Saturday, March 31, 2007


We arrived in Petra yesterday. The owner of the hotel we are at is amazed that the whole world has not heard of Petra, and that half the tourists who come here only heard of it once they were in Eilat in Israel or Sharm in Egypt.

And I can understand his amazement. Petra is phenomenal - an city carved out of swirling rose-colored mountains by some ante-deluvian Gaudi. I've never seen photos that can do justice to the experience of walking through the cleft in the rock and watching the city appear before you. It really is beyond majestic.

There were times we forgot to look at the monuments, we were so captivated by the way the colors of the rocks constantly shifted as the day went onç

We've spent two days hiking and exploring, and have only seen part of it. The entry starts along a 1.5 km road that winds down a gentle valley. The white-rocked valley ends at a set of towering cliffs with a narrow crack in it's face. A 2000-year old cobblestone street leads into this, the siq. For the next kilometer you follow the track deeper into the cliff. The rocks are all swirling shades of salmon, red, and pink. You pass occasional niched built for the ancient gods, and small tombs built for forgotten soldiers.

And then you come to the City's first monument, an 80 meter high temple carved out of the red cliff face. And though you've seen pictures you can't really grasp the scale of it, or the way the colors shift with each ray of light. And the city continues from there - you can walk for hours and not reach the end. The first day we veered off the main track to the High Place of Sacrifice - high enough that it was difficult to breather. We drank coffee with Bedouin women while watching the sun set over distant mountains, and trekked down "the other way" - a path that they showed us leading a ways off the tourist track.

The next day we took an alternate route into the city, down a narrow wadi that wrapped around the mountains before entering the main colonnaded street. Then we climbed a mountain, up to 1800 meters, to another series of temples (for the record, my energy is back!). We passed some Bedouin cowboys we had flirted with the previous day, and they asked to join the later a a local restaurant.

I don't know how they outed us, though when they offered us a horseback ride I did tell them that I needed a stallion, not their dinky tourist horse. That might have been it. Regardless, one was quick to let us know that he offered "special services." I tried to play dumb (after I swooned - he was movie star handsome), but none of them bought it. I see it in your eyes, he told me. You don't have to admit it.

But, sadly, there will be no special services tonight. We're off tomorrow early morning for Wadi Rum, and two days of camel trekking. I could've stayed here longer.


I'll start at the good end and work back to the rough beginning, because the end was quite nice indeed - two hours at the Al Pasha Hammam. I've been in a few hamaam before, but this one was over the top. Billy and I went around 8pm Thursday night, the beginning of the weekend here. It was crowded, and we didn't have reservations, but they managed to fit us in. A young man led us through an ornate lobby to a locker room. We changed into surf shorts, they gave us slippers, and we stepped through a glass door into another world.

The main hamman was larger than any I'd be in, a dimly lit room that was all arches and octagons and shadows. There was a large marble jacuzzi in the center, and alcoves surrounding the perimeter were men were being bathed, massaged, and oiled. We showered, and the boy led us into a small opening at the back of the hamaam. Get down, he told us - and then shoved us into a minor anteroom to hell. I stood up, and felt hot air seeared my ears. Stay down! he yelled from beyond the opening. I crouched back down, to where the air was slightly less hot. I could make out shapes in the mist, wreathing shadows occasionally crying out in pain for their sins as burning sulfur rained down upon all our heads.

I slid my way onto a bench, and learned very quickly to stay down and crouched like the rest. The thermal layer was low, brutal, and unforgiving. There was no way to protect ourselves from the drops of boiling water that would condense on the ceiling and drip down onto our backs. I tried to get a look at our cohorts in the hamaam, but it was hard in that cramped space.

After - I don't know how long - we all decided that we had suffered enough, that our sins had been cleansed quite throughly, and that we could leave. Which, for the record, is my kind of hell - one that you can leave when you think you've had enough. We stepped back into the hammam, and were led to round two: The jacuzzi. This was much nicer. We were told that normally the hammam is a quiet, restive experience, a retreat from the world where the only sounds are the music and water. Tonight was the weekend, and instead the hammam was loud and full of voices. We finally met some of our cohorts - a businessman wondering where his belly had come from, a man who had quit work to open a think tank for economic development in the Levant and North Africa, and a Saudi bodybuilder who needed to lose two kilos for a competition the next day, and his shy buddy who wore a bkini instead of longer trunks. Add two pickled Americans, and you've got a damn fine jacuzzi.

