the gumbo pages

looka, <'lu-k&> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look", in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans; usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  
2. --n. 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 @ 11:58am PDT, 10/31/2001

Blame this page on:
Chuck Taggart (who?)
(Wanna send me e-mail?)

Search this site:

Looka! Archive

September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

Give to the Red Cross

Via Amazon
Via PayPal
Via Yahoo!

(All fees and commissions waived for donations through these links; the Red Cross gets all the money.)

How to donate to this site:

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Buy stuff!

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

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
pat and paul
tracy and david

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream

Alive and Picking
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (science fiction radio)
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

The Sazerac Cocktail


Cocktail Time


Bar Asterie

Ardent Spirits

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails

La Fée Verte

Ingredients & substitutions

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Chef Talk Café



Food Network

The Global Gourmet

The Online Chef

Pasta, Risotto & You

Slow Food Int'l. Movement

So. Calif. Farmer's Markets

Zagat Guide


In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

Wally's Wine and Spirits

The Wine House

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

Now reading:

The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass, by Stephen King.

Inside "The Wicker Man", by Allan Brown.

Juno & Juliet, by Julian Gough.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
The Proclaimers
Red Meat
Zachary Richard
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Uncle Tupelo


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival

Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston

The Mirror Project


Bloom County / Outland,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

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

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Films seen recently:

Waking Life (****)
From Hell (***)
Mulholland Drive (****1/2)
L.I.E. (****)
"Hearts in Atlantis" (***1/2)
"Our Lady of the Assassins" (****)
"Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" (*)
"Jeepers Creepers" (***)
"Come Undone" (****)
"The Deep End" (****)
"Apocalypse Now Redux"

Lookin' at da TV:

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

Weblogs I read:

The BradLands
David Grenier
Eat, Link and Be Merry
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jonno / now
Lake Effect
The Leaky Cauldron
The Making of a Restaurant
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
The Other Side
Q Daily News
Therapy for the Inner Psycho
Web Queeries
Whim and Vinegar
World New York

Matthew's GLB blog portal

<< web loggers >>

Must-reads: (Progressive politics & news)
The Complete Bushisms (Quotationable)
The Deduct Box (Louisiana politics)
The Fray (your stories)
Landover Baptist (better Christians than YOU!)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (news 'n laffs)

The Final Frontier:

ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

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!

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

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

(* = superfavorite)

(Just what do you think you're doing, Chuck?)

Made with Macintosh

hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit on an Apple iBook 2001 running MacOS 9.1 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work.

weblog and (almost) daily blather

  "This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York island,
  From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me."
  -- Woody Guthrie

  Wednesday, October 31, 2001
All Things Dark and Gruesome   / All creatures short and squat / All things rude and nasty / The Lord God made the lot!

Okay, the last three lines were cribbed from Monty Python (as you know), but the boldfaced title is the name of an oogily nifty web site to which Netsurfer Digest refers as "the Yahoo of morbid fascination". See ghastly gore and putrifying pestilence! Catastrophic crashes! Carious criminalia! Historical atrocities! Creepy cemeteries! Demographical death! Shocking shopping! Miscellaneous morbidity! (Owwwwoooooooo, wasn't that scary, kids? Scarier than "Dr. Tongue's 3-D House of Slave Chicks"!) Happy Hallowe'en.

And a nifty Hallowe'en it'll be,   'cos Ray Bradbury is doing a signing at Vroman's today for his new book, From the Dust Returned.

Screw all that cheapo Hallowe'en candy.   Let's talk about the good stuff, candy for grown-ups. Nougat, specificially Nougat de Montélimar, a dense, luscious combination of egg whites, sugar and honey, studded with toasted almonds and pistachios. Forget the stuff that's at the center of a Milky Way bar.

Speaking of nifty, Newsweek reviews iPod.   The more I read and think about this delicious little gizmo, the more I want one. Damn, why does it have to be $400? The Newsweek reviewer raves.

With its white-plastic front, small LCD display and distinctive wheel-like control, the iPod resembles a thermostat sculpted by George Segal. It makes previous music players look like yard-sale 1950s sci-fi toys.

But its real beauty lies in making portable digital music compelling. Current devices fall into two categories. Most are compact but limited. They hold less than two CDs' worth of music. When you want to hear different tunes, you must go back to the computer and painstakingly reload. Then there are the digital jukeboxes, equipped with hard-disk drives. They hold lots of songs, but they're fragile and bulky and they have awful interfaces: a specific tune is harder to find than Amelia Earhart.

Overall, the iPod is the best digital music player yet. While it may not be the killer app that drives people to forsake a PC, plenty of Windows users will look now with envy at the Apple crowd. The iPod certainly got a lot of attention when I showed it to people, including a Windows guy named Bill Gates. He spun the wheel, checked out the menus on the display screen and seemed to get it immediately. "It looks like a great product," he said. And then he added, incredulous, "It's only for Macintosh?"

There's a rave review in the New York Times as well.

I've been reading a lot of sites where people are pooping all over the iPod -- "it's hardly a breakthrough" ... "What? Only five gigs? My Nomad has SIX!" ... "Why isn't it a PDA too?" (Uh, because it's an MP3 player and portable hard drive for other files, not a PDA.)

I'd say the tiny size, the 20 minutes of skip protection and the FireWire connectivity is pretty breakthrough-like -- ain't nobody else got dat. My friend Brad lamented to me in email that the Diamond Rio he bought "sucked ... More specifically, the skip protection sucked. You could barely walk around with it without it skipping." He traded it in for a Nomad Jukebox, and was still dissatisfied. He said it weighed a ton, the drive was noisy, the skip protection also sucked, and it had a built-in volume protection, ostensibly to protect your hearing, that was so robust that you could barely hear it. Sixty-six hours of music in my pocket is probably enough for me. All this considered, I'm in for an iPod.

That price tag hurts, though. Ouch. Mom, can I have one for Christmas?

Awrite!   The Laemmle Theatres chain has acquired the Fairfax Theatre near 3rd and La Brea. This is very, very good news. Before now it had been the neglected stepchild of the Cineplex Odeon chain, relegated to showing fifth-run movies at $2.50 a seat. Now ...

We will begin projecting quality first run American independent, art house and foreign films on the three Fairfax screens on November 2. We will announce the initial slate of films soon.

We will replace all the old uncomfortable seating with new seats and the unseemly flooring with new carpet. And, in a refreshing reversal of usual industry practice, we will decrease seating capacity and increase moviegoer comfort by removing several rows of seats in each of the three auditoriums. The large auditorium will seat roughly 400, the other two roughly 200 each. In a concession to sentiment, we will also keep the old free-standing box office in front of the theater.

The Fairfax is about ten minutes away from me, and this is very good news.

Scary.   Not exactly a fun, Halloweeny-scary link -- filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's post-Strangelove doomsday scenario, written in 1994 for the New York Times who subsequently refused to publish it. (Via FMH)

A "suitcase nuclear bomb" being detonated by a "potential enemy" in Washington, DC in a sneak attack?

Film director Stanley Kubrick suggested just such a scenario in 1994.

What seemed wildly implausible before September 11th - like a subplot from the director's apocalyptic classic Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - no longer seems so far-fetched.

Kubrick's politically-charged essay, which The New York Times refused to publish in 1994, warned of the potential of nuclear attack caused by "accident, miscalculation or madness."

Penned by the director for the 30th anniversary of Dr. Strangelove, the remarks make no secret of Kubrick's fear that nuclear peril lay ahead.


The article also contains a link to Kubrick's article. Worth reading.

Quote of the day.   "When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I'm beginning to believe it."

-- Clarence Darrow

  Tuesday, October 30, 2001
The Bomb with a Loaded Message.   Hank Stuever's excellent article in last Saturday's Washington Post, subtitled "For Gays in America, Even Heroism Isn't a Ticket to Inclusion" begins thusly ... "Let us consider the fag bomb".

Gays are intimately, tragically part of this war: David Charlebois, a fixture of Dupont Circle's upper set, was a pilot on one of the doomed airliners Sept. 11. And there was the 6-foot-5 rugby player from San Francisco, Mark Bingham, who is thought to have helped fellow passengers confront terrorists in a plane over Pennsylvania. The list goes on -- the beloved gay chaplain of the New York Fire Department, killed in the World Trade Center collapse; two men and their adopted toddler killed on one of the planes; the many who lost longtime partners and are now navigating an iffy situation of relief aid and death benefits for non-traditional couples.

Then came a certain picture of a certain piece of U.S. government property about to be dropped on the Taliban.

What exactly is wrong with the fag bomb?

(Wrong, that is, besides the typos. "Oh, that's nothing," [Cathy Renna, New York spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation] says. "You should see the hate e-mail I get. We have met the enemy, and he can't spell.") Although "fag" is a slur familiar to anyone who's ever been on a recess playground, it comes across as a stinging reminder that, for all their losses Sept. 11 and contributions to any manner of relief efforts with the rest of the nation, gay men and women are still getting the distinct vibe, here and there, that they are second-class Americans.


AOL prez: Anthrax good for business!   Raymond J. Oglethorpe, the president of America Online, said that the anthrax attacks that have struck via the U. S. Postal Service are "incredibly positive for the Internet", and likely to boost its use.

Wow, I never thought of that! That's great! Hey, just imagine how much their business will increase if someone unleashes smallpox! I bet he can hardly wait!

Please deplane now, sir ... (oh sorry, no parachute for you, pal.)   Last week a friend of mine was on the phone with a United Airlines ticket agent, buying passage to Louisiana. She remarked to the agent, "Y'know, I have 170,000 frequent flier miles on your airline, and my husband has 100,000. Last week your CEO was talking about y'all are about to go under. Please don't." The ticket agent replied, "Don't you worry ... there's far too much heart in this company for us to let it go under." Her voice filling with disdain, she predicted, "Besides, the man who said that is on his way out."

She was right.

I Can't Get No Satisfaction ('cos blimey, me back 'urts).   The Rolling Stones are gearing up for a world tour next year in honor of their fortieth anniversary as a rock 'n roll band.

I'm still tryin' to wrap me 'ead 'round that one.

The end of civilization as we know it.   Britney Spears, the sole export of Kentwood, Louisiana other than its spring water, utters the words "hell" and "damn" on her new album. But kids, they're just terms of endearment. (Huh?) Oh, and kids ... don't emulate the way I dress because it's just, like, a costume, all right? (Not to mention that you shouldn't emulate me because I've got all the intelligence and eloquence of a pot of boiled cabbage, too.)

The inventor of the web, on Micro$oft's latest browser crapola.   Tim Berners-Lee, the man who's widely credited for coming up with what we now know as the World Wide Web, comments on the software monopolist's disabling of all non-Microsoft browsers from accessing its web portal. (Via ./)

I have fought since the beginning of the Web for its openness: that anyone can read Web pages with any software running on any hardware. This is what makes the Web itself. This is the environment into which so many people have invested so much energy and creativity. When I see any Web site claim to be only readable using particular hardware or software, I cringe -- they are pining for the bad old days when each piece of information need a different program to access it.

The "best viewed with" button is bad, but there is worse. Worse are sites which not only ask you but which force you to use software which they control, so they will effectively have control over all your browsing -- even when you are browsing someone else's site. You press "search" the Web and there you are straight back to old site -- not just reading it, but feeding it your personal interests, and being fed back its advertising, and its answers on where you should buy things, and what your should read for news and political opinion.

The thing that cracked me up about all this is that M$ claimed to block out browsers that didn't meet WC3 standards for browser compliance, one of which was Opera, which is in fact the most standards-compliant browser out there. Tim decided to try running the MSN homepage through the WC3's validation service.

Running the homepage through the validator on Friday showed the site did not use valid XHTML and did not meet the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Wil Wheaton on acting, geekiness, not-being-Wesley-Crusher and more.   God forbid that I should offer two Slashdot links in one day, but the world is a very weird and startling place sometimes. The aforementioned actor, who's got a very interesting website, submits to an interview by the denizens of /. and survives. You see here, as with the writing on his site, that he's funny, self-deprecating, and has a very low tolerance for people who confuse him with his ST:TNG character and blame him for the dopey lines the writers gave him. Favorite Q&A of all:

Patrick Stewart's bald head -- Have you (or any of the TNG cast) ever rubbed it for good luck?

Are you kidding me? We'd gather every Monday morning in the center of the bridge, cry havoc, and let slip the rubbing of Patrick's head. We always wanted to rub Shatner's bald head for luck, but he'd never take off his toupee. So we'd just rub his belly instead.

Last night's most colossal waste of time.   After reading the Wil Wheaton interview, I was ... well, "inspired" isn't exactly the right word, but in any case ended up wasting 15 minutes of my life making something I've never made before -- a Geek Code.

