Monday, December 31, 2007

Cairo the Rapacious

This city is kicking my ass. I'm starting to develop an atitude that would put New Yorkers to shame.

The truth is, I was more anxious than I let on in visiting. Breathing the air, they said, was the equivalent of smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. The merchants are so cunning they once fleeced the King of Mali of twenty camels laden with gold. The traffic is so insane that the guidebook recommends hiring a taxi to cross the street. 21 million people are squeezed between the barren desert, with an increasingly deadly police state above and the Muslim Brotherhood on the streets below.

I arrived at the hotel, crawled into the bed, and debated staying there until my flight to Aswan.

Seriously. I only act tough. I'm like the kid who climbs to the highest rock to dive off it, and he only did that because he read about it in a book, and then remembers too late that he's scared of heights.

Books are bad.

Thirty minutes after lying in bed my stomach overruled my timid brain & demanded that it go out and find food. And so I ventured out for my first taste of this city of 21 million.

I'm staying on Zamalek, an island in the Nile. It's slightly more upscale than the surrounding madness on either bank of the Nile. It has it's crazy high-speed no-rules roads, but it also has quiet sidestreets where guards sleep standing up in the shadows, and embassies are hid behind high walls and private gardens.

Within the hour I'd eaten my first meal in Egypt - pigeon on a stick. It was stuffed with wheat, then roasted on an open fire. The chef snapped the head off before serving me, for which he has earned my eternal thanks. An hour after that I'd shaken off my first hustler. He hit me up while I was taking photos of the Nile. It was ... muddy. Not photogenic at all. I suppose I was expecting the Seine, all golden lights and stunning vistas. As for the hustler? He was an amateur, to be sure, but still - it gave me confidence to handle him so easily.

Same routine this morning. I debated hiding under the sheets for the day. I wondered if I shouldn't cave and join a tour group. Or spend the day locked in the museum.

Instead, I hailed a taxi and rode into the heart of the madness - Fatimid Cairo, the original Islamic quarter. This was the quarter that has caught my imagination, even more than the pyramids and the tombs and all the other pharaonic monuments. You can blame books again - I'd read too much Naguib Mahfouz, and too much of the history of the area - Mohammed's conquest, the rise of the Fatimid dynasty, it's take over by Salahadin, Crusaders camping at the gates, the slave-wife who hid her husband's death long enough to take charge herself and establish a dynasty of former slaves who later enslaved the caliph's family after Genghis Khan destroyed Baghdad ... I had to walk these streets myself.

First I had to survive the taxi ride. I was warned a Cairo taxi was an adventure in itself. I wasn't prepared for the driver to approach a crowd of pedestrians and then hit the gas. We went plowing through the crowd, slaloming between the poor innocents, and somehow came out the other end without hitting a soul. There was no time to breathe before we approached a merge at speed where three lanes closed into one.

Thirty minutes of this, and we turned a corner into another millennium. I had asked to be dropped off at Bab Zuweyla, the southern gate of Fatimid Cairo. I expected - what? Not this. Not a dusty dirt road in the middle of this metropolis, flanked by thousand-year old stone walls, with covered alleys leading away into mysterious directions.

And all without another tourist to be seen. I was shaking when I got out of the cab. I climbed the minaret for a good view of Cairo, and sorry that you'll all have to wait for the photos. Spent the rest of the day wandering the streets and alleys of the old city.

And like the poor King of Mali, I was royally fleeced.

First the good: just being here was an adventure in itself. The keeper of the Bab Zuweyla gate gave me a great tour. In Arabic, but he kept it simple. The restored Ottoman House of Beit Suheimy was fabulous, and was like stepping right into the pages of Palace Walk. The view of the Cities of the Dead were haunting. And the mosque of Sultan Hussein had beautiful marble work that provided perfect acoustics for an Iman singing prayers in the mausoleum behind the prayer room.

The mediocre? Nowhere to piss. I had to hide behind a ruined monument. You would pay a guard 20 EGP (2 dollars) to open a locked door - but there was no guarantee that there'd be something interesting behind it. The hustlers were supposed to be bad, but I found them to be a minor, almost charming, annoyance.

The bad? Lunch. I ate at a local dingy hole in the wall. The proprietor started piling food in front of me. There was so much chaos and noise all around, and such a mass of shouting people at the cafe, that I couldn't manage to say no, stop, this is enough.

And so I ate eggplants and an egg soufflé and falafel and hummus and a tomato salad, and finally had to order him to stop. I was going to burst, and it was turning into an awkward situation.

Then he brought desert out. No. I begged. I wish I knew how to say "I'm full." Instead, it was la la la shokran no please no thank you for the love of god no. I held his hands and looked into his eyes and tried to get my message across.

No luck. He force fed me. No shit, and no exaggeration - he took the spoon and forced it in my mouth.

I was laughing. It was all a bit surreal, being force-fed by a mad chef in a medieval city. Then he gave me the bill.

By American standards, it was slightly over-priced. By Egyptian standards? Ten to twenty times what the cost should have been.

So no more laughing. They got me. Me and the King of Mali. I paid, left the shop, put on my shades, and hit the streets with a new attitude.

One upshot of all this was, I wasn't scared of the traffic anymore. Once outside the quarter I was walking across the street with the best of them.

I'm determined to get the better of this City. It feels like a competition.

Tomorrow - I've hired a driver to take me to the pyramid fields at Dahshur and the Necropolis at Saqqara. "These are not tourist," he told me. "You like Giza better, yes?"

But I'm sticking with Plan A.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Munchen on a Sunday Morning

I landed in Munich last night, completely but expectedly disoriented. The flights went well, and I was doing alright until a few brief hellacious hours at London´s third-world Heathrow Airport. It knocked the winds out of my sails, and the final leg from London to Munich was a bit of a daze. My original hotel had some water damage, so instead of checking me in they arranged for a room at a higher-class hotel down the road, and handed me enough cash to make up the difference in cost.

That was totally unexpected - especially from a budget hotel sandwiched between Man´s World and Tiffany´s Lap Dance Palace - and kind of puts Waikiki hotel´s to shame. We have so much to learn.

I left my house at 5am Friday morning, and arrived at 5pm Saturday night. Thirty six hours by the clock, though my body only went through 24 hours - and I´m applying this to a new theory on how to beat jet lag, my own little special theory of traveler´s relativity. I won´t think: oh, I´m x hours ahead of home and how will I ever adjust? Instead I´ll tell myself that there is no time difference, and that I merely traveled forward through time at a faster rate than the kids back home. I did one and a half hours for every hour they did, and that´s that.

It might have worked. I was sick and beat when I arrived, but a nap, shower, wander through town, and sauna was all it took. By midnight I was feeling fine - demonstrated by a sudden and ravenous craving from bratwurst. It might have been the statues of pigs all over that triggered it. I first thought it might be a Christmas thing - a Yule hog to go along with the tannenbaum and lights; now I´m thinking it must be some deeper pan-seasonal symbol of Bavaria.

The town itself is beautiful. I arrived with a google map and a rough idea of where the train station, hotel, and sauna were. I planned on winging the rest. I wandered in a good-seeming direction, and stumbled on the Marienplatz. It was bounded by a huge gothic cathedral with a huge Christmas tree out front, and it looked like some child´s fantasy of what the holiday should look like.

I tried to use the castle´s spires as a landmark to navigate home, but I didn´t realize that it was just one of who knows how many castles and cathedrals in a small area. I didn´t get lost, amazingly, but did take a bit of a detour trying to find the route back to my bed.