Step three involved a burly man, a scrub brush, lots of soap, and the removal of an outer layer of skin. Step four involved a muscular, Italian speaking masseur, lots of oil, and a burning face mask. We wound down with fresh squeezed lemonade in the lobby. It was, really, a perfect start to a weekend, and a great way to spend two luxorious hours of your life.

For me it was the high point of Amman. I had mixed feelings about the city. I was still feeling rundown the first day, but had decided to walk from our hotel to the downtown area for a walk recommened by the increasingly unreliable Lonely Planet. The walk downtown was long and uneventful. Amman is a car-driven city, and not made for walking. By mandate all the buildings are made of white limesone, which might have been a good idea if there had been some air-quality controls. But instead of being the White City, as planned, it was a grimy grey city with all the white stained to a dull color by diesel exhaust. It was the kind of grey that inspired Dickens to literature and Kropotkin to revolution. My initial impressions were of the sounds of horns and the smell of diesel and burning brakes.

After a few hours of not enjoying it I ducked into a barber for a shave. I've written about this before - I love getting shaved in the Islamic world. They turn it into an art. The barber talked me into getting a full facial treatment, all for about three dollars. I left feeling pretty good, and thought that I was ready to face the chaos of the streets.

I was wrong. I wanted to grab lunch, and there was no good food to be had downtown. I usually love street food, but not in Jordan. Everything was either too salty, too sweet, or too lemony/tangy. There was no balance. Even the hummus was drowned in pickeld chile peppers and lemon juice. I was starving by the time I went back to the hotel to wait for Billy.

I'll save my complete bitching about the Caravan Hotel for the online review sites. I waited for two hours & he never showed. I asked if he had called, and the front desk manager told me that they had looked for him at the airport and he never showed. It would have been nice if they had told me that rather than letting me sit all afternoon in the lobby. I was stuck. I wanted to leave Amman, but couldn't until I knew where he was.

Turns out he was at the airport after all, and had had to bus in. He arrived right when I was leaving for dinner.

We wandered again the next day. I was feeling more energetic, and enjoyed the town a bit more. We went to some more middle class and mixed neighborhoods, and while we saw nothing fantastic I could at least envision Amman as a liveable city. At night we grabbed dinner in one of the nicer neighborhoods, and it was full of chic restaurants and nightclubs, with women in fashion and beautiful men left and right.

So - in the end Amman was interesting, but definitley not a vacation spot.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Paris 3

French keyboards will drive me crazy, and the only way to do this is to just push through the differences. So, ''a'' is 'q', ''m'' is '',''- and Ièll correct it all later.

I*m surprised how foreign Paris feels. I think I figured it would be like New York; only weèd all be speaking French. And for all those who told ,e thqt they all speak English here - I'm really curious where exactly you stayed. Iève bqrely heard a word of English the entire time. Itès good - itès forcing me to speak ,ore. Luckily people have been really kind qbout my accent. It's a chqnge fro, Montreal, where qll Ièd get is looks of withering contempt if I tried to speak French. People have been far gentler here - which confuses me. I haven't seen much of the famous Parisian attittude.

If anything, they almost remind me of the Japanese - very reserved, and very formal and proper. Even at the disco, I didnùt notice much s,all talk or flirting. That threw me - they'd go straight from making eye contact to issuing commands, most of which used words that I havenèt learned yet. I don't really respond well to the imperative, so that didn't always go over too well. I still had a great time - and it kind of reminded me of why I stopped going out in the states. Despite all the tough guys and mecs - there was a heavy North African presence at the club - people seemed to be having a good time, and the music was fun. I donùt think I've called music fun in the US in years.

I could also barely walk home afterwards. I had spent all day in the Louvre, and my legs were ready to give out. The Louvre kicked my ass - it was just wonder after wonder after wonder. I tried to leave, but every time I'd take a break I'd re,e,ber so,ething I hqdnùt seen and heqded back inside.

I need to start walking to the train station soon. I'm a mess this ,orning - I really did push myself too hard the past couple days. One day I'll admit that I have limits.

