Rapt attention

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Greg Allman

Seoul Galbi, Temecula

North and South Korea at night.

Leslie and I met my trainer, Jeaneane and her husband John Colombero for dinner Sunday afternoon. We were all very relaxed after a very warm Southern California day.

We decided to try something different and went to a Korean barbecue in Temecula. This is one of the places where the grill is in the middle of your table and you grill your own meat. It is located behind the Shell station on Ynez, across from the Honda dealership.

Leslie and I had eaten at Seoul Galbi once before and it was really good. This time it was even better. I had a little trepidation because John spent several years in Korea in the military and didn't have the most fond memories of the country or the cuisine. He said the whole country had that funky Kimchee smell.

Out of all the asian cuisines, Korean and Indian are the two hardest for me to get into. I love Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian, the many different tastes of China. But I have never been awestruck with Korean until I found a place in Burlingame last year that knocked me out. So now I am in my new discovery period with the food. The Korean people were the original settlers of Japan, except for the indigenous Ainu in the north. The food is a little more rough, both aesthetically and to the palette. It seems a more rural, less refined repast. But, as I am discovering, it is filled with treasures.

I had been a little murky with the instructions so my wife and I were about a half hour early. We decided to order my favorite dish Bimbimbap while we waited. Bimbimbap is a fermented vegetable, meat, rice dish that is really delicious. We elected to have it served in a ceramic pot. In this fashion the rice caramelizes and gets all crunchy in contact with the crock. Mix in chili sauce and it's as good as it gets.

They brought us a host of side dishes, mushrooms, cucumbers, squid, potatoes, mung beans, fish cake, kimchee and more. The squid was sweet, crunchy and delightful. We were also brought a small bowl of a very light beef broth soup with some small aromatic beef dumplings. By the time our company arrived, we were close to full. We had them clear the sides before they got there so we wouldn't look like pigs to our friends.

The first time we ate here, we had chicken and shrimp. This time we started out our grill experience with pork belly, a non marinated dish on recommendation from our server, who was very helpful and charming. This staple of the commodities market was a little nondescript. The sesame oil that accompanied it did little to improve. For the second time, we were the only caucasians in the place, a good sign. We moved on to the thinly sliced marinated bulgagi and other beef, as well as delicious chicken. They brought us garlic to grill as well as a dish of pickled aloe vera noodle, which I found very interesting. Things got a lot better with the application of their hot sauces.

The barbecue is all you can eat for $18.95 and we ate mountains of meat. And we powered through like troopers. They offered us tempura ice cream for dessert but we were totally stuffed. If you want to try something fun and different, give the place a shot.

Seoul Galbi
(951) 699-2369
41925 Motor Car Pkwy # C Temecula, CA 92591

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ursine Delinquent

Love this from today's AP:

Bear skips veggies for chocolate in Calif. home

SAN ANTONIO HEIGHTS, Calif. (AP) — Deputies say a bear with an apparent sweet-tooth busted into a San Bernardino County home and gobbled up a box of chocolates from a couple's refrigerator.
Sheriff's Sgt. Tom Alsky says the couple arrived home Saturday afternoon, found the bear chowing down in their kitchen and phoned for help.
The bear fled before sheriff's deputies arrived.
Alsky says the animal appeared to have pushed aside vegetables in the couple's fridge and gone straight for the two-pound box of sweets.
He says the bear also tried to open a bottle of champagne but was not successful.

Have you seen my soul lately?

I got an interesting letter the other day. Apparently, an old acquaintance believes that I bargained away my soul in a Faustian deal with the devil. This fellow is of the mind that I have my nose so far implanted up the "right" people's buttocks that I have relinquished said soul.

Here is a bit of one of his letters advising me of my sell out :

Ethnicity may not be (criteria for picking one's friends), but closeness to the center of this Faulknerian
hamlet's small (very "small", in many ways) soi-disant oligarchy certainly is.

It is sad to see you departing from your valuable (and truthful to yourself) role as a sardonic local commentator and outsider, and cozying up to the very group of the local
(very local) "movers and shakers" who
you verbally flayed for so many years.

Read Van Wyck Brooks' "The Ordeal of
Mark Twain" (1920). Clemens left the meritocracy and cozied up to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune, only
to find that he had abandoned himself.

Aren't we fortunate to have such friends who will pick us up when we stumble and walk away from god's intended plan? Friends you can trust to keep private conversations candid and not embellish or concoct bullscheit out of thin air... Friends who know the value of moderation in all things, including demon rum.

Thanks for the tip, Judge. And if any of you see my haggard soul in your travels, will you please send it home?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Clarence Carter

Slip Away. Clarence is a bit past his peak here but is a classic and exceptional stylist who needs to be remembered. Known for some of his "nastier" pieces that could never get airplay except in some very areas of the deep south where the radio stations are still truly wonderful.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Carl Sonny Leyland

Boogie Woogie virtuoso Carl Sonny Leyland is playing at the Hilltop Center in Fallbrook on July 12, 2009 at 7:00p.m.. Tickets are twenty dollars. This concert is a fundraiser for the Fallbrook School of the Arts. Buy tickets at the Campus or at Major Market. There will be wine and snacks. Bring your spats and your ducktails and get ready to party down.