This morning I´m immobile again, but for a different reason - German breakfasts. The hotel spread was stunning - fourteen kinds of meats and sausage (I counted), fourteen kinds of cheese (ditto), a dozen kinds of bread, two kinds of smoked salmon, a yogurt bar, a muesli bar, strong bitter coffee, espresso, fresh squeezed juice, an assortment of pickles, eggs, potatoes .... frakkin´heaven on a cold rainy morning. Next time someone tries to pass off a croissant and nescafe as a ´Continental Breakfast' they´ll be getting an earful from me. I could´ve spent all day there, but after trying to sample all the meats and cheeses I hit a wall, and would´ve had to purge to continue on.

Twenty more minutes and I leave for the airport to fly to Cairo; then the real adventure begins.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ghosts of Christmas

I was doing such a good job of avoiding the combined ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. I went to most of the parties, sure - there are friends I only see this time of year, and I hibernated most of November to prepare. And if I was religious I would've gone to mass. Beyond that, I was skipping it. I was sick of it. Or, more specifically, sick of the shopping orgy that accompanies the holiday.

The local news run non-stop accounts of how merchants are doing, and what stores are open when, and gee I hope they sell more stuff than last year. They tag on a few milliseconds about 'of course it's not about the shopping it's about Christ' - and then it's back Live from the Mall. Jay tells me that his kid came back from kindergarten with a bag full of toys - some of the mothers went shopping for every kid in the class. Friends are sending their nephews and nieces cash, because the kids already have everything they could want. It's giftcards for Amazon, Starbucks, or Macy's for the adults.

And I just cannot find the meaning in any of this. There's no thought and little love in any of this. It's gone overboard. I was opting out.

My record was almost flawless. The men in my office managed to kibbosh gift-giving this year (and oddly enough, it was our Chinese Buddhist clerk who was most upset by this). I only went to the mall once, and that was for Ron's birthday. I didn't do cards (though I'm feeling a bit guilty at the ones I've received, and haven't opened them yet). No tree. No lights. No party. No nothing beyond dinners with good friends.

I'll make up for some of this, sure. I'll buy presents while I'm in Egypt for friends and family. I'll do a party this summer - it was too rainy to open my yard this winter anyways. And I kind of liked making cookies, though I did cook a big meal for the surf house and I'll probably cook for the Swamp Pigs this February.

Mid week went to Rudy and John's for cocktails. Saturday Cliff had a party, and it was all the usual gang. Spent a pleasant night with Peter after one of his shows. Went to David and Roger's at their awesome new house in Kalihi Christmas eve. It was all so nice. So non-commercial. So much more in the spirit of the season. Tomorrow is Fred and Boyd's dinner at Grand Cafe, which should be an awesome way to wrap up the holidays.

I dodged the commercialism, and I dodged every ghost of Christmas past.

And I could have made it straight through unscathed. I guess I did ... but other friends weren't so lucky.

I called D_ mid Christmas morning. His boyfriend is on the mainland, and we'd made plans to drink the day away. We've done it before. We're good at it.

His brother had just died a few hours before.

D_ had just moved back from California, vowing to stay put this time & never return. His family is still there. His brother, 43, married, and with two kids, had had some chest pains that morning. He went in to the hospital for a check-up, and collapsed in the hall. They couldn't revive him.

D_ and I spent the rest of the day and a lot of the night together. Sometimes talking, sometimes just drinking bloody Mary's and watching silly movies on tv (South Park Christmas, Kathy Griffin's special, The Simpson's Movie, and the new Hairspray). A friend of his, Jose, joined us later and we went out for dinner at Senor Frog's and one final nightcap at Tapa's.

He's doing alright, though I suppose it wasn't real yet for him. He should have arrived back in Cali a few hours ago, which means it all should have hit him by now. He's one of my closest friends, and I did my best even though there's not much anyone can do, and it was a pleasant day ... but one with the ghost of death lurking in the background. There was the very real one in his family, of course, but there was also that awful awareness that, for all of us, the future will hold many more days like this.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Jason de Caires Taylor

What if we made our artificial reefs into works of art also?

From the work of Jason de Caires Taylor:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Living His Life Faster

Jonathan Keller took a photo of himself every day for the past eight years, less 239 days in 1999/2000 when he was in Antarctica.

These are the photos as of October 1, 2006.

Living My Life Faster - 8 years of JK's Daily Photo Project from c71123 on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


OK, I've got everything confirmed except for a place to stay in Munich and Abu Simbel, a flight to Abu Simbel, and the ride from Dahab to el Milga.

The Beginning
16 hours in coach. Or, hell.

  • Fri Dec 28: Airborn - United 934 HNL-LAX (07:00-14:22); United 934 LAX-Heathrow (16:49-11:25)
  • Sat Dec 29: Munich - BMI 3275 / Lufthansa 4755 LHR-Munich (13:25-16:00)

Cairo the Victorious
Mayfair Hotel, Zamalek

  • Sun Dec 30: Air Egypt MS 788 Munich to Cairo (14:10-19:00)
  • Mon Dec 31: Egyptian Museum, Coptic Cairo
  • Tue Jan 1: Pyramids at Dahshur, Saqqara Necropolis
  • Wed Jan 2: Alexandria
  • Thu Jan 3: Islamic Cairo

Hathor or Horus Hotel, Aswan
Abu Simbel Tourist Village (Hotel Abbas), Abu Simbel

r Egypt
Marsam Hotel (Sheikh Aly Hotel), Qurna (West Bank)

The Sinai

Bishibishi Garden Village, Dahab
El Milga Bedouin Camp, el Milga

  • Thu Jan 10: Air Egypt MS 162 Luxor to Sharm el Sheik (7:10-8:00). Bus to Dahab.
  • Fri Jan 11: Hike to Ra's abu Galum
  • Sat Jan 12: Midnight convoy to el Milga. Climb Mount Sinai; Monastery of St. Katherine; Hike Wadi Arbein.

The Journey Home

  • Sun Jan 13: Bus to Cairo (6:00-14:00). Shopping Day. al Azhar Park, Khan el Khalili.
  • Mon Jan 14: Air Egypt MS787 Cairo to Munich (09:50-13:10)
  • Tues Jan 15: Airborn - Lufthansa 380 Munich-Denver (09:15-12:05); United 77 Denver-SFO (13:23-15:03); United 77 SFO-HNL (16:05-19:46)
  • Wed Jan 16: Back to work

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Schizo Days

I've never been much for sticking with one group or subculture. In college I jumped back and forth between Theta Chi (IFC: Theta Chi is a threat not only to the campus community, but also to its own members; OTR: Individual Theta Chis are fine to chill with, a little east coast attitude is manageable, but get them all together and it's Brooklynaggedon. Approach with caution); wild underground punk parties (left, the Misfits play at the Union Ballroom); Boy's Night Out at the Nectarine Ballroom; and volunteering at Ozone House, the collectively-run counter-culture inspired runaway shelter.

These worlds would cross rarely, if at all.

I'm still jumping between worlds, though they're more socially acceptable ones these days.

This past Saturday Roz organized a huaka`i for the paddling group at He`eia Fishpond (left). It was cold wet and windy - not a typical Hawai`i day at all. We were told the history of the pond by two of the caretakers, and then taken out to the rim collect some invasive algae (Gracilaria salicornia, aka gorilla ogo).