Paris, Day Three

First up, I don't want to leave, but I fly out tomorrow. I kind of figured on the flight over that I'd have to come back, though I wasn't so sure the first day. I was actually thinking that I'd made a bit of a mistake. The walk from the train station to the hotel took me through some sketchy neighborhoods. I knew that it was an immigrant area (hence the 35 euros a night), and knew that there mst be some reason that the 10e arrondissiment wasn't on the tourist maps. Check for yourself, if you have a tourist map of Paris. There's I through IX, and there's XI and up. You probably didn't even notice it was missing, nor ever really wondered what that hole in the mp was between the Marais and Montmarte.
That hole is where I stay.
So I leave the train station, dodge a phalanx of Bosnian war widows begging for change, and start wandering in more or less the right direction. I passed through Pakistan, Algeria, Turkey, and Senegal. My first impressions were mixed. The North African men were hot, the Turkish sandwich I had decent (Food is incredible across the board in Turkey, but shockingly average outside), and I learned that the connection between black women, hair, and fashion isn't just an American thing - every woman in the area looked like Naomi Campbell.
I missed my street, and things got sketchy. I stopped in a park to eat my sandwhich, but moved on when I realized that the well dressed gentlemen in the park were drug dealers. I crossed the street to avoid a fight on the corner, I saw a man selling teenagers cell phones which he kept stashed in his trenchcoat, and saw what I'm sure was a chop shop behind an open gate.
And it wasn't even noon. I felt safe - in broad daylight. I wasn't sure what I was going to do at night.
I eventually did find a safe way here, luckily - going to bed early was not an option.
And I am too exhausted to type right now. Sorry, I'll try again in the morning. Today I did Versailles, went to the gym, had a few drinks with a guy I met, and then joined an Act-Up Protest. Sunday I spent eight hours at the Louvre then went to the disco for four. Saturday I wandered the city from Montmarte to Notre Dame and back, joined a March Against Machismo, then relaxed in the sauna for a couple hours. I'm frakkin beat.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

30 hours in Paris

First up, the French usea different keyboard than us - so sorry for all the typos!
My first thought, right off the plane; was ... this is not Paris in the Spring. This is Paris in the dead of winter. It is seriously cold, and not in a oh the poor boy from the tropics can't handle it way. This is cold as in dead trees and icy winds. I was squinting on the train ride into the city, hoping to see some signs of green, of new life in the trees, of something, anything, to indicate that warm sunny days were coming.
Nada. It's still winter. Oops.
It's also much too cold to type - my fingers are chjilled in this shop! I'll write properly once I find a warmer café. Until then, I'm doing speaking French, seeing the sites, eating lots of crepes, and doing fine.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Grinds: lentils, colcannon, and osso buco

I want to get some of these down before I leave. I'll make any of them again, in a heartbeat. The first, mercimek çorbasi, is a Turkish red lentil soup that I ate almost every day over there. It was that good. I found this recipe on the Turkey Travel Planner forums, and it's damn close to what I had. It's very filling, and along with fresh bread makes a nice meal despite what, as the Two Fat Ladies used to say, it's suspicious vegetarian overtones.
mercimek çorbasi

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then cook until soft 1 cup of red lentils & 3 cups of beef broth

Pulverize 1 medium onion in a food processor. Saute in 3T butter or olive oil for a fewminutes until onion is soft. Add Turkish red pepper if you like, and 2-3T flour.

Add 2c tomato juice and allow to thicken.

When lentils are cooked (25"-45") add juice. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with sourdough.
Next up: colcannon, the Irish mix of cabbage and potatoes. It's just as filling as the lentils, and although without the ham it actually is vegetarian this one doesn't even pretend to be healthy. I made it this past St. Patrick's Day, and just finished the last for breakfast this morning.

Steam 3# potatoes in their skins. I used a mix of waxy fingerlings and Idaho baking potatoes.

Shred 1 head of cabbage, slice 1 onion, and saute in either chicken fat [my choice] or bacon grease.

Roughly mash the potatoes, add 1/2 cup of cream and 1 stick butter. Add the cabbage. Add a mess of Italian parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add more cream and butter if you like. Add chopped ham if you like.

