Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I was sitting in my bedroom at my computer on tues morning when the earthquake hit and I must say it was the longest,strongest Iv'e felt in at least three years.Of late tough they have hit while I'm in bed which is a whole different thing than going through one sitting up.The tall bookshelf two down to my left dropped two books off the top of it where I have them stacked.The first one to fall was"The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins and the second was"The Octopus" by Frank Norris which is a 1901 novel about the power of the Southern Pacific Railroad over Wheat Farmers and Ranchers in Calif.Both have been up there several years and both are still unread so maybe it's a hint.On ground level two piles of mostly cooking mags shifted revealing a slim(190) page hardcover I bought two years ago from HBC and was sort of wondering where it was"Lewis and Clark through Indian Eyes" edited by Alvin M. Joesphy which is comprised of essays by modern American Indians who are members of tribes Lewis and Clark encountered.So I picked it off the floor and read the first essay by Vine Deloria Jr. and it was excellent.He points out how Lewis and Clark is a feat because America needed to make it so for the Myth of the American Frontier.I have read a few books on the subject and a goodly amount of the men's diaries themselves and though Deloria simplifies a few points he is mostly right.The fact that French trappers and French/Indian halfbreeds had been through most of the area well before Lewis and Clark is hardly ever mentioned in the old U.S History texts and the fact that the French in Canada and into the west which was not U.S. territory at the time encouraged the interbreeding of French trappers and Indians in order to form a bond with them rather than confront them which became U.S. policy as the years went on.I look forward to the rest of the essays some of which are by women of said tribes.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
So friday I went to the office and decided to walk a few blocks over from my apt. and take the Santa Monica 5 bus because it's a lot nicer ride than the 7 route.The thing is the bus stop at the corner of Olympic Blvd. and Beverly Glen is one that I'm not fond of.For one thing it's out in the open,no shelter but the other reason hs to do with reading books and watching old movies about a)old time sea novels,b)gypsies.There is an odd small two story apt.bldg there done up old south plantation style in dingy white with green trim and made of wood.I'm amazed it's still there but what gives me the chills about it is a lady and her son who live there right in front of the bus stop.They are always there with the door open,both very large folks and the mother has a sign reading psychic/fortune teller hanging there.They remind me of gypsies from those books where gypsies are involved in every blackmarket trade there is.The way they come to the door each time I'm standing out there and look you over especially the mother who looks right through you,I am afraid to turn my back to them lest someone stick a hanky of chloroform over my mouth and I wake up on a ship bound for the Orient and the slave trade like a bad Somerset Maugham story.The other thing is though they are both very large folks they have a tiny little dog.Friday the son came out with the dog and went a few yards behind and next to me and stood and watched the dog waiting for it to do it's thing.The poor dog seemed a bit edgy about going with him staring then the mother comes to the door and stands behind the screen watching the dog like it going to the bathroom is a matter of utmost importance.It's a wonder the dog hasn't run away with all this watching his/her bowel movements.After the son came back to the door with the dog the mother opened the door and as he walked past her she gave me another long look and I expected to hear horses whinny in terror like Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein or is that Frankensteen.