This part was fun - the water was murky, so you had to feel for the algae with your feet. Once you felt a patch you'd dive down and blindly grab what you could. We filled a couple baskets, which the Association will then clean and sell for poke.

Of course, we only made a dent in the ogo. It's extremely invasive, and has been smothering reefs and crowding out native limu island-wide.

Mehana at the mākāhā.

Keli`i on the history of the pond.

Most of the group stayed to fish for moi; I had to run, do a quick change, and meet some of the guys at Mariposa for Ron C's birthday brunch. What a change that was - from down to earth people involved in protecting the land to ladies who lunch (left). It took me awhile to make the transition. I was shocked at the prices, especially given how absolutely average the food was. It was all pretension, no flavor. exempli gratia: : I ordered a side of "porcini fries with truffle aioli." Sounds good, eh? Turns out they were regular fries "dusted" with porcini powder. It still might have been good if you could have tasted the porcini. As for the truffle aioli ... it wasn't an aioli, it was a vinegary mayonnaise that tasted more of mustard seed.

It took me awhile to switch gears.

But it was about the company, and that was more than fine. I haven't hung out with Ron much at all this past year, so it was nice to reconnect. Sumner treated (yeay!), and Scott continues to impress with a lifestyle that puts the rest of us to shame. While we ate his latest houseboy was home cleaning and decorating the tree. I have no idea how he does it.

I think I'm stuck being a homeboy though ... I'll never quite fit into the porcini dust world (give me the whole damn mushroom or leave it off), and I'm still more likley to take a date to the St. Louis Drive-In around the corner from me (left). I like their fries better, and those plus two burgers and a drink costs all of $4.09. It's a style I can live with.

Adam and Ewald

Iranian-born photographer Soorah Hera had two pieces pulled from a planned Spring show in a Dutch museum. The curator denies he pulled the work out of fear. The artist is in hiding. Artnet has the story.

I don't know what the first piece is. In the second, the men are wearing masks of Mohammed and his son-in-law Ali. Trigger death threats.

I never believed that al Qa'eda was a serious threat to democracy, or modern values. Suicide bombers threaten our security, our families, our lives, but not our freedoms. Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney have done more damage to our democracy than any Islamic fascist could ever hope to.

These, to me, are the real dangers from Islamic fascism - anonymous calls in the night, shadowy threats against anyone who violates a medieval and outdated code, a climate of fear that stifles dialogue and forces artists into a corner where art is safe, pretty, and non-threatening.

Bush can drop chemical bombs on all the Fallujah's in the Middle East, and it won't address any of this. It's not a conflict between us and them, and there is no clash of civilizations. Those who see this as just the latest inevitable collision between the West and Islam are ignorant of history.

The more I read, the more I realize that the history I grew up with - Egypt led to Greece led to Rome led to Europe, and over on the other side there was something to do with Mesopotamia and Babylon and Persia & occasionally we fight with them - was wrong. There was no linear progression, and the center of culture and learning passed numerous times between the Greek Islands and Cairo and Baghdad and Rome and Byzantium. There is no us and them - we have the same history.

If I see any on-going conflict here it's one between the Enlightenment and the Dark Ages.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Flying the Ama

I stumbled on this teaser-trailer from Soul Fabric Films.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cutting the Line

R. moves back to Los Angeles a week from today. Hawai`i never worked out for him, though he did his share to stack the odds against him.

So I'm sad to see him go. Maybe LA will be better. He's got family. But maybe LA means death, a giving up. I don't think he knows what he'll do there - it's just not here, and there aren't many bridges left to burn here.

At some point this weekend we'll get together for one last round of drinking. At some point he needs to come over and go through the last of his things. He'll leave a lot behind, but I'm not sure what I'll be doing with it. What do I need or want with the Christmas ornaments that he originally bought with his ex? Or all the books on Japan?

So I'll be doing some house cleaning too soon after, and cutting more threads that connect me to the past. It'll be hard, if only because it seems we do this far too often & that life moves on with such relentlessness these days that our links to yesterday sometimes threaten to disappear altogether.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Morning After

Technically, it's a couple mornings after. I knew I was looking rough when I said hello to our clerk and she just started laughing to herself. There wasn't even an acknowledgment; my good morning was met with tee hee huh huh hee hee.

Not that she's be talking to me much this month anyways. The men in our office have almost succeeded in banning Christmas. No gift exchanges, no lunch, no streamers, no crass commercialism whatsoever.

If only this would catch on. I like the season otherwise, even though I tried to duck out of it this year. I pretty much hibernated most of October and November. I couldn't quite figure out why at first ... I didn't feel that depressed, but on any given weekend I was much happier at home watching tv than going to the bars.

Now I think I was saving up energy, 'cause December is rock star month. Ken rented the bungalow at Pupukea, so spent the weekend up there with the surf gang and a few odd hangers on. It was the typical half cool half strange weekend. I never achieved the level of highness and/or drunkenness and/or medicated bliss that some of my comrades achieved ... there were times when I think we had five or six unique states of consciousness present in one room.

Only one was a real irritant - the idiot stuck his hand down my pants, or tried to, my first hour in the house. I've crossed paths with him on and off over the past 14 years, so he took that to mean we were "old friend who go way back." Which: no. We weren't. We knew people in common - two pill-popping southern preachers - and I later cut all contact with those people when I realized how shallow, exploitative, and downright creepy they were.

I was very clear with the idiot that he was not to fuck with me. His meds kicked in an hour later & he passed out, so I'm not sure if he remembered my warning. As Jake put it, there are very few medications that are complemented by alcohol and pot.

But it was nice living on the beach, and it was nice being surrounded by friends for three days. Kurt was back in town, Tom came back for a month, Steve was up, Keoni, Ken of course, with his latest ethnobotanist. Ken II and Kevin came up briefly, and Jimmy spent the first night. I like communal living, even though I guard my privacy.

Monday was Haulani's party. I made the eggnog. Ran into another blast from the past - C, who was one of the preacher's boyfriends shortly before I cut contact. I haven't seen him in years either. He got too drunk to drive, so I sent him to bed. I suppose I was expected to go down and join him ... but I stayed at the party. I was having a fun time, & it's not like he was going anywhere.

Six more parties to go; I need to work 9.5 hour days the next two weeks so that I can comp part of my vacation; somehow the dishes are piling up again; and I still want to find time to tan and buff up before I head to Cairo.

Thursday, December 06, 2007



We believe that every single human being is a child of God – we are all part of the human family. The conviction of the inherent and inalienable worth of every life is still the most revolutionary political proposition ever advanced. John Adams put it that we are ‘thrown into the world all equal and alike.

And yet his campaign is based on denying rights to fags, dykes, the transgendered, and immigrants.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We Lose Another One

One of our officers called this morning for us to check on some shore-side development he saw from his patrol boat.

We tracked down the parcel ... and it's the same story we hear all the time here.

There's a small bay in South Kohala that the tourists haven't found yet. You turn off the highway, then take another turn down a partially paved road, then turn makai at telephone no. xx onto a rough dirt track. When the track ends you can hike through the kiawe to a small enclosed bay, lined with rocks and trees and a small black sand beach.

There might be eight or nine sunbathers and swimmers there on a busy day. Local guys throw-net fish from the rocks. The currents are rough, but it's nice swimming for those who understand the ocean.