Serve with a pool of butter in the middle, and sprinkle again with more parsley.
And finally, osso buco. I think I tried it once before, and it came out so-so. This recipe was divine. It should of been - the veal was expensive! I'm pretty sure you can do the same with other cuts of lamb and beef, so long as you have the bone cut and a lot of marrow showing. I also made this on St. Patrick's Day. I intended to do corned beef, but the stores were all out. Suddenly, everyone's a mick. But what the micks-for-a-day don't know is that a good Irish chef can make an osso buco just as good as any Italian - and so Roy & I had a traditional St. Patty's dinner of colcannon, bread, and osso buco. I served it with Potcheen and soda, which is as Irish as you can get.

osso buco

Tie 4 veal shanks with string to keep them together. Pat dry, season with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.

Heat 3T total butter and olive oil over med-high heat until foam subsides. Brown the shanks, then remove to a plate.

Add ¾ c wine (I used a rosé), and reduce by half. Remove liquid.

Add 2 T more butter, and sauté ¾ total diced celery and carrot, plus three cloves minced garlic. Cook until soft.

Add shanks, juices, wine, and enough stock to cover the meat. Spread ¾ grated tomatoes on top, 4-5 anchovies, 3 sprigs parsley, 3 large sprigs basil (I used Thai basil), ½ grated lemon peel, and bay leaf.

Bring to a simmer, cover, turn heat to low, and cook for a couple hours. Cook it all afternoon if you can.

When pau, remove shanks. Remove twigs and stems from broth, puree it, return it to the fire, and boil for 15” or until reduced.

Glaze the shanks with reduction, and put them under the broiler for a bit.

Serve shanks with plenty of sauce. Top with gremolata, a mix of parsely, chopped garlic, and lemon zest.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


2 am and I'm all packed - 24 hours early! Sure I have a few more things to do . Somehow I lost my camera battery, and I still need to pick up a small alarm clock and a flashlight (though maybe it would be cool to pick up that over there!), and I could clean the room tomorrow. But all in all, I have never in my life been this packed so early on.

Partly, I had to know if I could fit everything into two carry-ons - and baby, I did. The key was to roll everything together - so I have a roll with three jeans in it, a roll with dress shirts, etc. It saves space, and things don't wrinkle.

I still I had to limit myself in a few places. I'm down to one book (Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie), my toiletries are all three ounces or less, and I have a 3-ring binder filled with information I printed from online instead of a Lonely Planet or any other guidebook. I'll definitely have to do laundry once or twice - I packed detergent so I could do it in the room.

But for all that, I've got a few splurges. Three jeans, plus one on the plane, is a bit much (I opted out of bringing leather. I could have cut down on the shirts. And I'm bringing both cowboy boots and trail-running shoes - I gotta look good, even if I am a budget traveler!

I was awake anyways from an abscess. I tried to sleep at 9pm - and even took an ambien - but it went from painful to goddamn this fuckin' hurts bad pretty quickly. I left a messed up message with my dentist begging him to lance it first thing in the morning, and then I decided I couldn't wait until morning - that I'd either have to lance it myself or go to ER.

Every website warned against doing it yourself. My take? People have been operating on themselves since the beginning of time. Who am I to break tradition? Besides, I used to date a doctor. Some of that must have rubbed off. I grabbed a martini skewer (it was the sharpest thing I could find), sterilized it, gargled ... and lanced.


I lanced again. And again, nothing. I went to lie down, and damn it it didn't start to swell up more.

The best option the internet could offer was to wait it out, and gargle with salt water. I went one better - I filled my mouth with salt water and kept it there while I started packing. And somehow, it worked and the abscess drained. No more pain, except for the puncture wounds.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Two Days to Go

Sleep, work, train, eat, sleep, repeat, and rest on Sunday. Damn. There isn't time for anything else! I'm enjoying paddling, though my body is going through some serious adjustments. I'm not used to working out with this much intensity.

It's also odd that I haven't played on a competetive sport, been on a team, or even had to run, since 1985. It's been a long time.

We went out on the water Saturday and did two hours worth of sprints. I thought I was going to die half-way through, but somehow pulled it together. Anywhere else, I would have called a time and and gone and rested. That's not really an option on the open ocean, or when you have five other guys expecting you to pull your weight.