Friday, July 25, 2008
I got an email from my friend Jim today telling me that the family scattered Mary's ashes off Cold Storage Beach on the bay side of North Truro about two weeks ago.Mary is now part of the beach she spent every summer on growing up and later summers when she went back to the Cape.The beach has always been special to me and now moreso.It'a great place to watch the day fade as the parking lot is on a hill with the beach below and has a straight view to Provincetown six miles away as the light fades and the lights come on across the water.I used to love going there late fall and even one New Years Eve before heading to Provincetown.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I called my friend in Rochester late this afternoon as he had been at his parents in Wellfleet last week and went and saw Claudia at her place next to Babes where she spends the summer even though she's leasing the restaurant.Tom dropped a bomb on me telling me that our kitchen mates younger sister had passed away on June 26th at the age of 45.I've been in a funk since then alternating great memories to great sadness.My first summer in North Truro(1977),I was 22 and Mary was 14 but the first time I met her which was me driving a bunch of us home from the Wellfleet Drive-In in my vega wagon with Mary sitting on the shifter right next to me I was fascinated by her.The next couple of summers she turned into a beautiful Irish American lass,brown hair that really lightened in the sun and a sprinkling of freckles.She also had a wise guy type of humor like myself and I had a mini/major crush on her though because of our age difference at the time I resisted.I had a thing with her sister off an on over the summers who was three years older than Mary and worked at Babes with me but Mary enchanted me.When she was 17 I ran into her walking out of Tess in Provincetown one day in 1980 and she raved about it.This was the Roman Polanski version and I went and saw it with her, me for the first time and that summer we hung out together.But it was that summer she started to display very erratic behavior and by the next summer was in a hospital back home in New Hampshire.For the next twenty years she was in and out of treatment for severe Bi-Polar as far as I know and it was in the last years she was out on her own with a job ,living on her own and falling in love,engaged to be married when a few months ago she was found to have a rapidly spreading Cancer.I never knew what was going on because her brother and sister really didn't give much info when she was first diagnosed and seemed not to want to talk about it over the next several years but I thought about her so many times over the years.So hearing of her passing today I feel so much guilt about being helpless to help her and just seeing that beautiful Irish face with the freckles and wishing I could hug her one more time.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I was just reading in the Cape Cod Times where some family had this painting hanging on the wall for years and in the family since it was bought back in the 1800's.Turns out the artwork is worth somewhere around half a million dollars.You see the same thing happen on Antiques Roadshow once in awhile.Someone comes in with a painting they bought at a yard sale for 10.00 or found in someone's trash and it turns out to be some artwork worth lots and lots of money.I keep waiting for the day I discover my lost masterpiece.Maybe I should cruise Beverly Hills trash cans.The closest I ever came to a famous painting was a copy my parents had on the wall when I was a lad of some fishing scene with nets drying and large sail boats in a harbor with old fish shacks onshore.Years later I was watching"Soap" and there in the Dining Room on the set was the same painting.I've forgotten the artist.Then there was X-Mass of 1969.We had moved from one side of Rochester to the other and it's country club suburb of Pittsford,N.Y..My brother and I were waiting for the bus downtown to meet my mother for shopping and next to the bus stop were some X-Mass trees with no price or anyone around sitting roadside.As we waited a guy pulls up and says "how much for a tree" I looked at my brother and he looked at me and we said something like ten or fifteen dollars and he bought one.We wound up selling three or four trees in the 40 minues we waited and though we asked at the Pancake house right behind the bus stop no one knew who owned the trees as we wanted to give him/her the money.No one showed up so we got on the bus and with the money bought my mom a large copy of a painting called"In the Highlands" by T.Banks a painting my parents still have now in their apt.Anyhoo, the Rochester Democrat&Chronicle several X-Masses ago asked for holiday stories and I sent them mine.It was used in the story but my Mom did not want her picture taken with the painting like the paper wanted.Which leads me to my favorite art thing the skit back in the early years of Saturday Night Live where Dan Ackroyd wearing a leisure type suit with Larraine Newman as his guest played a public access guy with a show named E Buzz Millers Art Classics.There were several howlers about paintings but it was one towards the end I recall"This one here is an Impressionistic piece-it's by Manet,an Impressionist,a French guy,called Le Dejenoai ser Larbe which means Picnic in the woods.Now,you look close.These two guys are having lunch and this broad hasn't got a stitch on!Bon Appetit,boys!"