Some traitor must have shown a developer the bay. He liked it - it's private and secluded and pristine - and Paradise could be his for 3.8 million. We traced the records online; it's now owned by a group out of California. Or, as the officer put it, "more asshole Californians."

So they bought the land along it for development. We can notify Aquatics and Forestry and Historic Preservation that they need to keep an eye on this development, but it's not our kuleana and we don't have the authority to stop it. It's County land, zoned "hotel"," and the County never met a permit they didn't like.

So one more private place will be lost. Money will buy what was once only earned through friendship, family, and time. The rest of us will have beach access, of course; but a beach isn't quite the same when it's ringed by condos. Rich investors will come and vacation here and have an authentic Hawaiian experience behind their gates and walls - marred only, perhaps, by the bad attitude of the locals they encounter when they venture out.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Inferno

There is a section of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities that has haunted and inspired me since I first read it fifteen years ago. We should seek out that which survives in the midst of chaos and nurture it, and make it strong. Or something like that ... I could never find the quote again after reading it that first time, and was sure that the words if not the intent had shifted in my mind over time. Every once in awhile I'd try a search online, or breeze through the introductions of his books at the library or the bookstore. I never had any luck, and even started to wonder if it was even Calvino I was thinking of.

I was looking in the wrong place - I was sure it was in the first chapter, if not the first line or a dedication. It was, in fact, in the conclusion. I was looking for a poem by Pablo Neruda, and there, tucked in between Neruda & a graphic novel, was my book, right on the front shelf. I pulled it out, started reading randomly, and there was my line, the last paragraph of the book.

(Kublai Khan) said: It is all useless, if the last landing place can only be the infernal city, and it is there that, in ever-narrowing circles, the current is drawing us.

And Polo said: The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Turkey Aftermath

Had a very pleasant Thanksgiving at Kevin and Frank's place up the hill. It was a diverse crowd - the only ones I knew were Bernardo, Ahmed, Ken & Ken, and Elle. Even then I forgot that I had met Ellen years ago. I never did figure out how most of the rest were connected.

I spent a good hour cleaning the kitchen this evening (pics to come!). I thought it would take longer. Longer as in: all night. An hour wasn't too bad.

So the turkey came out fine. The stuffing was good, but not the knock-out punch I was aiming for. Kevin ended up adding pomegranates to his stuffing also - great minds etc. But I found, after three Turkey meals (Harris's lunchwagon Wednesday, dinner last night, and Mandalay for lunch this morning) that I'm seriously craving an old-fashioned sage, sausage, and celery stuffing. My avant-garde creation didn't even come close to the original.

Notes for next year, since I'll probably forget if I don't write it down:
  • Order the turkey online. The only choices we had were cheap Franken-birds or $40 free-range organic birds. Nothing in the middle. I went Franken-bird this year, and it showed. The meat was all white, which is a sure sign that the bird was a mutant raised in crowded conditions. It lacked any deep flavor, and there were almost no drippings. I couldn't find just a normal turkey - everything was injected with saline and oil! - and it would be cheaper to go through d'Artagnan and get a heritage bird than buy one of Safeway's mass-produced 'free-range' critters.
  • Frida's recipe cooks fast! Forget four-five hours - this baby was done in 3.5. Which meant it set for a long time, and that nice crispy skin lost its crispiness. Next year I'll time it down to the wire. Her way is still my favorite way to cook it.
  • Make sure you have a pan big enough to catch the drippings. Drippings plus gas = critical levels of smoke.
  • If you stuff the ass then tie then sew it shut well! Skewers aren't enough (as evidenced when the bad boy shat out half the stuffing in the oven). Skewers were fine for the main cavity.
  • Towards the end I started switching out roasting pans. I'd pull one, put the second in, and use the butter from the first to baste. Then repeat. This was much less dangerous than basting from the original pan.
  • One round I put the heart, gizzards, and some shallots in the basting pan under the bird. They roasted nicely, and were ono in the gravy.
  • And go with the sage stuffing, dammit! No one had it this year. I might need to cook another bird just to have some. Maybe I'll try a mincemeat pie next year - that should satisfy my urge for drama.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Fight

My studio is filled with smoke, and it's starting to drift out of the windows and over the neighborhood - it must be Thanksgiving.

I'm having my yearly Turkey fight. Kevin and Frank are collecting twenty of us orphans and having us for dinner. I volunteered to cook one of the turkeys.

I'm following Frida Kahlo's recipe from her Fiesta book. It's simple - rub with salt and pepper, roast in a 425 oven, and baste constantly with butter. The skin comes out so crispy and golden; none of the modern recipes come close. But oh my does this simple process make a mess! I haven't burned myself yet, but I'm only 40 minutes into a four-plus hour process. Give me time.

I'm experimenting with the stuffing. I found a fruit and nut stuffing from Rochelle Palermo Torres, and twisted it around a bit. It almost reminded me of a mince, and so I adjusted it a bit to make it more like my Aunt Gloria's mincemeat pies. Mincemeat cooked in a turkey sounded good. I added figs, and then went looking for meat to add. I had some rabbit and chicken livers in the freezer, and I thought: ooh, figs and liver. That's pate! And so I added them instead of meat. And so I cooked it up a few days ahead to let the flavors blend, and then stuffed my bird with the mincemeat pate stuffing.

Yeah, I made that up. Google it, you won't find it anywhere but here.

It tasted pretty damn good, though it's expanding at a rapid rate and threatening to pop my bird. A third is in the turkey. I put a paella pan under the bird to catch the drippings, and I'll cook the rest of the stuffing under the turkey & let the fat drip on it. The rest of the fat will go towards a giblet cream gravy. I might add some roasted shallots if I get motivated.

So, here's the Torres recipe, unexpurgated. I'll follow it with my expurgations and additions.

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 large Anjou pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
1 1/2 cups Sauternes or other sweet white wine
1 1/2 cups chopped pitted prunes
1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

14 cups 1/2-inch cubes crustless firm white bread (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 cup pecans, toasted, chopped

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears; sprinkle with sugar. Sauté until pears are golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to very large bowl; mix in cinnamon. Melt remaining 10 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add onions and celery; sauté until golden, about 15 minutes. Add wine and next 5 ingredients. Simmer until liquid is reduced almost to glaze and mixture is soft and moist, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Mix into pears. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat to lukewarm before continuing.) Mix bread and pecans into fruit mixture. Season stuffing with salt and pepper.

To bake stuffing in turkey:

Loosely fill main cavity and neck cavity of turkey with stuffing. Generously butter baking dish. Spoon remaining stuffing into prepared dish. Cover dish with buttered foil, buttered side down. Bake stuffing in dish — alongside turkey or while turkey is resting — until heated through, about 25 minutes. Uncover stuffing in dish. Bake until top of stuffing is slightly crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

To bake stuffing in dish:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Bake uncovered until heated through, about 35 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Bake uncovered until heated through, about 35 minutes.

MC's Midnight Expurgations and Adulterations

  • Make the stuffing, up until adding the bread, two days ahead. There are a lot of discordant flavors here, and they need time to blend.
  • Use 6 persimmons instead of the pears.
  • I substituted black mission figs for the prunes. Because: Figs? Yum. Prunes? Not so much.
  • Add dried cherries and seeds from one pomegranate
  • Use Cline Viognier, as I love the creaminess of this wine. I also added a cup of stock, as some of the commentary noted the stuffing could be dry.
  • Add 1 pound of chopped and sauteed rabbit and chicken livers
  • Forget the nuts. There's enough going on here already. Plus, I didn't have any nuts on hand.
It's more or less the same recipe. With the non-linear way I cook it's the closest I'll get to a carbon copy. Shoots, this is almost cloning.

