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. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news, movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, rants, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 11:31am PDT, 9/1/2004

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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918

"There ought to be limits to freedom."

-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004

2003:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2002:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

Regime change for America, 2004.

Kick 'em out!

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mary katherine
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WWOZ (New Orleans)
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Air America Radio
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   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
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KPIG, 107 Oink 5
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KRVS Radio Acadie
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Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
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Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
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RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non
   of cocktails.)

   (A work in progress, by
   Martin Doudoroff &
   Ted Haigh)

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

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

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

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

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

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)
King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

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

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

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

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Food-related weblogs:
Hacking Food
Honest Cuisine
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu

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

Click here for a new daily recipe from Chef Emeril!
In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

Wally's Wine and Spirits

The Wine House

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

Reading this month:

One Voice: My Life in Song, by Christy Moore.

The Ultimate Egoist: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Vol. I", by Theodore Sturgeon.

Humans, by Robert J. Sawyer.

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
Professor Longhair
Red Meat
The Red Stick Ramblers
The Reivers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Richard Thompson
Uncle Tupelo

Miles of Music

No Depression


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

Chuck's Photo of the Day Archive


The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

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

Xquzyphyr & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

Cold Mountain (****)
The Last Samurai (****)

Lookin' at da TV:

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

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
The Daily Kos
Anil Dash
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jesus' General
Mark A. R. Kleiman
The Leaky Cauldron
Letting Loose With the Leptard
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Respectful of Otters
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
Under the Gunn
Whiskey Bar
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs

My Darlin' New Orleans:

Gambit Weekly


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

Must-reads: (progressive politics & news)
Borowitz Report (political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Daily Mislead (BushCo's lies)
The Fray (your stories)
Izzle Pfaff! (my favorite webjournal)
Landover Baptist (better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (news, opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (news 'n laffs)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert.
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall)
TruthOut (William Rivers Pitt & Co.) (not the actual White House, but it should be)

The Final Frontier:

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


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.3 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

  Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Photos of the day.   1. The view outside my window, while flying back from New Orleans to Los Angeles, August 11, 2004.

For about three minutes, there were huge lightning bolts zapping all around the plane, which I'd never seen in a lifetime of flying. If I hadn't been so, um, unnerved, I might actually have set the focus correctly. Fortunately, I was only unnerved for a minute, really started enjoying it and actually briefly thought of committing some mischief by screaming, "THERE'S A MAN ON THE WING OF THIS PLAAAAANE!!" ... then thought about how the TSA and the FBI arrest anyone who says boo on a plane nowadays and puts 'em under the jail.

"Guys, c'mon, didn't y'all see Twilight Zone: The Movie? Um, guys? OW! Not so tight! Hey, that hur-- *mmph*..."


2. Coming in for a landing at LAX, with the shutter open (or else I was on acid, I forget which).

Abstract, man.

Free Hugo-nominated short stories!   Sorry I missed this one earlier. is currently offering free ebook downloads of all the Hugo Award-nominated short stories for 2004: "Robots Don't Cry", by Mike Resnick; "Paying It Forward", by Michael A. Burstein; "The Tale of the Golden Eagle", by David D. Levine; and "Bernardo's House", by James Patrick Kelly. The awards will be announced at WorldCon in Boston this weekend (hi, Teresa and Patrick!), so get 'em while you can!

I'm also pleased to see a slight manifestation of proof that I haven't gotten quite as badly behind in my reading as I'd feared; I've read two of the four Hugo-nominated novels, both of which I liked very much -- Rob Sawyer's Humans and Robert Charles Wilson's Blind Lake. I like both writers immensely, and I'm torn as to whom to root for. Sawyer already got a Hugo for Hominids last year; I don't think Wilson has won one (although he's been nominated), so it might be nice if he got one. Then again, wouldn't it be cool if each book in Sawyer's Neanderthal trilogy won?

Aah, awards, shmawards. It's an honor just to be nominated, right? (Yeah, right.)

Unwelcome. Unmanageable.   Via Wes, who says, "So, the Republican party platform describes the the current $445 billion deficit (that's billion with a "B") as "unwelcome but manageable." Would that we could say the same about the Republican platform itself.

Republicans approved a platform yesterday that puts the party firmly on the record against legalized abortion, gay marriage and other forms of legal recognition for same-sex couples, reflecting the political clout of social conservatives and setting up a stark contrast with the Democrats for the fall campaign.

The platform also hails President Bush's fight against terrorism, advocates making his tax cuts permanent and calls for the creation of personal investment accounts in Social Security as part of a new "ownership society'' that Republicans assert will give Americans more responsibility and control over their financial lives.