Also be warned that Leslie and I are hosting a Wine and a Bite party July 18th. Buy tickets early because it might sell out. Pala Casino is serving the food again and anyone who came last time will recall how great it was. The after party party will be memorable as usual... Call (760) 451-3282 for tickets to the Wine and a Bite. We have been told that we must provide a unique art experience so if you know anyone comfortable reciting T.S. Eliot poetry in the nude, please contact me.

Credibility and respect

We all know that political discourse has reached it's nadir in this country. We long for the good old days when our representatives would roll up their sleeves and work for the common goals of the american people. Looking at the leaders of the noble opposition, I know that America is in good hands no matter which party wins the big enchilada in the next go round. This is the face of your, I mean, our Republican Party, America!

Michelle Bachmann is the one American willing to stand between you and the gulag. Since when does the census man have a right to know who lives in your home? She got her start with other parents in starting the New Heights Charter School in Minnesota but resigned after a brouhaha in which she and other school officials refused to allow the in-school screening of the Disney film Aladdin, feeling that it endorsed witchcraft and promoted paganism. Bachmann states she was called to run for her seat by God, and that she and her husband fasted for three days to be sure. So one midnight salami sandwich might be all that stood in the way of this great American taking her hallowed seat.

She has been a busy beaver in office, introducing among other things the groundbreaking Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, to repeal the nationwide phase-out of conventional light bulbs. Bachmann recently stated that the last swine flu outbreak in the U.S. occurred under "another Democrat President", Jimmy Carter, and that she was not blaming President Obama for the outbreak but that she found it to be an "interesting coincidence". Contrary to her statement, the previous swine flu outbreak occurred while Republican President Gerald Ford was in office. Keep an eye on this one, nuttier than your Aunt Zelda, but she's a comer'.

Alan Keyes disowned his daughter at the age of 20 when she came out as a lesbian. He defied U.S. Judge Myron Thompson in the Chief Justice Roy Moore case when he refused to pull the ten commandments effigy out of the Alabama Courthouse. He refused to congratulate Obama after his victory because Keyes denied Obama had been constitutionally inaugurated, refused to call him president, and called him an "usurper" and a "radical communist". Many feel that he owed his position in the Reagan State Department to the fact that he was the only black person that could be found willing to defend apartheid in South Africa.

John Boehner is the George Montgomery of his generation, known for his brilliant yellow orange tan. He was discharged after only eight weeks in Vietnam due to a bad back. In June 1995, Boehner provoked contentions of unethical conduct when he distributed campaign contributions from tobacco industry lobbyists on the House floor as House members were weighing how to vote on tobacco subsidies. Oilier than a blown head gasket on a 57 chevy, but by god, you got to love him.

Sam Wurzelbacher aka "Joe the Plumber" is another young lion of conservatism. Who would have thought that a tax dodging, unlicensed plumber could scale the heights of celebrity so quickly? Wurzelbacher has signed with a publicity management agent regarding media relationships, including "a possible record deal with a major label, personal appearances and corporate sponsorships." Joe doesn't cotton to the idea of "having queens around his kids." A frequent critic of the "socialist state", Wurzelbacher has also acknowledged that his parents were on welfare while he was growing up. How did a guy that came from a profession most notable for it's display of buttcrack become such a wise commentator on the political scene? This guys an up and comer and rising quick on the charts, watch him!

Mark Sanford voted against preserving sites linked to the Underground Railroad during his term in Congress. To his credit, he has taken many fact finding trips to South America in order to further his research. This guy is as randy as a college sophomore in Daytona Beach on Spring Break, so lock up the women and children if you know what I mean.

El Rushbo, Rush Limbaugh, defacto ruler of the Republican Party has risen from a corpulent draft dodger with a pilonidal cyst up his butt to a guiding light of conservatism. According to wikipedia, his father and mother wanted him to attend college, so he enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University. He dropped out after two semesters and one summer; according to his mother, "he flunked everything", even a modern ballroom dancing class. Limbaugh was a big hit with women after he said "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society."

Sarah Palin is the hottest moose killin' governor this side of Ketchikan. Equally comfortable in pumps and vibram soles, this babe first achieved notoriety when she successfully opposed a measure to curtail the hours at Wasilla's bars by two hours while a city councilwoman.
Palin opposes same-sex marriage and supported denying state health and spousal benefits to same-sex couples. Palin has stated that abortion should be banned in nearly all cases, including rape and incest. Does not support embryonic stem cell research. As a mayor, she charged victims for rape kits. A lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, she is against a ban on assault weapons. Supports teaching creationism alongside evolution in the schools. Admits smoking marijuana when it was legal in Alaska. Human Rights Magazine named her Conservative of the Year in 2008.

You can rest assured that we are in good hands with these folks. I am sure that we can all sleep soundly tonight.

Friday, June 26, 2009

In honor of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

I think it's kind of crappy that their personal emails got released, but then again, this is another republican who called for Clinton's impeachment for his loose moral code. What are they putting in the water at those GOP congressional retreats?

Afternoon postscript:

True to form and right on schedule, Sanford pulled out the bible card this afternoon, likening himself to King David:

" I have been doing a lot of soul searching on that front. What I find interesting is the story of David, and the way in which he fell mightily, he fell in very very significant ways. But then picked up the pieces and built from there."

For you biblically ignorant, as King of Israel and Judea, one day while walking on the roof, David saw Bathsheba in the bath. He shtupped her and got her pregnant. Craftily he called Uriah, Bathsheba's hubby, back from the Russian Front so that he would sleep with his wife and everyone would think he was the proud poppa.