We'll see how it goes in a couple hours. Everyone is a gentlemen, so they'll all say they like it. I'll know more from their looks as to how it went over.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Princess and the Pauper

Starring the Princess Dialta Alliata di Montereala as the Princess, Prince Vittorio as the family scion, and me as the pauper.

Peter and I had been trying to make plans to hang out and catch up, but his work with Tau Dance Theater keeps him running non-stop when he's on island. The only way to catch up was to start running myself. Or, if not run myself, at least ride shot gun. So after work he swung by my place and I jumped in for a short night of adventure.

Our first stop was the Princess's house. She's been a major patron of Tau for the past couple years, and this night he had promised to help one of her daughters with a video project.

Intellectually, I know there's nothing special about royal titles. Anyone can discover royal blood if they dig back far enough, and follow the right lineage. Geneticists now say that all of us are descended from one of 10 Adams and 18 Eves, and anyone with English or Danish blood should be able to trace their ancestry back to Charlemagne.

So no big deal. We're all the children of royalty. And slaves - it goes both ways. One side of my family chopped the heads of the other side of the family, then their children moved tot he colonies and made babies. Story of American, right there.

But sometimes I'm a bad anarchist, and I was looking forward to meeting my first active royals (those aging queens who belatedly discover a long-lost pedigree don't count) - although with a touch of gentle malice. I was sure they'd be awful at best, and bores at worst.

I was wrong. They were charming. The children were beautiful, the adults intelligent - it was not what I expected at all.

We entered the house, then Peter called on his cell phone to find out what wing they were in. We found them on the garden lanai - among others the prince, a few of the princesses junior, an author, and Ann Strasberg (wife of Lee Strasberg). Peter disappeared with apologies, and I did my best to integrate.

And proceeded to have complete conversation envy. Everyone spoke in complete sentences and full thoughts, they listened to each other, they didn't interrupt each other, no one tried to dominate - the conversation wasn't about anything special, but it was so damn civilized. It was a pleasure to listen to.

What do you do? One asked. Uh oh. I work for the state, I'm an environmental planner ... and I don't even get out ten words but I can see disappointment dull their eyes. But I used to be interesting! I want to assure them.

The conversation moves on. Join in, I think. Be witty. Say something interesting. Or better yet, says the more cynical part of my brain, just sit there and be pretty, ya stupid hick, and whatever you do don't open your mouth.

Anyways, I talked a bit, then was abandoned in the garden as the Princess took the other guests on a tour of her bedroom. She apologized for leaving me, then waved at an unfinished glass of wine and told me to finish it.

I guess I won't be marrying into royalty anytime soon.

Back to my world, and the life I understand. Peter picked up a bottle of wine, and I fried up some carnitas and black beans & we settled down for grinds at my place. This I can do: casual, and low stress.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Vets Day Weekend

What a pleasant weekend - I need more of these. If the boss ok's flex time maybe I'll get `em!

Paddled Friday. It was mostly wahine. It felt good to be back on the water.

I stopped by the new Safeway afterwards. It's a strange store to have in our neighborhood, and I'm still torn on what I think. It replaced a bunch of local stores (Diamond Head Video with its Adults-only back room, the Korean nail salon, Surfers for Jesus Surf Shop) - and now we have this strip that's all chains - Safeway, Cold Cream Creamery (or something like that), Starbucks ... all the usual shit you see at every suburban mall.

And yet the block was dirty, half vacant, and kind of ugly. Now it's big bright and dynamic. The development frames the rest of the street, and makes it feel alive. The evil WalMart did the same for Ke`eaumoku downtown.

The store itself is out of my price range - I went and priced. They had a lot of gourmet items - it was all very European. The place might work for special meals, or when I want to find that certain ingredient that no one else in the state has. I'm not sure how realistic so much high-end food is for my neighborhood, though. We'll see how long it lasts. The bakery looks good, so they'll have me there. I'll stick with Foodland for regular shopping, Cost-co for meat & cheese, Fujioka's for wine, and Tamura's for liquor.

Slept Saturday. Literally, I think I napped most of the day away. I did check out Roy's kendo tournament mid morning, but his round was over in two minutes. I had half-heartedly made big plans that night, but there wasn't much enthusiasm so I stayed home and watched more of Heroes. I'm not sure I'll make it through the season - the writing makes no sense at all & most of the actors are really bad.

Sunday was the big day. We had forty paddlers, so we took out six canoes and four one-mans. We didn't get back onto land until after 11am, so I've got some serious color again. Later went to Scott and Katherine's and relaxed and drank by the pool. Then to the Mandarin to meet up with Gary and his new boyfriend. After a mai-tai we went to Hula's for the beer bust. Then to Spices for dinner. Peter was supposed to join us, but had family commitments.

Gary burned me a bunch of French house music, so that provided the soundtrack to the rest of the weekend. Monday I didn't even try to do anything - it was gym, bike, laundry, dishes, vacuum, sleep.

Tonight I'll meet up with Peter after work and head to some Italian prince's house. I don't really know the details, beyond that the prince is a sponsor of his dance troupe & needs or wants something. It'll be my first brush with royalty (that Russian count doesn't count). Movin' on up ...

Monday, November 12, 2007

American Style

Forget wars and ugly cars. This is what's great about America ...

Talk about it at Videocracy

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Next Tsunami

There are 196,000 homeless veterans in America on any given night.

There are more troops living on our own streets than serving in Iraq.

The first wave of homeless veterans from Bush's Southwest-Asian Wars are already on the streets.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Enjoy the Parade.

From this morning's New York Times:
Surge Seen in Number of Homeless Veterans
Erik Eckholm

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 — More than 400 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have turned up homeless, and the Veterans Affairs Department and aid groups say they are bracing for a new surge in homeless veterans in the years ahead.

Experts who work with veterans say it often takes several years after leaving military service for veterans’ accumulating problems to push them into the streets. But some aid workers say the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans appear to be turning up sooner than the Vietnam veterans did.

“We’re beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters,” said Phil Landis, chairman of Veterans Village of San Diego, a residence and counseling center. “But we anticipate that it’s going to be a tsunami.”

With more women serving in combat zones, the current wars are already resulting in a higher share of homeless women as well. They have an added risk factor: roughly 40 percent of the hundreds of homeless female veterans of recent wars have said they were sexually assaulted by American soldiers while in the military, officials said.


Special traits of the current wars may contribute to homelessness, including high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, which can cause unstable behavior and substance abuse, and the long and repeated tours of duty, which can make the reintegration into families and work all the harder.


Tracy Jones of the Compass Center, a Seattle agency that has seen a handful of new homeless each month, said she was surprised by “the quickness in which Iraqi Freedom veterans are becoming homeless” compared with the Vietnam era. The availability of meth and crack could lead addicts into rapid downhill spirals, Ms. Jones said.

Poverty and high housing costs also contribute. The National Alliance to End Homelessness in Washington will release a report on Thursday saying that among one million veterans who served after the Sept. 11 attacks, 72,000 are paying more than half their incomes for rent, leaving them highly vulnerable.


More than 11 percent of the newly homeless veterans are women, Mr. Dougherty said, compared with 4 percent enrolled in such programs over all.