Democrats and their allies immediately denounced the platform as extremist and at odds with the moderate image the party is trying to project this week.

"It's the truth behind the facade of their convention," said Stephanie Cutter, spokeswoman for Senator John Kerry, the Democratic nominee. "It reflects the divisiveness and extreme policies of the last four years, while the public speakers paint a very different picture."

Gay rights and abortion rights groups restated their dismay. Cheryl Jacques, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization, declared, "It's one of the most discriminatory platforms in modern history." She added, of Mr. Bush, "He's counting on the fact that most people won't be reading the letter of the law of the Republican platform."

Social conservatives, who pushed Mr. Bush to endorse a federal constitutional amendment against gay marriage earlier this year, pushed for even stronger language in the platform, and succeeded. Mr. Bush has indicated that he embraced a constitutional amendment opposing same-sex marriage only as a last resort to prevent courts from deciding the issue and said that states should be free to recognize same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships. But the platform, as amended by the conservatives on the platform committee, condemns not only gay marriage but also state recognition of other same-sex unions as well.

At a news conference yesterday, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a group of social conservatives, said that the push to strengthen the platform's opposition to same-sex civil unions was partly a response to Vice President Dick Cheney's statement last week that he personally favored leaving the issue up to the states.

"We are obviously troubled by the vice president's comments last week, which in ways led to the strengthening of the language in the platform," Mr. Perkins said.

He's letting the religious RWWs control the platform, even in opposition to what he and his vice-president have been saying (ostensibly the leaders of their party), because he'll whore himself out to stay in power. Furthermore, all this attention is being unduly given to divisive social issues that have absolutely no impact on the state of the country and its place in the world, which at the moment is precarious. Typical, and revolting.

Milk it for all it's worth.   Via ChowHound, here's a helpful substitution guide for recipes calling for various grades of milk and cream.

To approximate a cup of the item on the left, add the item on the right to 1 cup of skim milk:

1% milk 1.5 tsp heavy cream
2% milk 1 Tbs heavy cream
whole milk 2 Tbs heavy cream
half-and-half 5 Tbs 1 tsp heavy cream
light cream 9 Tbs heavy cream
1% milk 1 tbs light cream
2% milk 1 tbs or 2 tsp light cream
whole milk 3 tbs light cream
half-and-half 5 oz light cream
1% milk 2 tbs half-and-half
2% milk 3 tbs half-and-half
whole milk 4 tbs half-and-half
Neat! I only drink 1%, so this'll be handy (and my result will only be slightly richer than using skim, which as far as I'm concerned is just white water). Makes perfect sense, and I must admit I'd never thought of it.

We're not in Lake Wobegon anymore.   Garrison Keillor, one of our finest writers, muses on the current state of affairs and observes what happened to the Party of Lincoln and Liberty.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong.s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt.s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.

... The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.

Yes, sir.

Quote of the day.   Why doesn't he say this to Dubya?

"If they question Kerry's medals, they question everybody's medals. All those men who found it so hard to come home, who found so little gratitude for their sacrifices when they got here, are going to feel mistreated again. The families of the people whose names are on the monument in Washington will feel wronged, too. The painful wounds we all worked so hard to close will all be reopened. "We've got to get that garbage off the air as soon as we can."

-- Vietnam veteran and U. S. Senator John McCain, to R. W. Apple, Jr., New York Times, August 31, 2004, regarding the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ads attacking John Kerry, which McCain also described as being "completely nauseating."

Again ... do something about it, John.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, August 30, 2004
Photo of the day.   Lil' urnge bug, New Orleans, August 2004. (That little critter gets around, doesn't he?)

Lil' Urnge Bug on Castor Bean Plant 2

Wedding bells!   Congratulations to Bryan and Jessica, who were married on Saturday and who were kind enough to ask me to DJ their wedding reception. It was a lot of fun, and I helped ensure that their reception was completely Y.M.C.A.-, Chicken Dance- and Macarena-free. Instead we had Väsen, Tom Waits, Clifton Chenier, Buddy Holly, Diblo Dibala and Loketo, The Replacements, Los Lobos, The New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Red Meat, Louis Armstrong, Cody Bryant, Beausoleil, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, Rhett Miller, Van Morrison, West Nkosi, Gram Parsons, The Tremé Brass Band, Franco et l'OK Jazz and much more. Good music for a big roomful of good people ... and may y'all have a wonderful life together.