Version: 3.12
GMC/MU d--(+) s:+ a39 C+(++) UB P !E L- W++>$ N++
K+++ M++ W--- PS++ PE Y+ PGP t+(++)@ 5 X+(++)@ !R
tv(+) b+++ DI++ D--- G- e+++ h r++ y+
There it is. My entire life's essence, summed up in a few lines of gobbledygook. I feel like that "Star Trek" episode where Rojan, the the alien invader from the Andromeda Galaxy, pointed his little belt box at the poor redshirts and transmogrified them into little pumice-like dodecahedrons. (God, what a HORRIBLY geeky thing to have said ...)

Quote of the day.   "I want to have my cake, eat it, come back for seconds, and get the recipe from the cook."

-- Photographer Noah Grey (who's writing again!)

  Monday, October 29, 2001
Blues, Country, Gospel, Bluegrass, Cajun, Zydeco, Tejano, Native American music ... tonight on PBS.   The new PBS 4-part miniseries "American Roots Music" begins tonight on your local PBS station (check local listings). I'm looking forward to this one -- I enjoyed "River of Song", and this one looks just as good if not better. They've gained huge cred with me by the fact that the series' Cajun and zydeco portions are produced by (and the corresponding section in the series' companion book written by) Ann Savoy. Watch it tonight.

Wilco, October 6, St. Louis.   The band now have a recording of their show from the above date and place on their web site for your entertainment (Quicktime required). In a strange way, it's nice that they've parted ways with Reprise; I don't think a major label would ever let them do something like this. Not to fear, though -- they will have a label soon, and I think it'll work out wonderfully for the band.

I finally got a decent copy of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, an advance CD from a friend of mine. It's labelled as such, but not with the name of any record company. I'd been listening to it from the website stream and was excited, but now, having a chance to listen to it with CD-quality sound ... man, is this a great album.

Dave Van Ronk seriously ill.   Received in this weekend's email from my friend Mary Katherine:

Dear friends and colleagues in the folk music world:

Our good friend Dave Van Ronk was recently diagnosed with malignant colon cancer, and will undergo surgery this coming Wednesday. Please hold him in your thoughts and prayers.

More concretely, anyone who is able to assist him financially is encouraged to do so. Dave does have medical insurance to pay for the surgery itself. However, the hardest hit is in loss of income. He has had to cancel all his gigs through the end of the year and the loss of that income and the accompanying CD sales at gigs has left him strapped.

Please feel free to pass around the following address to which donations may be sent. Checks should be made payable to Dave Van Ronk and mailed to:

Dave Van Ronk
c/o Folklore Productions
1671 Appian Way
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Many thanks.
It's gotten to the point where we think it's practically a miracle when a musician has health insurance (so many don't), but many people don't think about the fact that when a musician is ill, whether the doctor bills are covered or not, he or she is unable to work and has no income -- name one independent musician who has short- or long-term disability insurance as well. Now is a really good time to buy a Dave Van Ronk CD, and if you're a fan send in a donation if you can.

Thank Gawd.   NBC's so-called "comedy" series "Emeril" has been cancelled.

I tried to watch one episode and lasted ten minutes. It was awful, painfully unfunny and very badly written. (Whenever Robert Urich is brought in to "save" a sitcom whose pilot was described as "nearly unwatchable", it's a bad sign.)

Chef, you're a culinary genius who's served me some of the best meals I've ever had. Please return to the kitchen, where you belong, and where your talents lie.

A new weblog hits the frying pan.   I came across a food-related weblog called SauteWednesday which looks pretty new, and looks like it could be pretty interesting to boot. Worth the price of admission alone is the listing of links in the sidebar, including links to nearly 25 different newspaper food sections from around the U.S. and the world. We'll keep an eye on this one.

How to Lose a War.   Frank Rich, on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times, speaks of the home-front failures of the Bush White House since September 11 ... "Welcome back to September 10."

Given that this is the administration that was touted as being run with C.E.O. clockwork, perhaps it should be added to the growing list of Things That Have Changed Forever since Sept. 11. But let's not be so hasty. Not everything changes that fast least of all Washington. The White House's home-front failures are not sudden, unpredictable products of wartime confusion but direct products of an ethos that has been in place since Jan. 20.

This is an administration that will let its special interests -- particularly its high-rolling campaign contributors and its noisiest theocrats of the right -- have veto power over public safety, public health and economic prudence in war, it turns out, no less than in peacetime. When anthrax struck, the administration's first impulse was not to secure as much Cipro as speedily as possible to protect Americans, but to protect the right of pharmaceutical companies to profiteer. The White House's faith in tax cuts as a panacea for all national ills has led to such absurdities as this week's House "stimulus" package showering $254 million on Enron, the reeling Houston energy company (now under S.E.C. investigation) that has served as a Bush campaign cash machine.


To see how the religious right has exerted its own distortions on homeland security, you also have to consider an administration pattern that goes back to its creation and one that explains the recent trials of poor Tom Ridge.

Mr. Ridge is by all accounts a capable leader -- a successful governor of a large state (Pennsylvania) who won the Bronze Star for heroism in Vietnam. A close friend of George W. Bush, he should have been in the administration from the get-go, and was widely rumored to be a candidate for various jobs, including the vice presidency. But after being pilloried by the right because he supports abortion rights, he got zilch. Instead of Mr. Ridge, the administration signed on the pro-life John Ashcroft and Tommy Thompson - who have brought us where we are today.

The farcical failures of these two cabinet secretaries are not merely those of public relations though Mr. Thompson often comes across as a Chamber of Commerce glad-hander who doesn't know his pants are on fire...

Post-Sept. 11, [Mr. Thompson] destroyed his credibility by understating the severity of the anthrax threat, also in defiance of science. Now he maintains that the $1.5 billion the administration is requesting to plug the many holes in our public health system -- almost all of it earmarked for stockpiling pharmaceuticals, not shoring up local hospitals -- is adequate for fighting bioterrorism. This, too, is in defiance of all expert estimates, including that of the one physician in the Senate, the Republican Bill Frist.

It should also be on Mr. Thompson's conscience that for the first two weeks of the anthrax crisis he kept the federal government's house physician -- David Satcher, the surgeon general and a much-needed honest broker of public health locked away, presumably because Dr. Satcher, a Clinton appointee, became persona non grata in the Bush administration for issuing a June report on teenage sexuality that angered the religious right. Only after Mr. Ridge arrived on the scene was the surgeon general liberated from the gulag.


  Thursday, October 25, 2001
Tonight on "Down Home".   Singer Connie Dover's gorgeous Irish-tinged version of "Shenandoah"; Steeleye Span's version of "Blackleg Miner"; anything else I can think of to evoke the marvelous Richard Thompson "One Hundred Years of Popular Music" show from the Getty last week; new music from Dr. John, Chris Thile, Paddy Keenan, some early '60s acoustic blues, and Cajun music from Cleoma and Ophy Breaux, Dennis McGee and Raymond Fontenot.

New Orleans' finest?   The more things change, the more they remain the same ... an NOPD officer arrested a longtime French Quarter resident and property owner last Thursday for stopping his car in the street for less than ten seconds to retrieve his dog, who was running loose.

The officer charged him with "impeding traffic, public intimidation and resisting an officer." (Apparently "public intimidation" means asking the officer for her badge number.) The officer claimed that the man impeded her while on the way to a crime scene, but she had no lights or siren on. And if it was a crime to stop a car in the street, every cabbie in the Quarter would get life in prison for the number of times people have to wait in traffic while cabs pick up and let out people on Quarter streets. Sheesh. Reminds me of a famous story in our family in which a relative of mine was falsely arrested by a nutball NOPD officer during a bogus traffic stop. The judge threw it out of court instantly, but she never should have been arrested or harassed in the first place.

The commander of the Vieux Carré precinct's response was predictable. I guess police reform still has a little ways to go ...

  Wednesday, October 24, 2001
Why I Love New Orleans.   Contributed by my friend Mary Katherine:

K-Doe Fans Keep Memory Alive

R&B singer Ernie K-Doe may have passed away, but his likeness is still popping up at New Orleans bars and nightclubs.

K-Doe, whose brief fame peaked in 1961 with the No. 1 hit "Mother-in-Law," died in July at age 65.

But some of his young fans found it hard to let the bewigged singer fade away. One of them, artist Jason Poirier, made a life-size K-Doe statue and began bringing the likeness to events around town.

In the past two weeks, the statue has greeted guests at a fund-raiser for New Orleans cemeteries and at numerous bars, including K-Doe's own Mother-in-Law Lounge. The likeness draws nearly as much attention as the singer did in life: Crowds move in to have their pictures taken alongside the grinning statue.

The figure shows K-Doe -- born Ernest Kador Jr. -- in all his flamboyant glory, complete with long fingernails, foppish wig and gold teeth. Antoinette Clark, K-Doe's widow, says it's only right that the singer still entertains, even in death.

"He's got to work," she said. "And he don't have to pay taxes no more."

Yeah you rite...

The whole enchilada.   Great stuff in the Los Angeles Times Food Section today, starting with an article about enchiladas, which includes one family's enchilada recipe handed down through 8 generations, supposedly unchanged for 150 years.

A hollow voice says "plugh".   Thanks to a mention by Matt, I'm now hopelessly addicted to text adventure games again, just like when I was a 17-year-old college kid.

Telnet to, login as "zork", and choose from a wide array of text adventures, from the original Crother/Woods "Adventure" (I still have all my hand-drawn maps of Colossal Cave from 1979), plus lots of old Infocom games from Zork to Suspended to A Mind Forever Voyaging and many, many more. I loved them all, and played for hours and days on end. As spiffy as computer graphics are these days, I think they still ain't nothin' compared to what your imagination can conjure.

At End Of Road
You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully.

To Hell.   Disregarding my friend Barry's advice, primarily due to my own procrastination, I still haven't read Alan Moore's graphic novel From Hell, but instead saw the movie first. It's at the top of my list for my next trip to Vroman's, and once I've read it I think it might be interesting to go through this site, called "A guide and study of the comic From Hell and the lore surrounding the Jack the Ripper case".

Are you black? Then forget that cab.   Anthony "Tuba Fats" Lacen, a beloved local New Orleans musician, tried unsuccessfully one Jazzfest night to get a cab home at 2:00am after a gig at Donna's on North Rampart. Cab after cab refused to take him. He has no car, there are no buses until 5, and his bad knees and enormous tuba precluded a three-mile walk to his Uptown home. "The cabbies wouldn't take me ... They wouldn't take any blacks," he said.

Gambit Weekly reports that locals say they aren't being treated right. Cab drivers say they fear for their lives. Twice a week, both sides meet in City Hall to find out just who's taking whom for a ride.

Getting uglier.   Now that the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan has started "accidentally" killing civilians, including children, one wonders how such events will prevent future terrorism rather than fueling it. Simon Jenkins, in an excellent article in the Times of London, compares and contrasts the Current Situation to that of Britain's 30-year battle with the IRA. Even Britain learned that a military solution is the wrong answer to fighting terrorism, and as one person astutely pointed out on the MeFi thread where I got this link, the single best recruiting tools the IRA had were given to them by the British in Bloody Sunday and internment (the British government's anti-IRA policy of arrest, interrogation, torture and imprisonment without trial).

I am told that not a single policymaker in Washington dares question the bombing. Tactics, humanity, proportionality or regional consequences are off agenda. "Do not reason with us on this one," say the massed ranks of American columnists, "it is too close to home." What, I wonder, would have been America's response to a mad Russian attacking American soil during the Cold War. What form would unreason have taken then?

The current high-intensity bombing of Afghanistan is by no stretch of military imagination simply de-activating air defences or disrupting bin Laden's networks. It is strategic bombing of whatever passes for the Afghan State, its cities and people. The Pentagon openly calls it "psychological bombing", the targeting of roads, power stations and public buildings (even those with red crosses on them). Since from the air Afghan troops are indistinguishable from civilians, the implication of using aerial gunships is that no ground operation can be risked if any Afghan is alive in the region. To those fleeing Afghanistan in their thousands, this is indeed terror repaying terror.

September 11 was never, repeat never, a serious challenge to democracy, its principles or codes of behaviour. They are robust enough to be invulnerable to terror. The challenge lay in the aftermath. The 1985 Grand Hotel bombing was as traumatic to Britain as September 11 was to America. But there was no retaliatory strike against IRA havens. Despite the rage felt in Britain, such vengeance would have been disproportionate and inappropriate. As with Lockerbie, Oklahoma and other instances of mass killing, civil policing and coercive diplomacy brought the guilty to justice.


Quote of the day.   "Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!"

-- Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

  Tuesday, October 23, 2001
How low will we go? Times of London: "FBI Considers Torture"   The Times of London reports that "American investigators are considering resorting to harsher interrogation techniques, including torture, after facing a wall of silence from jailed suspected members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, according to a report yesterday."

And if they resort to torture, this makes us better, nobler and more righteous than terrorists, despots, and totalitarian or fascist regimes ... exactly how?

Oh my Gawd.   I want one! Over fifty hours of music, smaller than my Walkman and instantly integrates with iTunes on my Mac ... aieeee! (I wish it was less than $400, though. Overpriced by about $100.)

