Girl with magnifier

Tuesday, June 18, 2024


The great Willie Dixon on bass. This is from 1966 in Chicago, a Sunday morning Gospel show called Jubilee Showcase. Loved Pops sound, nothing else like it.

Savory fennel and duck sausage tart

We came up with a new savory puff pastry tart tonight. These recipes come right out of our collective heads.

When Leslie and I put our culinary minds together and are working on the same page the results are often quite delicious!

Tonight we made a fennel and duck sausage tart with arugula, garlic and crushed red pepper, nesting in a fontina, ricotta puff pastry base and topped with shaved parmesan.

Overkill? Maybe. 

Was it worth it? Yes. Learning a few tricks with this stuff, through the blind process of discovery and just doing it. The possibilities are endless. We tried a slightly different twist for round two.

Leslie cooked mushrooms, spinach and bacon in white wine with garlic.  I prepared the puff pastry and coated it with just ricotta this time. I added sun dried tomatoes to my side. Topped it with shaved parmesan again.The flavors melded extraordinarily.

Of course, we would have to have dessert after such a fine repast.

Renee gave us a basket of her ripe olallieberries this afternoon. I made a sweetened ricotta base and then we added the berries, brown sugar, lemon zest and cardamon. About 17 minutes at 400 degrees f. Pretty freaking amazing.

One thing I have learned is that if your prepping is taking too long, get the pastry back in the freezer for a few minutes. Cold is very important with this stuff.

Good Times

The Australian band the Easybeats recorded this tune in 1968 with the great Steve Marriott on background vocals and Nicki Hopkins on keyboards.

The Acolyte

Leslie and I have managed to watch the first three episodes of the new Star Wars saga The Acolyte

It is okay, not great or even really very good. Just okay.

And it currently has the worst fan score ever recorded for the franchise, around 16% approval.

I have read some snarky comments about the arrival of the lesbian witch space aliens from Planet Sappho and how they have offended some people. 

It has apparently delighted others, see How The Acolyte Wove Queerness — and Lesbian Space Witches — Into Star Wars.

I do think the woke nature of this series is a bit heavy handed, more an entreaty to millennials and the age war than overtly offensive in any way. Sort of like the dumb mods in Bobba Fett, have to patronize the youth audience, don't we?

It is just so gratuitous and that appeal to all the aggrieved minority groups who finally get their play and moment in the sun unfortunately comes at the expense of real character development and good story telling.

I am not a big Star Wars guy, I tend to watch these things out of sheer boredom. 

I think the acting has been terrible since the very beginning, before Mark Hamill had a drivers license for his X-34 landspeeder. 

And then it got even worse.

But then a remarkable thing happened and it was called the Mandalorian and we all fell in love with the story of the butch alpha killer and his remarkably soft relationship with the cute little baby Yoda, the target he didn't have the strength to see die.

And then that paled at the issuance of the greatest Star Wars tale of all, Andor, one of the greatest series I have ever seen, part 1984, part Clockwork Orange, a riveting tale, one that didn't rely on space aliens and ray guns but instead developed real characters with breadth and intelligence and a dollop of existential dread.

And once the brilliant Tony Gilroy wrote and developed the Andor series I went hot diggety, he has pulled StarWars up from its stupid bootstraps and made it truly wonderful and we can never go back, they slink back down to the faceless, stupid, meaningless action flick that delivers nothing but lightsabers and cgi and characters, which, color, gender and sexuality aside, deliver absolutely nothing. 

Bravo Disney, you learned nothing.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Wishful thinking from the New Yorker


Sydnie Christmas

Michael R. Evans

"It's in the doing and not the knowing..." Michael Evans

My friend and fellow Fallbrookian Michael Evans has been getting some publicity of late regarding his work in the field of sacred geometry. Here is a video regarding his work with Terrence Howard, who discussed him recently on the Joe Rogan show.