Calling Messrs. Callebaut, Valrhona and Scharffen-Berger!   More good news, fellow chocolholics. A new study has shown that eating dark chocolate appears to improve the function of cells lining the walls of blood vessels, making them more flexible and helping prevent hardening of the arteries that leads to heart attacks.

The bad news ... volunteers in the study were given 3.5 ounces of chocolate a day (which would translate to 11 points, or half the amount of food/points I'm supposed to have in an entire day), and the consequent weight gain would negate any healthy effects.

Ah, well. I'll continue to have my 20g of chocolate (about 0.7 ounces) every day or so, reap a slight benefit and still enrich my life with chocolate. (MMMmmmmm, chocolate.) In fact, the beneficial ingredients in chocolate are flavonoids, which are also found in Guinness Stout ... barman! Pint, please!

(Hmm, 20g of dark chocolate and a pint of porter, that's 6 points. Better take it easy after that.)

Compassionate conservatism, uniting not dividing ...   Uh, I call bullshit.

The first indication that the Goop-o-rama in New York this week will turn into a hatefest is evidenced by the person the Republicans chose to deliver the invocation at their convention. According to Atrios and The General, "apparently Jerry Falwell didn't quite hate gay people enough to be chosen to perform," so the honor was bestowed on someone named Sheri Dew, someone who thinks that those who support gay marriage are just like those who supported Adolf Hitler, the man who implemented the systematic slaughter of 10 million Jews, gypsies, gays, et al.

Lovely. They actually found someone viler than Falwell.

The Undecided Voter.   Today's edition of Tom Tomorrow's ever-brilliant "This Modern World".

HE: I'd consider voting for John Kerry -- but I just don't know if I trust him to lead the war on terror!

SHE: Oh really?

SHE: Are you worried that he might cynically exploit the threat of terrorism to justify the invasion of a country which actually poses no threat -- diverting our resources and giving the real terrorists time to regroup?

SHE: Or are you concerned that the country in question could become a breeding ground for new terrorists as a result of his incompetent leadership -- leaving us more vulnerable than before?

SHE: Or are you just afraid that in the middle of all this, he'd be so insanely irresponsible as to run up record deficits in order to finance a tax cut for the wealthiest one percent of the country? What is is it, Biff? What is it about Kerry that troubles you so?

HE: ...

HE: He looks French. And there's the flip flopping. And stuff.

SHE: I'm filled with confidence, knowing that this election will be decided by voters like you.

I'm with She.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, August 27, 2004
Photo of the day.   Lil' urnge bug on a castor bean plant, in my parents' back yard, New Orleans, August 2004.

Lil' Urnge Bug on Castor Bean Plant 1

Fecking hypocrite.   Surprise.

Mr. Bush also took issue with Mr. Kerry's argument, in an interview at the end of May with The New York Times, that the Bush administration's focus on Iraq had given North Korea the opportunity to significantly expand its nuclear capability. Showing none of the alarm about the North's growing arsenal that he once voiced regularly about Iraq, he opened his palms and shrugged when an interviewer noted that new intelligence reports indicate that the North may now have the fuel to produce six or eight nuclear weapons.

He said that in North Korea's case, and in Iran's, he would not be rushed to set deadlines for the countries to disarm, despite his past declaration that he would not "tolerate'' nuclear capability in either nation. He declined to define what he meant by "tolerate."

"I don't think you give timelines to dictators,'' Mr. Bush said, speaking of North Korea's president, Kim Jong Il, and Iran's mullahs. He said he would continue diplomatic pressure -- using China to pressure the North and Europe to pressure Iran -- and gave no hint that his patience was limited or that at some point he might consider pre-emptive military action.

"I'm confident that over time this will work -- I certainly hope it does," he said of the diplomatic approach.

Mr. Kerry argued in his interview that North Korea "'was a far more compelling threat in many ways, and it belonged at the top of the agenda,'' but Mr. Bush declined to compare it to Iraq, apart from arguing that Iraq had defied the world community for longer than the other members of what he once called "the axis of evil." Nor would he assess the risk that Pyongyang might sell nuclear material to terrorists, though his national security aides believe it may have sold raw uranium to Libya in recent years.

Thou shalt not suffer a fool to remain in office.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, August 26, 2004
Quote of the day.   In response to the question, "You've said that progressives should never use the phrase 'war on terror' -- why?"

There are two reasons for that. Let's start with "terror." Terror is a general state, and it's internal to a person. Terror is not the person we're fighting, the "terrorist." The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The "war on terror" is not about stopping you from being afraid, it's about making you afraid.

