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 of the reality-based community, movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, complaints, 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 @ 6:50pm PDT, 8/31/2005

RSS Feed

If you like, you are welcome to send e-mail to the author. Your comments on each post are also welcome; however, right-wing trolls are about as welcome as a boil on my arse.
Search this site:

A new book featuring the best of food weblogs.

Digital Dish is the first ever compilation volume of the best writing and recipes from food weblogs, and includes essays and recipes contributed by me. Find out more and place an order!

U.S. orders:
Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens

"Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" is a 4-CD box set celebrating the joy and diversity of the New Orleans music scene, from R&B to jazz to funk to Latin to blues to zydeco to klezmer (!) and more, including a full-size, 80-page book.

Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), liner notes by Mary Herczog (author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Now for sale at your favorite independent record stores, or order from

The box set was the subject of a 15-minute profile on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" on Feb. 6, 2005, and a segment on Wisconsin Public Radio's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" on Apr. 3, 2005. Here are some nice blurbs from the reviews (a tad immodest, I know; I'm not generally one to toot my own horn, but let's face it, I wanna sell some records here.)

*      *      *

"More successfully than any previous compilation, Doctors... captures the sprawling eclecticism, freewheeling fun and constant interplay of tradition and innovation that is at the heart of Crescent City music." -- Keith Spera, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"... if you DO know someone who's unfortunate enough to have never heard these cuts, press this monumentally adventurous box and its attendant booklet upon them. It's never too late to learn" -- Robert Fontenot, OffBeat magazine, New Orleans

"... the best collection yet of Louisiana music." -- Scott Jordan, The Independent, Lafayette, Louisiana.

"[T]he year's single most awesome package" -- Buddy Blue, San Diego Union-Tribune

"This four-CD box set doesn't miss a Crescent City beat ... For anyone who has enjoyed the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this is Jazz Fest in a box. ***1/2" -- Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times

"... excellently compiled, wonderfully annotated ... New Orleans fans will know much of this by heart, though they may not remember it sounding so good; those who don't know what it's like to miss New Orleans will quickly understand." -- Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press.

"... a perfect storm when it comes to reissues. This box set is musically exciting, a complete representation of its subject matter, and just plain fun to listen." -- Charlie B. Dahan,

"... one of the best impressions of a city's musical blueprint that you're likely to ever find." -- Zeth Lundy,

"... an unacademic, uncategorized album that suits the city's time-warped party spirit." -- Jon Pareles, The New York Times


"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)

July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005

2004:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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.

How to donate to this site:

Your donations help keep this site going. PayPal's the best way -- just click the button below, and thanks!

You can also donate via the Honor System, if you wish (but they deduct a larger fee from your donation and I keep less).

(Also, here's a shameless link to my Amazon Wish List.)

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
michael p.
pat and paul
tracy and david

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)
   Broadcast schedule
   "Down Home" playlist
   Live MP3 audio stream

   Subscribe to the
   "Down Home" weekly
   playlist email service

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream
   (Comprehensive listings)

Air America Radio
   (Talk radio for the
   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
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 Internet's most comprehensive
   and indispensible database of
   authenticated cocktail recipes,
   ingredients, reseearch and more.
   By Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)

Museum of the American Cocktail
   Founded by Dale DeGroff and many
   other passionate spirits, Jan. 2005.
   Celebrating a true American cultural
   icon: the American Cocktail.

*     *     *
The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non of cocktails,
   and the quintessential New Orleans
   cocktail. Learn to make it.)

The Footloose Cocktail
   (An original by Wes;
   "Wonderful!" - Gary Regan.
   "Very elegant, supremely
   sophisticated" - Daniel Reichert.)

The Hoskins Cocktail
   (An original by Chuck;
   "It's nothing short of a
   masterpiece." - Gary Regan)

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)

The Cocktail Chronicles
   (Paul Clarke's weblog)

The Cocktailian Gazette
   (The monthly newsletter of
   The Museum of the
   American Cocktail.)

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)

Martini Republic: Drinks
   (featuring posts by Dr. Cocktail!)

The Modern Mixologist
   (Tony Abou-Ganim)

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

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)

Spirits Review
   (Chris Carlsson)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

Let's eat!

Food-related weblogs:
Chocolate and Zucchini
Honest Cuisine
Il Forno
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Notes from a New Orleans Foodie
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu
Waiter Rant

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

In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine
Wally's Wine and Spirits
The Wine House
The Wine Spectator
Wine Today
Zinfandel Advocates & Producers

Wine shops in our 'hood:
Colorado Wine Co., Eagle Rock
Silverlake Wine, Silverlake
Chronicle Wine Cellar, Pasadena

Reading this month:

The Devil You Know, by Poppy Z. Brite.

Microcosmic God: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Vol. 2, by Theodore Sturgeon.

Ken and Thelma, by Joel L. Fletcher.

McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, edited by Michael Chabon.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
The Frames
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
Toasted Heretic
Uncle Tupelo

Tom Morgan's Jazz Roots

Miles of Music

New Orleans

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

No Depression


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
(My pics therein: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

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

by Jonathan Rosenberg

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

Lulu Eightball,
by Emily Flake

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

by Walt Kelly

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

XQUZYPHYR & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

Meet the Fockers (***)

Lookin' at da TV:

"The West Wing"
"Battlestar Galactica"
"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"
The Food Network


Polly Ticks: (Progressive politics & news)
Daily Kos (My favorite political weblog)
Eschaton (The Mighty Atrios)
Hullaballoo (The Mighty Digby)
Media Matters for America (Debunking right-wing media lies)
Orcinus (David Neiwert)
PostSecret (Secrets sent in via postcards; astonishingly beautiful, funny and sad.)
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall)
TAPPED (The American Prospect Online)
TruthOut (William Rivers Pitt & Co.)

Borowitz Report
(Political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Fray (Your stories)
Landover Baptist (Better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (Opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (Scarily funny news/satire)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert. (Read this.) (Not the actual White House, but it should be)

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
Creek Running North
Anil Dash
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Franklin Avenue
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
Martini Republic
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
No More Mr. Nice Guy!
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Respectful of Otters
Right Hand Thief
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
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:

Library Chronicles
Metroblogging N.O.
Right Hand Thief

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.)

LOOKA!Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

  Wednesday, August 31, 2005

UPDATE: 8:04pm CDT   Hope this helps.

Nagin declares Martial Law to crack down on looters

Disgusted and furious with the lawlessness of looters who have put fear into citizens, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared Martial Law in the city and directed the city's 1,500 person police force to do "whatever it takes" to regain control of the city.

Nagin said that Martial Law means that officers don't have to worry about civil rights and Miranda rights in stopping the looters.

[...] Officials tried to balance security needs with saving lives.

"We're multitasking right now," said New Orleans Police Capt. Marlon Defillo. "Rescue, recovery, stabilization of looting, we're trying to feed the hungry." New Orleans' homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters were breaking into stores all over town and stealing guns. He said there are gangs of armed men moving around the city. At one point, officers stranded on the roof of a hotel were fired at by criminals on the street.

Jesus. I hope they get those people off the streets.

More details.

Call the American Red Cross: (866) 438-4636.   Donate what you can, and use this number to look for any friends or relatives who stayed behind with whom you can't get in touch. posts that "there is a database being developed for people who are missing and may need to be rescued from New Orleans. Call 225-925-6626 to give officials their names. They may also have information about people already rescued. We attempted to check this number and were unable to get through (busy signal)."

Call FEMA to begin the assistance process: 1-800-621-FEMA or

(Call FEMA while you can, before Bush finishes his appalling process of dismantling it.)

Hopeful news.   I just found out that my sister Marie's neighborhood in Marrero is probably okay, very little wind damage and no flooding in pretty much the whole neighborhood. I'm still trying to find out about Mike, Rhonda and Mia's house in Tall Timbers, but from what I've been hearing that might be okay as well.

The West Bank seems to have fared relatively well, far better than the East Bank. Polimom's blog reports that Algiers Point took some damage but is mostly okay. If that's the case, that close to the river, then I'm hoping Tall Timbers did well too.

Unfortunately, according to some televised aerial footage my sister saw, our parents' house in New Orleans East is not visible, completely submerged.

I'm ... numb. When I'm not numb I'm a sobbing wreck. Fortunately, everyone's keeping me busy; my family, spread out between Lafayette, Shreveport and Birmingham, have difficulty contacting each other but seem to have a relatively easy time contacting me, so I'm a messaging hub and Internet looker-upper. It's good to be busy, and I've taken leave from work until next week, 'cause I have to confess that I really couldn't give a crap about a single thing going on there right now, and that's not fair to them.

2:07am. I should probably get to bed.

Thoughts from N.O. musician Jack Fine.   (Thanks to Mary for contributing to this post.)