But Uriah wouldn't leave the battlefield. So David gave an order that Uriah should be abandoned in battle, ensuring his death. Then he married Bathsheba.

If Sanford is my buddy, I'm treading really carefully right now. This guy could go all old testament on you at any second.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Obama at 5 months

I have been ruminating a bit today about this president of ours. If I had to give him a grade at this point it would be a c+ or maybe a b-. Barack Obama has shown us a side of himself through his actions that one would not be aware of listening to his pretty speeches. Now I for one, don't really have a problem with his health care push or his stimulus package. We are in a heap of trouble with the outrageous debt we have amassed but our economic problem was not going to get fixed by itself or by continuing Bush administration business as usual.

What I was not really aware of us was what an appeaser this president apparently is. How utterly squeamish and pragmatic he has turned out to be. I heard someone liken his policies to Kissinger's realpolitic the other day and thought how true. Constantly weighing the cross and prevailing winds like a weatherman or a junior bean counter, Obama subverts his own agenda for change in this country. He has caved on many environmental issues, from delisting wolves to allowing mountaintop removal in coal mining. He basically has rubber stamped Bush's policy on warrant less wiretapping and government transparency. His CIA Director, Leon Panetta, is afraid to cross the crusty tradecrafters in his domain. Obama has shafted the gays in the military where apparently it is okay to be a white supremacist but not a homosexual. The President seems to capitulate so much that I find myself longing for the recent past when at least the administration had an ideology, no matter how twisted. He seems more like a people pleaser. I fear that we could better use a prick.

Abbie Hoffman once talked bout the danger of being co-opted by the machine. I think that you quickly get institutionalized in Washington and tempered by virtue of how things have always operated. It is hard to make any kind of shift, let alone a radical one, in all of the centrifugal miasma. In constantly asking himself what is feasible, I fear he has surrendered the point of his javelin. Now he acts like an accommodator. The greek philosopher Zeno once proposed that an arrow can never truly reach it's mark because it has to travel an infinite number of half steps. In not setting his sights on the highest target, our president is diminishing his ability to effect change. Perhaps he would be best characterized as an incrementalist.

George Bush was not afraid to stand up for his agenda, as much as I disagreed with it. Obama needs to examine the issues he ran on and find himself in time for a early course correction. We voted for change, remember?

Little Michael Jackson

Find a little piece in heaven...

Pushin Too Hard

My friend Doug in New York has informed me that I am remiss in not mentioning the loss of two famous celebrities today, Farrah Fawcett and Sky Saxon, frontman of the legendary garage band, The Seeds.

In the mid seventies, I worked for a spell as a picker for a couple of frenchmen who had a company called Roadrunner Records. They collected rare pyschedelia and I would comb the flea markets looking for stuff to sell them. I would go up to the Capitol Records Swap Meet with the late surf movie producer Chris Bystrom and buy stuff from some very cool people including the late Bob Hite from Canned Heat. Scored great Kaleidoscope posters from Bob.

Somehow I ended up with many boxes of obscure albums that still sit in my garage so that the cats can scratch the album spines. Amongst the Rotary Connection, Ultimate Spinach and Red Crayola, I have probably twenty or thirty Seeds albums, and they have to be one of the worst bands ever to walk this earth. Not to speak ill of the dead but they sucked.

Farrah never really floated my boat either, nothing personal but I hold her responsible for a lot of bad seventies haircuts.

Doug has a poster company Lotsarock.com. Check him out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Presidential Coup

A majority of people vote for the losing candidate. A group of people take thousands of names of minority voters off the official rolls in a key state. The supreme council overturns a recount in order to "save the republic."

No, I'm not talking about Iran, of course, I am talking about Bush vs. Gore 2000. Many scholars felt that this election was a gift to the Republicans from a clearly partisan court. The popular vote was won by the Gore - Lieberman ticket by 543,816 votes.

Here is the wikipedia page on the election. And here is an interesting page that postulates that by any fair accounting, Gore, won the actual election, hanging chads or not. Now, as Antonin Scalia is fond of saying, "it's water over the deck, get over it, that's so old." But before we get all huffy about voting irregularity in Iran, perhaps we should examine our own conduct.

One of the interesting things that happened in Florida was that many legal voters were illegally purged from the voting rolls. Analysts believe that 7 out of 10 of those largely african american voters in the state would have voted for Gore, clearly putting him over the top. These voters were wrongly identified as felons by Secretary of State Katherine Harris. An article on the great voting heist of 2000.

The current election in Iran is tragic. The Guardian Council admits that the vote was flawed but will not overturn the result. There were more votes tallied than actual voters in over fifty cities. The families of opposition candidate Mousavi and ex president Rafsanjani have been detained. Protesters are now being reframed as terrorists and the ayatollah is promising swift retribution for protests. Many conservatives have castigated Obama for not being more forceful on the Iranian issue. The same people who criticized President Clinton for "Nation Building". I think that his actions have been proper, measured and appropriate. He does not want to endanger the opposition by appearing too close to them and causing forceful repression from the elite who have been branded the great satan by his predecessors.

The Iranians will have to take matters in their own hands. They have done it before. There was an excellent interview with Iranian political analyst Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Terry Gross today that lauded the President and said that his gentle and respectful tone with Iran actually helped empower the opposition. You can listen to the interview here. There is a dichotomy and cultural war between the forces of fundamentalism and freedom in Iran today that unfortunately seems vaguely familiar.