Everything you always wanted to know about "Mulholland Drive"...*   but were afraid to ask.

Los Angeles New Times film critic Andy Klein joins the folks at Salon to try to help us figure out what's going on in David Lynch's terrific new movie. It starts with a detailed plot summary with spoilers, so don't read this if you haven't seen the film. Then it helps answer a number of questions many people have about the plot, beginning with ... "What the fuck is going on in this movie?"

From the Pathetically Sad and Disturbing People With Nothing Better To Do Department.   A so-called "documentary filmmaker" (in reality, a nutball) is promoting her new movie in churches and on religious television networks, asserting that "one of the gravest threats to Christendom is about to be unleashed by a godless American media corporation". That is, the long-awaited movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is being released on November 16.

Did you know that the books are all a clever conspiracy to make all good Christian children abandon their religion and turn into shape-changing witches? That the backstory of Harry's mother sacrificing her own life to save her son from being murdered by the evil Voldemort is designed to turn the male-centered idea of Christ dying for our sins right on its ear into a female-centered, goddess-worshipping worldview that J. K. Rowling is secretly promoting? That Harry's lightning bolt-shaped scar from that encounter is really the symbol of the SS? (Cue cuckoo clock noises...)

Caryl Matrisciana, the self-described documentarian, has a history of promoting rumor as fact and being taken to task for it. She made a film called The Clinton Chronicles, blaming the former president for a "dizzying array of conspiracies and deaths", and a sequel called Obstruction of Justice, in which she blamed two Arkansas state troopers for killing two young men on then-Governor Clinton's orders to cover up involvement in a drug ring. A jury awarded the two troopers $600,000 of her money, in a decision unfortunately overturned because the troopers were "public figures" and not eligible to sue. Matrisciana gloats over the decision.

N-U-T-T-B-A-L-L, nutball!

(The movie comes out in just over three weeks, and I CAN'T WAIT!)

Seeya, Marc.   I've been lax in keeping up with news from home over the last week or so, but via Jonno I've learned that my fellow New Orleanians said a resounding "Nuh uh, bra" to Mayor Marc Morial's attempt to amend the city charter to overturn term limits and declined allow him to run for a third term.

Like Jonno (by the way, happy boit-day, hawt!) I also found Morial's attempt to be off-putting, but hearing of the horrendous commercials he'd been running turned my stomach (and probably those of many New Orleanians as well) -- extolling the virtues of "stability in these uncertain times" with flags waving in the background? Faire le barph.

Shiny! New!   Finally ... a new issue of Blair magazine has hit the virtual stands. It's Ye Olde Fantasy Issue, beautifully designed and funny as ever.

"He never met a person that he didn't Love."   Rev. Howard Finster, well-known American folk artist, died yesterday of heart failure, aged 84.

<voice="Comic Store Guy">Worst concert ... ever.</voice>   Apparently the Michael Jackson-organized all-day "United We Stand" benefit concert at RFK Stadium on Sunday was an unmitigated disaster, with interminable delays, bad sound, insufficient food and a headlining performance by Jackson that was reportedly "as showy, egocentric and craven as you could imagine".

Jackson seems to be on the verge of personal and professional implosion, beginning with most of the pop stars announced to sing in his "We Are The World"-like new benefit song "What More Can I Give?" pulling out of the project. His new single was knocked off the top of the UK charts by the likes of Kylie Minogue (how embarrassing), and concerts at Madison Square Garden where many audience members "booed, slow-handclapped and eventually walked out." Oh dear. I suggest quiet retirement, where he can live off his millions out-of-sight for the rest of his life.

What now?   Freeman Dyson makes some comparisons between The Current Situation and the situation in Europe 87 years ago:

The day after the disaster, I had lunch with an Austrian friend. He talked about the events of July 1914 after the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. Many people in the Austrian government, including the Emperor, felt that this act of terrorism should be handled diplomatically. But the newspapers were screaming for war against Serbia, using the same rhetoric that we hear today. The Serbian government is sheltering the terrorists and must be punished. The world must know that the Austro Hungarian Empire is a great power and capable of defending its interests. Since we can't make war on the terrorists, we must make war on Serbia for helping the terrorists. This barrage of patriotic frenzy in the newspapers continued for four weeks, and finally pushed the government to take the disastrous steps that led to the outbreak of World War One at the end of July. In many ways, our present state of mind is uncomfortably similar to July 1914 in Vienna.


His first and last paragraphs make wonderful sense, but in the middle he goes a little off the deep end; think the "Thank you, Adolf!" scene from John Boorman's "Hope and Glory", except he's a sullen teenager instead of a cute grade-schooler.

  Monday, October 22, 2001
They Could Have Been Hits: One Thousand Years of Also-Rans.   Wes and I decided that we were among the luckiest people on the planet last Friday night, listening to Richard Thompson perform the show of the above title at the Getty Museum. For free, no less.

Here's what he had to say in this year's program:

We had great fun last year -- possibly at the expense of the audience -- with our show "One Thousand Years of Popular Music", so I thought something similar might be appropriate this time. Someone paid me the backhanded compliment of declaring that the show did not lack for ambition; I have taken this stinging rebuke somewhat to heart, in spite of the snappy title, we will limit ourselves to a mere nine hundred years of Western musical history.

I feel a kindly service has been performed to the audience in skipping over the heavy moralizing of Saint Godric (eleventh century), and we commence our odyssey with good old "Anon", working our way up to the latter-day troubadours of the twenty-first century. On our journey, we shall pass through moods blithe and troubled, bawdy and sacred. As I am unqualified to sing 90 percent of the music on show, let me stress here that thet songs are intended to be the stars this evening; as fashions change and the baby gets thrown out with the bath water, we forget how appealing some of the old stuff can be.

Bear with me this evening if I try to find a few selections that reflect on recent tragedies -- for the good of my own heart I need to express some thoughts of patriotism, spiritual uplift and human values. I hope you will join in as the mood takes you.

Best wishes,
Richard Thompson

Last year he did it completely solo, but this year had a couple of friends helping him out -- singer and songwriter Judith Owen on vocals, and on percussion ... John Densmore (!), who led Richard out from backstage beating on a small hand drum.

Here's the set list, which I mostly remembered (geez, how could I forget this show?), with some confirmation of titles from Richard's sound man:

o   "Worlds Blis Ne Last" - a 12th Century song in pre-Chaucerian Old English, with Richard on guitar and John on hand percussion; they walked on stage to the beat of the drum and went right into the song, whose lyrics were barely recognizable as English, if that.

o   "So Ben Mi Ca Bon Tempo" - a rather catchy song in medieval Italian by 16th Century composer Orazio Vecchi

o   "Bonnie St. Johnstone" - a genuinely creepy Scottish murder ballad about a woman who gave birth to twins in the forest, murdered them, and was later condemned to hell by the ghosts of her children

o   "When I Am Laid In Earth" - a song by Henry Purcell, sung by Judith

o   "A-Beggin' I Will Go" - described by Richard as an "unbelievably old" song which I actually knew from a Scottish version called "Tae the Beggin' I Will Go" done by The Tannahill Weavers

o   "Blackleg Miner" - a song about strike-breakers from the England's Industrial Age

o   "Shenandoah" - a terrific rendition of an old American favorite of mine

o   "I Live in Trafalgar Square" - a ditty from the English music hall days

o   "Why Have My Loved Ones Gone?" - by Stephen Foster

o   "There Is Beauty In The Bellow Of The Blast" - from "The Mikado", by Gilbert & Sullivan (!), which Richard and Judith sang together (Wes said, "That's a lot more difficult than it sounds", and it sounded pretty damned difficult to me.)

o   "Old Rockin' Chair/Orange Coloured Sky" - from Hoagy Carmichael

o   "Cry Me A River" - a big hit for Julie London in 1955, sung by Judith

o   "Hobo Bill's Last Ride" - from Jimmie Rodgers, "The Singing Brakeman" and one of the fathers of country music

o   "A Fool (Such As I)" - from Elvis Presley, but only a snippet thereof

o   "A Legal Matter" - one of the less well-known songs from The Who, written (of course) by Pete Townshend

o   "Tempted" - by Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford of Squeeze ("One of my favorite bands of the last 10, 20, 30, 40 years," said Richard)

o   "Kiss" - by The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known as Prince But Now Once Again Known As Prince, to finish up the main set.

o   Richard, John and Judith came back for an encore of "You'll Never Walk Alone", from "Carousel" by Rogers and Hammerstein.

It was phenomenally, staggeringly good. I really, really hope that this ends being released as one of Richard's "Beat the Bootleggers" albums. This was too good only to have been heard by the few hundred people in attendance.

Bizarre email of the day.  

From: walter c______ <bolts*****>
To: Chuck Taggart
Date: 19 Oct 2001 19:13:02 -0000
Subject: race mixing

question.what percentage of whites have blood in their background in lousiana.

I think I can state with complete confidence that 100% of whites in Louisiana have blood in their background.

(Jeezus Gawd.)

10 Reasons to stop bombing Afghanistan.   Something to think about, from AlterNet:

Despite almost universal agreement that America "needs to do something" in response to terrorism, our heavy bombing of Afghanistan increasingly looks like a bad idea. While virtually all of us feel that strong steps should be taken to apprehend anyone behind the massive murders on September 11, when you add up all the facts, the pulverizing of a battered country just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Instead, by bombing Afghanistan, we are ...

1. Creating new terrorists...
2. Generating refugees...
3. Ushering in a regime as bad as the Taliban...
4. Increasing drug flow from Central Asia...
5. Aiming at the wrong target...

[more, including explanations of the above plus 6-10]

  Friday, October 19, 2001
A good week for music.   Monday, Wednesday and now Friday. It's been a while since I've seen three shows in one week.

Wednesday night The Waterboys played at The El Rey Theatre, and were as amazing as I expected. Steve Wickham, the fiddle and mandolin player who joined during the "Fisherman's Blues" era is back in the band again, and I was happy to see him there. Although they didn't sound as heavily Irish-influenced as the days when he was with them before, they sounded great, and played songs that ranged throughout the history of the band.

The big surprise was the opening act.

Tom McRae.   I was a little late to the Waterboys show and got there once the opening act had started. It was one young guy with an acoustic guitar, and another young guy with a cello. I must confess that I didn't rush there, because more often than not the opening band sucks (unfair, but mostly true). As his sings began to catch my ear, I wandered closer and closer to the stage until I was right up at the guard rail. This guy was really good, amazingly good. A sweet tenor but sharp, cutting through the theatre all the way to the back. Gorgeous but sad songs (gorgeous singer, for that matter), and that cello ... man, what a perfect touch. (I love the cello.) You couldn't really call it folk, but it wasn't really rock either. Just excellent songs, beautifully sung.

Finally he thanked the audience, saying it was great that they stood there and really listened. Then he said, "Sod the P.A.," and invited everyone to come up to the front of the stage and listen to him play unamplified. He did a terrific song called "Language of Fools". You could have heard a pin drop in that theatre. It was one of those magical musical moments you don't get all that often.

His name is Tom McRae. His new album is self-titled, has been out in the U.K. and the rest of Europe since last year on db records and was released in the U.S. in August on Arista. Go get it.

Tonight.   At The Getty Museum, singer/songwriter/guitarist Richard Thompson performs his second concert entitled "One Thousand Years of Popular Music".

"Some of tonight's selections would be considered folk, some court music, some close to classical, and as we reach the twentieth century and the lines become confused, just Music, under the big umbrella of Popular. Troubadours, minstrels, traveling dance bands, all disseminated popular music from early times. Sir Philip Sidney learned ballads from a blind fiddler, Oliver Goldsmith from a milkmaid; Samuel Pepys delighted in a widespread song like 'Barbara Allen' as much as any sailor or farmer. The most unlikely songs turn up five hundred years late in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and many dance tunes would cross all class and geographic boundaries of Europe. Thomas Hardy's descriptions of village life, when musical experience was limited to the church, the dance, the plowman's song, and perhaps the family piano, show the intensity of pleasure derived form musical opportunity before the gramophone age."
I had to miss the last one (and I'm still kicking myself in the head over that). I ain't missin' this one. It's been "sold out" (well, it's free, but you have to have a reservation) for ages, but folks at the Getty's auditorium told us that there's an average 20% no-show rate at their shows, so it may be possible to get in. Call the Getty at (310) 440-7300 to see if there's been a cancellation, or just show up and wait in the standby line. Worth the risk, and if you don't get in go wander around the museum for a while. You can't lose!

Dr. Laura makes a new enemy.   As if grievously millions of gay men and lesbians wasn't enough, "Dr." Laura Schlessinger now takes on the entire state of New Jersey. Methinks she can expect a visit from Paulie and Silvio soon.

Evil Evildoers Of Evil.   From Mark Morford's "Morning Fix" column in this morning's SF Gate from the San Francisco Chronicle:

How to feel calmly patriotic and yet not the slightest bit reassured by Bush & Co.

This much is true: It really is possible to love your country and value your freedoms and still believe the government is full of fools and prevaricators and BS artists and Dick Cheney. Really.