Michael's innovative geometric creations have been sold at the Smithsonian for more than fifty years.

More information can be found on his website here.

Michael has been in ill health of late. 

It is good that he is finally getting some recognition for his brilliant efforts.

Wonderful man.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Hoyt Axton

Put the load right on me...

You know the wonderful song by the Band, the Weight? I thought I did but this article at American Songwriter gave me a whole bunch more knowledge about the song.

Much of it centers around a late Canadian singer named Cathy Smith who once sang backup for Hoyt Axton. Cathy was also a heroin addict and a drug dealer. She gave John Belushi the speedball cocktail that put him in his grave. Smith died in 2020 after a stint in jail.

“It should have been me in the pine box, with a tag on my toe,” she said in a documentary made for CITY-TV of Toronto in the mid-1980s. “My name is Smith, who cares?”

And she had a baby with the Band, only she didn't know which one of them was the father. 

The Band’s iconic hit “The Weight” follows the narrator as various characters either thwart his efforts or throw more burdens on him as the song progresses. According to a website archiving The Band’s history, the band’s association with Cathy Smith was the main inspiration behind the track. “It was the song that [Helm] used to tease Cathy Evelyn Smith with,” the website reads. “She mentioned that in her book Chasing the Dragon. She said she would turn red and run away cause every time he sang it, he would look over at her and grin.”

The song’s recurring theme of carrying the burden of others seems to be a metaphorical reference to “The Band Baby,” which either belonged to Levon Helm or Richard Danko, both of whom had sexual relations with Smith around the same time.

Fellow bandmate Richard Manuel offered to marry Smith and care for the child, but Smith turned him down. “Richard (who it appears was not responsible) stood up and offered to take the ‘load’ or consequences. It does ring bells with the themes Robbie [Robertson] has stated that “The Weight” is about: sharing a load, guilt, and ‘the impossibility’ of redemption.”

She also had an extramarital imbroglio with Gordon Lightfoot and Keith Richards, the girl clearly got around.

Interesting short article, give it a read.

Boysenberry Streusel Muffins

The chemo thing is tough, I am a little tired and dingy. Not getting much accomplished. I left work early, after polishing a new set of silver flatware and writing a blogpost or two.

Last night I made loin lamb chops with ginger, rosemary and garlic. I marinated them all day and then prepared a toasted orzo with basil and parmesan. Cooking orzo in a saucepan with chicken stock is far preferable to cooking it in a pot of water.

Got to try out my new infrared thermometer, not terribly accurate I don't think. All these new toys...

I stopped off at RoxAnn's on the way home and she gave me fresh boysenberries from her incredible patch.

RoxAnn and Mick are wonderful souls and they have a beautiful garden.

When I got home I whipped out my new farberware muffin pan and made boysenberry muffins with a streusel topping.

They were quite good.

Another item checked off my culinary bucket list!

Donald Gajadhar

Donald Gajadhar is a friend of mine, for well over twenty five years. We use to exhibit at the Los Angeles Modernism Show together when he was working with James Infante. 

An artist, he owns an antique appraisal business in New York.

Donald is incredibly bright and personable and was always a delight to be around. 

But I never knew much about his backstory, one that has been getting a lot of publicity lately due to an increasingly overly woke society.

Read this article at the Telegraph. Or here

The National Portrait Gallery is under fire after wrongly claiming that an art dealer built his career using money from slavery.

The London gallery claimed next to a portrait of Edward Fox White that a compensation payout his father-in-law received for freeing slaves was used to “establish and sustain” his career.

However, curators have been forced to admit there is “no evidence” for the link after it was spotted by Donald Gajadhar, Mr White’s great-great-grandson.

They have now removed any mention of slavery from the caption, but Mr Gajadhar is asking for a public retraction of the slur on his ancestor.

“The claim simply isn’t true,” he told The Telegraph. “They had no evidence that his father-in-law, Moses Gomes Silva, gave him any money from his slave compensation. 