When I was home three weeks ago, we met Jack Fine, a longtime trumpet player in New Orleans, 78 years of age, and the leader of the Palmetto Bug Stompers, who play every Sunday at the Old Point Bar in Algiers Point. We talked for a while; he seems like a great, great guy.

I was just watching CNN, and there was his voice; he had apparently stayed behind and ridden the storm and floods out in his home in Algiers. He's alive and well, and called in to Paula Zahn's show to describe what he was seeing and feeling. Thanking Gawd for TiVo and its ability to rewind live television because of its buffer, I transcribed these comments from Jack:

"This is a lovely, vibrant community... it's ghostly here now, the silence, blackness, roofs have peeled off all over the place. I'm alone here, all alone; there's nothing -- no heat, no light, no cooling, nothing. It's just silence, like living in a ghost city. And it's just appalling, because we're accustomed to a vibrant, alive, very very active city. I'm very much a part of the culture of the city, involved in it, and friends of mine have called, those who have survived and those who have left the city, saying 'My God, we're changed forever. Where are we going to play, who are we going to talk to, it's gone, it's finished, it's done.' And it's very upsetting, and the devastation around here is just appalling. I've seen some hurricanes in my time, but nothing like this."

Paula Zahn: "Jack, you're a 78-year old man, all alone. What are you going to do to survive over the next couple of days?"

Jack: "Well, I've got a bottle of gin here... (chuckles) I haven't lost my sense of humor, and I can practice at will now, because I won't upset my neighbors."

"Where I go from here I don't know, 'cause I don't know, the places we played at-- I'm really concerned about the cultural health of this city right now, because everybody's taken such a terrible hit. New Orleans has become such a great cultural center for the United States, and it's such an appalling waste and such a devastating situation for those of us who've been here and who've made such a contribution to the arts in the United States."

"But anything's possible in New Orleans. Anything."

God bless him. That's so New Orleans. Long may he blow. And New Orleans too.

Can and will New Orleans be rebuilt?   Governor Blanco and the director of FEMA: "Absolutely. Absolutely." This was before the breach in the 17th Street Canal got worse, but the city's already 80% flooded anyway.

This is what he need to hear, and what we need to believe, to make it happen. We're going to need every ounce of effort from everyone who loves New Orleans, and we're going to have to take it one day at a time.

Vermin. (Updated 11:34am)   There's a plague in New Orleans right now -- alligators and poisonous snakes are everywhere, as are the most vile form of vermin I can think of at the moment -- looters.

It's one thing for desperately hungry and thirsty people to go into stores and take food and water. It's another thing entirely when human scum, taking callous advantage of a catastrophic, desperate situation are looting stores for everything from big screen TVs to basketball goals. My friend Matt called to see how I was doing, and said his mom watched news footage of the looters and wondered, incredulously, "Where are they going to put that stuff?" From the T-P story: "Watching the sordid display and shaking his head in disgust, one firefighter said of the scene: 'It's a fucking hurricane, what are you [going to] do with a basketball goal?'" There have also been robberies and carjackings, and some of the looters are going house to house, breaking in or going in through smashed windows.

The Times-Picayune, Tuesday, 11:45pm

Late Tuesday, Gov. Blanco spokeswoman Denise Bottcher described a disturbing scene unfolding in uptown New Orleans, where looters were trying to break into Children's Hospital.

Bottcher said the director of the hospital fears for the safety of the staff and the 100 kids inside the hospital. The director said the hospital is locked, but that the looters were trying to break in and had gathered outside the facility.

The director has sought help from the police, but, due to rising flood waters, police have not been able to respond.

Bottcher said Blanco has been told of the situation and has informed the National Guard. However, Bottcher said, the National Guard has also been unable to respond.

Children's Hospital. With a hundred terrified, sick kids inside. Jesus Christ.

(UPDATE: This is apparently not true. See comments for story.)

Many police are either unable or unwilling to do anything about it, and in fact some police are actually joining in on the looting. Here's a picture of a New Orleans police officer looting DVDs from a Wal-Mart in the Lower Garden District.

At the Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas Street, an initial effort to hand out provisions to stranded citizens quickly disintegrated into mass looting. Authorities at the scene said bedlam erupted after the giveaway was announced on the radio.

While many people carried out food and essential supplies, others cleared out jewelry racks adn carried out computers, TVs and appliances on handtrucks.

Some officers joined in taking whatever they could, including one New Orleans cop who loaded a shopping cart with a compact computer and a 27-inch flat screen television. [...] A crowd in the electronics section said one officer broke the glass DVD case so people wouldn't cut themselves. "The police got all the best stuff. They're crookeder than us," one man said.

Kevin, another New Orleans refugee who wrote in last night, wrote in and told me about this picture in the online paper, saying, "This might be a good picture to put out on the blogosphere; it's as clear as a passport photo. Someone has to know his name. I'd love to see it broadcast far and wide so it can follow him for the rest of his life."

Other police officials said that even if they arrest them, there's no place to put them.

How about in a body bag, after putting a round through their heads? Just an idea.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, August 29, 2005

UPDATE, 4pm N.O. time: "East New Orleans underwater"   From the WDSU Katrina blog:

New video from a WDSU crew shows east New Orleans is underwater. Only the very tops of some cars can be seen, and on other streets, the water has risen past the second story of some homes. A man was seen wading through chest-deep water. He told the news crew that he was searching for injured or trapped people.


I wish they'd be more specific. East New Orleans is big. Some areas are bound to be worse than others.

Down but not out.   Jon Donley's weblog at the Times-Picayune makes me feel good:

Red beans & rice ... it must be Monday

Don't fear, New Orleans evacuees ... all is not lost. Just finished lunch from Chez Picayune [the newspaper's cafeteria] ... huddled on the second-floor landing watching the trees whip outside the big atrium window.

Red beans and rice. Comfort food in the middle of the hurricane. How you gonna get more sassy Yat than that?

Flood waters continue to rise across town ... reports pouring in on the scanner, and large trees branches are snapped off, blocking the stretch of Howard Street in front of the newspaper.

Red beans and rice ... it's Monday, and at least something's right with the world.

Kermit Ruffins asks, "What is New Orleans? New Orleans is ... red beans and rice on a Monday night." Even right after it just had its ass kicked by a hurricane. Yeah you rite.

We're getting flooded, but apparently not to the doomsday levels that they had been talking about. I just saw a live camera shot of the Quarter, and there's hardly any water there at all. (Lots of wind damage, though.) Unfortunately, I'm hearing about people cowering in their attics in N.O. East, six feet of water in the Ninth Ward, and flooding and a diesel spill on the West Bank, all places where I've got family and friends. I wish they'd be more specific about where the localized flooding is happening. I'm still digging around trying to find out what's going on.

I'm glad Poppy decided to bug out. They were going to try to ride it out at first, and that worried me. My uncle on the North Shore also was going to try to ride it out, in a hotel in Covington, but I'm glad he changed his mind too. His house is right on the shore of the lake, too ... yeesh. I hope it's still there.

UPDATE: Ugh. Chalmette and Arabi are under up to 12 feet of water, and it's probably the same in the Lower Ninth. (Residents reported that Rocky and Carlo's is underwater.) I just saw footage from CNN with chest-deep water on the I-10 near the Florida Ave. / West End Blvd. exit, and some dimwit trying to drive through it and having to be rescued.

If anyone hears anything flooding-wise about New Orleans East around Read Blvd., or in Marrero, Algiers or Faubourg Marigny, please drop in a comment.

Quotes of the day.   Just so that I won't be all doom and gloom drama queeny here, I present a couple of my favorite local hurricane-related quotes:

"Don't believe any false rumors unless you hear them from me."
-- New Orleans Mayor Victor A. Schiro, during Hurricane Betsy, 1965 (apocryphal).

"You can withdraw from the race."
-- Governor Edwin W. Edwards, to Marilyn Quayle, when she asked if there was "anything we can do to help you all" in the wake of Hurricane Andrew, 1992.

To be fair, Schiro was "highly visible" during Betsy, according to a N.O. Public Library article, and is "unfairly remembered" for that remark. It's still funny, though.

Hope?   6am. The alcohol is the only thing that got me any sleep; fell asleep on the sofa in front of the TV and the live net feed from WWL.

It looks like the eye missed us by at least 40 miles, but it's still going to be bad. It's weakened to a Category 4, but of course, several of the worst-case scenarios described a Category 3. We had a slight turn to the east, with the eye coming ashore between Gulfport and Biloxi, so the Mississippi Gulf Coast is going to get it worse, but we're not out of the woods yet by any means. There's several more hours of this to go.