Kent State and Tiananmen Square

Monday, June 22, 2009

Skip James c. 1967

Welcome to the machine

Much has been made of President Obama's listing of empathy as a relevant criteria for his Supreme Court nominees. Federalist judges and their supporters scoff at the idea that a jurist empathize with the real world implications of their rulings, preferring a matter of fact originalist application of the constitution and appropriate case law. Ideally, such readings should be performed under candle light, since electrical illumination had not yet been conceived during the time of our founding fathers.

Last week's narrow 5 to 4 ruling on the right of defendants to challenge their convictions with DNA evidence reaffirms the President's concern for the court's seeming inability to understand the effects it's rulings will have on the citizens of our country and fair justice for all. The conservative block will not allow defendants to get tested for exculpatory evidence, even when the scientific testing was not available at the time of their conviction.

Chief Justice Roberts said, "The challenges DNA technology poses to our criminal justice systems and our traditional notions of finality are better left to elected officials than federal judges." "A criminal defendant proved guilty after a fair trial does not have the same liberty interests as a free man,'' Chief Justice John G. Roberts wrote for the majority, ruling that such matters should be left to the states.

This is typical Roberts. The son of a corporate lawyer, he is more interested that the well oiled judicial machine run smoothly than the guilt or innocence of the players. I quote once more from Jeffrey Toobin's recent piece in the New Yorker on Roberts:

After four years on the Court, however, Roberts’s record is not that of a humble moderate but, rather, that of a doctrinaire conservative. The kind of humility that Roberts favors reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.

I had an old cop friend, the late Frank Adams, who always said that it was better for a few innocent men to get punished than to let a hundred guilty people go free. I expect that Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy and Roberts would agree. And it is clear to me that Obama is on the right track in seeking nominees who feel a responsibility for doling out fair justice, not just greasing up the prosecution machine.

Unfortunately, our President may be speaking out of both sides of his mouth, since Attorney General Holder urged the court to continue to deny the DNA evidence. The Innocence Project estimates that 240 people have been exonerated with DNA evidence, 17 of them on death row. While 47 states have procedures in place for DNA testing, some are clearly inadequate and three do not, including Alaska, where defendant Osborne, the subject of the ruling, was tried.

If people are to regain their faith in their government, we need justices and elected officials who understand the fundamental moral question of right and wrong and who have an elementary concern for the rights of the wrongly accused and the innocent.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Carlito's Chicken

In these days of economic turmoil, one can not overestimate the importance of cheap mexican food. In the spirit of brotherhood and all that, I will turn you on to one of my secret spots, Carlito's Chicken in Oceanside.

Carlito's is on Roymar Rd., off Mission Ave., near the Oceanside Airport. Located right behind Yum-Yum donuts. I have been going there for years. If you like Pollo Loco you will love Carlitos, es la comida verdad. They grill it on a large grill behind the counter. There is a salsa bar with all the extras including lime and cilantro. Very tasty.

I got up at 3:30 in the morning and drove to Long Beach to pick up a painting at the swap meet. I stopped at Carlito's for breakfast on the way back. Today I skipped the chicken and ordered off the regular menu. I had chicken sopes that were the best I think I have ever had short of Superica in Santa Barbara. Excellent masa base. Then I had a big bowl of menudo. They gave me extra dry red chile and oregano and I scarfed it down to the last spoonful of broth. (Something I rarely do.) Menudo is traditional Mexican Hangover medicine but alas it came a day too late.

It's a long story but a glass of red wine got spilled over my MacBook Pro laptop the other night and it fizzled and snapped it's way out of this life and it's earthly coil. Will cost 1200 bucks to fix according to Mac. I headed to the bar and started pounding bloody mary's - something I rarely do, and like my old friend George Blake, woke up in the middle of the night with a drill turning slowly into my left temporal region. But since I rarely drink like that, I must admit that it provided me with a modicum of pleasure and it was nice to check in to the asylum.

Anyhow back to Carlito's, if you are starving for mexican grilled chicken, check the place out.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Chantays "Pipeline"

Jesse Colin Young

Mike Hynson - Surf Rebel

My friend Donna Klaasen Jost emailed me this morning to let me know that the book she wrote with surf legend Mike Hynson is finally finished. Log on to their website here to get a sneak peak at the book, Mike Hynson - Transcendental Memories of a Surf Rebel.

Hynson achieved notoriety as one of the two stars of the movie Endless Summer, along with fellow surfer Robert August. Endless Summer was a classic surf movie which reportedly made over 30 million dollars that Hynson unfortunately never saw a penny of.

The movie did parlay him into the celebrity spotlight and ultimately to a prototypical California crash and burn. But Mike did not stay down forever, cementing his reputation as an important surfboard shaper who no less a luminary than Gerry Lopez referred to as one of the most important innovators in the evolution of board design. He pioneered a down rail shape that changed modern surfboard design. A link to his surfboard website.

Mike was one of the greatest and most significant surfers ever in the San Diego area, along with the legendary Skip Frye, Woody Ekstrom, Mike Doyle, Rusty Miller, Donald Takayama, Joey Buran, and longboarder Joel Tudor. In the 60's his life took a quixotic turn when he met the late and infamous John Gale and started Rainbow Surfboards in Laguna Beach. I am always interested in stories about Mystic Arts, Oak Street Surfboards, Johnny Griggs and the like and I look forward to the untold history of Orange County and southern california flower power being told.