“It seems to me that it was put there to tick some boxes, but that’s not right, they should have done their due diligence.

“It made me feel that they are sloppy, that they have an agenda which is more important to them than the facts.

“I want them to issue a public retraction and to apologise. I want them to tell the truth and to do their job properly.”

The oil painting, by French artist James Tissot, was sold by Mr Gajadhar’s grandmother to Christie’s in 1988 and is currently on loan to the National Portrait Gallery.

Mr Gajadhar, who runs Fox-White and Associates, an art appraisal company founded by Mr White, noticed the caption when he visited the gallery last summer.

‌It read: “White’s first marriage linked him to a wealthy Sephardic Portuguese Jewish family who had owned Jamaican sugar plantations. 

“Following Abolition in 1836, White’s future father-in-law received a ‘large amount’ of compensation for 28 enslaved Africans – money that would later help establish and sustain White’s career.”

In a letter to The Telegraph, Mr Gajadhar said the claim “did not align with my knowledge of our family history, which revealed no such transaction”.

He added: “[As] a descendant of slaves myself, I felt compelled to seek clarification”, and said he wrote to the gallery in December asking staff to provide the source of their claims.

Mr Gajadhar, who is of English, West Indian and Indian descent, noted that, as the firm he runs from New York is now “black owned”, it is “not good to claim it is founded on the backs of slavery compensation”.

The gallery told him that staff had committed to “exploring multiple and diverse narratives of British history” including “stories of empire and colonialism, which are woven through the interpretation at the National Portrait Gallery to provide global context to the people and portraits on display, and to explore their legacies”.

It admitted that “while it is not easily demonstrable (and not having access to the relevant historic accounts) that there is a direct link” between the compensation Mr Gomes Silva received for freeing enslaved Africans and the inheritance he later left for his daughter, there was “nevertheless a possibility” that she and her husband may have benefitted from the money.

The gallery did not reveal the source of its claim.
I find it strangely ironic that my friend, who is dark complected and himself a descendent of slaves, was put through the ringer by the excessively woke, on racial grounds, especially when the initial "proof" was so speculative and flimsy.

But I guess that is the world in which we now live. Young and perfect social custodians can now examine the past with their twenty twenty righteous vision and denude any moment in historical time that does not correspond to their infinite sanctity and purity.

Shoot first and deal with the mess later, that is, if anybody catches on. Who among us could pass these sorts of historical ideological litmus tests?

Jo Jo Gunne

More Paul DeGaston

The greatest whodunit I have ever been even tangentially involved with is the strange story of Paul de Gaston. Nazi spy, artist, abortionist, Black dahlia figure, etc.

I have written a lot about this curious fellow, should have written a book on the subject as it unfolded. But I didn't. 

Oh well.

Here is my first article if you need to get reacquainted. 

And this one gives a loose compendium of other things I have written but still not all of them. 

For that you need to do a blast search, this should be near everything.

Except that I got another note from the family recently that I thought I should share with you, keep everything on the table.


I am the granddaughter of Paul deGaston and your blog has been a source of interest to me and my cousin who died a couple years ago. I am the granddaughter of the abortion doctor Paul deGaston. I thought I would send you his known signature on a piece of art he made.  I have the final post card and the original which he signed.  Maybe this helps you identify the signatures?  He was pretty young when he did this one. I have some other documents like letters to his ex wife, my grandmother, but they are not at my easy disposal at the moment. 



Patricia, that is so sweet. You know, the story is so fascinating, I should have written a book but I take solace in knowing that so many people have read the tale on my blog.Thank you so much for this, I will put it on line.



Patricia deGaston 

Apr 6, 2024, 6:48 PM
I have some other information about him if you’re interested. My dad was his second oldest child with his first wife, born in 1929. My dad told me when he was about 14-16 his dad had a Packard limousine and had several mining claims out in the desert.  According my dad when his dad would lose an abortion patient he took him out to his “mining claims” and would dispose of the patients remains in those mines.  He said his dad took him with for these a few times and then bought him a prostitute as a reward.  He said he was so young and afraid the hookers just took him to a room and talked him as a kid. 