Shit, the roof of the Superdome is leaking, with rain pouring in. Bill Capo on WWL was debunking reports that 1/12 of the roof had "peeled away" and was gone, but the latest is that there are currently two nine-foot holes in the roof. Just saw the picture ... Jesus.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pray for New Orleans.   My family's out, they're all okay. They might be homeless by Tuesday, though.

WWL-TV live coverage (while it lasts).
WDSU-TV, Channel 6 / The Times-Picayune
National Hurricane Center

Here's what the National Weather Service is saying as of this afternoon:








I'm pretty much in a state of disbelief at the moment. The damage from this hurricane is likely to be "apocalyptic", as terrified experts keep saying. By this time on Tuesday, the New Orleans I love might not exist, and will almost certainly never be the same. I can't even begin to think of how many casualties we might have.

I'll be drinking heavily as of now.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, August 26, 2005

Food art.   Via GreggO, here's an amazing online exhibition of photographs by Douglas Gayeton entitled "My Shoes Are Caked With Mud: A Tuscan Photo Exhibition". They depict people he's met in Italy (where he lives part-time) who make olive oil, wine, sausage, and the like. The photographs are hand-annotated with observations, definitions, recipes, and are wonderful. My only quibble is that I wish they were larger on the site, as it's often hard to read the handwriting on the images, but well worth the effort. Bravo!

Glorious geekery.   Via The Brad, here's a set of business cards that Kevin Trotman bought back in the 1980s. Big deal, right? Well, he bought them at a SF convention, and they're the "business cards" of a bunch of "Star Trek" characters. They're all done with completely generic business card clip art, and they work perfectly. "Kang, Klingon Command. Wars Arranged, Planets Conquered. No War Too Small." Hee hee.

John Cleese and the semicolon.   Poor John Cleese. He's got a bout of diverticulitis (eek, that's nasty, my grandma has that), "the main reason for [which] is rooted in his gluttony." Turns out he has to have a few bits of his colon removed, by a surgeon "whose Parkinson's is only in an early stage." (Well, fair play to him.)

Always kind to his fans, Mr. Cleese says that "The infected bit which has been cut out by the s urgeon will be offered for sale on the website in the next few days. Proceeds from the sale will be divided between J.C. and the very nice surgeon." I don't know, do I want a semi-colon? That's kind of half-assed, isn't it? (All blame for the puns go to Steve and Dave. Not me. I swear to God I didn't do it.)

Apparently Mr. Cleese's surgery went well, but he seems to have made the news in its aftermath:


With all the recent Monsoon activity over Southern California of late, a suspected tornado was reported over the weekend in Santa Barbara - however the false alarm turned out to be nothing more than the post-operative flatulence of a local resident, Mr J. Cleese.

Mr. Cleese's spokesperson Loretta von Farhtstumpfen said "Acting under Doctor's orders, he was working down the list of recovery steps following various rotten bits of his innards having been removed, and at the top of the list was to break wind. My client was simply following the advice of medical professionals and would like to sincerely apologize for any local damage that may have inadvertently occured. And he promises to stay away from baked beans in the future."

Mr. Cleese could not be reached for comment as he was stuffing his face with sushi.

(Mmmmmmmmmmmm, sushi.) Get well soon, John!

That's a lot of traitors.   Oooo, bad numbers for BushCo. A new AP/Ipsos poll shows that the disapproval of the way the war in Iraq is being conducted is 58%, approval 36%. Furthermore, when asked if it's okay for people who oppose the war in Iraq to express their opinion publicly, 87% of the pollees responded in the affirmitive.

Gee, then that number represents about 258,385,731 traitors, doesn't it? (Actually, it means something more like 35,639,415 wingnuts.)

Gobshite: "I'm soooo, soooo sorry!"   Pat Robertson, apparently befuddled at the wide scorn and disbelief that greeted his claims that he never called for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez mere hours after he went on television to call for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, has decided to apologize for having called for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

I'm sure not even Jesus believes him.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cocktail of the day.   We had this one on Tuesday night, while I was taking too long in the kitchen making stuffed mirlitons. It's a really, really lovely variation on the classic Pink Gin, switching bitters halfway and adding a tiny bit of sweetening. Wes was looking for soemthing flavorful and dry yet simple, and this really did the trick. I'm not sure of its history or origins; it's listed in CocktailDB, and Wes got this version out of the book Vintage Cocktails, by Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel.

The Angler Cocktail

2 ounces gin.
3 dashes Angostura bitters.
3 dashes orange bitters (we used Regans' No. 6).
2 dashes grenadine.

Stir and strain; no garnish.

To make the classic Pink Gin, add 6 dashes Angostura bitters to 2 ounces of gin, stir and strain, up or on the rocks.

Revisiting sake.   The Los Angeles Times Food section had a fascinating article about sake yesterday. There are some apparently excellent artisanal sakes out there, a whole world that I know nothing about. The only sake I've ever really had is the mass-produced stuff, and I have ... a bad history with sake. The last time I had any was in 1985, and the hideous, monstrous, near-fatal hangover I had afterwards was enough to keep me off the stuff for 20 years.

It's time for a revisit, I think. It's a bit of a daunting prospect, as there are lots of styles and sub-styles, and lots of new terms and definitions to learn: jizaki, junmai, daiginjo, ginjo, honjozo ... oy vey. I'll start with a couple of the specific brands mentioned in the article and see if I can keep any of it down, much less actually enjoy it with my food. (I can't begin to tell you how atrocious that sake hangover was. As my friend Hiroki said at the time, "Just be glad you got drunk on sake while eating fish; if you eat red meat and get drunk on sake, you wake up the next morning and wish you were dead." Yeah, good thing. *moan* And that crawfish-uni story begs to be rewritten.)

Quote of the day.   Libby Gelman-Waxner, reviewing the new "House of Wax" movie in Premiere magazine, via Wes:

As her mom, I would be very proud of Paris's acting. She's confidently terrible in a way that usually requires the approach of Godzilla or a clone army. [...] I especially admired Paris's death, which occurs while she's wearing some extremely expensive red lingerie; luckily, Paris is skewered directly through the head, so no harm done.

"Hee hee", says he. "'Confidently terrible' ... I'm going to use that one myself." So will I, probably.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The chocolate Borg assimilates another species.   San Francisco's Scharffen Berger, one of the finest makers of chocolate in the United States, has been bought out by what is perhaps the worst maker of chocolate in the United States, Hershey's. I heard this a week or so ago and refused to believe it, but got a poke in the eye with a sharp stick regarding this topic via email this morning, and was forced to confront reality (unlike certain high-ranking politicans who run the country at the moment).

They say that Scharffen Berger will make their chocolate the same as ever, but will have more resources and growth opportunities, which could be a good thing if they don't screw around with it.

And yes, I know, Hershey's chocolate has its fans, and it's what we all grew up on here in the States, and I know that Certain People will leap into the comments to take up for it. But as for me ... well, since I tasted the good stuff, I just can't go back to Hershey's. Some can, I can't. It's like growing up on thin, tasteless gruel and suddenly being introduced to gumbo. I don't want the gruel anymore, even if there's a touch of nostalgia associated with it.

Hershey's chocolate is industrial chocolate, made in Gargantuan quantities on the cheap, with none of the high quality of ingredients, time or care that's put into the making of artisanal chocolate, and it shows in the flavor and texture. My chocolate epiphany came in my Intermediate Pastry class several years ago, where we had an hours-long chocolate tasting; 17 or 18 different brands of chocolate in a blind tasting. Valrhona and Callebaut came in first. Hershey's came in dead last; most of us opined that it was like eating a piece of chocolate-flavored paraffin.

Yeah, if I'm desperate for a fix, I'll have a Hershey's Kiss. But I just don't want them anymore.

My worry, shared by some of my fellow chocoholics, is that once Hershey's has their claws in Scharffen Berger they'll start cheaping out on the ingredients and methods, and that'll ruin it. They say they won't do that; in fact, they're starting an Artisinal Chocolate division that started with the Scharffen Berger acquisition and continues with last week's Joseph Schmidt Chocolate, my favorite chocolatier in San Francisco. They say they won't change things, and we must believe them, because huge megalithic corporations never lie, do they? They only care about quality and not profit, don't they?

I feel about as depressed as Marvin the Paranoid Android about this.

The vilest alcoholic beverage ever concocted?   Up until now, I thought the vilest hooch ever concocted was something called kvass, a beverage from Russia and Ukraine made from fermented stale rye bread. (Well, some people like it, but it wasn't for me.) Apparently there's one that's about seventeen million times worse. I've never heard of this beverage before, which is probably a good thing because it means I've never been to prison or known anyone who's been to prison.

It's apparently well-known and notorious among that set, and it's called "pruno", which is prison-made hooch made from oranges, fruit cocktail, sugar cubes and ketchup. The closest description of its flavor, apparently, is that it's like "bile-flavored wine cooler". Sounds lovely. Why don't we try making a batch of our own?