This book should be a good read. Being broke, I may have to wait until it goes paperback. But congratulations to Michael and Donna for getting this thing done. And a big shout out to one of my oldest friends, Lance Jost, for the outstanding job he did on the cover illustration.

Friday, June 19, 2009

john mclaughlin - are you the one?

I know there are McLauglin haters out there but I love him. Saw Birds of Fire show in Central Park as a lad. Love Shakti. Bitches Brew. He plays too fast for Grumpy, I can read it now - the apotheosis of all that is wrong in the modern world.

Happy Birthday, Aung San Suu Kyi.

It is Aung San Suu Kyi's 64th birthday today. Say a prayer for both her freedom and for the well being of all of the people of Burma. This crusader for human rights and Nobel Peace Prize winner has been imprisoned in her home for 14 of the last 20 years.

The strange saga of, you know - Quick finale

The zircon encrusted drill breaks on Blake's thick mastoid. Discovering that it is a Craftsman bit, one of the orderlies is directed to Sears for a free replacement. Aliberto "Beto" Borracho, part time janitor and full time CEO emeritus of loser street gang Los Mojados calls up his homeboys for throwdown with guys in green jackets that he mistakes for rich Master's golf tournament marks invading his turf. Sensing a breach in the natural order of things, the chasidically dressed men in black from command H.Q. swoop down from central casting to thwart attack on pentagram boys. In the hubbub, Dolores walks into the hospital and shoots George Blake in the head. Evidently, he had always pissed her off.

The End.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The strange saga of Mr. George Blake - Chapter VII

In the morning Mr. Blake was awakened by a team of nurses, technicians and doctors. They wanted to do a few more tests on George. "What kind of tests?" George asked the pretty redhead nurse. She replied "Oh just the usual ones, blood, urine, and a uranium crystal pentolobotomy." Still drowsy from the sedatives that were administered the night before, George mumbled and nodded his head in assent to the testing.

"Nurse? could you tell me where I'm at and what's the name of this hospital, and how did I get here?" enquired a puzzled George. "Oh that stuff is for the front desk sir, I'm just a nurse here, I'll have someone on the staff brief you, but now I have to prep you for your tests," explained the nurse. "Where's my wife Dolores? At that moment a large fellow who stood about about 6'5" started to wheel the middle aged patient down the long hallway towards the elevator. Before he knew it George was in a dark room with a staff of about twenty doctors, nurses and technicians, all wearing day-glo jump suits with an unusual Pentagram on them.

"Have you ever had a uranium crystal pentolobotomy before?--of course not, how silly of me to ask. This won't hurt...." said one of the doctors to George. One of the technicians put a clear plastic mask over George face. Instead of being sedated George was now clearly paralyzed . He could not move but he could see and hear everything that was happening. Or could he? Maybe this was a dream? Terrified he could not move, he could only experience what was going on.

He tried to scream but nobody seemed to hear him. He tried a trick that he had learned years before in the Military-rapidly blinking his eyes back and forth. No one paid attention to him. Suddenly he heard loud noises, the type you hear on a science fiction movie, like the noise of a drill in some mad scientist's lab. He could only see in one direction as he could not move his head. As soon as the noises became deafening, they stopped completely, and the room grew darker and stars started to appear on the ceiling. He heard a faint sound, one like a nursery rhyme that repeated itself over and over. By then George was frantically screaming but no one either heard him or was paying attention to his desperate pleas for help. As he stared at the ceiling the stars started to move faster and faster until they seemed to vanish into a blur. The nursery rhyme became louder and louder. He felt like his ears were about to explode.

As he lay paralyzed he noticed from the top of the ceiling a large drill slowly moving towards his cranium. He could hear everything the doctors were saying in some weird language that he had never heard before. But he understood every word that was said. "Help me!!! Help me." cried out George. Soon the drill was inches away from his eyes. Then the room became brighter and brighter, until George could not see anything but pure white light. He could hear every ones conversations and even their thoughts but most oddly he could hear the nursery rhyme about the little girl that had a little curl, and it was the key to everything that had transpired!!! My god! He felt strangely elated. It was the key to unlocking the universe! Yet it was slipping right through his fingers. George felt an intense pain in his forehead..................


Race Across America

This year the Race Across America left from Oceanside, California. It is a 9 day race to Annapolis, Md. I was so intrigued with the Bicycle Dreams movie that I drove down and took lots of pictures of the race start yesterday. Many legends of biking, ultra-marathons and Iron Man competitions were competing in both this race and it's sister race, the 1000 mile Race Across the West. These men and women get by on next to no sleep under the most extraordinary pressure. Crack support crews make it all possible. Unfortunately a high percentage of the racers will not finish the race.

I got there just as the U.S. Navy Seal Team was parachuting in. There were every manner of bicyclists competing, from an over seventies team to a team of watermen/surfers. Uberseal David Goggins, who was expected to compete until he recently discovered that he had a heart defect, was announcing the start with Bob Babbit from Competitor Magazine. Tons of people showed up to watch the cyclists depart on 20 second intervals.

There were riders from all over the globe competing, the fittest of the fit. A contingent of wheelchair athletes were there at the start. Bikers had looks of apprehension, joy and dread. The swiss contingent sent their rider off to a wave of ringing cowbells. Nervous first timers fought butterflies next to grizzled seasoned pros.