He said they took the limousine through the desert with a trunk full of dynamite and a dead woman.  His primary customers were starlets with “morals” clauses referred to him by the movie studios and the Catholic Church.  

He was not a good person and my dad said he feels lucky that he didn’t have much of a relationship with his father and his experiences with him weren’t very good. Paul used to say “I walk down the middle of the road so people can kiss my ass from both sides” and that was how he lived. He was murdered by his lawyer for sleeping with his wife. His life ended when he was bludgeoned to death in his home.   I may have some photos of movie stills from films he was in but the films themselves burned in that large fire I was told.  
He was born in China because his parents were missionaries. The original family name was Bach but they changed it to Gaston to escape the Boxer rebellion because they pretended to be French instead of German. Paul added the “de” to sound more fancy for his film career. When he came to the US he didn’t register and got annoyed with the immigration process and jumped from the boat and swam to shore to skip registering. He spent WWII in a US concentration camp because of his relationship with Adolph Hitler. They had gone to school together apparently. I don’t think he was actually a spy but they were concerned he was.  His letters with Hitler were more of a personal nature because of their schoolmate relationship. 


So charming, a drawing of a coffin. That Paul De Gaston was quite a fellow!

Saturday wiggles

So what do I have got today?


Happy birthday Barry Friedman!


Did you know that the name Jessica was coined by William Shakespeare? I didn't. Guy was a hell of a writer.

The first use of the name Jessica was in William Shakespeare’s play The Merchant of Venice for the daughter of the Jewish moneylender Shylock. The Bard likely used Anglicized versions of names taken from the Christian Book of Genesis for all of his Jewish characters. In the case of Jessica, the root name was probably Iscah, a very minor biblical figure who was a niece of Abraham and sister of Lot. Centuries later, Jessica had an incredible 21-year run, from 1977 to 1997, on the baby name top-five list in the United States, spending most of that time in the No. 1 or No. 2 slot.


Here's a wonderful new example of GOP hypocrisy. The file is getting pretty large.

His explanation is classic.

“If abortion was the best choice for your girlfriend, why try to deny that choice to other women?” Clark bluntly asked.

Holtorf tried to wiggle out of a straight answer, saying he’s “a pro-life Catholic” who believes that “everyone should choose life.” But he eventually said that, yes, his girlfriend had made the choice to get an abortion.

“If abortion was the best choice for your girlfriend, why try to deny that choice to other women?” Clark bluntly asked.

Holtorf tried to wiggle out of a straight answer, saying he’s “a pro-life Catholic” who believes that “everyone should choose life.” But he eventually said that, yes, his girlfriend had made the choice to get an abortion.


 Rare lynx found in Wyoming.  I am sure the locals can't wait to shoot it.


California weed economy crumbles.


Yids in Zambia - Ricardo sends this along.


Shawn send this beautiful tune.


DeGoff send this.


Is Trump on Adderall?


The Apple stance.



Rare product endorsement

I never shill for anything so this is a little bit different for me. I hope you realize I have never received a nickel for any kind of commercial endorsement.

But I have never smelled or used shave cream that was as nice as this Edge Cedarwood and Shea Butter. I don't know what it is about this particular smell but it hits home with me. I am not sure how long it has been on the market, Leslie brought it home for me about a month ago. I actually look forward to shaving in the morning just to get this scent. Clean and refreshing.

We humans are all programmed to like certain smells. the use of cedar and sandalwood go back to biblical times.