(Or maybe, since I'm not actually in prison, I'll just open up a bottle of that 23-year-old Ron Zacapa rum from Guatemala instead ...)

Pat Robertson lies about his Chavez comments, claiming that he didn't say "assassination".

Actually, not only did he say "assassination", he said "assassinate" too. He said, and I quote, "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it." Here's the video, in living color.

Pat Robertson is a lying scumbag.

Letter-to-the-editor of the day.   Mike points us to this gem in the Times-Picayune and asks, "Sincere letter or satire? You be the judge."

Questioning Bush's vacation borders on treason
Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Re: "This is no time for a vacation," Other Opinions, Aug. 20.

Bob Herbert is spending too much time reading his paper, The New York Times, and repeating the mantra of the liberal press.

He states that if we really cared, the president would not be frolicking at his ranch. We do care, Mr. Herbert. We care about the spread of terrorism; we care about homeland security; we care about our troops in harm's way each and every day.

But ours is a volunteer army, made up of men and women who have chosen to make the sacrifice to defend their country.

This country gives them the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams as well as dissent when they feel the need.

They are dying to give Bob Herbert of The New York Times the right to write his biased columns.

Perhaps Bob Herbert should be happy that Mr. Bush, the leader of the greatest country in the world, is taking time to relax.

I'm sure Mr. Herbert needs a break as well, after trying to find and twist facts to support his agenda.

President Bush is all we have. We should be behind him in this war, not bringing him down at every turn and giving our enemies another story to use as a recruiting tool.

Shame on Bob Herbert! This borders on treason.

-- Joseph J. Maiorana

Wow. Now that's an art project! (Surely nobody could be this much of a Brobdingnagian idiot for real.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Radical cleric calls for Presidential assassination.   Pretty dramatic headline, no? You've got visions of a bearded mullah issuing a fatwa against The Vacant Smirk, don't you? Well, you're a bit off this time. The radical cleric is an extremist Christian by the name of Pat Robertson, head of the so-called Christian Broadcasting Network; astonishingly, he's called for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, to keep that country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent." (The AP have picked this up, as have media throughout the world.) Here is a partial transcript of his remarks on "The 700 Club", via Media Matters for America (the link includes video of Robertson's remarks):

PAT ROBERTSON: There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

Evil, or merely batshit crazy? WWJD? WTFWJD?

This Modern World.   Tom Tomorrow's latest cartoon, dedicated to a couple of guys in yesterday's comments section.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, August 22, 2005

Quote of the day.   Picking only one was hard.

I spent my whole life being scared: of not being ready, of not being right, of not being who I should be. And where did it get me?

-- Nathaniel Samuel Fisher, Jr. (1965-2005)

Sigh ... what a wonderful, wonderful show that was. I still can't talk about the ending at work without getting choked up.

There's a lot of interesting stuff at HBO's "Six Feet Under" website today. DO NOT FOLLOW OR READ THIS LINK if you haven't seen the series finale yet!

Sourdough snuffed out.   One of the two names, perhaps the biggest name, in sourdough bread in San Francisco is gone.

The bankrupt Kansas City firm that owns three Bay Area bakeries killed one of the oldest names in San Francisco's sourdough French bread business Friday.

It was the last day for the Parisian sourdough bread bakery, which had been producing San Francisco's signature bread for 149 years.

"It's a sad day for the industry, a sad day for San Francisco, and a sad day for all those people losing their jobs,'' said Lou Giraudo, whose family owns the Boudin bakery chain and once owned Parisian. The family sold Parisian in 1993 to another firm, which later sold it to Interstate Bakeries.

Boudin's bakery, founded in 1849, is the oldest sourdough operation in the country, but Parisian, which first started baking sourdough bread based on a recipe from French bakers, was established in 1856, the year San Francisco's government was taken over by vigilantes.

"It is going to sound corny, but what I liked about Parisian bread was the San Francisconess of it," said Cor Sivertstol. "It was as San Francisco as the cable cars."

Other sourdough bread is fine, he said, but Parisian was simply the best. Sivertstol lives in Santa Cruz but always made a point of picking up a loaf or two when in the city on business.

I've enjoyed Parisian sourdough on many occasions in the City By the Bay. I get a pang of sadness when I hear about things like this, because it reminds me of the places and brands that made New Orleans more unique, and are now gone ... K&B (there's a whole generation of kids who now have no idea what you mean when you describe a certain color as being "K&B purple"), D.H. Holmes, Maison Blanche, Seafood City. I'm glad Binder's and Leidenheimer's is still baking our signature French bread, but I miss the old commercials about "the wonderfully stubborn Reising family", who were bought out by Leidenheimer's.

Speaking of old commercials, there was a wonderful special on WYES, the local PBS affiliate in New Orleans, called "Stay Tuned: New Orleans' Classic TV Commercials". (There's a nice review in Da Papuh from a couple of weeks ago.) Everybody's there, from the old animated spots for Jax Beer that were written and voiced by Mike Nichols and Elaine May in the 1950s, to Al Scramuzza to Wild Bill Watson to Annamae and Rosemary to "Da Special Man" ... whoo. It's a wonderful slice of New Orleans cultcha that I can't wait to see; Mom's got it on their TiVo (don't delete it, turn it green!). I'm hoping that WYES will make it available on tape or DVD at some point.

Speaking of bread ...   Have you ever had the simple pleasure of eating Indian Fry Bread? It's great stuff, born out of necessity, as was the thing of which it reminded me the most when I first had it. There used to be a terrific little breakfast/lunch place on Haight and Fillmore in San Francisco called Delta's Depression Dough. Back in the Depression Delta's mom couldn't afford a proper oven for baking bread, and would fry rounds of her bread dough in bacon fat in a cast-iron skillet. Later on she used that technique as the centerpiece dish of her restaurant, serving "depression dough" with myriad toppings, savory and sweet. I loved that little place, loved depression dough, and would go there every time I visited San Francisco. Delta passed away and left the restaurant on to her son, who himself passed away several years ago (as I understand it); the restaurant was then sold and the space's current incarnation was at last visit called Kate's Kitchen. It was pretty good, but there was no goddamn depression dough, and eventually I stopped going. Indian fry bread had similar beginnings to depression dough:

Fry bread came to be by necessity. When the government moved Indians off their land and onto reservations in the 1800s, they were kept from their traditional foods such as elk, corn, deer and rabbit. In their place were rations of flour, salt and lard, and Indian women did what they could with it, creating the wonderful fry bread that would become part of their culture.

The bad thing about fry bread, depression dough, or whatever you'd like to call it -- it's really bad for you. It starts at about 700 calories per piece, with at least 27 grams of fat. There's been some controversy of late, as fry bread is being attacked as a health hazard in Native American culture, with obesity and diabetes being rampant among Native Americans. Thing is, it's become so synonymous with the culture that many Native Americans have rebelled, and refuse to give up their beloved fry bread. Others dispute that it's the sole cause of health problems among Natives:

"It isn't the culprit that has made Indian people heavy," said Tammy L. Brown, nutrition consultant with Indian Health Service's diabetes division. "It's the fast foods, the sugary drinks. It's the overall diet."

I can relate. Fried shrimp and oyster poor boys, dressed with lots of mynez (and a little cheese and crisp bacon added if you want to make it into a Peacemaker, a.k.a. "Pacemaker") are synonymous with my culture too, and ain't exactly health food. Maybe cutting down to fry bread once a week instead of once a day, and in smaller portions, might be getting off to a good start ...

The right begins to splinter.   The "noble cause" that two thousand American soldiers have died for looks like it'll be called something along the lines of the Islamic Republic of Iraq:

The draft [constitution], slated for action by a Monday deadline, would be a sweeping rejection of the demands of Iraq's disaffected Sunni minority, which has called the proposed federal system the start of the breakup of Iraq. Shiites and Kurds indicated they were in no mood to compromise.

[...]Key provisions of the draft would formalize an already autonomous Kurdish state in the north, under a federal system. The rest of the country also would be allowed to form federal systems -- opening the way for the demand by the dominant Shiite Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq to create a southern Shiite sub-state out of up to half of Iraq's 18 regions.

Sunnis and others say such a state would be under heavy influence from neighboring, Shiite-ruled Iran.

The draft also stipulates that Iraq is an Islamic state and that no law can contradict the principles of Islam, Shiite and Kurdish negotiators said. Opponents have charged that last provision would subject Iraqis to religious edicts by individual clerics.

The Shiite and Kurdish negotiators also said draft calls for the presence of Islamic clerics on the court that would interpret the constitution. Family matters such as divorce, marriage or inheritance would be decided either by religious law or civil law as an individual chooses -- a condition that opponents say would likely lead to women being forced into unfavorable rulings for them by opponents demanding judgments under Islamic law.