Veterans have long accounted for a high share of the nation’s homeless. Although they make up 11 percent of the adult population, they make up 26 percent of the homeless on any given day, the National Alliance report calculated.

According to the V.A., some 196,000 veterans of all ages were homeless on any given night in 2006. That represents a decline from about 250,000 a decade back, Mr. Dougherty said, as housing and medical programs grew and older veterans died.

The most troubling face of homelessness has been the chronic cases, those who live in the streets or shelters for more than year. Some 44,000 to 64,000 veterans fit that category, according to the National Alliance study.

On Wednesday, the Bush administration announced what it described as “remarkable progress” for the chronic homeless ...

Huma Abedin

Are you even allowed to bring beautiful women into Washington? I thought they had a rule against it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Revised Egypt

At some point I'll need to go to bed tonight, but I think I had way too much coffee at work. Memo to self: Water good. Coffee good, but dangerous.

Been working on Egypt, based on the vacation dates I actually got rather than the ones I only fantasized about.

Updated Nov 20 to fit in time by the Red Sea

Dec 29-30: Munich
Arrive 4 pm Sat / Depart 8am Monday

Mon-Fri: Cairo
Mayfair Hotel
Dec 31. Arrive 2pm. Settle in. Explore Zamalek.
Jan 1. Explore Islamic Cairo (al Azhar, Qayn al Basrayn, Beit al Sihaymi).
2. Pyramid Fields at Saqqara and Dahshur.
3. Wadi Natrun.
4. Museum; Islamic Cairo II (Masjid Ibn Tulun, Masjid Sultan Hassan, Bab Zuweyla) or Coptic Cairo

---Mon, Wed, Sat: Sufi dervishes at Salaheddin Citadel
--- Cruise Marriot Hotel
---al Hakim, Khan al Khalili
---Wed: Mahazer plays at Makan (video here - Mahazer plays zar, a pre-Islamic women's trance music).
---Check al Ahram or el Sawy for listings.

ﺑو ﺴﻣﺒﻞ
Sat: Abu Simbel
5. Temples of Rameses II and Nefertari

: Aswan. Coptic Christmas
Keylany Hotel

6. Aglikia / Temple of Isis. Elephantine or Sehel Island.
7. Monastery of St Simeon, Tombs of Nobles.

Tue-Thur: Luxor.
Ras as-Sana / Islamic New Year
Senmut B&B or Nefertiti Hotel
Fly to Luxor. Luxor and Karnak
9. Hike Tombs of the Artisans, Valley of the Kings, Deir Bahri
10. Abydos (train/bus)


Fri-Sun: Dahab
Penguin Village or Bishibishi
11. Fly to Sharm / Taxi to Dahab.
St. Katherine's Monastery (closed Fri / Sun) / Mt. Sinai
Camel Trek! Ras Abu Galum?

Monday, Jan
14: Fly to Munich
8am fly to Cairo / 2:45 pm / 5:25 pm

Tuesday, Jan 15: Fly Home,
Leave 9 am, arrive 8 pm

White Party

It's on ... Sanker released the line-up, and it absolutely works for me. The DJ line-up is awesome - Manny Lehman and Abel remain the Kings in my book. Drew already has his tickets, his friends John & Neil are going, and I'm feeling like a little kid already & I need to start working on my costumes. Or, barring that - since I'll be flat broke after Egypt and this - working on my body so I won't need a costume.

Thursday April 17, 2008

Welcome Party - Josh Peace - Oasis - 9pm to 3am

Friday April 18, 2008

Boxers or Briefs Underwear Party - Joe King - Wyndham - 9pm to 4am

Saturday April 19, 2008

Boogie Wonderland - Rosabel - Convention Center - 9pm to 5am
Climax - Alexander - Oasis - 4am to 9am

Sunday April 20, 2008

Extreme T-Dance - Manny Lehman - White Party Park - 3pm to 9pm
Closing Party - Tony Moran & Brett Henrichsen - Wyndham - 9pm to 6am

Nocturnal Perfume

I came home tonight and the air was thick with scents - my lime tree is in full bloom, the alahe`e and pikake have flowered for the first time all year, and somewhere in the distance a night blooming jasmine is perfuming the entire neighborhood.

This rain has been good. My greens are looking strong, although I was worried that they might be too fragile to stand up to the down pour. They did fine. Even my daun kari, my curry leaf tree, is looking perky - and it has never once looked perky, no matter how much I water, in the two years since I planted it. Maybe now it will finally grow more than eight inches tall (some tree, eh? It should be a couple meters by now). I'm even hoping that my pomegranate will give some juicy fruit again.

But the rains ended two days ago. Too early, for me ... they could have gone on all week and I'd have been happy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sugar Crash

Evil Dolan the Bad Daddy stole his poor child's Halloween candy and brought it into work. Apparently all the sugar makes children spastic, and he figured she would be too young too notice that it was all gone in the morning.

What my esteemed colleague never once considered was the effect that all that sugar might have on the staff planners in my office. Because I snacked, and snacked, and snacked. Won't you crash from all the sugar? the ever rational Tiger asked. Nah, I said. I don't think so.

And I didn't, until this morning, when I woke up without any functioning brain cells. Literally, I think they've all been overloaded and have shut down. Kaput, nada, nothing is functioning today.

As if I need brain cells right now anyways. I've been doing the monkey dance for the ambulance chasers all week. Or rather, the past two days. Frakkin' lawyers, I can't even get my work done but I have to jump through the dozen useless hoops they create with their petitions.

At night the monkey dance continued with the airlines. I called American to book a trip to Europe with my miles. But, again, I can't use them. Or rather, I can use them - on December 10. That's it. That is the one day they will let me use my miles to get to Europe. I can use them on almost any day to return, now. But, the computer-generated receptionist explained to me, it wouldn't be fair to let people use their miles over the holidays when so many travelers are paying full price.

The website says I can use them anytime, I claimed the right to use them anytime, the cyborg on the other line denied me that right. Can I upgrade? I asked. She processed that, and her algorithms then reset to perky as she told me not to bother, that I should just save them and accumulate even more miles.

On to Cheap Tickets. Certainly they could help. But Rome, mia Roma, was going to cost way too much. I searched, poked, played with the internet until it spat out a ticket that sounded too good to be true: $650 round trip to Munich.

I jumped. The computer crashed. I tried again. The computer froze. And in Round Three of the Monkey Quadrille I went at it with the Cheap Ticket agent. Round and round we spun, as tickets appeared and disappeared, extraneous fees popping up as fast as I could smack them down, until, finally, dizzy and ready to collapse, we settled on $780. More than I wanted to pay, but within range, and realistically it's a pretty damn awesome price.

So. Non piu Roma, but Jah Munich! The flights even offer me one extra day in Europe and one extra in Cairo, so I can't complain. Though complaining sure feels good.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Jihaddy Fucks

I've been hanging out in the Thorn Tree Egypt forums a lot lately, and they've been invaluable in helping to plan an independent trip to Egypt.

It turns out one of the forum members was a victim in the April 2006 bombings in Dahab.

This is his story.
We lived in Egypt for two years and experienced it all. All the baffling requests and hassles. But we left Egypt still loving the country and the people. (And this despite the fact that we left Egypt after being vicitms in the Dahab bombing in 2006. I'm still recovering from the bomb blast that almost took off my right arm and left ankle.)