Got shots of just about every starter including the great Jure Robic from Slovenia. If you get a chance order the Bicycle Dreams movie from Bicycledreamsmovie.com to get a taste of what these people go through. Here is a link to the RAAM website that will be blogging and podcasting. As always, click to zoom on my photos.

We at the blast wish everyone of these riders best of luck and good health throughout the race.

The strange saga of Mr. George Blake - Chapter VI

When the nurse took George’s blood-pressure thirty minutes later, George woke feeling as normal as a fifty-four year old overweight man with hemorrhoids, gastrointestinal reflux disease, high cholesterol and toenail fungus could expect. No distorted faces or walls, no eerie noises, and he no longer leaked from a variety of orifices.

The nurse, with a coy smile, said he had normal blood pressure. “Are you up to walking on your own to the bathroom or would you prefer a bedpan?”

“Neither.“ He lay there like a beached whale, leached of fluids, flaccid and beginning to smell fetid. “I’m hungry and need a drink of water.”

“Back in a jiffy.” A wink and she left the room.

George figured she was like him, feeling youthful inside, but displaying a face way past repair in the mirror. He began to compile a list of questions, grudges and displeasures in his head. Where the hell was his dearly beloved Dolores? Had there really been someone inside the house with her or was that another hallucination caused by that strange drug the doctor had mentioned?

Why would his carpool buddies drive off without helping him? Did they hate him after sharing morning doughnuts for the last ten years? Had they even been there at all?

His own blood or not, the sooner he could get his granddaughter, her exotic plants and infected navel out of his house the better.

He never wanted to see another slug.

Deep in the center of his brain, some nerve or piece of gray matter began to pulse. He touched the top of his head and found rubber pads attached to his newly shaved head with wires leading to a monitor displaying a small pea-shaped gland glowing, going dark, glowing His vision narrowed to a yellow dot, a dot not unlike the bouncing dots that moved along with song lyrics on the screen at the local cinema when he was a child. The pulse became a bumbling drill, the one his dentist used when finishing off a cavity, grinding and spiraling in one line toward the center of his forehead, or as Dolores’s palm reader would call it, his third eye. Before he passed out, an old nursery rhyme played in his head.

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the center of her forehead.
And when she was good
She was very, very good
And when she was bad, she was horrid.


The Ventures

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jimmy Carter - Myopic Failure

Jimmy Carter is up to his old self righteous, moralizing self again. I don't like to throw the words anti-semite around, people get tired of hearing jews casting themselves as victims, but surely he has never dealt with Israelis with the same understanding and evenhandedness that you would expect from a person in his position as a president and former president.

But then again, this is a man who tried to appease the soviets and cozy up to Kim il Jong, Tito, Marcos, Saddam Hussein and a murderer's row of brutal dictators. He lionized Arafat and Assad and had a philosophy of glossing over anyone's sins as long as they weren't "those people".

He is in the mideast now meeting with Hamas, a group largely financed by Iran and dedicated to the destruction of Israel. He is marginalizing Fatah, a once feared organization that actually looks good compared to the Islamic Hamas and is demanding that the Israelis tear down the wall and stop the blockade around Gaza. Now never mind that every time the Israelis have opened the checkpoints, they have become magnets for suicide bombers and attacks on the Israeli population and military.

Hamas suicide bombers have killed hundreds of Israelis in the past several years. Israeli blood is immaterial to Carter and he clings to a naive faith that Hamas, an extremist fundamentalist islamic terrorist group, is now ready to play nice. He is subverting legitimate diplomatic efforts in the middle east with his unilateral and unbalanced entreaties.

Israel has been down this road before with Hamas, who have repeatedly stated that they will never put down their arms or surrender their right to "legitimate resistance." They are demanding that Israel return to pre 1967 borders, and surrender land that Israel appropriated after thwarting simultaneous attacks by it's neighbors.

Now Carter is dismissing the role of Israel as a jewish state and homeland because 20% of its citizens are not jewish. Why does he not apply the same standard to the twenty seven countries where Islam is the official state religion, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia? Where a person is not allowed to change their religion under penalty of death, in some cases. Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia prohibit jews from even living in their country. Only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, recognize Israel's right to exist.

Our former president is not an honest broker. Carter has never showed remorse after terrorist or rocket attacks against Israel. He refuses to acknowledge Hamas' brutal history and is now demanding that they be taken off the international terrorist list. With no assurances that Hamas will not continue to launch attacks on Israel. Ahmed Youseff, the Hamas Deputy Foreign Minister said this week that recognizing Israel is completely unacceptable. According to Hamas ideology, there is no room for a jewish state in an Islamic middle east.

As I have said before, the plight of the palestinians is painful and tragic. But much of it has been self inflicted. As once said about Arafat, they never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Israel is not blameless, they need to halt illegitimate settlement building. As the country has drifted to the right and become more religious, Israel has become less sensitive to the brutal dehumanizing conditions of life in Gaza and the West Bank. The caldron of anger eventually boils over, and scorches both peoples.

Jimmy Carter showed long ago that he lacked the objectivity to be a fair arbiter. I remember reading the Blood of Abraham, his book on his attempts to forge a peace between Begin and Sadat almost thirty years ago, and being struck by the continual lavish praise he continually foisted on Sadat, and his inability to say anything positive about the jewish leader. Perhaps as a baptist minister, he can not square the existence of Israel with the concept of christian salvation and the return of the messiah. I get the feeling that he never, in his famous heart of hearts, met a jewish person that he either liked or trusted.