In Ezekiel 31, Assyria is compared to a cedar of Lebanon and described thus: “Beautiful branches overshadowing the forest; it towered on high, its top above the thick foliage. The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. So it towered higher than all the trees of the field; its boughs increased and its branches grew long, spreading because of abundant waters. All the birds of the sky nested in its boughs, all the animals of the wild gave birth under its branches; all the great nations lived in its shade. It was majestic in beauty, with its spreading boughs, for its roots went down to abundant waters” (verses 3–7). The symbolism of the cedar points to the former greatness of Assyria, as it towered magnificently over the other nations of the earth.

Cedar is mentioned throughout the Old Testament as an item of luxury and wealth. David used cedar wood in building his palace (2 Samuel 5:11; 7:2), and it was also used in building the temple (1 Kings 5:6; 2 Kings 19:23), which was almost completely paneled with cedar (1 Kings 6:6, 16, 18, 20, 36). Solomon used it in his Palace of the Forest of Lebanon, with cedar columns, beams, and roof (1 Kings 7:2). It was also used in the construction of the second temple (Ezra 3:7). The abundance of cedar was seen as a sign of prosperity (1 Kings 10:27; 2 Chronicles 1:15.) David and Solomon acquired their cedar from Hiram, king of Tyre, a city in Lebanon (1 Chronicles 14:1; 2 Chronicles 2:3, 8) where the best cedar was to be found.

Believer or not, the ancient kings were on to something. Check it out if you can find it and let me know if you concur.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Gloria: In Excelsis Deo

Good News!

Before I dive back into food and politics and flowers and birds, perhaps some personal housekeeping is in order, for those of you that follow from home.

I had a bladder biopsy Wednesday at Scripps Hospital in Hillcrest. As you know I have dealt with one cancer or another since 1985 and have been stage four in the wall twice in the last five years. Wouldn't have given you a nickel for my chances but here I still am.

I had some irregular bleeding a while back and I have learned that I have to confront these potential problems when they are small and before they get big. I learned the hard way back in 2019.

In any case, the post surgery tsoris was a bitch, horrific actually, as it always is, but yesterday was a little better and today is even more so. In a few days I might be feeling normal again.

This treatment was different because rather than get the immunotherapy treatment I have been receiving through the last thirty nine years, I got switched to a chemotherapy dose this time. First time for me, if you can believe it.

Had to hold it for an extra hour of catheterization. It is called Gemzar, short for Gemcitabane. Don't know anything about it, hope it works.

Scripps sent me my results last night and it looks really good, no malignancies detected this time. Some irregular cells but nothing too serious. My doctor just called and said that rather than undergo the BCG treatment again, which laid me up last August and September, I am good to go for another four months, at which time I will receive another cystoscopy and look around.

Awesome news for me. Four more months, I will take it.


This is usually the time I thank my doctor and loved ones for their care and concern and I do so once again. I appreciate all your support. 


I have got to know the nurses pretty well down there. I saw Curtis who I have known for a really long time. One of my nurses was sporting a large cross and wanted to talk to me about my faith, something I am less than comfortable doing publicly. 

I skirted the subject as best I could. She has a daughter who is a rock climber who recently suffered a three hundred foot fall in Colorado, messed her up pretty good. She has gotten better and if her mother wants to believe in a divine superpower, who the hell am I to argue with her?

She did explain to me that Scripps was a Catholic Hospital, something I am not sure I ever knew. And she told me something rather startling; they are getting a lot of border jumpers in there and have to fix them.

We can argue the probity of entering our country in an illegal fashion later, these poor doctors and nurses have to pick up the pieces.

She says there are innumerable broken ankles, legs and collarbones as well as fractured pelvises.  Coming in on a daily basis. They are on the front lines of the border problem. She says the fence is thirty foot tall and there is concrete on our side, the immigrants jump anyway, not knowing, some destined to bear the intense pain for the rest of our lives.

It is easy to conceptualize the problem and I am a strong border proponent. Still I feel sad for the people with the broken bones. Wasn't in the itinerary they had planned I am sure. Real human beings to be sure, not just statistics.