-- George Lakoff, cognitive linguist, cultural commentator and author of the forthcoming book Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.

(Via BoingBoing.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, August 20, 2004
Er, no.   While BushCo are busily denying John Kerry's charges that the "Swift Boat Veterans" are an orchestrated smear campaign of lies, a series of interviews and documents show "a web of connections" between the group and the Bush family, high-profile Texas political figures and Karl Rove. (Surprise.)

Records show that the group received the bulk of its initial financing from two men with ties to the president and his family - one a longtime political associate of Mr. Rove's, the other a trustee of the foundation for Mr. Bush's father's presidential library. A Texas publicist who once helped prepare Mr. Bush's father for his debate when he was running for vice president provided them with strategic advice. And the group's television commercial was produced by the same team that made the devastating ad mocking Michael S. Dukakis in an oversized tank helmet when he and Mr. Bush's father faced off in the 1988 presidential election.

[O]n close examination, the accounts of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' prove to be riddled with inconsistencies. In many cases, material offered as proof by these veterans is undercut by official Navy records and the men's own statements.

Several of those now declaring Mr. Kerry "unfit" had lavished praise on him, some as recently as last year.

In an unpublished interview in March 2003 with Mr. Kerry's authorized biographer, Douglas Brinkley, provided by Mr. Brinkley to The New York Times, Roy F. Hoffmann, a retired rear admiral and a leader of the group, allowed that he had disagreed with Mr. Kerry's antiwar positions but said, "I am not going to say anything negative about him." He added, "He's a good man."

In a profile of the candidate that ran in The Boston Globe in June 2003, Mr. Hoffmann approvingly recalled the actions that led to Mr. Kerry's Silver Star: "It took guts, and I admire that."

George Elliott, one of the Vietnam veterans in the group, flew from his home in Delaware to Boston in 1996 to stand up for Mr. Kerry during a tough re-election fight, declaring at a news conference that the action that won Mr. Kerry a Silver Star was "an act of courage." At that same event, Adrian L. Lonsdale, another Vietnam veteran now speaking out against Mr. Kerry, supported him with a statement about the "bravado and courage of the young officers that ran the Swift boats."

"Senator Kerry was no exception," Mr. Lonsdale told the reporters and cameras assembled at the Charlestown Navy Yard. "He was among the finest of those Swift boat drivers."

Those comments echoed the official record. In an evaluation of Mr. Kerry in 1969, Mr. Elliott, who was one of his commanders, ranked him as "not exceeded" in 11 categories, including moral courage, judgment and decisiveness, and "one of the top few" - the second-highest distinction -- in the remaining five. In written comments, he called Mr. Kerry "unsurpassed," "beyond reproach" and "the acknowledged leader in his peer group."

They say every man has his price. Apparently so.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, August 19, 2004
Uh, no.   Iraq's Olympic soccer team was angered after finding out that Bush is using them in his campaign ads, and has insisted that he stop using them.

"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," [Iraqi soccer team midfielder Salih] Sadir told through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."

Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes."

To a man, members of the Iraqi Olympic delegation say they are glad that former Olympic committee head Uday Hussein, who was responsible for the serial torture of Iraqi athletes and was killed four months after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003, is no longer in power.

But they also find it offensive that Bush is using Iraq for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions. "My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"

Not quite the cheering, flag-waving, flower-giving masses BushCo keep talking about, even though these very men once faced torture for losing a match. Tells you something, doesn't it?

Gautreau's.   Oddly enough, I'd never been to this Uptown fine dining establishment, one of the unexplainable omissions in my experience of the restaurant scene back home in New Orleans. It's a place I've been meaning to try for years, and my final push came from having prepared their Chef Matthias Wolf's dish of Grilled Salmon with Creole Mustard Spätzle, Herbsaint Cream Sauce and Roasted Fennel at a dinner party a while back. As my recent trip home was in part meant to hit several of the places on the untried list, my sister Melissa and I were keen to head here. As it turned out, we nearly didn't make it -- the restaurant was so well-camouflaged (or else I just wasn't paying enough attention) that we probably passed it twice before we found where it was, nestled amidst the houses in a residential neighborhood on Soniat Street. That works perfectly, actually; it gives the feeling of a quite lovely little hideaway.


It's beautifully appointed, small and full but not crowded, and from what I could tell from the murmur of voices fluttering through the dining room it was almost exclusively locals. That made me feel immediately comfortable, despite the fact that the first little table-for-two where we were seated was so close to the kitchen door that Melissa almost got whacked by it when the staff were coming in and out. We asked to be moved, and they immediately (and a bit sheepishly) came through. Our next table was perfect, with a great view of the goings-on in the dining room and right underneath the luscious-looking display of Port for after-dinner imbibimg.