Carter has long complained about jewish control of the media and jewish intimidation. In March, 1980, with falling re-election numbers and a loss of credibility with the american jewish population he reportedly told his top consultants that if he got re-elected he would **ck the jews. He has repeatedly dismissed any criticism of his views by referring to the jewish authors in ad hominem attacks.

If he has his way, Israel will burn on the pyre of broken promises and ultimately Carter will disavow all responsibility for the results. Hamas will say that they never agreed to stop their aggression, and that their ultimate aim has always been to drive the Israelis into the sea. For the sake of all parties, Jimmy Carter needs to retire to his peanut farm and get off the world stage. Fortunately, he has zero credibility domestically or internationally so his pandering to dark forces in Gaza, Syria and Iran will have little effect. Our country floundered under his reign. He is an embarrassment who needs to understand that his time has passed, that Israel will never leave itself open to the national suicide of living next to a Hamas led, armed neighbor and graciously leave before he causes further damage.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


"Our eyes made contact from across the room. I am sure that I speak for the two of us when I say that we both felt that certain spark. She blinked at me. I ate her."

My friend Bigdave drove his supersonic BMW M5 down the coast this weekend from the Bay Area. Dave is raising his late brother's son who is something of a prodigy, scoring a perfect math SAT and they scouted UCSD, Caltech and a few different universities.

I met them in Del Mar and we walked through Torrey Pines reserve, getting some nice sunset shots. I thought of a new restaurant that I wanted to try, Dave being an adventurous eater. Zenbu is located in Cardiff at the site of the old Yogis. It is a japanese restaurant with a very different twist. You enter the place and face a large salt water fish tank that takes up an entire wall. They must have spent a fortune decorating the place, there are a beautiful set of dragon panels hanging above the sushi bar to your right. On the left is a normal bar for alcoholic libations. The tiny tables sort of fill up the middle.

What makes Zenbu a cool experience (although the quality of the food was definitely mixed) is this: You pick out a live fish swimming in the tank and that's your meal. A guy climbs up with a net and scoops it up on the way to the kitchen. You pay about $25.00 a pound and it is served fried or live or some other way. We had a rockfish that weighed in about a pound and a half and were able to make proper introductions before it was served.

The restaurant is too dark for my taste and feels very compressed. To be fair, I didn't see the back room. We got seated in a table for two that was converted into a table for three for us. I had to do some fancy calisthenics stepping over a chair to even sit down, after receiving instruction from the wait staff about the best land route to take to actually get to my seat.

I believe that the owners own a company, Ocean Giant, that delivers the fish to most of the sushi bars in the area. You would think they would have it a little more together. All of their numerous sushi chefs were gaijin, or white folks. Nothing wrong with that but their work was clumsy, paltry and unprofessional. Our handroll looked like an anorexic model dressed in an oversized trenchcoat, with no gobo, no accoutrement to the over spicy tuna. The other very expensive roll with snow crab and shrimp, was also overdressed and not enticing. Maybe there is a reason that the japanese have such laborious training methods? I understand that you can get the fish prepared tokyo style, blinking and alive on your plate. Supposedly the sculpin can stay alive for up to 45 minutes on your table. Nice. Nothing like a live fish tail to clean out the forgotten crevices in your gullet.

We started the meal with a sashimi salad on the recommendation of our gorgeous server. This was a mistake. Three or four miniscule pieces of tuna on a limp overdressed bed of greens for an outrageous price.

The fish came to our table next, expertly cooked, cubed and quite delicious. Unfortunately it wasn't quite large enough and I fought with my table mate for the available bites. It came with three delicious sauces, a green chili, ponzu and garlic and was a very pretty dish. The fish was surrounded by tomatoes, and a frisee of maybe sweet potatoes, and was quite tasty. Meyer, the prodigal son, had chicken teryaki, which was also really delicious.

The staging of the food is not together. We thought that they forgot our sushi order but it arrived much later. You expect more from an eighteen dollar sushi roll.

I felt about twenty years older than the median age in this tony establishment. My guest noticed that all of the servers were gorgeous and the men and women both looked like they could have come from a Leni Reifenstahl movie celebrating aryan or nordic superiority. Tall, blonde and buff.

I would say to give Zenbu a try if you want to impress jaded friends and try something different. Bring a bunch of money and try the cooked fish. I would stay clear of the sushi, it's just not very well done. (not a pun.) The place is an interesting novelty but if I was looking for sushi on the coast I would visit Nobu in Solana Beach and steer clear of Zenbu.

This fish was just bug eyed for me. Photo by Dave's Blackberry.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The strange saga of Mr. George Blake - Chapter V

George stared through the pulsating tunnel with wonder. Why were these men dressed like Good Humor Ice Cream salesmen and why did they have giant squid wrapped around their necks? It was very curious, to say the least. He couldn't make out their language but they seemed to be trying to communicate with him. Unfortunately, they spoke in a modulated foreign tongue somewhat like a slowed down family of bassoons on an underwater diving expedition.

"Mr. Blake, Mr. Blake, can you hear me?"

George Blake blinked his eyes twice as the picture suddenly started to come into focus. The ice cream man had morphed into a thirty something intern, staring at a clipboard. He put his hand on the side of George's neck and sought to measure the size of his glands. George tried to raise his head, but the effort was beyond his strength and he dropped back onto the pillow.