I came into town to pay a bill and buy some herbs. Going to go back home and crawl back into bed.


Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Once again...



Defy-ers defiant about defiance.


Sinclair Media gets called out for its shenanigans.


Anti abortion zealots send fake, retracted studies to the Supreme Court.

The legal challenge was set off by a group of antiabortion doctors who argued that the Food and Drug Administration ignored safety concerns when it eased restrictions on mifepristone’s availability. They relied on scientific studies claiming the medication is dangerous, citing the number of emergency room visits after mifepristone use. After publication, though, other scientists voiced major concerns about the statistical methods and thus questioned the conclusions.

For example, an external group found that one of the retracted studies used inaccurate medical codes — numbers used to translate health-care procedures and diagnoses — to count “abortion-related” emergency room visits. The study used codes for ectopic pregnancies, which occur naturally and are unrelated to abortions. The experts identified major ethical issues and scientific errors, including: A peer reviewer knew at least one of the authors of all three studies, and several are members of the same pro-life advocacy organizations, despite declaring no conflicts of interest in the study. The Sage review also concluded there were “unjustified or incorrect factual assumptions,” “material errors” and “misleading presentations” of data that “demonstrate a lack of scientific rigor and invalidate the authors’ conclusions in whole or in part.”



Tuesday, June 11, 2024

book about book bans banned


Florida Police State raises the temperature to 451 degrees.

The vote happened despite the district’s book-review committee vetting the work and deciding to keep it in schools.

Indian River county school board members disagreed with how Gratz’s book referred to other works that had been taken out of school, and accused it of “teaching rebellion of school-board authority”, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Seven Curses

Knockout tarts

I'm going in for what is hopefully a minor surgical procedure tomorrow and can't eat or drink after midnight. I've had a bit of gallows humor all day, no matter how often you go through them, biopsies are pretty scary indeed.

I decided to make a nice last meal before I walked the green mile. Been on the tart thing and thought I would mix it up a tad.

Not only did I make apricot and nectarine tarts with blueberries, I prepared savory tarts tonight with Leslie's help.

We made puff pastry tarts with ricotta, spinach, mushrooms, garlic and prosciutto. A bit of red pepper and shaved parmigiana topped them off.

Truly wonderful and the recipe came right out of our heads. The prosciutto was flavored with black pepper and cherry. Knocked this one out of the park, I must say.

Rough waters ahead

Politicians come and go but justices of the Supreme Court seemingly stay in office forever. 

Leonard Leo, Federalist puppermaster
We have a SCOTUS stacked with right wing justices now, thanks to the duplicity and chicanery of Mitch McConnell, among others. 

The last ten years or so have been a very bumpy ride while the majority seeks to roll back the entire judicial legacy of the 20th Century, starting at FDR and ending with Roe.

Justice Sotomayor recently signaled that things are about to get even worse.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the most senior liberal on the conservative Supreme Court, told an audience at Harvard University on Friday that she sometimes cries after the court hands down its decisions – and she suggested there may be more tears ahead.

“There are days that I’ve come to my office after an announcement of a case and closed my door and cried,” Sotomayor told the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, where she received an award Friday. “There have been those days. And there are likely to be more.”

Sotomayor made the remarks as the Supreme Court turns toward the final weeks of a term in which the justices will decide a number of high-profile controversies, including former President Donald Trump’s claim of immunity from federal election subversion charges and two major cases dealing with abortion.

The Supreme Court of this country no longer speaks to or represents the views of a majority of its citizenry, the justices themselves almost solely appointed by Presidents who have also lost the popular vote.

Do they temper their partisan zeal in their attempts to smite their political opponents and the godless as recent recordings of Justice Alito suggest? 

Do they seek to reflect and better understand the will and direction of the American people?

Hell no, they don't. They go full speed ahead, no longer in actuality anything but a group of de facto legislators pushing a partisan political agenda and trying to take us back to their originalist 18th Century happy place.