Monday, July 21, 2008
I always wondered what the above phrase meant and if I recall correctly from the wonderful Etymology forum in the defunct New York Times book forums it comes from the rising of Sirius the Dog Star during a period from a date in July to a date in August.I think the term was helical rising.Anyhoo this post is about this and that.Firstly after the so called tree trimmers hacked the large ficus off the patio and ripped out my jasmine and Blue Dawn Flower Vine which I posted the pic of a few months ago the Dawn Flower is already coming back in the back corner above the patio wall.I will have to shield it from the landlord and my evil co-gardener who tells me she doen't like it because it spreads to much.If she doesn't watch it I will transplant some in her large spot in front of the bldg.I get emails from friends who read but don't blog and an old roomate is going to get"Tough trip through Paradise" from the library. While mentioning that there wern't many first person accounts of Native Americans in book form I forgot that I have had a book lying about somewhere for a whle called"Lewis and Clark through Indian Eyes".Lastly while casually looking at fares the other night for my three week trip back to Rochester in mid October I am tempted once again to jump on Amtrack for the trip.I did it in 2004 inSummer for my 30th reunion and had a great time but that trip I had a bedroom each way.In Oct I think coach on a cross country train would be not full and the price rt is 386.00 plus the food one would have to buy onboard.But the train is so relaxing and the Southwest Chief from L.A. to Chic does go through some really beautiful country and the Chic to Rochester Lakeshore Limited is mostly in the dark but the parts of it in light are cool also.There's even an option that on the return I could take an extra day add about 75.00 and take the empire builder from Chic to Portland then the Coast Daylight I think from Portland to L.A..It's called the Coast Starlight headed north from L.A. but I think has the other name going south.I really wish I had been around during the golden age of train travel as there is nothing like it.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
So I was watching ABC news tonight and should have taken more notes becuse I've alreay forgotten some of it which I blame on Greg Norman cause after watching him golf very well early in the a.m. and reading the stories about it online about 8 tonight reading it on ESPN the story started with 53 year old Greg Norman ready to make history as the oldest ever to win a major and I said to myself"Wait a minute,I'm 53!"It took all day for that to register and now that I am supposed to feel old I forget some of the ABC story from earlier which was about the song"Happy Birthday".Turns out the song has a copywright and the music company that owns the rights takes in roughly 2 million a year on royalties from it. From TV ads to TV shows to movies they charge 5,000 to 30,000 for it.They go after restaurants for using it just like they charge them for playing music.The story went on to say they even threatened the Girl Scouts they'd have to pay if they keep singing it to birthday girl scouts around campfires.No mention of the other scouting groups.So technically every time we sing Happy Birthday and don't pay we are in violation though the story stated the enforement over the years for many has been lax or ignored.Now here's some of what I forgot but the song was written by two sisters way back as a childrens song with different lyrics and they changed them one day for a childs birthday.The kicker though is some prof or something says folks should not pay anything because there is no proof that the two sisters actually wrote the song.The music company that has the rights now says not so fast that they can prove it.It went on to say some places get around it by changing the lyrics somewhat but I doubt the legality of that move.Still from now on I will always add the "You look like a Monkey and a) you smell like one too,b)you look like one too or c)you act like one too or is it to? I'll leave that to my editor.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
My emails with my old boss Claudia about Babes Restaurant have brought back some memories of my pro dishwashing days when I have been doing my own dishes* of late. Claudia used to tell me that I was going to force her to change the pattern of the breakfast dishes,cups etc. because I was so rough on the plates with breakage she was going to run out as the pattern was no longer around.It wasn't like it was fine China or anything but to mess with her I started playing the Nick Lowe song on the portable tape player in the kitchen that is the title of this piece.Then one rainy day I almost brought her prediction to pass.We were full all morning and since it was raining the floor area in front of the entrance to the restaurant was fairly wet.Since there wasn't much room behind the counter I always took the full bus trays across the front of the restaurant to the kitchen.As I was walking briskly across the floor with a very full bus tray I hit the wet spot in my docksiders and my feet went right out from under me.As I slipped right on my butt to the floor the bus tray left my hands and went straight up into the air.Everything went slow mo at that point in my minds camera.I fell to the floor sitting on my butt and watched the tray go up what seemed to me well above the counter then come down right into my hands where I caught it without a plate,cup,saucer,fork,knife or spoon coming out.I sat there for a second stunned that I fell and that I caught the freakin tray when the whole restaurant breaks into applause and Claudia is proclaiming from behind the counter"Breakfast and a floor show"*For the record I don't have a dishwasher,I do my own by hand.