It is still possible to feel warmly patriotic in personal and important ways and yet believe the military and the generals and the war machine do not have your best interests at heart and really couldn't care less what those interests are anyway but thank you for sharing now please sit down and do as we tell you and by the way, thanks for all the flags and the money.

And it is still possible to feel unified and spiritually connected to all that is good and righteous about your generally nonviolent Americanism -- you know, wine and sex and good music, large dogs and literature and clean water and tongue kissing in the streets -- and still be depressed when our famously nonintellectual president talks to the country like we're all five years old and heavily dosed on Ritalin.

When Bush employs phrases like "bring the evildoers to justice" over and over, 17 times in one speech alone, and he furrows his brow like a serious Muppet and offers carefully scripted reassurances deliberately lacking in polysyllabism and detailed explanation because that would be, you know, complicated.

When he delivers very earnest speeches he had no part in writing, and when he is forced to speak extemporaneously, sans script or TelePrompTer, and is reduced to simplistic good-guy/bad-guy platitudes and flustered, rapid blinking, and who cannot for the life of him articulate a complex idea, some sort of nuanced elucidation of our nation's motives and positioning, that contains more than one possible level of meaning.

But perhaps that's too harsh. Unfair. He's the president, after all. He is a Good Man. He's our leader right now, he's doing his best and he's all we've got. This is our rallying cry, our motto: He's all we've got. There's your bumper sticker. And there he is.


There is more than one way to respond to the horror of Sept. 11. And there is more than one kind of patriotism. We forget this. You do not have to rally around Bush and tolerate Cheney's chthonic creepiness and wave a frantic flag and believe every scripted half-truth that drizzles out of the Pentagon, applaud the nonstop attacks on an already demolished nation. Pro-America does not mean pro-war. Or pro-Bush. Or anti-Afghanistan. Or pro-little-flags-on-SUV-antennas.

It means thinking independently and getting better informed and filtering your news very carefully and realizing that just because one version of the American aggro attitude is currently being ramrodded down society's throat doesn't mean you have to swallow.


Something to think about.

  Thursday, October 18, 2001
I'm Trying to Break Your Heart.   There's a really cool-looking in-progress 16mm black-and-white documentary film about Wilco, which follows the band through the making of their newest album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and "shows the conflict that arises when a band creates an artistic, challenging and deep record while signed to a record company in the midst of a giant corporate takeover."

The site also says that the film is currently about halfway complete, and the filmmakers are seeking financing and distribution through independent means. "Neither Wilco nor their record company is financially involved in the film, making it a true documentary, rather than a glorified music video or electronic press kit."

Sounds great. Could it be a "Let It Be" for the 21st Century? (Except in this case the band doesn't break up, and instead of their swan song are making what's perhaps their biggest artistic breakthrough album.)

Thanks to Peter Abraham of Fusion Films for the heads-up on this!

  Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Sammy LeBlanc, R.I.P.   One of the venerable old waiters at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans has died. I never had the pleasure of being served by Sammy, but I have the utmos respect for people in his profession, particularly those with a truly professional attitude.

I come across a lot of waiters in Los Angeles who don't care about it, who hate it, and who are just doing it until they sell that screenplay/get that part/get their reel seen. Well, you know what? I don't want a waiter who's "just doing it because he/she has to" unless they take their jobs seriously. It's a serious, honorable job. There's absolutely nothing wrong with serving someone, in using your professional skills to make sure your guests have a good time. A great restaurant experience (and even great food) can have its effect ruined by a bad waiter, therefore that makes having a good waiter one of the keys to a great restaurant experience. If you're a waiter, do a good job and be proud -- I appreciate what you do.

Tom Fitzmorris eulogized Sammy in yesterday's New Orleans Menu Daily:

I know I never had him wait on me, except once on a Tuesday night. Sammy LeBlanc, who passed away a few days ago, combined the qualities for which Antoine's' old waiters were celebrated. First, he had a total knowledge of the way his restaurant worked. He knew what was on in the kitchen and what was off, and hed never let a friend go the wrong way.

Second, he was a professional. He knew that his job was to serve, and to make certain that the people he served were made to feel welcome and having a good time. He had no need to impress anyone, either with his own great skills or with the restaurant itself.

Finally, he was a real personality. All those people who were Sammy regulars thought of him as a friend. In these days when restaurant managers like to have everything codified and consistent, guys like Sammy are rare. And welcome to find. We will not soon again see his like.

So much for academic freedom.   (Or, "No hard rock, please ... we're Catholic academicians.")

From the Bergen County Record: "Seton Hall University has ordered its award-winning radio station, WSOU-FM, to abandon its signature music style -- hard rock and heavy metal for the past 15 years -- and seek a format that better reflects 'the diversity and the values of the university.'"

The surprise announcement has infuriated WSOU staff members, who said their policy in recent years has been to keep the most offensive lyrics and bands -- those that might be considered anti-religious or obscene -- off the Catholic university station.

Susan Diamond, Seton Hall's assistant vice president for university relations, said the tone of hard rock music has deteriorated over the years. "The tone and lyrics and the genre is different than 15 years ago," she said. "It's a matter of the acceptability of that in a faith-based institution."

She said heavy metal music would not be banned from the station, but could not be the station's signature music. The change has been been under discussion for some time, she said.

WSOU staff members disagreed, saying they were abruptly asked to change the format Sept. 10, when University Provost Mel Shay read and delivered to them a letter from the executive cabinet of the university, informing them that a new format must be in place by Jan. 2.

The message said the heavy metal format "is inconsistent with Seton Hall's mission, because much of the genre contains lyrics many in our community find offensive. As a faith-based institution, Seton Hall seeks to have programming that is consistent with its values. Lyrics that speak of hatred or degrade any group of people are unacceptable."

Apparently no allegedly objectionable lyrics were actually quoted by university officials. (Via Obscure Store)

Bunk's Blues.   The "Masters of Louisiana Music" column in this month's OffBeat profiles jazz cornetist Bunk Johnson (1879 or '89 - 1949). It's good to read more about his life, as I'm a big fan of his music (still got a couple of CDs to hunt down, though).

The word "legend" is thrown around today in American music vernacular almost as freely as the term "Creole" is in New Orleans. People use the word legend to describe a lot of non-legends, despite being often great and important people. Legend means something from the past, historical and likely shrouded in the unknown. If any New Orleans jazz musician fits that description it is surely the enigmatic cornet player named Bunk Johnson. He has been called a pioneer, liar and a drunk while receiving heavenly praise by his fans and devilish criticism by his foes.


Ixnay on the rusadercay, Ubyaday...   An interesting article from ABC News on how the September 11 attacks are redefining the use of language in America. (Via AWAD)

  Tuesday, October 15, 2001
Hit by a train!   But in a good way.

The Old 97s were fantastic last night, of course. Lots of Murry songs, which is a good thing (including covers of Merle Haggard and Bill Monroe, to name but two), Ken was smokin', Philip kept the backbeat beautifully, and Rhett ... well, Rhett. A great songwriter, and a great performer -- passionate and full of fun and sweaty and slinky and incredibly sexy. We had a blast.

Speaking of Rhett...   On a more somber note, here's a piece he sent in to Rolling Stone's October 25th issue, which I found as the most recent entry in the News section of The '97s website. I know we're probably all sick of anecdotes like this, but when it comes from one of my favorite musicians, it hits just a little bit closer to home.

My girlfriend and I live in an apartment three blocks from the World Trade Center. The day before it happened, I sat in the plaza at the base of the Towers, working on this really beautiful song called "Love Bird." And it was such a beautiful day--the blue sky and the Towers, and all the people walking to and from work. I finished it at three in the morning in our apartment. Then we went to bed.

Erica and I were still asleep when the phone started ringing, and friends were saying that planes had crashed into the Towers. They were both burning, flames shooting out. I heard a man screaming and looked up, and there he was, falling. It was like he was swimming through the air, his tie flapping up around his head. And he landed on the median just in front of our grocery store. Firefighters immediately surrounded him, pushed him onto a gurney and carried him off. There are a lot of images I don't think I'll ever be able to erase, but that was the worst.

We discussed the potential for the buildings to collapse, and both of us thought, There's no way! I started to make a bowl of cereal. Then we heard the first tower go down.

Smoke wrapped around from either side of the window, as if it were arms wrapping around our window, and the view disappeared. That was the moment when everything stopped being normal. We ran out our door. We were both wearing sandals. We abandoned our cell phones and ran down fifteen flights to the lobby, and it was full of smoke. There were bloody people pouring into it.

The building was filling up with smoke, soot and dust. We were breathing in chunks. Erica and I went down the staircase and pushed the door open. We walked out, and it was knee-deep in dust and rubble; you got the sense that people were underneath it. And there was no one anywhere. We were running.

When we got four blocks away, the second tower collapsed. Little smoking pieces of metal and glass started raining down on us. And we were in a river of people running alongside the East River. The moment I don't think I'm ever going to erase is when Erica looked back at me and looked up at the tower, and I could see her looking at her own death. It's hard not to sound melodramatic, but it was the kind of terror that I've never seen on anybody's face, especially not on my most loved one. You just feel so powerless.

We used to joke, because the Wall Street area after six o'clock is like a graveyard. And now our whole neighborhood is a fucking graveyard. I don't think we'll ever spend a night there again. -- Rhett Miller of Old 97's

The Best of L.A. continues.   This is, I think, my favorite piece of Louie's from the LA Weekly's "Best of L.A. 2001" issue (unlike the previous two, this one and many others are actually in there; look for this one under "The Human Element"; scroll down a bit). Those of you who are fans of the gentleman in question will no doubt agree.

Mr. Howser's Neighborhood

Are you depressed? Here's a small test:  Grin wildly and say the following as loudly as you can:  "Oh my gosh!" "They're rolling it on a pipe!" "Looks like a bora [sic] constrictor!" "Now here's your famous curtain-a-chocolate I been hearin' about all day!" Don't you feel better? I do.

That was Huell Howser interfacing with workers at a candy factory. It seems like yesterday, but it's been more than 10 years, and I still remember what I thought when I first laid eyes on him:  "Who the hell is this guy, and what the hell is he doing in my TV?" With his Gomer-Pyle-comes-alive way with everything fromtrains to pastries, I found it easy to turn down the volume as soon as he said "Ha" (hi, in Huellspeak).

All of this, of course, was before the "unrest." In the wake of Rodney King, when the local and national media found they could make a healthy living by slandering our city, Howser emerged as a herald of the real. A believer in the human soul, he was, and is, someone willing to go into the unknown neighborhoods just to talk to people, all kinds of people, looking for the ignored good news. Through his early Videolog, current Visiting... With Huell Howser and expansive California's Gold, whether interviewing the otherwise invisible working class, traversing a forgotten pass or giving a voice to our elders, Howser had held up a mirror to our collective self, seeming to say, "Like it or not, this is who you are and how you look. And if you don't believe it now, you'll believe it later:  You're beautiful." And let us not omit the revered Luis "Louie" Fuerte, Huell's sidekick and master of the smooth and restrained, no-bullshit hand-held camera (sadly, now in the process of retiring from the shows). They have been all over the Cali map lately, but Huell and Louie are our homeboys. (Note:  If the above test doesn't work for you, you're ... goth.)

-- L. Meza

Visiting is shown on KCET and KLCS in Los Angeles. California's Gold is shown all over the state on public television. Check local listings.

Questo espresso è terribile! Prepararsi per morire!   I know they're very particular in Italy about the quality of their coffee. Maybe she served him instant; still, I do think this reaction was ... um, overkill.

Amusing email of the day.   From Lemuel, to whom I can't write back because he didn't include a return address:

I was going to tell some friends the reciept for gar balls, but I never wrote it down. I knew it would be on your site, it wasn't.
Um ... well, quite obviously you didn't know, did you?! (All ya gotta do is go to Google and enter "gar balls", podna; you'll have all the recipes you need.)

Which reminds me ... I get a lot of people asking me for certain recipes, many of which aren't even in Louisiana cuisine (this tells me they didn't use the internal search engine which is linked from every page). When I write them back to tell them that I don't have it, and to use a search engine, a lot of them get mad ("Thanks ... FOR NOTHING!" said one woman the other day.) Jeez. What do you do with people like that?

Abusive emails of the day.   I have a policy statement on the site that says if you send me abusive email, I'll probably post it. Here we go ...

"Rob" No-Last-name writes from

You seem to be well versed and very accomplished in matters of food.
As for the new subway cut, you can still get it cut the old way.
What a waste of time all this whining is. Youre the turlkey
GET A LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Okay ... starts nice, then I wonder what he's talking about (subway cut?), then I wonder "what whining?", then ... he's a wingnut. It took me a minute, but I then remembered a little piece of food criticism I had dashed off years ago, and only had one little link to it from Gawd knows where on the site. I criticized Subway sandwiches for tasting bad, and started off with the fact that they don't even know how to cut their bread, with that little plug taken out of the top. Well, they finally started cutting it like a regular sandwich, but you know what? They still taste terrible.