The scariest portent came from Justice Kavanaugh recently. His message? You'll get used to it in time. Accept it.

“The Warren court was no picnic for the justices. … They were unpopular basically from start to finish from ’53 to ’69,” Kavanaugh said. “What the court kept doing is playing itself, sticking to its principles. And you know, look, a lot of those decisions (were) unpopular, and a lot of them are landmarks now that we accept as parts of the fabric of America, and the fabric of American constitutional law.”

As in, we don't give a damn what America thinks. We are in power and in the driver's seat and there ain't nothing you can do about it. Why should we play fair? 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Eyes of the World (Live Boston Music Hall, Boston 6/9/1976)

A cool thing about being a deadhead is that I know exactly where I was on certain dates a near half century ago. 48 years ago today I was at the Boston Music Hall, seeing the Grateful Dead perform for their first time back after a two year band hiatus.

I had seen them at the Music Hall in 1973 as well, it was one of my favorite venues. Beautiful old room, neat balcony. Boston was a great city to trip around in, with the mixture of both very old and space age architecture.

I had just returned from a year abroad, most recently spending several months on the Greek island of Ios. I got into a spirited entanglement with a girl from England who worked in St. Moritz. She left me with a nasty souvenir of our times together with a serious little itch that required antibiotics to cure.

I hastily flew to NYC and stood in a line at the public (and free) Beth Israel Hospital, watched a clearly disapproving nurse with a gloved hand jab a needle in my ass and yell for the next in line. There are certain things in life one never forgets.

After receiving the cure I managed to get to Boston, where I stayed with my sister Liz for a couple days. She was working as a stripper in Revere, if memory serves correctly, and it does. But that is a story for another day...

The Dead show was wonderful and quite joyful. St. Stephen second set opener, Franklin's Tower standalone encore.  Early Cassidy. This was my lifelong friend Doug Garn's first show and I remember meeting him there, maybe for the first time. Great times. Hank and Gabe might have been there, Richie Patrick as well.

Anyway I pick Eyes of the World to commemorate the show because of a funny twist. 

As I said, I had been living on a remote Greek island in the Cyclades. 

When I got off the boat from Piraeus a fisherman met me in the harbor and asked me if I wanted to rent a room in his small house for about forty cents or drachmas a night. I did. 

His ancient home was located a few hundred yards up the hill.

I went out fishing a couple times at night with him and his son, dropping our nets and then going to sleep, waking up in the morning to check our catch. 

At night his wife would make spaghetti bolognese and serve us homemade red wine.

It was an idyllic time. 

But it took me a few weeks to figure out that there was actually a village a mile or so up the hill. I'm slow like that sometimes...

I lit out for civilization and began the steep walk, singing this beautiful Grateful Dead song Eyes of the World to myself the whole time along the way. 

After twenty minutes or so I found a small bar on the side of the road.

As I entered the rustic tavern I was amazed to hear this exact song playing on the jukebox, the very same tune I had been humming to myself the whole way up the hill. 

How does that happen?

Curiouser and curiouser as they say, not to mention serendipitous, synchronistic, completely unexplainable and absolutely wonderful. 

Pretty much like the rest of my time watching this band play and meeting the fine cast of characters who followed them from 1972 to 1978 (back when the music was really good), many of them who have remained my most trusted and loved companions for over a half a century.

Thank you Grateful Dead. Thank you one and all. We had us a high time, living the good life and I wouldn't change it for anything.


Back to Ios. I only made it to the other side of the island once. It was like a four hour trek over the hills. I believe there was a prison somewhere out there but it was very remote. I was passed repeatedly on the path by townspeople riding sidesaddle on ridiculously small donkeys.

Somehow I found a small lonely taverna on the far side in order to get out of a passing rainstorm. It was there that I had one of the greatest meals of my life. The proprietor shot a rabbit and made a stew with local root vegetables. The cheap homemade red wine was robust and glorious. I was in heaven.

