboration, with everyone working on everyone else's films in a variety of capacities, plus strong guidance and encouragement from the faculty for each student to express his or her own voice and follow his or her own passion, rather than pitch projects that are slick and Hollywood-friendly. I'm proud of all those guys, and proud to be an LMU film program alumnus.

Voter disobedience and potentially wasted votes.   Before I start my ranting, have a look at Bijan's latest thoughtful article on MonkeyFist about what a vote for Nader really means, and why a vote for Gore would be wasted if Bush wins the presidency.

I've never faced a more agonizing presidential election, ever. I sincerely hope that my vote for Gore won't be wasted. I've resolved, though, that if Gore wins I'm not going to just sit back in complacent relief. I'll do what I can, write what I can and contribute to what I can to oppose policies of his with which I disagree. It's the least I can do.

I know I sound like a broken record, but Bush cannot be allowed to win the election. Todd Gitlin's latest article, although unnecessarily dopily-titled "Unsafe in Any State", still gives us lots more to think about:

Just as much of the ground lost to Reagan in the 1980s has never been regained -- repeat, never: not in 20 years, not on labor policy, not on the environment, not on income and wealth inequality, not on support for military goons in the poor countries -- the ground to be lost by a Republican victory is likely to stay lost.
Like the author of this article, I'm also the type of voter who ought to be flocking to Nader without question. With this insane election, though ... with a mind-boggling amount of people in this country willing to vote for a bumbling, idiotic, insubstantial rich boy with a horrific record in his own state just because they think he's "nice" ... I can't risk it.

As if I needed yet another reason to loathe Republicans.   In New York, the state Republican Committee has been making campaign calls for Rick Lazio, linking his opponent Hillary Clinton to the USS Cole bombing, thereby exploiting a bunch of dead sailors to further their campaign. They stopped not after the howls of entirely justifiable criticism from the Clinton campaign, but because "they reached their target audience". Assholes. Is this really the kind of leadership people want?

Dubya encouraging votes for Nader? Jesus.   The Republican Leadership Council is running ads in key swing states encouraging votes for Ralph Nader, using clips of a Nader speech that was carefully edited to remove harsh criticism of Bush that was part of the very same speech.

Wouldn't it be great if that backfired so beautifully that this happens?

  Wednesday, November 1, 2000
Scaring small children.   Last night I stayed home on Halloween for the first time in years, put my recording of E. Power Biggs' rendition of J. S. Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" on repeat, sipped Sazeracs all evening, greeted every child who rang my bell with my very best "Tales of the Crypt" Cryptkeeper laugh, and handed out lots of Tootsie Rolls and Tootsie Pops and Lemonheads and Jolly Ranchers (I like classic candies). As an extra added bonus, my friend Dule (who moved away two months ago and whom I miss terribly) called, and we chatted and caught up for a solid hour.

It was great fun. I didn't even miss dressing up and going out on Santa Monica Boulevard amidst all the annual Halloween pandemonium there (too busy for a costume this year, plus it was on a school night, ferchrissakes!). Besides, I'll never be able to top my costume from three years ago, when I went as Waylon Smithers along with my old roommate Chris, who was Mr. Burns.

Hell, I had so much fun tonight that I might just stay home again next year. One thing, though ... I'm sick of "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor", and I definitely don't need to hear it again for another year.

Gore backing off on criticism of Bush?   No Al, you don't get it. He's criticizing you every day, he's still using that bullshit "he claims he created the Internet" line every day, and you need to criticize him with no holds barred, 'cause if you don't do it to him he'll do it to you. Jesus, do you want to be president, or what?

Quotes of the day:   Gee ... if Bush is elected president, he'll undoubtedly enter the history books as one of this nation's greatest orators, along with Abraham Lincoln:

"We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." -- Abraham Lincoln

"When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world and you knew exactly who 'they' were. It was us versus them and it was clear who them was. Today we are not so sure who the they are, but we know they're there." -- George W. Bush

Test your Yatness.   The folks at Inside New Orleans have come up with another fun quiz:  "Test Your Knowledge of the Mother Tongue. How Well Do You Speak New Orleanese?" If you are a New Orleanian, you have no excuse for getting any score lower than 90-100% (I got 100, of course). If you're from outta town, give it a try too and see how well you speak New Orleans' native language. No cheating by looking at my Yatspeak page.

Spam of the week.   Hell, spam of the year!

From: VG Inversiones <>
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 11:12:00 -0300
Subject: v Our Company is VG Inversiones. We are looking for investors

Dear Mr. Charles Nelson Reilly,


It is a pleasure for our Company, VG INVERSIONES, to establish business links headed to further development with your Company.

Our Company is looking for an investor, risk capital, or financing in order to develop our Ecological Project Ranch Antumalal. I am sending you this information to guide you in looking for the investor abroad.

Visit our web page

Our phone numbers are : (56)-43-369100 – 369101 –369102, fax : (56)-43-369103

Best regards,


I will send you folders with the version in English and Spanish of the Ecological Project Ranch Antumalal.

I am so honored to be mistaken for Charles Nelson Reilly that I can barely speak. I laughed so hard that I gave them a break and didn't even report them to SpamCop.

October Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this blog. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Steve Gardner, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Tom Krueger, Eric Labow, Michael Pemberton and Greg Beron.
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