On to the food. The list of starters looked very enticing, but despite my usual caution-to-the-wind attitude about dining when I go back home, I'm also well aware of the fact that I've been slammed up against the brick wall at 160 pounds, and for the past two months haven't been able to get past it. I didn't want to gain a ton of weight down there, so at least one dish that's low on the ol' points wouldn't be a bad idea. That little dilemma was solved by one dish that leapt off the menu: Peppered Gulf Shrimp with Citrus Gastrique. Shrimp are one of my favorite seafoods, and are low in points to boot. These were grilled, and with a sauce that didn't seem to involve butter or cream (as much as I love them, Julia). I was very happy to see that they were served heads-on (which would send most Californians running screaming from the room, the little weiners), as we all know shrimp heads are loaded with flavor, and they were enormous. "Peppered" didn't tell the whole story; these shrimp had at least three, if not four, different kinds of cracked pepper -- black, white, pink and maybe even Szechuan as well. They were extremely peppery without being hot, and had layers of great flavor. The citrus gastrique (a sauce made with citrus juices, vinegar and sugar) was the perfect accompaniment, beautifully taking the edge of the peppers and boosting the flavor). We loved this dish, and it was light enough not to intrude on what was coming next.

I opted for a lighter main course too; as much as I love traditional New Orleans food, I wanted to try some of the explorations of Chef Mat Wolf and see where else he went with his food. Another dish caught my eye immediately: Sautéed Red Snapper with Gnocchi, Wild Mushrooms, Spinach and Truffle Beurre Blanc. Oh my. I love red snapper, and "truffle" is one of those magic words that just make me say "Yes!" right away. The fish was seared to a crackle on the outside, and buttery moist on the inside, the gnocchi were like little pillows, there were chanterelle and oyster mushrooms in the mix, and just the tiniest hint of truffled beurre blanc (a white wine and butter sauce). It wasn't nearly enough to make me worry about having too much butter, but just enough to coat every bite of fish, as a little truffle flavor and perfume goes a long way and can be overwhelming if you're not careful. (The first time I brought home fresh black truffles, there were in a little porous brown paper bag; the perfume of those truffles permeated the car and was so intoxicatingly intense that I thought I might crash the car.) Melissa's dish was great as well: Roasted Duck Breast with Pommes Confit, Pearl Onions, Prunes and Armagnac Sauce. Some sautéed squash below, some crispy skin on top (God, I love duck ... and the breast meat when pan-seared and finished in the oven comes with its own bacon!). As I recall, she was gnawing on the bone at the end, and she who usually leaves almost half of a big entree like this finished just about everything. How could you not?

Our wines were by the glass, and although I had narrowed down a couple I was interested in there were helpful suggestions from our server. I ended up with a 2002 Domaine Du Mage Sauvignon Blanc from the southwest of France (lovely burst of aromas followed by plenty of fruit and perfectly dry), and Melissa had a 2002 Echelon Pinot Noir (plummy with a bit of cherry, and just right for the duck).

And yes, of course I'm having dessert. What a silly question. We split it, though, which is my usual habit, and although the chocolate was tempting we opted to keep it relatively light: Lemon Tart Brulée with Chantilly Cream and a Berry Coulis. Lovely tart lemon curd topped with a crackly burnt sugar topping, offset perfectly by the sweet-tart berry sauce and the rich cream (I only had a little bite of that). My final wine was from Australia, a 1999 Lillypilly Noble Blend (made of Traminer, Riesling and Semillon grapes with the "noble rot" of botryitis) and full of honey and butterscotch on the palate. Yum.

My visit to Gautreau's had been long overdue, and was prefaced by my having made one of the chef's dishes at our dinner party several weeks back. After this meal, with the wonderful food and wine and the friendly, comforting service, I know I'll return.

Ouch.   U. S. Rep. Doug Bereauter, a Republican from Nebraska, is now telling his constitutents that he now considers the war in Iraq to be a mistake, despite his earlier support for the invasion.

Their facade is cracking.

Kerry under fire.   The so-called dispute over John Kerry's war record rages on, but if you spend more than three seconds taking a close look at BushCo and their toadies' slime campaign, it holds no water whatsoever.

* Newly obtained military records of one of Sen. John F. Kerry's most vocal critics, who has accused the Democratic presidential candidate of lying about his wartime record to win medals, contradict his own version of events.