I still look back at that as the finest repast I have ever enjoyed. Rustic, pure and unaffected, just a few natives and me enjoying the fruits of the land in a timeless manner, the way they had for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

It was a late Sunday. As I came back over the mountain I walked by the old church and I encountered the most beautiful and innocent local rite. Sunday evenings, mothers and grandmothers would parade their closely chaperoned daughters in one line. The boys would be in another and they would walk past each other in an age old courting tradition, not even allowed to speak. 

For how many centuries had it been practiced? I wonder if it still takes place. It was a beautiful thing.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Chef Bobardee

It's not that I'm not obsessive, I clearly am. It's just that I don't do well with failure or not meeting my unreasonably high objectives.

I liked my pear tart, it was great in fact. Hazelnuts, cream cheese base, it was scrumptious. But tarts are about pastry dough and my gluten free sheets from Italy clearly did not cut it.

So I went on line to find the Cadillac of store bought pastry sheets, Dufour from the Bronx. 

All butter, no Palm oil or shortening. 

Tres Bien!

Renee buys it in her tony groceries in Marin up north but it is apparently very hard to find down here.

It said online that Albertsons carried it. I drove over. They lied. Then I went to Sprouts in Temecula. Nothing doing.

Yesterday I drove to Kensington and then the Whole Foods in Hillcrest. Their website says that they carry it too.

Maybe, but not there.

I finally grabbed the customer service guy and corralled him to start calling around to other stores. He located four boxes in Del Mar.  Terrible traffic but I was on a pastry quest.

Bingo. I braved the freeway and bought my dough. I bought two boxes for Renee.

I also bought some organic peaches that were affordable and looked sweet.

Today I experimented with the new dough. Made a tray of apple walnut tarts with a butter base and a blackberry apple batch with a cream cheese base. We are taking the over to Renee's for dinner. She has both whipping cream and ice cream and we will put these babies to the test. 

Pastry looks so much better! 

Nice flaky crust, which I gave an egg wash.

Night and day.

Only drove about two hundred miles back and forth for this.

Peach tarts tomorrow.

Google > Santa

He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake...

I got in my car and started it up this morning. My phone instantly made a noise. My iphone notifications wanted to tell me that it was only 15 minutes to Main St. Cafe with a good tailwind. Normally it tells me how far it is to my office. But the great Google God knows all about you and your schedule and obviously knew that I tend to spend Saturday mornings at Main St. Cafe.

I sort of wish that he didn't. This level of intrusion is honestly getting spooky. I know how far it is to town, been doing it for over forty years. I know who my friends are, I don't need prompts to send birthday greetings to near strangers on Linked In, or see what so and so is doing on Instagram. I also don't like getting plied to provide Yelp reviews on restaurants that I may have drove by but never actually stopped into.

If my friends want to know, they can ask me or read the blog. 

But I hate feeling tracked. I hate having my data mined, online, offline, phone line, it's out of line. I know you want to sell me something. Believe me, if I am interested I will let you know without prodding. I don't need your help shpieling. Or writing. Or creating art for that matter.

I feel completely non impressed with AI and Chat GPT.  Besides cleaning up a little noise in Lightroom, it is useless for me. Why? Because I am a naturally creative person and I don't need any artistic help. I do just fine on my own, using my own eye and brain. The stuff it produces always looks contrived and cartoony to me, devoid of beauty. Pretend creativity.

I have yet to hear a robot tell a joke that could make me laugh. When the robots get truly funny I will pay attention. But as we all know, humor is rooted in pain and I have also yet to see a robot cry. Anything but crocodile tears anyway. And they rust so easily.

I can see how non artistic people can allow them selves to be fooled with all this newfangled technology but honestly, I think it is a pretend crutch for the lazy and talentless. 

Waiting to be shown different...


Corpus linguistics