My only question is ... "turlkey"?

Then later this morning, this delightful little epistle arrived from Miss Rachel Olson,, with the subject line "EEEEEE":

You are loathed by many. Go waste yourself, Pere Ubu.

---belle apsinthion

"Waste myself"? Eat green shit, madam!

Hmm. Where to ? Well, presumably she fancies herself an "absintheur", using a mishmash of French and Greek to refer to herself as a "beautiful absinthe drinker". She may be the latter, but she's certainly not the former. Beautiful people don't encourage others to kill themselves for trivial reasons.

It's ironic that she attempts to insult by invoking Alfred Jarry, who drank himself to death on absinthe at the age of 34 (dying of tubercular meningitis he had contracted after recovering from a long alcoholic jag). Presumably she objects to the page where, sick of unsolicited dopey emails from people who think absinthe is a drug and not merely an interesting spirit and from idiots who think they can get high from drinking toxic wormwood oil, I posted the emails and commented on the senders. Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Oh well. All I have to say to her is ... "MERDRE!"

Speaking of Jarry and other French artists ... I always loved how the French used to react to works of art that scandalized them. From Le sacre du printemps to Un chien andalou to Ubu Roi (from the first word uttered on stage during the play, no less) -- they'd start a riot and trash the theatre. Gotta love that.

And again with the French.   Morford's commentary from "The Morning Fix" was more interesting than the article to which it refers, actually:

Again with the Mata Hari

A Dutch group has asked France to rehabilitate the reputation of Mata Hari, saying the exotic dancer executed by a firing squad in 1917 as a German spy was framed. France told the Dutch group to get a life and quit bothering it because it was busy eating a bowl of soup and smoking. But the Dutch group kept at it, whining and prodding over some rather ridiculous historical footnote no one really cares about anymore except a bunch of weird octogenarian Dutch exotic stripper fans, until France got sick and tired of all the complaining and the pleading and very politely asked the Dutch group to shut the hell up already or it would snuff out its Gitane on its quaint little windmill and smack those adorable little clogs into next week.

My favorite line:  "France told the Dutch group to get a life and quit bothering it because it was busy eating a bowl of soup and smoking." Hee heeee.

  Monday, October 15, 2001
$51,171!!   That's the ten-day total for the KCSN Fall 2001 Pledge Drive, which ended last night. It's the second-biggest total ever for KCSN, and the best we've ever done in the fall.

This is an amazing total, particularly considering how the drive was hampered by the Current Situation. Everybody at the station did a fantastic job, but the greatest thanks go to you, the KCSN listener and subscriber (if you are one, that is!). Thanks very, very much!

Wilco's Dark Victory.   Here's a terrific article from the Chicago Tribune on Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, and their newest as-yet-unreleased album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, already one of the best of the year even though you can't buy it yet. (You can hear the whole thing in streaming Quicktime audio from their website.)

Jeff Tweedy is minutes from going on stage to perform a solo concert, armed only with his acoustic guitar, a harmonica and some of the best songs anyone has written in the last decade. He has a supportive wife, two children who adore him and a modest home on the Northwest Side with two cars in the driveway, and his band Wilco is as respected as any in the land.

But at the moment none of that matters, because the 34-year-old singer is having a breakdown backstage.


Drive to Mulholland ... soon.   David Lynch's new film "Mulholland Drive" is absolutely amazing, hypnotic, hallucinatory, surreal, mysterious, funny, creepy and much more. Both Wes and I thought that we could immediately have sat through it again, just to try to catch everything that's going on. See it (twice, if you can). There's an excellent critical review by Brent Simon in Entertainment Today, a free L.A. entertainment weekly. Careful, though -- there are a couple of spoilers, so read this afterward; in the meantime there's also a good feature article which doesn't give anything away. (Not to condescend to ET, but with a review of that quality Simon should really be writing for the L.A. Times, instead of some of the hacks that do.)

Quote of the day.   "To me, music is love, and I need it in my life just as much as they need it in theirs."

-- Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, on fans of their music.

  Sunday, October 14, 2001
Happy birthday, Mom!   (Well, that's pretty self-explanatory.)

Happy birthday, Lou!   (Ditto. (Hi, Charlotte!))

  Saturday, October 13, 2001
Gawd bless Batboy, the Space Alien, and the talking bears in Yellowstone.   The Washington Post sings the praises of America's finest and funniest weekly after The Onion, none other than the Weekly World News, "America's best purveyor of social satire ... disguised as a sleazy tabloid." (via FMH)

My friend George's favorite WWN headine ever: COUPLE CHASED FROM YELLOWSTONE PARK BY TALKING BEAR! - Bears uprooted trees, threw them at the couple and bellowed, "Get out of my park!" My favorite was: SIAMESE TWINS TO FACE FIRING SQUAD! - One of them killed, his innocent brother protests! Gotta love it.

The Best of L.A. continues.   Here's the other one of Louie's pieces that didn't make it into this year's LA Weekly "Best of L.A." issue:

There was a time in the history of our city when the community had to gather its strength and pull together to serve those in need. Primarily working class endeavors, religious and not, orphanages emerged for the purpose of caring for children with no other recourse. Orphans, "half-orphans," the neglected, abandoned and abused all found solace in these institutions which, it should be needless to say, were not evil, dark and dank places, nor were they rife with abuse. (Among surviving former residents and staff of one such place, the memory of warmth and love is pervasive).

Five facilities surviving from that time still serve children and youth in need of home and education. Optimist Youth Homes and Family Services, originating as the 'Strickland Home for Boys' in 1906, has grown into a multi-program provider for both boys and girls. Hillsides Home For Children, just over the border in Pasadena, began its history as 'The Episcopal Home for Children' in 1913. Hollygrove in Hollywood, began as 'The Los Angeles Orphans' Home Society' in 1880. Vista Del Mar in west Los Angeles, originated as the 'Jewish Orphans' Home,' while Maryvale started as the 'Los Angeles Orphan Asylum,' in 1856, the city's first orphanage. These organizations have evolved into private non-profit organizations which house and serve children, with accredited schools on the premises and around-the-clock staffs. Donations and volunteers are welcome.

-- L. Meza

  Friday, October 12, 2001
Hooray! Thanks!   I was thrilled with the pledge drive results last night. It's been a rough week, lots of bad timing all around (apparently lots of people quit listening to the radio when we started bombing Afghanistan), but a whole bunch of great people came through last night and helped us raise about $1,000 for KCSN (which means $200 for the Red Cross, too). Nancy, Mary, John, Cliff, Don, Sean, Florence, Jennifer and everyone else who pledged ... y'all delivered. Thank you!

Savoys at the Getty.   The Savoy Family Cajun Band, from Eunice, Louisiana, will be performing tonight at the theatre at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. This will be a fairly rare opportunity to see this particular lineup, as they don't make it out here all that often.

The group consists of legendary Cajun accordionist and accordion-builder Marc Savoy, his wife Ann (author of the definitive tome Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People) on guitar and vocals, and their songs Joël on fiddle and bass, and Wilson on keyboards. They're all brilliant musicians, and express more strongly than just about anyone I've ever seen the sheer joy of playing the traditional music of one's home culture. (By the way, their name is pronounced, "SAH-vwah", not "sa-VOY".)

The event is free, and ... um, well, has actually been quite sold out for a while now. However, from what I've heard, they're getting a few cancellations every day, so call to check and see if any seats and parking spots are still available -- (310) 440-7300.

The life of Reilly.   This is a couple of weeks overdue, but I strongly urge everyone within reasonable travelling distance of New York to head to the Irish Repertory Theatre in New York to see Tony Award-winning actor and acclaimed stage director Charles Nelson Reilly's one-man show, "Save It For The Stage: The Life of Reilly", which opened there on October 7.

Wes and I saw it last year at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, and to say it was fabulous would be quite the understatement. Alternately touching and fascinating, and always hilariously funny, Reilly's show is a complete delight, and could be just the thing for New Yorkers who might just need a few laughs nowadays. Go see it.

Best of L.A.   The LA Weekly have just released the 2001 edition of their annual "Best of L.A." issue, with lots of tasty delights within.

My good friend Luis Meza, who's an outstanding writer, had several pieces published in this issue, but unfortunately the editor wasn't able to get them all into the issue. Louie was kind enough to send those along, so we'll feature the missing pieces today and tomorrow, and later on we'll scroll through some of the other pieces that did make it into the issue (which is, as usual, a keeper).

A short ride for the aging or less-experienced skater.

There shouldn't be a good reason for a man in his thirties to be riding a skateboard on a Sunday at midnight, but there's a long and sloping hill that is graced by a street with butter-smooth pavement nearby. I live down at the bottom beyond the hill itself a few blocks over, too close to drive but too far to walk.

My skateboard is always a good idea. It's a long board painted with many big and bright stars in a dark blue streaming sky, a rolling constellation, the night itself on wheels. On to the desolate street with five fast and powerful strokes on blacktop, I settle in for the ride as I pass the lip and begin the descent on a street-hill that bisects Franklin High, my old high school which, as history points out, also happened to be Gene-startrek-Roddenbery's.

I glide on the dark-blue sky and lustrous stars. They carry me down, fast, picking up more and more speed until I arrive at the liminal stage of something, a point of full commitment when to attempt a slow-down or a stop is to risk serious injury. Here, speed and balance itself are balanced and I get a chill, not from the wind but from the feeling that flight is imminent. A speed-rush. In those milliseconds of grace, I think back beyond my own memory and find him still in our midst pointing to the future he showed us. When he walked the grounds here carrying a guitar or when he dodged the day at the show, I wonder if he knew then, that his city would one day come close to resembling his starship. Did he know he would implicitly pose our most central questions? My own ship waits for me to start the esses, the weighting and un-weighting which are as subtle as the flight. At the bottom I glide for two blocks before the grade slows me down safely, and I push on, home.

-- L. Meza

Quote of the day.   "This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."

-- Leonard Bernstein

  Thursday, October 11, 2001
Pledge for "Down Home" tonight!   Okay, if you've been listening to the show ... all we ask is that you become a member of the station. Easy!

The number to call is (818) 677-5276, 677-KCSN. The Pledge Drive is on, and so far so good ... but it's not over yet, and we still need your help.

There'll be no formal playlist for tonight's show, but we'll be featuring lots of music from our various CD premia, including the new albums from Buddy & Julie Miller, Gillian Welch, and Thad Cockrell.

We'll also be featuring tracks from the amazing new "American Roots Music" 4-CD box set, which will accompany the upcoming four-part PBS documentary. It covers the range of American music from old-time and early country to folk and the folk revival, blues early and modern, bluegrass, gospel, Cajun, Tex-Mex, Native American sounds and much more. Jimmie Rodgers, Uncle Dave Macon, Bob Wills, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Pete Seeger, Ralph Stanley, Bessie Smith, Charley Patton, Son House, Howlin' Wolf, Keb' Mo', Mahalia Jackson, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Bob Dylan, Dewey Balfa, Marc and Ann Savoy, Lydia Mendoza, Flaco Jimenez, Mingo Saldivar ... the list goes on and on.

It's an extraordinary collection, and we'd be pleased as punch to send it to you as our thanks for your gift of $12.50 a month on your credit card.

An active membership to KCSN is just $10 a month on your credit card, and you'll be doing your part to keep a great radio station on the air, a musical oasis that needs your support to stay alive. Remember that all new and lapsed members will have their pledges matched dollar-for-dollar by a wonderful but anonymous benefactor, so if you're a new or lapsed member your pledge will be worth double.

Also remember that we're giving 20% of our proceeds from this drive to the American Red Cross, so by supporting KCSN you're also helping your fellow human beings in this time of crisis.

If you're a "Down Home" fan, I'd be much obliged if you'd call during my show tonight; it'll make me look purty to the bean counters! The number once again is (818) 677-5276, 677-KCSN. Of course, you can call any time it's convenient, or visit our web site at (just tell 'em you like "Down Home"!). Thanks!

  Wednesday, October 10, 2001
It's heeeeeeeere!   Months of waiting finally over, I went to Laser Blazer and picked up the brand-new DVD box set of "The Godfather Collection". I also stayed up way too late last night looking at the stuff on the extras disc. It's all fantastic.

I skipped a bit through the disc of Part I and listened to a bit of Coppola's commentary, which is excellent. I'll listen to the whole thing soon, but in my preliminary scan I learned that the infamous line, "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." was improvised on the spot by Richard Castellano, who played Clemenza.

Okay so, I wanna throw a "Godfather" party soon. We'll have a bunch of people over, show both movies, drink lots of red wine and anisette, and I'll cook spaghetti and meatballs according to Clemenza's recipe.

"Hey, come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for twenty guys someday. You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it, you make sure it doesn't stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs, eh? ... And a little bit o' wine. An' a little bit o' sugar, and that's my trick."
Why don't you cut the crap? I got more important things for you to do. (Whoops, sorry...)