I don't think this is what they had in mind.

In fact, instead of a constitution to unite the people under an umbrella of freedom, it appears more likely to be a constitution that's likely to lead to civil war.

It now seems that conservative pundits are beginning to punt. Here's Andy McCarthy of the National Review:

For what it's worth, this is where I get off the bus ... if several reports this weekend are accurate, we see the shocking ultimate destination of the democracy diversion. In the desperation to complete an Iraqi constitution -- which can be spun as a major step of progress on the march toward democratic nirvana -- the United States of America is pressuring competing factions to accept the supremacy of Islam and the fundamental principle no law may contradict Islamic principles.

... even if I suspended disbelief for a moment and agreed that the democracy project is a worthy casus belli, I am as certain as I am that I am breathing that the American people would not put their brave young men and women in harm's way for the purpose of establishing an Islamic government. Anyplace. [The emphases are McCarthy's.]

We now see the beginning of serious dissent from congressional Republicans, if Sen. Chuck Hagel's (R-NE) comments are any indication:

A leading Republican senator and prospective presidential candidate said yesterday that the war in Iraq has destabilized the Middle East and is looking more like the Vietnam conflict from a generation ago.

Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who received two Purple Hearts and other military honors for his service in Vietnam, reiterated his position that the United States needs to develop a strategy to leave Iraq.

Hagel scoffed at the idea that US troops could be in Iraq four years from now at levels above 100,000, a contingency for which the Pentagon is preparing.

"We should start figuring out how we get out of there," Hagel said on ABC's "This Week." "But with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."

Hagel said "stay the course" is not a policy. "By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning," he said.

[Via CNN:] Hagel mocked Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion in June that the insurgency in Iraq was in its "last throes," saying the U.S. death toll has risen amid insurgent attacks.

"Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we're taking," the Nebraskan told CNN.

"If that's winning, then he's got a different definition of winning than I do."

Incidentally, Dubya's approval ratings are hitting record lows, currenetly at 36% approval in his handling of the presidency, and 33% approval for his handling of the economy. Think Progress points out that Richard Nixon's approval ratings in the summer of 1973, when the Watergate scandal was in full swing, was 39%. At this point in their presidencies, Bill Clinton's approval rating was 59% and Ronald Reagan's was 60%. In a separate poll about 2-1/2 weeks ago, Bush's approval rating with regards to Iraq fell to 38% and continues to fall.

[T]he portion of respondents who view his confidence as arrogance has increased from 49 percent in January to 56 percent now. "This country is a monarchy," said Charles Nuutinen, a 62-year-old independent from Greenville, Wisconsin. "He's turning this country into Saudi Arabia. He does what he wants. He doesn't care what the people want." Six in 10 surveyed said they think the country is headed down the wrong track, despite some encouraging economic news in recent weeks.

If he continues to plummet like this he'll start redshifting soon.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Sunday, August 21, 2005

Frank Rich: The Swift Boating of Cindy Sheehan"   Via Atrios, an op-ed from today's New York Times:

Cindy Sheehan couldn't have picked a more apt date to begin the vigil that ambushed a president: Aug. 6 was the fourth anniversary of that fateful 2001 Crawford vacation day when George W. Bush responded to an intelligence briefing titled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States" by going fishing. On this Aug. 6 the president was no less determined to shrug off bad news. Though 14 marine reservists had been killed days earlier by a roadside bomb in Haditha, his national radio address that morning made no mention of Iraq. Once again Mr. Bush was in his bubble, ensuring that he wouldn't see Ms. Sheehan coming. So it goes with a president who hasn't foreseen any of the setbacks in the war he fabricated against an enemy who did not attack inside the United States in 2001.

When these setbacks happen in Iraq itself, the administration punts. But when they happen at home, there's a game plan. Once Ms. Sheehan could no longer be ignored, the Swift Boating began. Character assassination is the Karl Rove tactic of choice, eagerly mimicked by his media surrogates, whenever the White House is confronted by a critic who challenges it on matters of war. The Swift Boating is especially vicious if the critic has more battle scars than a president who connived to serve stateside and a vice president who had "other priorities" during Vietnam.

The most prominent smear victims have been Bush political opponents with heroic Vietnam résumés: John McCain, Max Cleland, John Kerry. But the list of past targets stretches from the former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke to Specialist Thomas Wilson, the grunt who publicly challenged Donald Rumsfeld about inadequately armored vehicles last December. The assault on the whistle-blower Joseph Wilson -- the diplomat described by the first President Bush as "courageous" and "a true American hero" for confronting Saddam to save American hostages in 1991 -- was so toxic it may yet send its perpetrators to jail.

True to form, the attack on Cindy Sheehan surfaced early on Fox News, where she was immediately labeled a "crackpot" by Fred Barnes. The right-wing blogosphere quickly spread tales of her divorce, her angry Republican in-laws, her supposed political flip-flops, her incendiary sloganeering and her association with known ticket-stub-carrying attendees of "Fahrenheit 9/11." Rush Limbaugh went so far as to declare that Ms. Sheehan's "story is nothing more than forged documents - there's nothing about it that's real."

But this time the Swift Boating failed, utterly, and that failure is yet another revealing historical marker in this summer's collapse of political support for the Iraq war.


Atrios also links to a piece on Tom Smith's weblog regarding a Yahoo! News story about a rival, pro-war camp started by the father of another dead soldier that's sprung up in Crawford to oppose Cindy Sheehan's band of war protesters. The article begins with this sentence: "A patriotic camp with a 'God Bless Our President!' banner sprung up downtown Saturday, countering the anti-war demonstration started by a fallen soldier's mother two weeks ago near President Bush's ranch." Tom says,

Now, I am sorry for this man's loss. On a factual level, I don't agree with him. On a personal level, I think he's a fathead. I have no idea how questioning why our kids have died for a war we were lied into, or putting up a cross to commemorate a dead soldier, is disrespectful. But, honestly, Mr. Qualls has every right to hold his own pro-Bush protest. I don't agree with him, but that doesn't matter; so far, this is still America. And that, actually, is not what I wanted to post about.

I'm posting about the complicity of the Corporate Media in the Administration's propaganda campaign.

In the very first sentence of the story, with the first three words, Cindy Sheehan and those who protest with her are painted as unpatriotic.

There's really no way to avoid that implication. If those supporting the President are in "a patriotic camp", then Sheehan's Camp Casey is unpatriotic. 1+1=2, y'know?

The Right has been savagely smearing Cindy Sheehan for the past week. Coulter, Horowitz, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, all the big guns. They have been slandering this woman for wanting the President to give her a straight answer as to the cause her son died for. Because we still don't know, and we don't know how long we're going to be there, although the Army is planning for at least four more years.

The members of the Corporate Media do not care about America. They don't care about anything except being the toadies of those holding onto power. Like the sidekicks of bullies, they will take their small, petty, cheap shots wherever they can, and claim them as victories before their targets even look around to see what exactly hit them.

It is now unpatriotic for a mother to question why her son had to die. Think about that.

Indeed. We mustn't question Dear Leader, and we must accept everything he says as God's Word. Mustn't we?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, August 19, 2005

Mmmmmm, foie gras ...   Animal rights activists, take a pill around these parts. I know how they make foie gras, I don't have a problem with it, and I eat it. Not often, of course, given its cost and its high fat content. But hey, I'm a carnivore, and I enjoy it. (In fact, one foie gras preparation I had at Marisol a couple of weeks ago is one of the best things I've ever put into my mouth, ever. More on that later.)

There's an interesting article in Restaurant Report about the current state of affairs in the foie gras world, how the nation's number one producer is losing its lock on the business, and how we'll soon be having a new way of getting foie gras to our tables.

Kansas: Add this to your curriculum.   The Onion, brilliant, as always.

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

KANSAS CITY, KS -- As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Burdett added: "Gravity -- which is taught to our children as law -- is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."

Founded in 1987, the ECFR is the world's leading institution of evangelical physics, a branch of physics based on literal interpretation of the Bible.

According to the ECFR paper published simultaneously this week in the International Journal Of Science and the adolescent magazine God's Word For Teens!, there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise.

The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."

"We just want the best possible education for Kansas' kids," Burdett said.

Proponents of Intelligent Falling assert that the different theories used by secular physicists to explain gravity are not internally consistent. Even critics of Intelligent Falling admit that Einstein's ideas about gravity are mathematically irreconcilable with quantum mechanics. This fact, Intelligent Falling proponents say, proves that gravity is a theory in crisis.

[...] Some evangelical physicists propose that Intelligent Falling provides an elegant solution to the central problem of modern physics.