Running has been a challenge. I'm up to 15" on the treadmill. Lame. I'm dreading that we'll have to run one of these practices. They did 2 miles last week, but I didn't have shoes so swam laps. I'm really not ready for a 2 mile run yet! I'll need to train while I travel. Hopefully there's no running tonight - because now I do have shoes & can't use that as an excuse.

And in two nights I'm off! Right now I'm feeling ambitious, and hoping that I can pack everything into a carry-on.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sexual Cleansing

This is the text of a speech that Ali Hili, the Middle Eastern spokesperson for Outrage! gave to the Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights conference in London on Saturday 17 February 2007. More details at Iraqi LGBT.
I speak on behalf of Iraqi LGBT – an underground network of LGBT activists that we have established inside Iraq.

Our members – and all Iraqi LGBTs - are at daily risk of execution by the Shia death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias.

Members of these militias have infiltrated the Iraqi police and are abusing their police authority to pursue a plan to eliminate all homosexuals in Iraq.

This is happening with the collusion of key ministers in the Iraqi government.

The Badr and Sadr militias are the armed wings of the two main Shia parties that control the government of Iraq.

These governing parties – particularly the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq - are complicit in the widespread execution of Iraqi LGBTs.

What is happening today in Iraq is one of the most organized and systematic sexual cleansings in the history of the world.

Attacks have escalated into unprecedented levels of homophobic violence, including targeted assassinations.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has recently, for the first time, confirmed that there are organised campaigns to kill gays in Iraq. These killings are taking place on the order of Iraq’s Shia leaders.

The UNAMI Human Rights Office recently reported that it was “alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where alleged homosexuals would be 'tried,' 'sentenced' to death, and then executed.”

One of the self-appointed religious judges in Sadr City believes that homosexuality is on the wane in Iraq. “Most [gays] have been killed and others have fled,” he said, insisting that the religious courts have “a lot to be proud of. We now represent a society that asked us to protect it not only from thieves but also from these [bad] deeds [same-sex relationships]."

Iraq's government strongly criticized the UNAMI report on human rights abuses; condemning it for discussing issues that are considered taboo in Iraqi society, such as homosexuality, and the systematic murder of LGBTs.

“There was information in the report that we cannot accept here in Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomenon of homosexuality and giving them their rights," said Mr al-Dabbagh (a spokesperson for the Iraqi regime). "Such statements are not suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected. They (the UN) should respect the values and traditions here in Iraq.”

I will give you just one example of the homophobic terror Iraqi LGBTs are facing.

Five activists in Baghdad were discovered in a safe house and abducted at gunpoint on 9 November last year. Nothing has been heard of them since then. It is feared that death squads operating within the Iraqi police may have murdered them.

The kidnapped men all were members of our group Iraqi LGBT.

For the previous few months these activists had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, and relaying details of homophobic executions to our office in London. I have no doubt that they were targeted – not just because they were gay – but also to stop them exposing to the outside world the anti-gay pogrom that is happening in Iraq today.

The Iranian Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who is the world leader of Shia Muslims, clearly states that gays and lesbians should be executed.

This gives direct religious sanction to the murder of LGBTs by the Badr and Sadr death squads. Sistani is giving the killers divine authority.

In spite of the world unity against the unlawful war on Iraq, the United States and its allies, including the government of the United Kingdom, chose to go ahead with the invasion of Iraq and cause the deaths of so many innocent lives.

The everyday loss of innocent lives in Iraq does not seem to matter to the western media today, especially when the victims are minorities like LGBTs.

The urgency now is to protect LGBT people in Iraq. We need action by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and by other international aid agencies and human right organisations.

The UNHCR is failing to support Iraqi LGBTs who have fled to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. It should be providing them with shelter and subsistence. It should be giving them travel documents, so they can seek refuge in safe western countries. So far, this is not happening.

The West, which caused much the current chaos in Iraq, should be giving refuge to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Iraqis. Right now, the US and Britain are turning down asylum claims by Iraqi LGBTs.

We need funding to enable our activists inside Iraq to continue to document the killings, acquire more safe houses, and to assist LGBTs to escape to neighbouring countries.

We are working closely with OutRage!. Please send a donation payable to OutRage!, with a cover note stating that it is “For Iraqi LGBT”.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Tatchell and OutRage! for all the help that they have provided Iraqi LGBT so far.