Anyway, we'll have spaghetti with meatballs and sausage, and, of course, for dessert ... cannoli.

Brown? Madonn'!   One other bit I caught from the commentary -- Coppola said that he had wanted to get an authentic recipe into the movie, at least as best as he could squeeze in. He wrote the first draft of the above scene and sent it to Mario Puzo to see what he thought.

Puzo sent the scene back, full of red lines crossing out dialogue. In the margin he had scribbled, "Mobsters don't brown. Mobsters fry."

  Tuesday, October 9, 2001
Oldthink doubleplusungood.   Canada's Globe and Mail writes of the American war on dissent, noting that "as Americans unite behind their flag, they are in no mood to tolerate criticism ... but are they sacrificing the very freedom they're defending?" (Via Orwell Today)

Dissent has all but disappeared.

"It's all preposterous," [writer Susan] Sontag said this week. "I'm stunned by the reaction, because it tells something about the mood of the country. I find that prevalence of group-think absolutely extraordinary. I find it extraordinary that the press secretary of the President of the United States would say people have to watch what they say as well as what they do. That sends chills up and down my spine. If I take it seriously as a turn in the spirit of the country, I would be much more alarmed, but I hope that's not true.

"I just said something elementary and old-fashioned American. It's very depressing to see how scared people are to say anything except to read from this script. If I think that it is the beginning of a new age in which essentially freedom of speech is only something we afford in prosperous and calm times, then I would say that is the end of the United States of America being a country that I admire."

Don't be afraid to say what you think. (Just try not to say it around a redneck with a baseball bat.)

Arrrghh! EARWORMS!   With all the great tunes out there, why is is that "My Sharona" and Sammy Davis doing "The Candy Man" (or in my case, a horrible week with AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap") are the ones we get stuck in our heads, unwanted? The L. A. Times looks at the science behind the earworm.

Quote of the day.   "Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

-- Syme, specialist in Newspeak, from George Orwell's 1984

  Monday, October 8, 2001
Our poet laureate of the phantasmagoric.   From yesterday's Los Angeles Times Magazine, Harlan Ellison writes about Ray Bradbury and his new novel From the Dust Returned.

Steve, Guy and Townes!   There's a new album out called Together at the Bluebird Cafe, a live performance from 1995 with Steve Earle, Guy Clark, and Townes Van Zandt. Woohoo! I can't wait to pick this one up.

Have a listen to a bit of one track, Steve Earle's "My Old Friend The Blues, courtesy of Corrie, Jeff and all the other good folks at Miles of Music, your one-stop shop for, roots rock, rockabilly, pop and Americana. (Oddly enough, I first heard this song from The Proclaimers' cover on "Sunshine on Leith".

Incidentally, there's a pretty cool tribute album just out as well, called Poet: A Tribute to Townes Van Zandt, with a lot of really cool people doing oodles of Townes' great, great songs.

Flee.   Or ... from the sublime (above) to the ridiculous (below).

As a music lover, I can't quite wrap my mind around the assault to the senses offered by ... The Music of Senator Orrin Hatch.

He has nine albums for sale on his web site. He's written over 300 songs for one singer alone (the globally famous and widely heralded Janice Kapp Perry), not to mention countless others ... like the one he wrote for his friend Muhammad Ali, with the beautiful and lyrically poetic title of "The Different is the Difference". (Huh?)

Incidentally, the senator should fire whomever wrote the copy on his site. For example, regarding his new album "America United", the site says, "America United will be release (sic) shortly within a few weeks (sic). in responce (sic) to the terrorist attack in New York." Oh my.

Ice ice baby.   Ready for a nice holiday? How about heading up to Jukkasjärvi in northern Sweden for a stay at the Ice Hotel? It's built from scratch every year (since apparently it'd melt after April), and is entirely constructed of ice -- the walls, the rooms, the cinema, the chapel ... everything. The most intriguing area for me is the Absolut Ice Bar. While I must confess that I'm not a huge fan of Absolut vodka, I find this bit rather appealing: "Newly invented drinks based on Laplandic blueberry juice will be served out of specially designed glasses. They are made of ice, naturally, so there's no need for ice cubes!"

I'm a little skeptical, though. I don't like cold, and the space heater I'll inevitably want will melt our room. (Wes says, "No, silly ... just bundle up! It's all about layering! C'mon, reindeer skins!") I'm from New Orleans. To paraphrase my friend Robb, this means that to me, anything under 70°F is "cold", and anything under 60°F is "very cold". (Wouldn't mind a drink at that bar, though, sidling up to Markus Schenkenberg.) If you're adventurous, book a tour.

If you'd rather stick a little closer to home, there's an Ice Hotel in Québec, too. It's gotten good reviews, and they promise you'll stay warm, describing the hotel as working just like a giant Inuit igloo. Makes sense, I guess. Still sounds a little wacky for a boy from the swamp.

Don't be Microsoft's krill.   From Netsurfer Digest:  "When a major tech outlet says enough is enough, maybe it's time you said it too. Microsoft's latest scheme, forced upgrades of its products, has pushed ZDNet columnist Rupert Goodwins to push alternatives. He maintains that now that Microsoft has monopolized the market and saturated it with full-featured products, as it has by one means or another, the only way it can continue to bring in revenue is to harvest its captive market against its will, to treat it like a baleen whale treats krill. Pieces at USAToday and the BBC illustrate how the move will force Microsoft's customers to cough up even more money than they have; the Tech Report compares Microsoft's tactics to a mob shakedown. Meanwhile, US government lawyers are using velvet fists, state lawyers are still using iron, new hearings on penalties won't happen until next March, and Windows XP is due out Oct. 25. CNet is archiving the battle."

Microsoft mining domain name registries for spam phone calls.   I received the following phone call at work yesterday, about 11:30am.

Young woman:   Hello, can I speak to Chuck Taggart?

Me:   This is he.

Young woman:   Hi, I'm (so-and-so) and I'm calling on behalf of Microsoft. We'd like to acquaint you with our exciting new services--

Me:   Now why in the world would Microsoft be calling me?

Young woman:   (taken aback) ... uh, well, we're on a campaign to educate the public about our exciting new services, and I'd love to interest you in--

Me:   (already knowing the answer) Excuse me, how did you get this number?

Young woman:   Uh ... well, if you purchased a Microsoft product and registered it with us--

Me:   I have never purchased or registered a single Microsoft product in my life.

Young woman:   Uh ... well, we also use the Internet domain name registry and collect numbers from there, and--

Me:   AHA!

(I'm surprised she admitted it, actually.)

Young woman:   Uh ...

Me:   The Internet domain name registries are not there to provide Microsoft with phone numbers for spam solicitation calls.

Young woman:   Uh ... well, I don't think Microsoft goes out and gets them, they're given lists--

Me:   It is unethical for them to either accumulate or use such lists for the purposes of disturbing me with telephone spam!

Young woman:   Sir, I don't have anything to do with that, I'm just doing my job, so you really shouldn't yell at me about it.

Me:   I'm not yelling, I'm speaking in a completely conversational tone of voice. Of course I know that this isn't your fault, but I'm still going to tell you that what your employers are making you do is wrong, and it really pisses me off.

Young woman:   Look, I've had a really rough day, all right...

Me:   I'm sorry dear, I'm sure you have. You have a really crappy job, and I'm sorry about that too. But this is the reality of the situation. You've probably had a rough day because you've had a lot of people reacting to this call in the same way I have. Please pass this on to your supervisors -- it is unethical for Microsoft to misuse the InterNIC registry database for their own marketing purposes, and to the best of my knowledge the terms of use of these databases specifically prohibits such use. Do you understand? I insist that I be removed from this list and that you never call me again, and by law you must comply with this.

Young woman:   (haughtily) Okay fine ... well, if you don't want to know about how Microsoft is going to change the online world as we know it--

Me:   No I don't, because they're not, and at this rate I'll never purchase another Microsoft product or service at any time in my life. Goodbye.

I tried really hard not to be rude, because that woman really does have a crappy job. But when it's your job to do unethical things on behalf of your boss, this that are almost guaranteed to piss people off ... well, you have to expect this sort of thing, I guess. I was mad, but I was probably a lot nicer than most of the people she called that day. I've had little pissant webhosts do this to me before, and small-time outfits trying to sell me stuff, but never someone of the size of Microsoft. Their arrogance, already monstrous, grows daily. Really nice, ethical business practice there, don't you think? (So what else is new?)

  Friday, October 5, 2001
KCSN Pledge Drive starts today!   After the events of September 11, we wondered what to do about our upcoming fundraising drive. Eventually we decided that the pledge drive had to go on; to put it bluntly, KCSN needs the money or we go dark. We've got a huge amount of bills to pay, not to mention salaries. It's been really tough for small non-profits over the last few weeks. While everyone's been really fantastic with their donations to all the relief funds and agencies, it seems that a lot of the smaller charities and other organizations that rely on donations to which folks might normally have donated got lost in the shuffle.

We tried to think of a way to fundraise to keep our lights and transmitter on, but at the same time give something back to the community at large ... and we came up with this. Our pledge drive starts today, October 5, and goes through Sunday, October 14. KCSN will give 20% of the proceeds of our Fall 2001 pledge drive to the American Red Cross. If you donate $120, $24 goes to the Red Cross. It'll be a little more challenging for us, but it's a way we know we can make a difference, where we really become a community service.

We hope you'll think of KCSN as your musical refuge, your oasis. Music is the great healer, and any type of music -- be it classical, bluegrass, country, Latin, Cajun, Broadway, Irish, jazz, blues or folk -- can give you a few moments of tranquility and lift your spirits. We love music at KCSN, and we know you do too. If you've heard some music on KCSN this year and (especially in the past few weeks) that's brought you some joy, then please help keep the station alive.

We've got an even bigger incentive this year. An anonymous benefactor -- a marvelous, generous person -- has issued a challenge to anyone who hasn't yet become a member, or whose membership has lapsed. He will match every single pledge, dollar-for-dollar. If you give $100, it'll become $200. Now more than ever is the best time to support the Best of Public Radio! From today through October 14, call (818) 677-5267, 677-KCSN and pledge. Active membership is just $10 a month on your credit card, and your pledge will make a huge difference not only to KCSN, but to our neighbors on the East Coast.

Call anytime, but if you're a fan of Looka! and "Down Home", well ... I'd be much obliged if you'd call during my shift, next Thursday evening between 7:00 and 9:00pm Pacific time. You can also call and have them credit your pledge to "Down Home". Music lovers, keep this sanctuary on the air!

Last night's annotated "Down Home" playlist   is now online.

E-coustic session with Jay Farrar.   Here's a new online video interview with Jay, plus performances of "Barstow", "Feel Free" and "Voodoo Candle". Fire up your broadband connection and enjoy! (You'll need RealPlayer.)

"Would you like butter flavoring on that?"   When being asked this question by the kid at the movie theatre concession stand fromwhom you're ordering your popcorn, the answer is always "no". (If they say "butter" instead of "butter flavor" or "butter flavoring", always ask if it's real butter, which it isn't 99.9% of the time; if it isn't, the answer is also "no".)

I worked in a couple of movie theatres when I was in college, the Plaza Cinema 4 in New Orleans East, followed by the Village Aurora Cinema 6 in Algiers. (I don't think either of them are still in operation.) We learned what's in that slippery goop they put on the popcorn -- partially hydrogenated and winterized soybean oil, artificial color, artificial flavor, and a host of chemicals with multisyllabic names, including our favorite ... dimethylpolysiloxane, which is "added as an anti-foaming agent". At least our theatre chain was good about never calling it anything but "butter flavoring", but this stuff was about as bad for you as it possibly could be without actually being labelled as poison.

Now we learn that four factory workers in Jasper, Missouri need lung transplants due to the rare lung disease that they and many of their workmates have developed from breathing vapors from artificial butter flavoring.

Love and compassion.   Via Electrolite: The "Reverend" Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, "has made his contribution to national healing by asserting that public and private relief agencies should deny aid to the surviving gay partners of people killed in the events of September 11."

Groups such as the Red Cross "should be first giving priority to those widows who were at home with their babies and those widowers who lost their wives," Sheldon said. Assistance "should be given on the basis and priority of one man and one woman in a marital relationship."

"[Gay rights organizations] are taking advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda," Sheldon said.

Jesus wept.

Sheldon, Dobson, Wildmon, Robertson, Falwell, Phelps. It's always the same shit from the same assholes.

So long, Special Man.   Lester Love Jr. died Friday in New Orleans of natural causes at the age of 82.

"Who?", you may be asking. Well, if you're a New Orleans resident, you'll realize that you knew and loved Lester. He portrayed "The Special Man" in a series of local commercials for Frankie & Johnnie's Furniture Store. I wrote about this one a while back when I was writing about local commercials. A typical F & J commercial went something like this:

Woman: "I'm on welfare and Social Security!"

Older white guy with graying temples and horrible suit: "You got da fifty dollahs?"

Woman: "I got da fifty dollahs! I got it! I got it!"