"Anti-falling physicists have been theorizing for decades about the 'electromagnetic force,' the 'weak nuclear force,' the 'strong nuclear force,' and so-called 'force of gravity,'" Burdett said. "And they tilt their findings toward trying to unite them into one force. But readers of the Bible have already known for millennia what this one, unified force is: His name is Jesus."

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tales of the Cocktail starts today!   Man, I wish I was in New Orleans ... ("I can see it in my dreams / arm in arm down Burgundy / a bottle and my friends and me." Thanks, Tom). Okay, done singing now. Anyway, the timing of my trip in for Dad's birthday couldn't quite last long enough to catch the Crescent City's premier event this weekend, alas. We'll have to do some schedule jiggling next year, though, so that I can attend Tales of the Cocktail, a celebration of the cocktail as well as the history of drinking and dining in New Orleans.

Many luminaries of the cocktail world will be there, including Doc, Dale, Robert and many more. There's a spate of "Spirited Dinners" being held tonight at restaurants all over town, each featuring two cocktail-related authors and/or cocktailian mixologists as well as menus inspired by spirits and liqueurs, and of course accompanied by paired libations. (Good Christ, I'd want to clone myself a dozen times over to take in all those fantastic meals. They ought maybe stagger them next year.)

If you're in or anywhere near New Orleans over the next three days, GO!

Speaking of the Doctor ...   I forgot about this -- it came out a few months back, and I'm not sure how I managed to forget to post it. Modern Drunkard magazine founder and editor Frank Kelly Rich interviews Dr. Cocktail about his own journey into the world of cocktails, and about cocktail culture now and then. Have a read (and have a drink).

Little Queenie in da house!   Last week's edition of "Down Home" was fabulous fun, featuring a visit and guest DJ duties by Leigh "Little Queenie" Harris, the New Orleans diva herself and one of my favorite singers. She's got a new album in the works entitled Purple Heart, which she was kind enough to bring along in work-in-progress form. It sounds great, and I can't wait for the finished product (this fall, fingers crossed). We listened to a lot of great music that she brought along, including the first album by Blood, Sweat and Tears, which I'd never heard. It was the brainchild of Al Kooper, who left the band after that first record, and sounds nothing like all the "Spinning Wheel" and "You Make Me So Very Happy" hits that made it onto the radio a few years later. This was pretty mindbending, a blend of blues, rock, folk, classical and jazz that unfortunately didn't make it into the realms of big hits and million sellers. Check out the playlist; except for that first Joe Krown tune and Leigh's own "My Darlin' New Orleans" from her days with the Percolators, the song choice is all hers.

Me 'n Leigh

Look at those grins ... that's two people who just had a blast, and I'm happy to say I've made a new friend, too. Leigh rocks.

Stay tuned to this space for more news of the forthcoming release of Purple Heart.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Breakfast of champions.   "You know," Wes pointed out a while back, "you still haven't finished posting stuff from Jazzfest, and that was three months ago." Yeah, I know. I'm a lazy bastard, and God Emperor of Procrastination. Let's all pretend it's endearing.

We certainly get enough photos and food porn descriptions of elegant meals in fancy restaurants, but let me assure you that we are also thrown into paroxysms of gustatory ecstasy by pure, simple down-home food, as we did when we were relaxing at the Seale Guesthouse in Eunice (our favorite place to stay in the area) ...

The Seale Guesthouse

... enjoying what surely must be the Breakfast of Champions: boudin, cracklins and Screwdrivers.

Yeah you rite.


Boudin, roughly pronounced "BOO-dan", is both Cajun delicacy and Cajun fast food. You get the best boudin from gas stations and convenience stores, and some of it is so monstrously good it could easily be served on the finest china in the most chic restaurants for $10 a plate, except for the fact that you know you can get it for about a buck a link, wrapped in a paper napkin, at the Best Stop in Scott, Louisiana or any of scores of other places like it.

Cracklins, in case you don't know, are little (or big) chunks of pork skin and fat, fried in rendered lard and seasoned. We got some cracklins from the Best Stop in Scott as well, and they were ... well, like crack. I could. Not. Stop. Eating them. Porky fatty crispy creamy spicy smoky, good Lord ... they were so good you'd slap ya mamma and everyone else's mamma too. I think this shot of my new cracklin habit rates as Photograph of the Day (click to enlarge):

Better than crack!

Hangin' out on the Cajun prairie in a beautiful house with great friends and eating fantastic food ... well, as the old cliché goes, it just don't get no betta den dat.

Cocktail of the day.   Still working my way through Dave Wondrich's new book Killer Cocktails, enjoying it while at the same time wanting to tear all the pages out so I can read the damn thing like a book. As I mentioned before, he's aces at presenting history and context amidst a slew of recipes for classic, forgotten and newly-created cocktails. Lillet fan that I am, here's one we enjoyed last night that's a Wondrich original, a French treatment (and pronunciation) of Irish whiskey.


2 ounces Irish whiskey (I used Tullamore Dew).
1 ounce Lillet blanc.
1 teaspoon Cointreau.
2 dashes orange bitters (I used Regans' No. 6).

Stir with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Twist a lemon peel over the drink and garnish with the peel.

Oh, speaking of cocktail books, while walking to the Louisiana Music Factory to spend too much money the other day, I passed Beckham's Bookshop a few doors down (as one does when walking to the Factory), spotted something in the front window, and walked out with a 1929 edition of Professor Jerry Thomas' The Bon-Vivant's Companion for my collection (oh, and four or three others too ...).

The Doctor is still in.   From Steve comes a link to a nice AP article about New Orleans perennial Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack a quintessential New Orleans musician, even though he hasn't lived in New Orleans for nearly forty years. Fortunately, he comes back for visits all the time; "If I don't get my crawfishes every now and then, I'd start losin' it," Mac said. I know how he feels.

Vassar Clements, RIP   The great American musician passed away yesterday at age 77. He was best known for his bluegrass playing, but also played swing, country and with bands like Grateful Dead and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (his playing on "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" was amazing, and the first time I really heard his playing was in the bluegrass outfit Old and In the Way with Jerry Garcia). He'll be missed.

What the f--?!   Rush Limbaugh is completely batshit insane. I never stoop to even mentioning his ridiculous diatribes, as they generally don't warrant, but as I'm attending a vigil in support of Cindy Sheehan in Highland Park tonight, I can't let this one go.

Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh equated the actions of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, with those of Bill Burkett, the retired Texas Air National Guard officer who provided CBS' 60 Minutes with unauthenticated documents regarding President Bush's National Guard record. Sheehan is currently staging an anti-war protest outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Limbaugh said that Sheehan's "story is nothing more than forged documents."

From the August 15 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest effort made by the coordinated left.

Her "story" is that her son died in Iraq, motherfucker. "A Humvee mechanic, Spc. Casey Sheehan was one of seven U.S. soldiers killed in Baghdad's Sadr City on April 4, 2004, by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire."

I don't think it's just his 30 Oxycontins and 20 Vicodins a day, either.

How can any radio station continue to carry this asshole's bullshit show? I guess it's really just for the money, and that honesty, decency and integrity don't really matter. This man is deeply disturbed, and I'd have to suspect the same of most if not all of his followers.

Quotes of the day.   Via Kos; all these quotes are from when President Clinton committed troops to Bosnia:

"You can support the troops but not the president."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Well, I just think it's a bad idea. What's going to happen is they're going to be over there for 10, 15, maybe 20 years."
--Joe Scarborough (R-FL)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"
--Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

"[The] President ... is once again releasing American military might on a foreign country with an ill-defined objective and no exit strategy. He has yet to tell the Congress how much this operation will cost. And he has not informed our nation's armed forces about how long they will be away from home. These strikes do not make for a sound foreign policy."
--Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

"American foreign policy is now one huge big mystery. Simply put, the administration is trying to lead the world with a feel-good foreign policy."
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."
--Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of George W. Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning ... I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."
--Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today"
--Rep Tom Delay (R-TX)

"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
--Governor George W. Bush (R-TX)

"Funny thing is," Kos points out, "we won that war without a single killed in action."

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Happy Elvis Death Day!   (Um, well, perhaps "happy" isn't quite the appropriate greeting, but you know what I mean.) You can celebrate by listening to plenty of the King's music, having a fried peanut butter, bacon, banana (and Vicodin) sandwich, catching an Elvis impersonator, or make your very own Elvis mural out of Post-Its. (Thanks to Steve H., Steve M. and Lisa for the links 'n stuff.)

In a statement issued by the Looka! Department of Shameful Confessions ... when I heard the news Elvis had died, I was on a school bus with a bunch of fellow high school band members, on the way to a Chicago concert that was chaperoned by our assistant band director. (Hey, Terry Kath hadn't blown his brains out yet, so they didn't completely suck then, and we used to do jazzy arrangements of their horn-laden songs in marching band.)