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I was browsing through a book site today when I saw a readers list for favorite cookbooks.One of the readers books was "Bistro Cooking" by Patricia Wells which happens to be one of my all time faves.I've tried quite a few of the recipes but over the years I have made one again and again and folks always ask for the recipe.It's for Rabbit in mustard sauce and though I've done it with Rabbit she says Chicken can be used and which is what I do with Skinless thighs bone in.The only thing I really change is the amount of dijon used.I wind up going through just about a jar brushing it on the chicken but that's usually twelve thighs.She doesn't call for half that I think.The thing about Dijon is it really mellows with long slow cooking.That and I sometimes add some mushrooms and always garlic which are not in her recipe which she got from a Bistro in France whose name I forget but is in the book.In the recipes she usually suggests a wine and with this dish she says a young Morgon is great and because of it I found the Jean Descombes Morgon which is one of my all time favorite reds now.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I just finished a wonderful book"Tough Trip Through Paradise, 1878-1879" by Andrew Garcia,Univ of Idaho Press.Garcia lived in Montana till his death in 1942 and during the two years the book is about wrote a thousand pages or more about later in life.A Bennett H. Stein edited the pages down to a little over 400 pages and the book first came out in 1966.It's a fascinating and unvarnished true life story of life in Montana.Garcia was 23 at the time and bought furs and other things from the Indian tribes and interacted with them.He married a Nez Perce girl who had been taken in by another tribe after her family was killed and she was badly injured in the Battle of Big Hole.Garcia does not try and try to paint a romantic picture of his life but the result is true life and in parts his writing is beautiful for such a common man.He pulls no punches and there are good and bad on both sides between the whites and Indians he encounters but his life amongst the tribes of the area is the most fascinating part.The book does jump around a bit but that doesn't take away from the real life tale.I read another first person narrative of a white man living with the Blackfeet in Montana during roughly the same time period several years ago and I enjoyed that also but Garcia's book is a classic.There aren't that many first person narratives out there of the waning days of the western tribes and from the Indian side hardly a thing as their history was mostly oral rather than written so I keep searching for more of these.Garcia during his life kept the manuscript mostly out of sight because he feared a publisher or Hollywood would tinker with it and change the story as he wrote it.For a simple man he was wise.In fact I found one article on line that claims that"Little Big Man" was cribbed from the Garcia book after it came out.A friend who is a writer and a novelist in Montana just wrote an article about Garcia she submitted to Montana Life so I want to ask her if there is anything to the "Little Big Man" story.
One of the things that happened every summer at Babes or coming out of Dutras Market in North Truro was someone asking how to get to Providencetown or where the car ferry to Boston docked.The questions about Providencetown half the time were where the tatoo parlors were.Providencetown though is a mythical place since these poor misguided tourists were confusing Providence R.I. with Provincetown.MA.As for the tatoo parlors R.I. had a lot of coast guard and some navy at the time so we assumed the tatoo parlors were south also.In 78 we had people coming into Babes asking how to get to Providencetown so often one day after work Tom the toastman and myself went out front with Jimmy the cook and Jim's camera.Tom had a scarf around his head a dark blue apron over his body plus shirt and pants underneath and a large umbrella over his head.He looked like an East German peasant woman.I had one of those large white mopheads as a large white dreadlock wig a small straw hat on top of the wig and a huge fake joint in my mouth.We were holding a cardboard handwritten sign that said"Providencetown" and we stood in front of Babes hitchiking towards Provincetown.At least five cars went by before Jimmy snapped the pic and in it there is a car going by in the background.A few cars slowed down pointing and laughing but the others were clueless.I still have copies and the positive instead of a negative also someplace as it was a polaroid.An old girlfriend in L.A. several years later did the positive when she worked for my friend Henry at EMI records as art director and in a twist of irony the photo work was billed to a Peter Wolf album after he left J.Geils.As for the car ferry we weren't sure where that info came from as there was always just a passenger ferry from Provincetown to Boston.One day though this very loud annoying man at Babes who stiffed the waitress on a tip asked us where the car ferry was and Jimmy sent him down Pond Road in North Truro to Cold Storage Beach and told him the ferry came in there.Not sure how long he waited but like Charley neath the streets of Boston he never returned.
Friday, July 11, 2008
From the August Esquire. Two Snowmen are standing in a field.One says to the other,"Funny,I smell carrots,too." Just an aside it's amazing there are so many commas and a too in that blurb.As an ex journalism major I loathed punctuation marks and too along with other things.I told a prof once that's what editors are for when he asked me about my lack of.Commas,I don't need no stinkin commas.He didn't find it amusing.