* A group funded by the biggest Republican campaign donor in Texas began running an attack ad Aug. 5 in which former Swift Boat veterans claim Kerry lied to get one of his two decorations for bravery and two of his three purple hearts. But the veterans who accuse Kerry are contradicted by Kerry's former crewmen, and by Navy records.

One of the accusers says he was on another boat "a few yards" away during the incident which won Kerry the Bronze Star, but the former Army lieutenant whom Kerry plucked from the water that day backs Kerry's account. In an Aug. 10 opinion piece in the conservative Wall Street Journal, Rassmann (a Republican himself) wrote that the ad was "launched by people without decency" who are "lying" and "should hang their heads in shame."

* (From Jacob Weisberg in Slate, about the ads being run by the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans"):
"Let's get some things straight here. There is a right-wing slime machine. It has kicked into gear with this phony attack on Kerry's military record. Bush benefits from the ad and condones it. And if Kerry doesn't hit back harder, it could cost him the election.

"I think this could be a watershed in the campaign, so let me elaborate on each of these points:

1. The Conintern propaganda machine is running full tilt...
2. The ad is a carefully crafted lie...
3. The ad greatly benefits Bush...
4. Bush condones the ad...
5. Kerry's not hitting back hard enough...

"Kerry volunteered to go to Vietnam and, once there, volunteered for dangerous duty. He killed enemy fighters, was injured and decorated. Then he came home and distinguished himself in opposition to the war. That a president who shirked any similar duty would try to make an issue out of Kerry's war record is simply amazing. Bush won't get away with it.unless Kerry lets him."

These are desperate, scared little men who will stop at nothing, who will stoop to whatever base levels, to win in November. They can't imagine a world in which they aren't in power. We need to get them out of power.

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  Tuesday, August 17, 2004
BlueBrass.   From Gambit Weekly: "This summer, a group of New Orleans brass and jazz musicians journeyed to the heart of bluegrass in the hills of North Carolina. The rest was music."

On the stage of the Kittredge Theatre auditorium on the campus of Warren Wilson College, nestled in the very belly of the lush Blue Ridge Mountains, seven high school music students from New Orleans are rehearsing on horns, drums, bass and guitar. Suddenly, a commotion erupts from the back of the auditorium. In walks a group of seven western North Carolina high schoolers carrying quite a different set of instruments: fiddle, banjo, mandolin.

The bluegrass kids climb onto the stage, and together, the two groups begin an exchange of two seemingly incongruous forms of music: bluegrass and jazz.

I just ordered The BlueBrass Project: In the Same Pocket, Vol. 1 from the Louisiana Music Factory. I can't wait to hear this. (Thanks, Michael P.!)

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  Monday, August 16, 2004
Jazzfest sings the blues.   The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is in the hole, and doesn't have enough startup money for Jazzfest next year. This is causing them to reevaluate how they put on Jazzfest and consider some changes, some of which might be for the better, some for the worse (i.e., "The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Presented by [Corporate Sponsor]). Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Suppress the vote?   "The long and ugly tradition of suppressing the black vote is alive and thriving" in Florida, the state where the incumbent president's brother is governor.

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  Saturday, August 14, 2004
Restaurant Mandich.   My uncle Mike describes this place as "the fancy place to eat" in the old neighborhood where he and my mom grew up. It doesn't look fancy; in fact, it looks like a fairly typical, unassuming New Orleans neighborhood restaurant. It was near the top of my want list for this trip back home, as I hadn't been there in so long (not since I was a kid, really) that I'd practically forgotten it. The food, however, is anything but typical, and garden-variety fancy food only wishes it were this good.

Friendly, familiar, casual ... just like I expected. Instant comfort zone -- in fact, we sat right next to a painting of my old alma mater. Air conditioned to within an inch of its life, a necessity for life in New Orleans during August, and, bless them, a full bar ("I'd like a Sazerac, please." It was superb). Now to the menu ... decisions, decisions ...

The first decision was easy. Second on the listing of soups was Crab Bisque. I was a little concerned about fat content ("Cream!" says Julia, from Heaven), but the waitress assured me there was none. "It's roux-based," she said, and I replied, "Oh, one please!" The bisque was dark and murky -- no blond or peanut-butter-colored roux there -- and although it didn't have a whole lot of crabmeat in it, the flavor was profoundly crabby. This bisque started out with a roux, but next came an intense, powerful crab stock that made all the difference. It was served with rice, just like a gumbo, and was gone in about three minutes.