The Cocktailian and the Master Mixologist.   In the most recent edition of Gary Regan's fortnightly column, the Professor, our cocktailian bartender, "invites Madam Geneva for a cocktail." Given that "Madam Geneva" is an old nickname for gin (from the Dutch genever and the French genievre), I think I might just like this drink already, particularly when you add Pimm's No. 1 and San Pellegrino Aranciata. Sounds damned refreshing. Wonder what it'd taste like with Campari instead of Pimm's.

Gary also reminds us of a show that premiered last Sunday on the Fine Living channel: "Raising the Bar: America's Best Bar Chefs", hosted by the estimable Tony Abou-Ganim, creator of the Cable Car Cocktail, one of our favorites, and among many other things was the beverage director and creator of the cocktail program at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and was thereby responsible for a big milestone on our cocktail journeys.

We watched it last night, and it's a really good program. You know you're off to a great start when you begin with a visit to Dale DeGroff, and it sails along from there. I'll need to watch it again and jot down some notes before we zap it from the TiVo; unfortunately the link on the Fine Living page for the show that claims it takes you to five of the cocktail recipes in fact only loops back to the same page ... oops. Most of the drinks they make specify proportions, though, so they'd be easy enough to try at home. The show was full of great ideas (lavender-infused gin ... oh my) and great places to visit next time we're in New York, Miami or San Francisco.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, August 12, 2005

Food porn forthcoming.   I'm back, and tired, and lots to do (including unpacking, which I haven't done yet). Lots of pictures to go through as well.

I shall never, ever employ the services of SuperShuttle again.

The trip home was great. Dad's 70th was a blast -- fried shrimp and oyster poor boys at Mandina's; a trip to Meyer the Hatter (at the same location on St. Charles and Canal since 1894) for his birthday present, a new Panama; then dinner at home -- Mom made broiled trout with a crabmeat sauce, fresh vegetables and a cheesy orzo, plus chocolate mousse cake ... yum.

My adorable new little niece arrived in New Orleans from China, newly adopted. (Well, technically she's my cousin, but my uncle and I are close in age and grew up together, so she feels more like a niece.) She's amazing, settling in more and more every day, and more and more of her personality is emerging -- ebulliently happy, good taste in food (for a 20-month-old), smart as all get out and with quite a sense of humor. Man ... a month ago she was an orphan in Guangzhou, and now she's a West Banker named Mia.

White Linen Night was fun, although too crowded, and hot; Satchmo Summerfest, the new annual festival in honor of New Orleans' favorite son, was really terrific, but hot; and "Native Tongues 4, a presentation of monologues by local authors performed by local actors, was fantastic, and (except for the serious bits) hilarious.

Weight gain -- seven days, four pounds. About average, I guess. Palace Café, Marisol, Liuzza's, Emeril's Delmonico, Gene's, Coop's, and Café Adelaide ... not a bad haul. Lots more on all of them as I catch up later.

Got stuff to do ...

NOLA cocktails.   Of course, I drank well while I was home, too. A Vieux Carré at the Monteleone, natch; a fine Corpse Reviver No. 2 from Chris, one of my two favorite bartenders at Arnaud's French 75 Bar and a devotee of Dr. Cocktail (alas, we didn't get to see Bobby, my other favorite Arnaud's bartender, this time); hearty rye Manhattans at Marisol; barrel-strength George T. Stagg Bourbon whiskey at Michael and Louise's place; 1995 Perrier-Jouet Champagne and Hennessey X.O. Cognac on Dad's birthday; and a spectacular Sazerac at Emeril's Delmonico (um, two, actually).

Today's Times-Picayune features an article on cocktails in New Orleans -- the real stuff for real cocktailians, not that Hand Grenade swill they slop to tourists on Bourbon Street. Read about Chris McMillian, supremely cocktailian bartender at the Library Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, who makes the best Mint Julep anywhere, among many other things, and is a kindred spirit when it comes to quality: "A Bellini made with peach schnapps and one made with peach purée is like the difference between instant coffee and fresh ground beans." I'd go even farther than that; it's the difference between a drink that I'd pour into the nearest potted plant and a drink that I'd pay $10 for.

Many local restaurants and bars who take the time to make quality cocktails are profiled, from Herbsaint to Café Adelaide's excellent Swizzle Stick Bar to the W Hotel's Loa (although I must say that I once had one of the worst Sazeracs of my life at Loa), and they all seem to care very much about their cocktails. This is a good thing.

I was sorry to read that Lilette discontinued their eponymous signature cocktail, consisting of Lillet Blanc with a splash of soda, a dash of Madagascar vanilla extract and snips of fresh vanilla beans. I really enjoyed that, and so did Wes, but apparently our opinions weren't shared by most of Lilette's diners. "They got sent back a lot because they were so unusual," said [Lilette's beverages manager Jason] Baas, "and we wanted to put things on there that wouldn't get sent back." That makes sense, of course, but I'm disappointed in anyone who sent them back. I will admit, though, that it was probably the snips of vanilla bean floating around in the drink that put people off; I'll bet that if they tried it again without that it might work better.

Keeping score.   In the first of two links purloined from Kos today (cheap, easy and relevant free content, dontchaknow), here's a list from of the 21 Bush administration officials implicated in the Plame outing. "Treason," as Kos put it, "runs deep in the White House."

Have they no decency, at long last? (Of course not.)   The depths to which the right wing, as demonstrated by their media hacks and pundits, have sunk to further their agenda is on perfect display with their odious attacks of Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother of a soldier who was killed in Iraq last year, who was invited to the White House by Bush but left "sickened" after her visit to the Oval Office, who opposes both him and his war, and who has become a folk hero after camping outside Bush's Crawford ranch, refusing to leave until he speaks to her. Kos provided a link to the Cunning Realist weblog, "not because it's a conservative blogger taking on his own side, but because it is the best explanation of why the attacks on Cindy Sheehan are so outrageous."

The essence of the right-wing smear machine's "outing" of Cindy Sheehan is her supposed flip-flop from supporting President Bush in 2004 to disapproving of him in 2005. As details of this have become clearer, it's obvious the flip-flop is nothing more than a canard. But setting aside the Sheehan story for a moment, have any of the shameless smearsters seen the public opinion polls recently? Here's some breaking news for them: a whole lot of Americans who supported Bush a year ago -- including an increasingly large part of his "base" -- have turned against him. And that includes many millions of people who haven't lost a parent, child, or sibling in Iraq.

There are so many side issues of shamelessness and crass opportunism in this story it makes my head spin. Think about the gall of a political and media machine "accusing" a private citizen of changing her mind (imagine that!) about an elected and supposedly accountable public official. When did a private citizen supposedly changing her opinion about something rise to the same level as a flip-flop about firing anyone involved in the leaking a CIA agent's name? At what point did the ability to change one's mind about a politician become something to be ridiculed and accused of instead of cherished as a basic right? And it's not as if in the past year we haven't learned anything about the pre-war manipulation of intelligence, as well as the incompetent planning, that resulted in the death of Cindy Sheehan's son and thousands of others like him.

Something else about this story that infuriates me is the vision of feckless, smarmy smearsters and cowards hiding behind keyboards in cities like Washington and New York (and yes, Miami), punching out electronic missives in a pathetic and desperate attempt to impugn the integrity of a woman sitting in the dust and August heat of Texas---a woman who, along with her dead son, embodies everything that's right about this country. The growing division between the professional class of spinning punditry and the vast expanse of Middle America that actually does the working, the fighting and the dying so the pundits can spend their time chattering has never been more clear than with this story.

One of the most odious comments came from the repugnant Michelle Malkin, infamous internment apologist and near-denier, who said that she didn't think that the late Casey Sheehan would approve of what his mother was doing. Cindy Sheehan lobbed it right back in her face with grace, dignity and righteous anger:

I didn't know Casey knew Michelle Malkin. I'm Casey's mother and I knew him better than anybody else in the world. I can't bring Casey back, but I wonder how often Michelle Malkin sobbed on his grave. Did she go to his funeral? Did she sit up with him when he was sick when he was a baby?

Thank you, Cindy. (More at The Peking Duck.)

TBogg put it pretty well too:

Michelle Malkin didn't know Casey Sheehan.
Michelle Malkin never met Casey Sheehan.
Michelle Malkin never corresponded with Casey Sheehan.
Michelle Malkin has no idea what Casey Sheehan might have thought.
Michelle Malkin should shut the fuck up.

It's really that simple.

And the simplest explanation is usually the best.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, August 3, 2005

I'm off.   I'm back home in New Orleans for a week as of today, for my dad's 70th birthday. Posting may (or may not) be scarce, depending on how much time I've got and how many drinks I've had before I go home.