Finally, we Iraqi LGBTs will not allow ourselves to exterminated liked rats. We are determined to fight for our rights in the new Iraq. With your help, we can defy the religious fundamentalists and win our place in a free and democratic nation.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


And we're off! I started paddling practice yesterday with the Waikiki Yacht Club (that's them on the left), part of the Hui Wa`a association. I was nervous going into it - I didn't really know what to expect, though I know quite a few guys on the team already.

I survived the first practice alright. I'm not so nervous now - I know more or less what to expect form here on out. And what to expect is: I'm gonna die. I'll look good en route at least. This work out schedule looks hard! It's three days a week of two-hour team workouts, and solo workouts on our off days, including running, swimming, weight training, jumping rope, and core training.

The sad part is, I went swimming last week and could barely do a hundred meters wihtout stopping. I haven't tried to run in a couple years, and then we only went around the block before deciding that we needed a cocktail. I can do weights, but from the looks of it so can most of the other guys.

This is real competition. I don't know what I was expecting. Something fun and recreational, maybe. My bad. These guys aren't playing. This is a team that will be going up against pro-level athletes. I'm still in for it. I'm actually more excited now that I've survived one practice. Not that the practice was that bad - the roughest part was having to tread water for fifteen minutes, the last two with our hands over our heads. That was much harder than I was expecting, though I made it.

My big worry now is that I have the least experience by far. I'll be here for four practices, but only one on the water. Then I'll miss eight. I talked to the coach, and she's ok with that as long as I train while travelling. And if I want a seat during the regatta season I'll need to train hard.

I'm surprised how many of the gang are paddling: Jake has been for a couple years, Allen and Jeff are back for a second year, David S has joined after paddling for Lokahi a few years back, and I think they said Rudy was in also.

So: money is about to go out the door for shoes, a paddle, and dues - and I still haven't fixed my van. He'll be in hibernation a bit more, it looks like.

Punk of the Day

I listen to the guy, and all I can think is the Simpson's episode where Garrison Keilor is on tv & Homer is banging on the side of the box yelling Stupid TV! Be more funny!

So it's always nice when people I don't like give me ammunition to shoot them with. This morning, it's Mr. Keillor in Salon ...
The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men -- sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That's for the kids. It's their show.
It's kind of ugly, and I don't even know where to start. I don't know a single gay person who fits this description. Keillor creates a stereotype, or borrows one from tv, and then states that gay men need to stop conforming to a false stereotype in order to be accepted.

Now. I saw the link on TMZ. Here's where it gets ugly. His defenders are saying that this is just his style of sardonic humor. Those of us who are pissed are being too sensitive and need to lighten up and stop being so PC. And I'd be willing to accept this if his column didn't spur some of his readers on to such insane levels of hatred. Witness the "comments" section from TMZ:
  • KevMa doesn't get it: Do the gays think they need to be accepted by everyone or America is a big fat bigot, and a meany? Oh hell ya girl.
  • Lovely doesn't get it either: Well said. This country is going to hell with all this GAYNESS. Faggotry is sick, especially when they have the audacity to want to raise children. The next generation is going to be soooooooooo gay!!
  • Jen has an overactive imagination: If you want to take it up the a$$, don't wonder why normal people stare in disgust. Your a$$ is meant for exiting-crap. Daddies should be real men, not perverts who play in $hit.
  • Princess the Ruler is just a bitch, in every one of her half dozen posts: This shit is polluting MANKIND!!!!!! I mean, what's gonna be next MEN WANTING TO MARRY DOGS, CATS, ZOO ANIMALS???
  • Native Vermont would love to be racist but he's scared: All this 'embrace diversity' crap makes me ill. I would never hurt another person physically about things but I don't have to like what they stand for or get close and chummy with them because it would be cool to pal with other races and orientations. My comments are not just geared to Garrison but all the others in the last several months that have taken the heat primarily because they are so-called stars. Isaiah, Mel, Richards, and so forth and so on. These are the people who can most afford to stand up for themselves because they have money and jobs they won't lose. Most people who would like to say what they feel, can't, because they have to work in the world and get by.
  • GodBlessAmerica must've missed that it was satire also: I'm so sick and tired of this politically correct shit that I'm not gonna take it anymore,Call it like it is, faggolas.Our society has no room for these loons.If you don't like our laws,get the f**k out of here and take your stupid looking dogs with you.
  • JasonMar is upset that we call him a bigot, the poor little victim: I agree with him. Our whole country has gone to hell. Everything in this world needs to be accepted or you are looked upon as a bigot. I am sick of it.
  • E.J. turns it around, and claims that us queers created this stereotype. Or at least "proliferated" it: What I still don't hear from anyone else commenting on this non-story is that Keillor neither created nor proliferated the stereotypical gay male image that his humorous comment refers to. The gay community proliferates it and the straight community jumps on board so as to seem like they're supportive of gay rights.
And it goes on and on, for seven pages. I didn't make it through all of them. For those who get it, sorry for ruining your breakfast. For those who don't: even if Keillor doesn't hate ... and I don't think he does, honestly ... his comments serve as a catalyst for hate. You can call it humor, you can talk about freedom of speech, but at the end of the day it makes the world an uglier place.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I spent the night in the Kaiser Sleep Lab, getting tested for apnea. I didn't get much sleep, and am in a bit of a daze this morning. They woke me at 5 am, and I had to stumble on the bus without coffee, food, or adequate sleep. The trip to work felt like the continuation of a dream. The bus was full of women, and I had to wonder ... as I always do, and never with a good answer ... why there are never many men on these busses out of East O`ahu. Do the men not work? Do they hoard the cars? Are there even any men left out there?