Pannéed veal ... mmmmmmmmm. I was torn between the "combination lunch", featuring Pannéed Veal with Crabmeat Au Gratin, and the solo veal dish. I do so love pannéed veal, and it's almost nonexistent in the part of the country, that I had to go for it. (In case you're unfamiliar with the term, in New Orleans "pannéed" means coated with seasoned bread crumbs and pan-fried, although some people drop it in the deep-fryer. The most traditional version is with veal cutlets pounded thin, and it's heaven on a plate.) I was still trying to be good, so when she said, "Whatcha want on the side wit' dat, dawlin'? Da angel hair wit' gawlic cream sauce goes perfect wit' it," I asked for the fresh vegetables instead, even though I knew she was right about that angel hair. (Yeah, yeah, I know I was on vacation ...)

As you can see the serving of veal was not exactly what you'd call a WeightWatchers-sized serving. In fact, it looked to be about four times the recommended serving size of meat (the size of the palm of your hand). I took one bite of that veal ... and my rationalization mechanism kicked in. "It's only a quarter of an inch thick," I thought. "Heck, that palm-sized serving of meat is probably for something at least an inch thick, right?" I said "Feck it," and ate the whole thing. It was magnificent.

In the background you can see the lovely fresh carrots and broccoli that she'd served me on the side. The carrots tasted like they had been braised in sugar syrup (they were sweeeeet, almost like candy, and unbelievably good) and the steamed broccoli had apparently been given a quick dip in a bath of clarified butter. Oh my. So much for being good.

Mandich is a bit out of the way for the average New Orleans visitor, but if you want a true New Orleans experience, not one aimed at tourists, head about 10 minutes outta da Quarter into the old neighborhood, nowadays known as Da Bywater, and have lunch or dinner at Restaurant Mandich. I also recommend the Oysters Bordelaise, and the house special dish Trout Mandich (pan-fried speckled trout in a lemon butter sauce, but order it special like the locals do, topped with crabmeat and Hollandaise sauce ... oh boy).

(By the way, if you want a fantastic pannéed veal dish in the southern California area, try Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in the Downtown Disney area next to Disneyland in Anaheim. I'm not sure if it's always on the menu, but last time I was there the Pannéed Veal topped with Crabmeat and Artichoke Hearts was absolutely to die for.)

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  Friday, August 13, 2004
Julia Child, 1912-2004.   She passed away in her sleep today, just shy of her 92nd birthday.

Hers was the first cooking program I ever watched, and I've come a long way sinced then. Julia dear ... butter, cream, cheese and wine will never disappear from my diet, WeightWatchers be damned.

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.   ("Goooooood EVEning, J.F.!") Just home from home, as it were, and during the nine days I only put on 3.5 pounds. Not too bad.

Those of you who missed me enough to noodge me via email or comments, thanks. I appreciate it, but ... I've realized that anyone who posts to his or her weblog every day whilst on vacation really, really doesn't know how to be on vacation.

Food porn, with photographs, to follow as time allows.

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  Tuesday, August 3, 2004
Off to New Orleans!   I'll be home for a family visit for the next week or so ... posting should continue, but should be fairly light today.

Food porn-o-rama!   In the meantime, though, we'll forgo the idea of my amateurish food porn and offer you a huge blast of highly obscene food porn from writer Poppy Z. Brite, native New Orleanian and epicurean.

I suppose this is a rarefied and esoteric form of dining that will make some people roll their eyes. All I can say is that if you spend huge parts of your life thinking about food, it's tremendous fun to be shown different ways of looking at it and tasting it. I spent most of this dinner laughing with pure excitement and joy...

Chocolate Foie Gras Truffle with Tamarind. No one in the reviews I've read liked this. None of my fellow diners seemed to like it. For me, it was the candy I'd been waiting for all my life, simultaneously tangy, fatty, salty, rich. I could have eaten a dozen more straightaway.

Caramelized Pork Rinds with Vermont Maple Syrup. Like really good Louisiana cracklins with a sweet edge. Served in a little Chinese takeout box.

Mojito Spritz. A cocktail (rum, lime, mint) in a little silver atomizer. You spray it into your mouth.

Passion Fruit Cocktail. A tiny "caipirinha."

Egg 147 with Caviar. A whole quail egg poached at 147 degrees for 20 minutes, until it takes on a lovely creamy consistency. Served atop a ring of black caviar with ... wait for it ... passionfruit and banana. I was deeply skeptical when I heard "banana," which I almost never like in savory dishes. Somehow, though, it all melted deliciously together and worked well. It's important to keep in mind that none of these dishes is more than one or two bites. You mightn't want to eat a big bowl of poached eggs, bananas, and caviar, but this taste of it really got this jaded old palate musing.