A visit with The Libation Goddess.   Audrey Saunders, that is, cocktailian extraordinaire, until recently bar manager at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel in New York, and soon to be the proprietor of her own joint, the forthcoming Pegu Club. That bar will be worth a trip to NYC alone!

I don't subscribe to Food and Wine magazine, so occasionally I miss out on some good stuff, including a nice, long article about Audrey and her mixological adventures in preparing to open the Pegu Club. For one thing, at that bar there'll be ... no vodka! Hooray! (Well, they'll have a little, but it'll be hidden under the bar, out of sight.) There'll be 23 different brands of gin, and cocktails on the menu that she's dug out of Charles Baker's The Gentleman's Companion: Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Glass. I may swoon.

Cocktail of the day.   Let's revisit the namesake cocktail of Audrey's wonderful new bar, a favorite of Wes' and mine. It's wonderful.

The Pegu Club

2 ounces London dry gin.
1 ounce orange Curaçao.
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice.
1 dash Angostura bitters.
1 dash orange bitters.

Stir with ice and strain.

Have these at home, and if you can find a bartender near you who knows how to make one of these (and actually has orange bitters), you're a lucky individual indeed.

Safe, simple, soon?   NASA prepares to scrap the concept of the reusable Space Shuttle in favor of a step back into the past -- putting astronauts in capsules atop payload stages on top of booster rockets, as was done during the Apollo program. Some shuttle components will be retooled and reintegrated into this "back to basics" system, which even has its own website already.

I dunno, Crow. This seems like "safe but cheap", rather than showing the kind of scientific vision and drive that got us to the moon. We should be working on SSTO (single-stage-to-orbit) vehicles, and if we really want to go to Mars we should be building the ship in orbit, shouldn't we? At this rate, don't expect warp drive anytime soon.

Cartoon of the day.   Ted Rall, via Steve in yesterday's email.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Don't let the door hit you in your (big) ass on the way out.   "Carb supporters rejoice," says the headline in the Los Angeles Times, with a similar one in the San Francisco Chronicle. Why are we rejoicing? Because Atkins Nutritionals has filed for bankruptcy. Mad Carb Disease has been conquered! In email, our friend Dave said, "I can see folks dancing in the streets, holding large crusty breads and plates of pasta over their heads, and firing potato pellets into the air..."

"It just proves that what Atkins was trying to do was just too extreme," said Jeff Yankellow, a South San Francisco baking instructor and winner of the World Cup of Baking in Paris in April. "Bread has survived as a nutritional food for thousands of years, and Atkins isn't going to kill it."

The flood of all those absolutely nasty "low-carb" packaged foods probably contributed to their demise as well, because 99.999% of those foods tasted like shit (and were expensive).

I don't know a single person who's still on the Atkins diet, and I heard a story on NPR yesterday where several people who had been on Atkins were interviewed; none of them was able to stay on the diet, and they all regained the weight they lost, plus an average of 10 pounds more. As I said before, there's something wrong with a diet that says you can have all the cream and cheese you want, that you can eat a 16-ounce porterhouse steak topped with bacon and blue cheese, but you can't have an apple or a carrot.

Moderate your carbohydrate intake, as you modify your intake of everything else (but vegetables) with reasonable portion sizes, and exercise more. That's it. Thirty-three pounds later, that's what worked for me. (It'd be forty if I didn't keep going to New Orleans and eating, and if I actually exercised more.)

Cocktails of the day.   I finally picked up Dave Wondrich's excellent new book Killer Cocktails: An Intoxicating Guide to Sophisticated Drinking. It begins with mixological rudiments (types of liquor, equipment, etc.) which you can skip if you're no longer a beginner and get into the meat of the matter -- the cocktails. There are a lot of drinks in there you won't find anywhere else, and I can't wait to get to exploring them. Dave's writing and cocktail discoveries, both new and forgotten, are as top-notch as always, although there are differences of opinion at our Eagle Rock aerie. I enjoyed The Four Commandments of the Martini, but we do shake Martinis at our house; Wes likes 'em that way, finding them actually colder than when stirred. (Dave, if you ever come over, I'll certainly stir, and I must confess that my own Martini epiphany was a stirred one made by Dale DeGroff.) As much as I'm enjoying it, though, I dohave one wee problem with the book.

It's got a spiral-bound, stand-up design which allows it to stand on the counter like an easel as you mix. Good idea, but someone at the publisher decided that instead of making the book such that you flip consecutive pages as the book faces you, then flip the whole thing over to continue on the other half of the book (i.e., the consecutively numbered pages are on each facing leaf), the pages are printed back-to-back; i.e., you have to flip the whole goddamn thing around after every page if you're reading it continuously. I found that design unwieldy,and it makes me want to just tear all the pages out and staple them together so I can turn pages without having to flip the entire book around. The contents are worth the annoyance, though.

I was thrilled that Dave came up with a near-forgotten New Orleans cocktail I had never heard of. He says it comes from "The Bon Ton Bar" on Magazine Street in the 1930s; I wonder if that's the still-extant Bon Ton Café on Magazine, home of some of the best crawfish étouffée and bread pudding in the city. In any case, apparently the bar/restaurant is still there (which leads me to think it's the same place I'm thinking about) and is the only place in the world that serves this drink.

The Rum Ramsey

1-1/2 ounces Cuban-style white rum.
1 teaspoon Bourbon.
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar or simple syrup.
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice.
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters.

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Optional lime wedge or twist garnish.

It was ... interesting. The verdict's still out on this one, and I think I need to try this with a better rum than Bacardi (which was all I had on hand at the time), or try it with Myers' white rum and a different Bourbon (I used Wild Turkey). The single teaspoon of Bourbon gives it a really interesting character, and while I didn't do back flips over this one, it certainly merits further experimentation. Thanks, Dave!

I learned of yet another New Orleans cocktail the very next day, another that I hadn't heard of before. Dr. Cocktail emailed me to ask what I knew about another Monteleone Hotel creation aside from its wonderful, classic Vieux Carré Cocktail, one called "The Goody". I had no idea, did a little Googling, and managed to find this:

The Goody
Carousel Bar, Monteleone Hotel, New Orleans

1 ounce light rum.
1 ounce dark rum.
1 ounce orgeat syrup.
1 ounce pineapple juice.
2 ounces orange juice.

Mix well and serve in a tall glass over ice.

Sounds perfectly good and refreshing, but pretty ordinary and not terribly complex; I have an overwhelming compulsion to run to the bar and add bitters, or pimento dram, or something.

The Sushi Encyclopedia.   Everything, and I mean everything you always wanted know about sushi, but were afraid (or merely didn't know) to ask. Rule No. 1: "Never dip sushi in soy sauce from the rice-side and suck up too much amount. It will be too bitter to eat, or will damage the taste of sushi seriously."

*gasp*   "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!" Not only that, Captain Renault, but apparently the Guantánamo "trials" are rigged, too. (Your winnings, sir.) Next up, kangaroo courts with real kangaroos, kids.

ABC NEWS, Australia - Leaked emails from two former prosecutors claim the military commissions set up to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay are rigged, fraudulent, and thin on evidence against the accused.

Two emails, which have been obtained by the ABC, were sent to supervisors in the Office of Military Commissions in March of last year - three months before Australian detainee David Hicks was charged and five months before his trial began.

The first email is from prosecutor Major Robert Preston to his supervisor.

Maj Preston writes that the process is perpetrating a fraud on the American people, and that the cases being pursued are marginal.

"I consider the insistence on pressing ahead with cases that would be marginal even if properly prepared to be a severe threat to the reputation of the military justice system and even a fraud on the American people," Maj Preston wrote.

"Surely they don't expect that this fairly half-arsed effort is all that we have been able to put together after all this time."

Maj Preston says he cannot continue to work on a process he considers morally, ethically and professionally intolerable.

"I lie awake worrying about this every night," he wrote.

"I find it almost impossible to focus on my part of mission.

"After all, writing a motion saying that the process will be full and fair when you don't really believe it is kind of hard, particularly when you want to call yourself an officer and lawyer."

Maj Preston was transferred out of the Office of Military Commissions less than a month later.

He was? I'm shocked, shocked.

There's more.

July Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

[ Link to today's entries ]

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, Sean Burke, Shari Minton and Barry Enderwick.
chuq's links | the gumbo pages
creole and cajun recipe page | search this site

chuck taggart | email chef (at) gumbopages (dot) com
This site ©1994-2005 by Chuck Taggart.
All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
This means that you may not copy my writing onto other web pages or anywhere else without my specific written permission. (Quotes of short passages, properly attributed, may be considered fair use.) If you do copy my work, it's called "stealing".

People who steal my stuff will be étoufféed and served to Dr. Lecter, with a nice Chianti. (I'm serious. Just don't do it. Thanks.)