I got off the bus in Chinatown, and though I've never seen sunrise in downtown it was all so familiar. Skinny Chinese men were unloading produce from trucks, while women arranged everything on pallets in front of their stores. Everyone moving was Asian, but there was a rainbow coalition of the homeless still asleep on Maunakea, laid out on newspapers and cardboard sheets still damp from last night's rain.

I felt brave, and wandered into Maunakea Marketplace looking for food. If you don't know Honolulu's Chinatown it might be hard to grasp how very, very brave that was at 6 am. You wander past the cases full of pig innards and the piles of shellfish and the trays of black slimy tilapias thrashing about until you come to a underground food court lit only by pale yellow fluorescent lights. There's no air, and it's hot and humid and smells of grease and soy. And though the stalls look like a tour of Asia - Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Hawai`i, Japan, and the Philippines are all theoretically represented - everything tastes more or less the same. Breakfast at all of them was some variation of soggy noodles, spam, and hard black coffee. It has all the charm of a train station in Shanghai.

I was in a bit of a daze the whole weekend, actually. I joined a group at Chiko's on Thursday for Jake's birthday (left). I figured, Friday I'd catch up on sleep. But Merlin called, and I said come over. We started seeing each other again, and though I don't know where it's going - or even where I want it to go - it's been nice. But we stayed up almost 'til 4 am drinking good tequila and red wine [Fujioks's recommended a Mark Edwards Pinot Noir that was full flavored, fruity, and smooth, and I picked up a bottle of my favorite (and the cheapest) Valpolicella].

Which meant that Saturday - a cold, overcast, and wet Saturday - I was a mess, and more than happy to stay home. For all we drank, though, I didn't have the slightest trace of a hangover. I was, however, in a daze most of the day. I simply could not wake up. I had big plans that night - Jimmy was having a barbecue, and I was planning to meet Rogelio later on - but I ended up sleeping on the couch from 8 pm on.

Sunday it was: beach, gym, and then off to the Sleep Lab. I've had enough people tell me I have apnea that I figured, it was time to check despite my doctor's doubts. I packed a book (Irène Némirovsky’s amazing Suite Française - more on that later) and hopped on the bus.

By 8:30 I was marked up and wired head to toe. I wish I had a camera - it was a frightful sight, something only James Whale could love. I watched a video showing fat and happy older couples talking about how nice their life was once the got apnea treatment. Gag. I switched the tv to South Park. It was the nigger episode. I announced I hated tv and flicked it off. The attendant, Sharon, somehow put up with me.

They would be watching me on videotape, and recording every movement and flutter. I was more or less restrained by the wires. If I needed to get up I could call - they'd be listening in also. I asked for a code if I needed to hit the head. But there was none - I should just yell Sharon I need to use the bathroom into the night. I was hoping for something more dignified. I knew I wasn't going to be calling for Sharon.