A Salt Lake City ice cream shop claims to have had the image of Jesus in a three gallon tub of Spumoni.Alas the image melted away the next day but there are pics.I'm betting the Ben&Jerrys in P-Town will have an image of Lobster Man in the Cherry Garcia before summer is over.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
About a month ago I was wondering what the folks at Babes Restaurant I used to work for were up to.Since they have leased it out the past few summers and Pierre had gone his seperate way from Claudia some years ago I had lost touch.They were never married but had a daughter who had her mom's last name and it's a last name that isn't common.I thought Verushka might be back home in Montreal and sure enough I found her.Now Verushka was I think 7 the first summer at Babes in 1977 and for the next 5 summers she would come into the kitchen each morning when she awoke telling us what she wanted for breakfast then most mornings asking all kinds of things while the three of us would tease her and bet how long it would be before her mother came into the kitchen and gave her the heave ho in French or German.I used to call her Cup Cake or French Fry and lord she was a wise little girl in that she knew when we were telling her bunk.Verushka gave me her Mom's and Dad's email and Claudia is living in the bigger cottage at Babes for the summer though she isn't running the restaurant.She sent me a pic this morning of it from outside and it's prettier than ever.The little strip of grass that is in front is now a beautiful bed of wildflowers.I see a lot of big red poppies,daisies and some long stem blue flower I'm not sure of.It's only a dinner place now but it is such a nice location and inside it was always really tasteful.I don't think there is a place on the Cape quite like it.I told Claudia in an email tonight one of my favorite moments was at the end of summer 78 when the French Chef her mother brought over from Paris that summer to do dinner something they had not done since Claudia's father had passed away a few years before.Us morning guys called him Pepe Le Peu as he was a real pain and whiny.I washed pots a few nights in the kitchen that summer and man did he use those pots.So at his going away dinner we told him we would take a picture of us in the kitchen cleaning up afterwards.He gave Pierre his camera and the three of us mooned while Pierre snapped our pic.Off Pepe went to France with what turned out was slide film and not pics.Claudia tells us the next summer that she was in Paris late fall that year at her Mother's and Pepe invites them over to his family's place for dinner to see the slides from the Cape he finally got back.No one had seen them yet including Pepe and Claudia says they are watching the slides commenting on them having a good time when all of a sudden three moons come on the screen and she cough's up some wine while others let out a little gasp and Pepe is turning red.Priceless
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I've been homebound so much recently nothing happens to write about.I guess I could mention that the other night I did go out to the patio and found that the landlord had hired "tree trimmers" which meant they had pretty much done the large Ficus tree so it looks like it joined the Marines or that they 1) destroyed my huge Morning Glory Vine,2)destroyed all the strings of lights on the patio and 3)destroyed my oldest and most treasured Weber Charcoal grill.It was a pleasant surprise.So I did ribs on my Simpsons Weber which if they harmed it would have meant prison time for myself and a chainsaw in a body part for the trimmer only Robert Maplethorp would have taken a picture of.Anyhoo I did the ribs and as I set a plate down in front of the computer the other night felt something brush my arm.I looked all over and saw nothing and given my meds of late I shrugged it off.So tonight I stretched out my right foot under my desk with the computer and touched something solid.Looking way under I saw that indeed a rib was lying there half petrified so I now know what I felt brush against my arm the other night though how it fell and bounced that far under is still a mystery.I really need to get out.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
One of the things I love about the internet is the strange news stories that show up.Tonight I saw "Man attacks Mom with Polish Sausage" and "Man arrested in Park with pants open" Funny thing is both were in Florida home of really strange stories.The first one involved a 46 year old throwing a three pound Polish Sausage at his mom after an argument and grazing her head.The second stated the guy was sitting in a park with his pants open and a sock covering his private part and he claimed it was hot(weather) and that's why he did it.Over the years a few come to mind.The squirrel who fell through a sunroof onto a ladies lap and attacked her.The guy in Ohio who was taped by his neighbor having intimate relations with the umbrella hole on his patio table and the mid major college football player who legally changed his name from the one his parents gave him"Lucious Pusey" to something a bit more manly.To top it off the last one I saw tonight was a 74 year old lady who crashed her car(Caddy I think) through a window at a small store near Long Beach, CA., then got out and picked up a six pack of budweiser which she walked to the counter with and tried to purchase.She was booked for driving under the influence.