Older white guy with graying temples and horrible suit: "You gotta see Da Special Man."

Older black guy with cigar (Lester, Da Special Man); sweeps the cigar out of his mouth, saying: "Leddah have it!"

We'll miss ya, bruh. (Jonno tipped me off on this one ... thanks, hawt.)

  Thursday, October 4, 2001
Tonight on "Down Home".   A new song from Luka Bloom; the brand-new album from Chris Thile of Nickel Creek; the new album from Chris Knight; an amazing collaboration between an eighty-something Mississippi farmer's fife and drum group and a bunch of African musicians from Senegal; "Rhythm Room Blues", Hightone's new collection of live recordings from such greats as R. L. Burnside, Henry Gray and Nappy Brown; Pat Haney and the Well Readnecks' latest, plus Kermit Ruffins, Barbara Lynn and more of the brilliant new solo album from Jay Farrar. (Oh, and speaking of Jay...)

Jay Farrar, "Outside the Door" and St. Louis blues.   Those of you who already bought Jay Farrar's fabulous new solo album Sebastopol (and who are, I expect, digging it as much as I am) have certainly heard the gorgeous song "Outside the Door" by now, and may have been wondering about all the various references in the song.

The song references a lot of old St. Louis blues musicians and long-demolished neighborhoods in that city. My friend Michael, a blues fan and native of St. Louis, did a bunch of research on the references in the song and came up with plenty of fascinating stuff, starting off with a page about St. Louis pre-war blues:

Peetie Wheatstraw
William "Peetie Wheatstraw" Bunch was born December 21, 1902 in Ripley, Tennessee, and died December 21, 1941 in East St. Louis, Illinois of fatal injuries from an automobile accident. Known as "the Devil's Son-In-Law" and "the High Sheriff from Hell". Proficient on piano and guitar, he had many recordings for Vocalion and Decca, often accompanied by guitarist Charley Jordan. He operated The St. Louis Club with Big Joe Williams.

Thomas "Barrel House Buck" McFarland
Born in Alton, Illinois, in 1903 and was active on the St. Louis blues scene through the 1930's. He moved to Detroit in 1951 and has been inactive musically since, save for a documentary recording he made for Folkways Records, under Charters' supervision in 1961. He died in '62. The Folkways (3554) was recorded Alton, Illinois, 12 May '61 per Blues Records, inconsistant with Welding's Detroit information.

James "Steady Roll" Johnson
Born 189?, played piano, violin, guitar and was a vocalist as well. Originally from New Orleans, brother of jazz and blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson; both moved to St. Louis after their entire family perished in a massive flu epidemic.

J.D. "Jelly Jaw" Short
"One of the more archaic sounding of the Delta musicans, JayDee Short relocated in St. Louis in 1923. Born in Port Gibson, Mississippi in 1902. He started playing guitar in Hollendale under the tutorage of Willie Johsson, and developed his own style while a young man in the Clarskale area." "It's Hard Time" is perhaps the greatest blues song that takes the depression as its theme. It would appear that Joe Stone is actually a pseudonym for JayDee Short.

The Great Depression, starting in October of 1929, hit St. Louis harder than many cities. On the riverfront sat the country's largest "Hooverville" of people economically displaced by the Depression who were living in ramshackle temporary housing, sarcastically named for President Herbert Hoover. One St. Louis worker in four was out of work. People struggled through 1933 and 1934, despite early relief programs in the New Deal. Local relief roles topped 100,000 in 1934. [from an online history of St. Louis]

Deep Morgan
Deep Morgan was the name of an area in St. Louis (on Delmar St. near the Mississippi River) that was a major center of blues in St. Louis in the 1920s.

"Come On In My Kitchen"
A song by legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, who allegedly sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his astonishing musical talent.

Michael points out that during the time that the Vieux Carré Commission in New Orleans was getting organized and preparing to save and preserve the historic French Quarter of that city, St. Louis was demolishing the original downtown area to make room for the park that surrounds the Arch, and making plans to bulldoze Mill Creek; eventually the bustling entertainment district known as Gaslight Square would get the ax as well.

Walk the stretch of Olive Street from Pendleton to Whittier, and you'll find hardly a trace of what was once Gaslight Square. Other than a historic marker and a few buildings, it has vanished - the jazz, the poetry, the fine dining, the gaiety. "Perhaps nothing fills St. Louisans with as much wistfulness and regret as Gaslight Square. It's the ghost that keeps haunting people," [St. Louis' "First Lady of Jazz" Jeanne] Trevor said recently.

No one can say exactly when Gaslight Square emerged with its singular identity. In the mid-'50s, the street began to attract an assortment of saloons, eateries, and antique stores, and an iconoclastic group of customers, some associated with what we've come to call the Beat Generation..And then Gaslight began to flicker. Landlords raised their rents, forcing out antique shops and other interesting but marginal operations. In came the entrepreneurs who lacked any vision beyond turning a buck. Some muggings, a murder, and by the late '60s Gaslight had been snuffed. Jack Parker's O'Connell's was the last saloon to leave the neighborhood in 1972.

The song laments the fact that the singer "heard you can't find Mill Creek anymore". It was a poor, mostly African-American neighborhood razed in the late 1950s. From "The African-American Heritage of St. Louis", here's a bit about Mill Creek:

TThe Mill Creek Valley, running from 20th Street to Grand, and from Olive to the railroad tracks on the south, was home to a large African American population. Along with cheap tenements that housed black laborers and more substantial housing, the area was home to a thriving entertainment area in the Chestnut Valley, the district along Chestnut and Market streets near 20th. Scott Joplin and other musicians played ragtime and jazz music here at Tom Turpin's Rosebud Cafe and other nightspots. The Mill Creek and nearby areas were home to such institutions as the Pine Street YMCA, the Wheatley YWCA, Vashon High School, St. Paul AME Church, St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church and School, and Union Memorial United Methodist Church. After World War II, thousands of rural blacks from the South moved into the area. When a massive civic improvement bond issue, which included plans to redevelop the Mill Creek area, passed in 1954, the area's estimated population was nearly 20,000 persons, or roughly 5,600 families, nearly 95 percent black. Demolition of housing and other structures in the valley began in 1959.
This is probably more than you ever wanted to know about one Jay Farrar song, but it's a song rich with history. I love all this stuff, myself.

Muslim like me.   Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter D. Parvaz is originally from Iran, but has lived in the United States for 17 years. Recently she decided to put on her hijaab, the scarf and body cloak Muslim women wore in her home country, for the first time in 17 years, and go out among the good folk of Seattle to see how she would be treated.

Although she was "ultimately reassured by the good in people", her encounters ranged from a few people who were curious and friendly , to lots of people who were visibly tense at the sight of her, to a guy who tried to push her off a curb into the path of a moving vehicle. The lessons she learned ... paranoia is a two-way street, communication alleviates fears, and this too shall pass. (Via World New York).

Quiz time, kids!   Here's a quiz that gives you 20 quotations and asks you to pick who said each one:  Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson or Osama bin Laden. (I got 7/20 right.)

  Wednesday, October 3, 2001
You can't refuse.   DVDFile reviews the new "Godfather Collection" 5-DVD set, which will be released next Tuesday ... I CAN'T WAIT!!

Bravo risotto!   Chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California, offers us his monthly "Professional Help" column in the always excellent L. A. Times Food Section. This month we learn about risotto, which isn't nearly as difficult as you think. How you can partially pre-cook it just like the restaurant chefs do, the many other things you can make with it, from soup to ravioli filling, and why you should use Carnaroli rice instead of Arborio when you can.

Now I've heard everything.   The ultra-conservative Family Research Council have attacked President Bush and his administration, saying that a "disturbing trend" has emerged therein: "an implicit endorsement of the homosexual political agenda".

They're foaming at the mouth because the House (including 41 Republicans) voted to lift the ban on domestic partner benefits in D.C., and because Bush appointed another openly gay man to be an ambassador. Don't these idiots have anything better and more constructive to do, especially now? Jeezus.

More sf and fantasy.   I had been collating more recommendations from people on non-crappy fantasy novels and other sf I hadn't yet come across, before I got distracted by The Current Situation. Here are a few more from Damien:

If you're in the mood for a good Fantasy series in the tradition of JRR Tolkien, nothing beats the Tad Williams series, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. It consists of three books: The Dragonbone Chair, Stone Of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower. This is a simply amazing series with classic literary parellels to our own human history and societal/religious development. It's also and awesome story about a young kitchen ruffian/orphan who goes on amazing adventures and saves the world in the process. Absolutely a must-read for any serious Fantasy fan.

I've also read the first two books in the "His Dark Materials" series by Phillip Pullman, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. All are exceptional; very original and well-written.

I also recommend anything by Terry Brooks. Raymond Feist is also pretty good. If you want just a fun novel by Feist, read Faerie Tale... kind of a mixed Fantasy/ Horror novel in the same vein as the King/Straub classic The Talisman. Both Cam and I recently read Angry Young Spaceman by Jim Munroe. While not fantasy, it is one of the most original science fiction stories I've read in a very long time. Even if you have only a remote interest in SF, this book is a must-read. Very memorable and well-crafted.

Thanks a bunch, Damien. I had heard about Angry Young Spaceman before, then I saw Cam mention it on his site, and now another recommendation to boot ... I've already added it to the list.

Lots of good stuff in the Chronicle today.   Linky goodness galore in today's issue of the SF Gate "Morning Fix":

*   So much for freedom of speech ... two newspaper columnists in Oregon and Texas have been fired for writing remarks critical of President Bush. Thou shalt not deviate from the masses, have unpopular opinions nor speak your mind, apparently. Can we remember that patriotism includes speaking out when you think your government is doign something wrong. Gee, why don't we just bring back the Alien and Sedition Act, while we're at it?

*   Right-wing nutball Anne Coulter proves herself even too wacked for the National Review, who canned her after she wrote a column in which she said, regarding places where she thinks terrorists come from, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Mmm-hmm. Well, freedom of speech goes both ways, including my freedom to call her a mouth-foaming, certifiable fruitcake.

*   Magic Johnson is buying Fatburger, "the last great hamburger stand", and will open 100 new locations across the country. (Ack! Don't change anything!)

Finally, from Mark Morford's column "You Don't Want Normal" (as in, "we-should-all-get-back-to-"):

But it's in this weird return to quasi-normalcy, this recovery of at least some of what we once thought we were, that we suddenly have an unprecedented opportunity to choose, to filter out and select what industries and enterprises, what values and attitudes we allow back into the social fold.

Manipulative politics? Violent movies? Bad drivers? Awful J-Lo videos? Kraft Lunchables? Do we really need these? Do we really have time for the shallow and the inauthentic and the soul-sucking anymore? Do we really want to waste our time on cultural detritus that doesn't generally add to the human experience and validate our existence and make us feel grateful and relatively happy and connected and not just like we're floating on a speck of infinitesimally tiny cosmic dust in some remote corner of the galaxy? Of course we will. Because whether we like it or not, the return to normality we all so need and crave also means a return to the dark side of culture, the uglier machinations of capitalism, the deceptions and the strongarmings and the outright lies, Microsoft swiping yet another market and transparent Texas congressmen whoring for oil and entertainment mediums momentarily replacing the ultraviolence in favor of equally manipulative and hollow but somehow more faux-heartwarming proto-American fare, but only until they don't have to anymore.


I have a bit more hope that the filter might just work. I for one have no desire to see any explosion-filled ultraviolent movies at any time in the foreseeable future, and I'm now wondering how on Earth we ever found any of that stuff entertaining in the past.

A bar?   (No, not THAT kind of bar...)

United and American Airlines have announced they will begin installing a steel bar to reinforce cockpit doors. Fortunately, they say that this is only an interim solution to airplane cockpit security; even though they say it'll withstand 1,500 pounds of pressure, it doesn't look all that sturdy to me. I'm anxiously awaiting full-on steel doors that can't be broken into, me.

Starbucked.   Much has been made about the reports that Starbucks Coffee actually charged rescue workers at the scene of the WTC disaster $130 for several cases of bottled water that they needed for the survivors. It's not an urban legend, it's true. Then again, as many have also said, it was the result of unthinking idiocy by one, or at most a handful, of Starbucks employees in just one store, and shouldn't be representative of the entire company. Many people pointed out that it's quite unfair to brand an entire company based on the actions of one employee. Starbucks' CEO Orin Smith apologized, reimbursed the ambulance company for the $130, and sent $1 million to the September 11th Fund, to their credit.

All this is addressed on the Urban Legends Reference Pages, who had some additional comments about the whole brouhaha:

Apology and check notwithstanding, lingering and disquieting doubts remain. True, an employee of any firm can act in an unthinking manner that will bring embarrassment upon his employer, but that is not the real shame here; it's the non-actions of Starbucks management in the face of such an incident.