It's been a long road of recovery. (I'll have my 14th, and hopefully last, operation since the bombing on tuesday!) I don't blame the egyptian people for what happened. I do blame what I call "those jihaddy f*cks." I revisited Egypt in May and enjoyed it immensely. I doubt I'll be able to revisit Dahab for a good long time though.


Ahh, the details, please excuse me if I don’t get into the gory details, it’s still tough to talk about:

My wife and I had lived in Cairo for two years. I taught at an American school there, she worked for an NGO. Her parents came for a visit and it was my spring break. I went to Dahab a few days early to recover from a long winter of teaching while my wife took her folks to Petra in Jordan. They flew into Sharm late afternoon on the 24th and took a cab to Dahab. When they arrived they were hungry, so we took a stroll down the corniche to find a place to eat. We had stopped to look at the menu at Capone’s and were walking away when the first bomb went off on the opposite side of that little bridge. I saw flame and sparks and thought, “what a weird time to be shooting off fireworks.” Then someone yelled “run!”

We were all in different spots near Capone’s. I and my mother-in-law were close to the menu; my wife and her father were over near the tourist trinket shacks. My plan, and this all happened in seconds, was to jump over one of the walls that separate the walkway from the restaurant seating areas. I got about two steps before the second bomb went off, the one on the side of the bridge near Capone’s. I remember a loud bang and then flying through the air. The next thing I remember was coming to on the ground surrounded by death and destruction.

I took a quick inventory of my body and it wasn’t pleasant. I thought my right arm had been blown off as all I could see were bits of bone sticking out from my shoulder. My left ankle was just hanging by skin. I saw my wife lying on the ground about fifteen feet from me and my father-in-law sitting up not far from her. As I tried to crawl over to my wife two Egyptian men snatched her up and ran off with her. Then a group of men came over to help me. They put me on a blanket and carried me to the back of a jeep where I was driven to the Dahab clinic. I don’t really feel like going into details here… needless to say the next few hours were as close to hell on earth as I’ll ever come. The clinic was full of injured people, bodies, blood and chaos. I was then taken by ambulance to the hospital in Sharm, then the next morning flown to Cairo in a military plane. At the hospital in Sharm I learned my wife was ok, as was my father-in-law. It wasn’t until I got to Cairo did I find out my mother-in-law was fine. (She was the smart one; as soon as the first bomb went off she just ran like hell and only suffered a few minor shrapnel wounds.)

After four days in Cairo we were all flown to an American military hospital in Germany, then back to the USA. I was in the hospital in the states for four months. My upper right arm was pretty much destroyed so it had a metal bar put in and is fused at a 90 degree angle. My left ankle was seriously fractured and I lost a bit of bone as well. I had my final surgery on my leg in august and hopefully will be able to walk with only a slight limp soon. (I’m still in a wheelchair recovering from that surgery.) I’ve had a total of 13 operations since the bombing. I had shrapnel wounds, well, everywhere. There’s not a part of my body that doesn’t have a pretty large hole in it. I also suffered quite a bit of nerve damage. My right wrist does not work, but my fingers do. On Tuesday I’ll have surgery to have the wrist fused and a tendon transfer on my thumb.

My wife suffered a lot of shrapnel wounds to her lower body, but thank god escaped serious injury. My father-in-law also had a lot of shrapnel wounds and a serious fracture of his right ankle. He had a final surgery on the ankle last week and will hopefully be able to walk normally soon.

So that’s the short version with a lot of terrible details missing. Also some funny tales omitted as well. (You know… it is Egypt. I could use up a page just telling the story about the Cairo hospital orderlies who got into a fist fight over which operating room I was supposed to be in. or the time a wheel came off my gurney dumping me on the ground…) as I said above, I don’t blame the people of Egypt for what happened. Just some nut jobs in the Sinai. My wife and I visited Egypt in May to see friends and say goodbye to that part of our lives. I’ll never live in that country again, but I left knowing Cairo and Egypt will always be “home” in some way.


It's been raining hard since Wednesday. Sometimes we get a drizzle, sometimes the dark humidity of a coming storm, and sometimes a waterfall pouring out of the clouds. Surf on the south shore is ten to fifteen feet, but few of us want to brave the brown water & surf it.

And so the smart ones (i.e., me) stayed home for the most part.

I was looking forward to our first Sunday paddle, too, and was bummed that it rained so hard. I woke up, listened to the deluge for a bit, then crawled back under my sheets. No one, I thought, was going out in that.

I learned later that 17 paddlers showed up, including some novices. That's impressive. I haven't heard yet how it went.

I was a bit hung over, anyways. That might be the story of my weekend. Friday night I joined some of the crew for First Friday. Had a great time, but I left around 9pm so I could wake up early and cook.

Spent Saturday cooking moose. It turned out ok. I was happier with the side dishes (applesauce with cardamom, knifles with sauteed onions and lots of butter, red cabbage with pine nuts and prunes, and a cranberry/pomegranate relish). I cheated on the knifles, and bought a spaetzle maker to cut the noodles. It was incredibly easy, and I'll definitely add it to my repertoire.

I can't say I was a good host by the time dinner came, though. I pretty much sat in the corner and got drunk. The conversation was all about grants and foundations and charities - the guys were board members of half a dozen non-profits between them - and I couldn't have been less interested. The main focus among them was teaching their field staff all about quality control and grants management and outcomes measurement & all the other buzz-terms that drove me crazy when I was a social worker.

I tried to press them on what work they actually did on the ground, but only got vague answers. And somewhere along the 3rd or 4th bottle of wine I realized that they were advocating the same approach to community work that destroyed the agencies I used to work for. These were the guys at the top who tried to quantify social change, to force everything to fit into nice neat categories to please the paper pushers, and never realized how much their reforms damaged actual work on the streets. I had flash backs to all the battles I fought, and lost. And lost them so bad that most people don't even remember the battles, or figured that they occurred sometime in the deep past.

The night ended with a whimper. David snuck out early (damn him!), and I sucked down the wine & silently wept for a lost revolution.

Sunday M. came over to show me what to do with my hair. He told me that he used to run a top end salon in Miami Beach, and that clients used to come down from New York just for him to do their hair. I was excited, because I could use the help. I haven't cut my hair since March, and it's now a pile of unruly Irish curls. I have no idea how to manage it. M. said he knew exactly the products I need.

By "products" he meant Schwarzkopf citri-shine shampoo & condtioner and some coloring kit with avocado oil. OK, I know how to shampoo my hair, but I was game to see what he had in mind. He glopped on the coloring, telling me how it was bringing out my eyes (flattery will get you everywhere), then left to run some errands.

Forty five minutes later I showered it off, then took a look in the mirror at the new me.

And screamed.

I was now a copper-top. That shit was red. And not any kind of natural red, mind you ... this was the kind of red you see on fifty year old Italian ladies who've retired to Miami. I should have asked who exactly his clients were at his South Beach salon. I wanted to cry. I went through seven months of bad hair for this? All I wanted to do was run to Longs and get some dye to make it darker.

M. came back, hour later, and I couldn't even fake it. I hated it. It looks natural, he said. It looks great. The problem is your eyes. You'll get used to it. But the problem wasn't my eyes, and I wasn't going to get used to it, because ten minutes after he was gone I was at the store buying new product.

The rain will continue all week. Already people are talking about the Spring where it rained 40 days, and how it felt just like this. I'm ready for it.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Moose in the Pot

Ron's father came through, and brought over a 1.5 kg sirloin tip of moose.