"Where the hell am I," George muttered.

"Please Mr. Blake, don't try to talk. You are in the hospital and everything is going to be ok."

George looked at him suspiciously. He never trusted young doctors. What the hell did they know, you can't learn anything out of a book? Give him a man who had time to already make all his mistakes, he always said...

George's mouth was dry and he made a motion like he was raising a glass and the older nurse who had been staring at him brought him a styrofoam cup of ice chips. The taste of the chips was antiseptic and thoroughly unrefreshing but provided just enough lubrication to allow him to speak.

"What the hell happened to me?" Blake asked.

The doctor sat on the edge of the bed and tapped the edge of his clipboard. He turned his head quickly and looked Blake straight in the eye.

"Sir, we are still running tests, but you have some very unusual chemicals in your system. Can you tell me what you took?"

"I didn't take anything," Blake indignantly sputtered. "I was on my way to work and I ate breakfast, and the next thing I know I wake up on this gurney." "I won't even take an aspirin. Ask Dolores."

"Who is Dolores, sir?"

"My wife, goddamit." Scanning the room, he realized that they were alone. Where was Dolores?

"I am going to be frank with you Mr. Blake. Our preliminary tests show that you have a very rare alkoloid in your system called dimethyl tryptamine. Have you ever heard of it?"

George silently shook his head no in amazement.

"In the sixties it was called DMT. DMT contains a 5-HT2A receptor. It creates a very quick, very powerful hallucination that is even more intense than lsd. Lately those new age shamanic types have been using a form of it called ayahuasca that grows in South America. Have you been tripping around with the new agers lately, Mr. Blake?" he snickered sarcastically.

Blake again shook his head in the negative. They were Lutherans for god sakes. Once in a blue moon they would have a beer and a shot after the thursday bowling league but his sciatica had been acting up and life had been pretty much stone cold sober.

"Didn't think so. I'll tell you what's curious about this."

Blake raised an eyebrow, conscious of a bead of sweat that now rested on his brow.

"DMT is usually smoked and rarely effective orally ingested unless bound with another agent, a fluorescent alkoloid called harmaline. Many plants are producers of harmaline. Technically it's a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Passionflower contains harmoline. Are you with me, Mr. Blake?"

George's head started spinning. Wasn't that one of the beautiful exotic flowers that Greta had been growing on the porch? He would remember if he had eaten a flower, wouldn't he?

"Oh, and another thing. I did a little quick research. DMT was used by the CIA during the MK Ultra experiments in the sixties as a form of mind control. I don't really know much about it. Have to go the Bio-Med library and read up. Please rest now, Mr. Blake. You are going to be fine." The doctor stood up, turned his back on Blake and left the room.

George Blake sunk back into his soporific stupor. He soon fell into a quick coma like sleep and had the most unusual dreams of gray helicopters and straightjackets and reptilian gods resting on purple toadstools.


Glenn does Ludwig

The strange saga of Mr. George Blake - Chapter IV

“Granddad? What're you doing down there?”

George looked up from all fours into the festering pierced navel of the sixteen-year-old manifestation of every parenting error he and Dolores had ever perpetrated upon the girl's lost mother. His eyes wandered to the left of his granddaughter's crusty wound to a tattoo that read, “LOVE,” except the “O” was replaced with a deftly rendered hand grenade. He tried to imagine what would make Greta equate love with explosive destruction, but he was distracted by a dark object in his peripheral vision, galumphing down the driveway. He wondered if it was a dog, a very large dog running on its hind legs.

“Granddad? Like, what's up? Shouldn't you be on your way to work?” She twisted her long black hair and clipped it to the top of her head.

George grabbed the stuccoed porch pillar and tried to pull himself upright, but blood seeped from his eyes, his nose, the tip of his Johnson that hadn't see the inside of a woman in a full sales cycle — and with the cost of the vaporware he was peddling, that was maybe eighteen months, perhaps more, but George was still adding on the extra fingers he had sprouted when it came to him that the upright dog might be that idiot boyfriend of Greta's.

“Granddad, are you OK?”

“I just have a little bloody nose, Sweetie.” He wiped his nose with the back of his hand and watched a torrent of Mountain Dew gush from his knuckles to the porch floor. It made him thirsty. “Do we have any soda, Gret?”

“Your nose isn't bleeding, Granddad. It's just runny. But you do look kind of weird, like, really weird.”

George managed to climb his way up the pillar to a standing position and then hugged it, enjoying the texture that he imagined might be like that of a large cat's tongue, a two-story tall cat. “Hmmm, feels good. I feel really good, Sweetie. Maybe a little leaky or-. I don't know. I think there was a slug in my waffle. Or it could have been a vitamin.”

Greta blanched. “Your waffle? You ate a waffle?!”

George bent over to wipe the Mountain Dew from his Florsheims. “I think I cracked a crown. Do you know how much I love you, Sweetie? So much, so much, so just say no to drugs, OK? Wow, just look at that Mountain Dew pouring out of my thumb! I didn't know it could hold so much.”

“Oh shit. Shit, shit, shit, fucking shit,” Greta mumbled as she texted Corky in shrieking caps: COME BACK GRANDDAD DROPPED A WAFFLE.

George toppled over and Greta was dismayed to learn just how threadbare his boxers were.

“Shh, shh, shh, shh,” George sang. “We don't want to wake up your grandmother, Sweetie.”

“No shit, Granddad.”