It was Starbucks' customer relations and management that committed the real offense in that no one at any of these higher levels did anything to address the wrong until the incident became public. When the ambulance workers called the company to inquire about the possibility of having been overcharged, they were told what they had described couldn't have happened, so thank you and good-bye. Their letter to the president of Starbucks detailing the event went unanswered. Calls from a Seattle journalist to Howard Schultz (Starbucks chairman and chief global strategist) and Orin Smith (president and CEO) weren't returned. (Only after that journalist's piece about the $130 water ran on 25 September 2001 did Smith meet with that newsman.)

At each point where a correction could have been made, the ambulance workers were brushed off. It took the attraction of cyberspace and media attention to prompt an offer of redress that should have been made the moment Starbucks was made aware of the incident.

If the timeline described above is true, then it would seem that the Starbucks corporate apology was less sincere than it was covering their asses, P.R.-wise, wouldn't it? Tsk.

  Tuesday, October 2, 2001
Let's talk, chef.   I just came across another nifty food-related site, thanks to Luke and Sandy. Chef Talk Café has excellent articles, tips on cooking plus an enormous message board.

$15 billion for industry and not a cent for workers.   An article from MonkeyFist:

There has been much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments concerning the sudden decline in the airline and related industries, and rightly so. However, I have heard no voices raised in support of the laid off and furloughed workers. Reuters reported [on 9/21] that over 100,000 workers have lost their jobs since the events of September 11.

Congress and the president must consider introducing alternative legislation that would directly benefit those workers, to provide enhanced unemployment compensation which would enable them to support their families, and to create retraining programs to ease the workers' transition to jobs in another industry.


That 100,000 figure only represents the aviation industry, too. There have been massive layoffs everywhere, particularly in the hotel, restaurant and tourism industries, also hard-hit by people's reluctance to travel these days.

House Republican leaders balk at any help for laid-off workers.   One that I missed from last week's New York Times:  "House Republican leaders balked today at the idea of helping thousands of laid-off workers by extending unemployment compensation and health care benefits despite a commitment last Friday by Speaker J. Dennis Hastert to consider such legislation.

"The model of thought there, and quite frankly, the model of thought that says we need to go out and extend unemployment benefits and health insurance benefits and so forth is not I think one that is commensurate with the American spirit here," said Representative Dick Armey of Texas, the majority leader. He said a higher priority was to pass an economic stimulus bill.


No, you stupid prick, it's exactly commensurate with the American spirit here, of which you seem to have very little at the moment. Fifteen billion for industry but not a penny for the worker, not even a piddling extension of unemployment benefits. How is an economic stimulus bill going to put food on the table and pay the rent or mortgage for these people's families TODAY?

Incidentally, at least one airline, American, has declined to give any severance pay to its 20,000 laid-off workers, even with their multi-billion dollar Congressional bailout. That's the American spirit too, I guess.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.   From David Grenier, who feels unable to write of anything these days other than the events of September 11. He sees the Good (human beings all over the planet reaching out to help others in time of need), the Bad (the President of the U.S. trying to use the situation to establish global U.S. hegemony, and the establishment of a scary-sounding "Office of Homeland Security") and also of the Ugly, in this recent entry:

In a time when people need a sense of security the most corporations are laying off thousands of workers. 100,000 workers in the air transport industry alone lost their jobs, plus thousands more in service and manufacturing. We don't see CEOs slashing their salary or investment firms accepting a loss as "good for the country", yet workers are supposed to be OK with losing their very livelihood and then being told that it is their patriotic duty to go out and spend money they don't have. To compound this heinousness, our tax money is then given to the same rich assholes who fired our working class brothers and sisters in the form of an "emergency bailout." This same administration that gave speeches about personal responsibility and made it more difficult for working folks to declare bankruptcy when they're in over their head now tells us to go further in debt while they give our money to their wealthy buddies. No law has been passed to help the people laid off (which is only mildly related to the tragedy of Sept 11th... it was obvious when Boeing moved to Chicago that they would begin shutting down U.S. plants and moving the work to Mexico or overseas). No emergency funding can be found for the victims of ruthless profit-oriented Capitalism. In a time when regular folks all over the world are doing eveything they can to help each other, these moves expose the free market as a lumbering dinosaur in opposition to the values of solidarity and humanity we've witnessed over the past two weeks.

I say that if the air transport industry is so vital to the nation that the public has to pay for it, then goddammit, the public should own it.

Something to think about.

Mmmm, stinkily delicious!   Today Lia linked to a site about the durian, a big spiky fruit that'll kill you if it falls on your head. It's creamy, custardy and actually quite tasty, but ... um, doesn't smell terribly good. She says:

Could anything on the planet (besides skunks) possibly smell anywhere near as bad as the durian? My mom and millions of other fans of Southeast Asia's King of Fruits could spend eternity talking about the creamy sweetness of the durian and how no other fruit can compare, but I doubt I'll ever get over the (horrible, horrible) odor.
I think it has a wonderful flavor, but the smell is best described as a cross between toxic glue, really old cheese, unwashed socks and vomit. (Not too appetizing, I must confess.) I have no idea how something that smells so ghastly can taste so good and not be poisonous. I guess nature really didn't want predators eating durian, but we humans are too stubborn to pay attention.

If you're fortunate enough to live in an area with a large Asian population, you can probably find them fresh. (I see them at 99 Ranch Market in San Gabriel, about 20 minutes south of Pasadena.) They look like a big, misshapen football or basketball covered with wooden spikes (apparently many people in Asia get killed every year by being unfortunate enough to walk under a durian tree that's just getting ready to drop fruit), and to find them all you have to do is follow your nose. Interestingly enough, the site has this to say about what the proper aroma should be, in their section on how to choose a durian:

If you detect an over rich, strong, fetid odour, it indicates that the durian is overripe. Reject, especially if the stalk looks somewhat dry.

If you detect no smell at all also reject as the fruit is unripe.

But if you detect a faint aroma of bitter sweet butter scotch and almonds with a bouquet of wild honey and a hint of smoked oak then you have hit the jackpot and found yourlself a durian with a thick, creamy, treacle like, bitter sweet tasting flesh for you to savour and enjoy.

I must confess that I have never detected the aroma of bittersweet butterscotch and almonds with a bouquet of wild honey and a hint of smoked oak. All I've detected is toxic glue, really old cheese, unwashed socks and vomit. Still tastes good, though.

You can get durian ice cream too, which is the first way I tried it. I cautiously smelled it, didn't smell much of anything, thought "gee, that doesn't smell so bad", then got really close and ... "oh JESUS!"

  Monday, October 1, 2001
Wave that flag, wave it wide and high.   My good friend Mary and I were talking the other day about flags. I had mentioned a while back that I'm not much of a flag-waver, and she said that she wasn't either. While we both love our country, and while we certainly have nothing against anyone who wishes to express their feelings in these troubled times by flying the symbol of the country, we tried to think of something that might be more our style. As we talked, we thought that we'd rather look at the bigger picture than at just one country; as the President said, the attacks were not just against America, they were attacks on humanity.

Earth flag Then the idea hit me. What about an Earth flag? I'd seen them before -- a deep blue background, and centered on that field a photorealistic depiction of the planet Earth as seen from space. They're quite beautiful, and they've flown all over the world and beyond, from the North Pole to the Mir space station. "Brilliant!", said Mary. "Let's find some!"

True to form, I procrastinated and Mary got her ass in gear. Here are a few interesting anecdotes from her search.

I found two links on the Internet to places that sell the Earth flag, and they have the whole history of the thing, too ... fascinating, that. It's been around since the moon landing, more or less. Margaret Mead carried one with her at all times, and it's just as striking as you said. Since they weren't going to be taking orders until Monday and I had hopes of having it for a small gathering I'm having tomorrow, I thought I would call various L.A. area flag shops.

Where the responses ranged from indifference -- "no, we don't have that" -- to the bewildered -- "a WHAT kind of flag?" -- to the outright rude -- slamming down the phone after telling me they didn't have it in stock. Most places would say "we have American flags" -- but I don't want one nor did I ask for one -- or would say "we are backed up trying to get American flags". By the way, if you say "I want to buy a flag" to flag stores now, it means U.S. and nothing else. "Flag" is now generic for The Star Spangled Banner. Not ONE offered to see if they could get the Earth flag, even the store listed on one of the Earth flag websites as stocking it. Other answers -- "I gave a store full of people right now, if you have other questions you are welcome to come down here" ... *click*. "Sorry, can't help you" ... *click*. "The owner isn't in today and I don't know the stock, so call on Monday" ... *click*.

The ONLY polite person? A man who had a distinct, shall we say, not American-born accent. I am so not prepared to say for certain, because I am not 'enry 'iggins, but I would not be suprised if he originated from certain countries now glared at by "patriots". He sweetly told me he had one flag in stock, then sweetly asked me to wait while he checked on it, then nicely apologized for having sold it already, then saying he would call his distributor first thing next week to see how long it would take to get it -- "so call me Wednesday!".

As it happens, I found one last Earth flag in a shop in Santa Barbara, a store run by a delightful man who was thrilled he had one left and even more thrilled the others he had sold were intended to be hung lining State Street.

But my POINT is... here we are, supposed to be banding together, showing love and support and togetherness, by displaying our Great Country's Flag and the FLAG SELLERS are rude jerks. Except for one, who is clearly an immigrant, and maybe even a Middle Eastern one.

So ... call Ready Signs & Banners at (818) 876-2200. They're right near Universal Studios on Cauhenga, and buy a flag, any kind of flag, from A.J. He deserves it. And he will know on Wednesday when he can get Earth flags.

Can't wait that long for an earth flag? The Earth Flag Web Site and Green Culture should have them in stock (though the former's prices appear somewhat inflated).

Thanks, hawt!

In yesterday's Los Angeles Times, Aarin Ulrich writes of another good alternative idea, in a letter to the editor:

Lately I've felt like I'm the only citizen of Los Angeles without a flag on my car or person. I don't disapprove of the American flag. It's just that it doesn't feel like it fits me. And, like those quoted in [the recent article on the subject], I'm uncomfortable with being connected to some of the conservative political notions associated in recent years with flag-waving. On the other hand, I felt a strong yearning to make a visual demonstration of my disgsust with the attacks and a public declaration of my unity with its victims.

I solved my flag problem. I made an "I (heart) NYC" bumper sticker sign and cried as I colored in the heart. I taped thet sign in the back window of my car. My surprise, however, was the ongoing effect my sign has on me. Here in L.A., I spend hours every day gazing throgh my rear-view mirror at the backward message. It's my personal reminder of my love of and allegiance to my country and its people, and of the weird, backward, messed-up way love and loyalty to any country can hurt and destroy.

I found another really nifty looking Earth flag after a web search. This one flies at the Big Ear Radio Observatory at Ohio State and other SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) sites, and symbolizes the fact that "SETI is carried out on behalf of Humanity as a whole."

I think that right about now would be a really good time for first contact with an alien species (a benevolent one, preferably). We'd be so blown away by this that we might just forget all this bullshit bickering and hatred and violence we perpetrate on each other.

One really giant leap.   Somehow I seem to have missed this story in all the hoopla over the last couple of weeks. A long-lost, badly damaged audiotape has been dug out of the NASA archives; apparently it had been in bad shape since it was recorded. After a painstaking restoration, it was discovered to be a recording of the final moments of the Apollo 11 landing, with flight director Gene Kranz and his Mission Control team on the left channel, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the right. (Via NSD)

It's tense and amazing. Most of us heard nothing about how close the landing came to not-happening until we watched it on "From the Earth to the Moon", and this is the real thing. You also hear the process of the "T1 stay/no stay" decision; if the slightest thing had been determined to be wrong, the astronauts would have been ordered to lift off from the moon after only one minute after landing.

If this subject interests you, also bookmark The Apollo Archive, which is a treasure trove of information about the moon landing project.

I noted an item at the botton of that site ... apparently a while back the appalling (with the exception of "Simpsons" and "X-Files") Fox Network produced a special entitled "Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land On The Moon?", which apparently sought to garner big ratings among the stupid, ignorant nutballs who claim that the whole moon-landing-thing was "faked in a studio" (I have heard people utter these very words in my presence). The network, who makes a couple of good shows but whose journalistic credibility is just above that of the National Enquirer, actually had the balls to call this a "documentary". They even managed to get "X-Files" actor Mitch "A.D. Skinner" Pileggi to host it (I think the show he's usually on is more believable, and I hope he enjoyed the money he got). All I can say is ... man, they've got some stupid feckin' people in this world.

"Satan is on that maaain line ...   tell him what chew waaaant!"

Businessmen in the border city of Tijuana asked the federal government to change the new area code scheduled to be assigned to the city, fearing the code -- "666" -- could give the violence-plagued metropolis a bad rap.

September Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this weblog. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Andy Senasac, Michael Yasui, Steve Gardner, Michael Pemberton, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Eric Labow, Tom Krueger, Greg Beron and Barry Enderwick.
chuq's links | the gumbo pages
creole and cajun recipe page | search this site

chuck taggart | email chuck (at) gumbopages (dot) com
This page is best viewed with your eyes, reading words.