I had trouble finding recipes online. All the hunter's recipes were variations on pot roast: add potatoes, onions, carrots, and moose to a pot. Boil. Serve.

I hate pot roast.

Epicurious had nothing. The recipe exchange on Tribe was no help. So I called mom. Hi mom. How do I cook moose (with an 'o')? I thought this might faze her, but she came up with sauerbraten and knifles within seconds.

Which: perfect. It fits in with how I cook, where it takes me three days minimum to cook a meal. It's kind of traditional and reminds me of childhood - though we would have had a regular hunk of meat from the farm in the pot, and not wild game. And I get to try my hand at some traditional food - knifles are a Norwegian noodle that I loved as a kid, and it would be great to get the technique down (it involves pouring the batter on an inverted plate held over a pot of boiling water; the batter drips of the end of the plate & forms the noodles).

I'm sure I'll make a Katrina-sized mess trying this, which also fits into my style of cooking.

I've been marinading the moose in wine and vinegar for the past two days. I'll try my hand at the knifles tonight, and cook the meat. Tomorrow I'll make a cranberry relish, a cardamom applesauce, and the ginger gravy. If I could find lefse on this island the meal would be complete.

It'll be a small group: Ron, Sumner, Dave, and a friend of Ron's who's new to the island. Add wine and champagne, and the holidays will have officially begun.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Return to the Circuit

My Year without the Circuit is almost over. Love Fest was fun but more of a lark, Volcano was regrettable (and yes I'm still bitter), and I miss that feeling you only get at 5am when you've been dancing all night & still have hours to go before the sun comes up.

It looks like I'll be able to hit a couple spots on the Circuit in 2008. Wish it was now, but I'll have to be patient. I'm being overly ambitious, & trying to work in Black Party in New York and White Party in Palm Springs. I haven't done either, I want to do both, but ... they're only three weeks apart & it would be silly to blow my wad & all my serotonin for the year in one month.

I change my mind on the best plan every thirty minutes. Now I'm thinking fly to SF the week before White Party, visit Nino & Paulo, then drive down to LA, visit Gary & Papi, pick up Drew, then drive into the desert.

Which, now that I type it out, sounds like a better plan. I was trying to figure out how to work Mexico or Paris into a New York trip, but I'd have to have a lot more dough than I actually have to pull that off.

In related news, my friend Bugie (left) - of Miami, but Wai`anae born and raised - just got his first big gig: spinning White Gold at Miami's White Party this November. Good luck to him, wish I was there, and I hope this is the first step on his road to international stardom! His write-up definitely works [DJ Bugie ... has established himself as an integral part of the South Beach music scene. Bugie has a dark, throbbing, sexually-charged tribal beat and an unmistakable style].

I'm not quite sure what his 'unmistakable style' is, though. I have a dozen of his cd's, and what I like is each one is unique - though he loves his hard beats & minimal vocals - and that he can change his styles to fit the mood of a party. It's a nice change from other dj's who will play the same set whether it's an after-hours or a Sunday picnic.

Drew's also been tempting me with a fall Cruise. Bad Drew! I mean, Good Drew! It's a possibility ... but the dates are tricky. Moloka`i Hoe is October 12 - it's already in my calendar & that obviously takes priority. And xxx is supposed to be making fall wedding plans & he better frakkin' hurry up and give the chick the ring & set a date. Pronto. The fantasy now will be that XXX will set his wedding date after the Hoe, and Atlantis will set a Cruise for the weekend after, and I'll be able to do both with two weeks off.

Fat chance of that, really.

And if the wedding is the week of the Hoe, or the week before ... I'll just cry.

Dance when you're broken open; Dance, when you've torn the bandage off
Dance in the middle of fighting
Dance in your blood
Dance when you're perfectly free.
Struck, the dancer hears a tambourine inside her
Like a wave crests into foam at the very top begins.
Maybe you don't hear that tambourine or the tree leaves clapping time
Close the ears on your head , listen mostly to lies and cynical jokes.;
There are other things to see, and hear: Music. A brilliant city inside your soul.

Jelaluddin Rumi

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lost Dip

I've been scouring the net for this dip recipe. With the right tomatoes and cheese it's awesome. I made it a couple years ago, loved it, then lost it. This is why I need to post recipes here when I like them.
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil leaves, stems removed
  • 4 oz partially sundried tomatoes, plus 3 Tbsp of the marinade oil
  • 4 oz sheep's milk feta
  • 6.5 oz marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 4 T mayonnaise, homemade
  • 1 Tbsp capers (optional)
Blend it all in the cuisinart.
Quick catch up ... I've been a total sloth passing two weeks now. I say to myself, no drinking, no smoking, go to the gym. Then I head home, pour a glass of wine, and crash on the couch with a cigarette.

I didn't smoke yesterday, and haven't today, so hopefully I'm over the hump.

Hollis was out at Kalani Honua last weekend. He loved it - everyone I know who stayed there loves it - but spending a week in the jungle with a bunch of naked hippies paying big money to smoke their way to enlightenment sounds like hell to me. The owner actually has close to fifty volunteers running the place for him - they're even building him cabins on the rift zone which he is planning to sell to more Californians and New Yorkers.

Back to Honolulu - Hollis came in for a few nights after playing wildman in Puna. It was good hanging with him again. I took him hiking up Ka`au Crater. I forgot that he was still a New Yorker at heart - it was a rough hike for him! I'd warned him that it would be an adventure, that we'd be climbing a mountain and playing GI Jane and using ropes to get up waterfalls & that it might take close to five hours. I guess he didn't realize that I was being literal.

The last night we cruised Waikiki, then put him on a plane in the early morning back to New York.

Our last neighborhood board meeting went well - probably because MM wasn't there to instigate trouble. We did have a UH Professor of Engineering deliver a shockingly misleading report on mass transit, bordering on the unethical. It was full of false correlations and unwarranted assumptions. I need to look up his name and post a rebuttal.

And I was wrong about the legislature. They convened the special session on the Superferry. The big boss's confirmation hearing will be Tuesday. We've been hearing mixed stories about how rough they'll be with her. I'm done trying to guess what will happen, so I'll just watch, wait, and see. Whichever way it goes, it should be a tense and exciting week.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Egypt Travels

This is still a work in progress! I'm using it now more for my own notes, and will repost once I know dates and places for sure. And once the boss ok's it, of course.

Dec 30-31: Rome

Jan 1-5: Cairo
Hotel Longchamps
($48) or Mayfair Hotel ($18).
Settle in / Museum & Giza / Islamic Cairo / Wadi Natrun /Dahshur & Saqqara

ﺑو ﺴﻣﺒﻞ
Jan 6: Abu Simbel
Temples of Rameses II and Nefertari

7, 8: Aswan. Coptic Christmas
Keylany Hotel
Monastery of St Simeon, Tombs of Nobles, Midnight Mass / Aglikia (Philae) , Gezira Sehel

Jan 9-12: Luxor.
Ras as-Sana / Islamic New Year
($9) or Senmut B&B ($15)
Arrive via Edfu / Karnak / Thebes / Day Trip to Abydos

Jan 13-17: al Wadi al Jedid: The Great Desert Circuit
و وارارة
Kharga (via Dush?) / Dakhla (
al Qasr Resthouse) / Farafra (al Badawiyya)

Jan 18: Return to Cairo.
Last evening in Egypt.

19: Fly to Rome,
2:45 pm

Jan 20: Fly Home,
11am; arrive midnight