Tomato, Tomato, Tomato. Three forms of tomato: a layer of intensely flavored gelee topped with "fillets" of tomato seeds and a "sponge" (rather like a meringue) coating yellow grape tomato halves. Stop and think about this: the creamy unctuousness of the previous dish followed by this bright explosion of tomato. See how they keep your palate stimulated and excited, even though you are eating what ultimately adds up to one hell of a lot of food?

Oh, my.

Claim vs. Fact.   The Center for American Progress has an awfully fascinating new database website up which charts the dishonesty of conservatives and compares it with the truth. "In this database, each conservative quote will be matched against well-documented facts, so that users can get a more accurate picture of the issues." Pick a topic, speaker or both, and round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows ...

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  Monday, August 2, 2004
How They Could Steal The Election This Time.   This article from The Nation is the most important you will read all year. Via DailyKos; read their commentary first.

Everyone, please. This is the November surprise: Bush is down 7 points in Ohio. And yet somehow wins by 3. Compliments of ES&S and Diebold.

Keep raising money by all means. But for the sake of democracy itself, it's time to raise hell on computerized voting machines.

From The Nation:

On November 2 millions of Americans will cast their votes for President in computerized voting systems that can be rigged by corporate or local-election insiders. Some 98 million citizens, five out of every six of the roughly 115 million who will go to the polls, will consign their votes into computers that unidentified computer programmers, working in the main for four private corporations and the officials of 10,500 election jurisdictions, could program to invisibly falsify the outcomes.

The result could be the failure of an American presidential election and its collapse into suspicions, accusations and a civic fury that will make Florida 2000 seem like a family spat in the kitchen. Robert Reich, Bill Clinton's Labor Secretary, has written, "Automated voting machines will be easily rigged, with no paper trails to document abuses." Senator John Kerry told Florida Democrats last March, "I don't think we ought to have any vote cast in America that cannot be traced and properly recounted." Pointing out in a recent speech at the NAACP convention that "a million African-Americans were disenfranchised in the last election," Kerry says his campaign is readying 2,000 lawyers to "challenge any place in America where you cannot trace the vote and count the votes" [see Greg Palast, "Vanishing Votes," May 17].


Read this article now.

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  Sunday, August 1, 2004
Cocktail of the day.   Last night we had a blue moon, which is when there are two full moons within one calendar month. This only happens, well, once in a blue moon (on average, about every 32 months). And of course, there's only one cocktail to drink on the night of a blue moon, which happens to be one of the most exquisite cocktails ever.

Of course, it calls for a rare ingredient -- Liqueur de Violette or Crème de Violette, a violet colored- and flavored liqueur now made only in France and not exported. It's made by Benoit-Serres in Villefrance-de-Lauragais, southeast of Toulouse. As I mentioned when this was a previous cocktail of the day, fortunately there is a reliable mail-order source well-worth looking into.

Renowned London chef Sally Clarke has a shop next to her restaurant which sells Benoit-Serres' "Liqueur de la Violette". Last time I checked it ran £14.99 for a 375ml bottle, which isn't all that expensive until you take shipping into account; that'll run you a little over £12, so it's be more economical to get at least two bottles (go in with somebody). You only use a tablespoon of this elixir per drink, so you'll get a little more than 23 cocktails out of this little bottle (less if you use greater amounts in other drinks).

You can substitute Parfait Amour (Marie Brizard's version of the orange-and-violet liqueur), but it really isn't the same.

Blue Moon

2 ounces gin (we like Plymouth).
1/2 ounce liqueur de Violette.
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.

Shake with cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass. The standard, traditional garnish is a lemon twist, but when they're in season I like garnishing this drink with three blueberries on a cocktail pick.

We could come up with lots of moon-related cocktails. Besides the non-month-specific Blue Moon, isn't there a special moon name for every month of the year? Let's see, there's Harvest Moon, Hunter's Moon ... um ... Keith? Keith Moon. Zappa Moon. Sun Myung Moon (for those months when you're batshit crazy). Moon Landrieu ...

Photo of the day.   Here's a bad shot of the scene last night, as we sipped our Blue Moons under the blue moon, while out in a field at Hollywood Forever cemetery, watching an outdoor screening of John Farrow's film noir classic The Big Clock, from Kenneth Fearing's novel, while surrounded by 95,000 dead people.

I see dead people.
July Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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