By ten I tried to go to sleep. The thing about restraints is, they're not so sexy when they're not put on with lust. Otherwise, they're just irritating. I tossed and turned for a couple hours, but I must have slept some. At 1am the attendant came in. Yeah, I had stopped breathing, so she wanted to see what effect the mask (below) would have on me.

And that was when things got rough. I did not like having that thing on my face. It didn't feel natural, and I went somewhere primeval - my body tensed, my breathing became rough, and it took all my self-control not to rip it off. I don't like this. Sharon told me it took some people some time to get used to it, and there was a bit of a hard edge there on some people. I might rip it off, I told her. Try it, she told me, with a distinct lack of empathy. Please do not rip it off. And though she said please, it was an order more than a request.

I miss my real doctor.

I was like some child raised by wolves, counting down the appropriate length of time before I could rip my clothes off and flee back into the woods. The machine was awful. It forces air into your lungs under the assumption that the pressure will keep your bronchial tubes open. Or keep whatever open. It wasn't working. My mouth was dry, my throat was dry, it was pumping gas into my stomach, and there were times when I felt like I was choking on air. I tried to relax, but couldn't. I couldn't breathe normally on the thing. I thought back to the video, to the happy fat old men with their happy fat old wives, and knew that I couldn't do this.

I must have dozed off finally, but I kept waking up in violent starts. Finally, around 3 am, I yelled out that it needed to come off now! Sharon must have been right by the door, because it opened right away. What was the problem? she asked. I don't like it. What don't you like about it? she asked, as if me not liking it was somehow irrational and a bit childish. What don't I like? I started to escalate. What is there to like? My mouth is dry (I can add a humidifier, she tried to interject, but I kept going) I keep waking up (you're still having episodes and we need to adjust the pressure still) and ... just no. I hate it. I hate it. If it's life or death I'll think about it but otherwise I will not wear that thing!

My irrationality beat her rationality, and she sighed and took away the machine. And though I was still wired I slept like a baby the next couple hours.

And promptly started dreaming about sex. In the post-study questionnaire they asked if I remembered my dreams last night. I circled no. I lied. I remember them, in vivid detail. Sharon did seem a bit gentler in the morning. I wonder what they saw on their cameras. I need to get that videotape.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fasting, Day 7: In the Zone in the End Times

This is it, the final day. Oddly, I'm not that excited about eating normally again. It's almost as if some homeostatic switch has flicked off. Though last night I baked some bread, and I think I ate half the loaf before I went to bed. It was all ... just one more slice ... just one more slice ... but there's something about bread hot from the oven that is hard to resist.

So here's my final verdict:

Weight Loss: I'm down nine pounds from last Thursday night. It's definitley a mix of fat and muscle. I tried to get my body fat tested at the gym to figure out how much of what is missing, but they were busy. My measurements make me think it was mostly muscle: arms, down 1/2 inch (bad); waist down 0.5 to 1.5 inches (it fluctuates but 8 pounds of fat = 2 inches in the waist, so I'd have hoped for more); chest, same; hips, down 2 inches (huhn? not sure if that was fat or muscle); legs, down one inch (bad! very bad! I like big legs).

Energy: I'm under the illusion that I have this extra energy, but the illusion is exposed whenever I exert myself. I went back to the gym, pumped out fifteen pull-ups right off, and was kind of amazed. Twenty minutes later I was exhausted and every muscle was sore, and all along I could barely lift 2/3 of what I normally could. I think this burst of energy people talk about is more a factor of, we've slowed down, we're calmer, and so more coherent in our thoughts and actions. I get more done at work - but it's more due to being less spastic.

Health: Good. My body feels good. Weak, but good. My skin feels a lot cleaner, if a bit drier; allergies are down (I can play with the kitties without getting red eyes); and I have an overall sense of being a bit more robust. This, I think, really is due to cutting down on calories. Although even here, I'm sure there's additional benefits from cutting down on coffee, eating lots and lots more veggies than I have in years, and sleeping more.

So ok, it was a good experiment. Fasting has benefits. I'll do it again, with modifications. And - since I broke all the rules and got the same benefits - I feel pretty safe in saying that Master Cleanse is bullshit. Game, Set, Match, I win.

Now it's time to go put on some weight. As soon as the sun goes down.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Fast: Day 6

This is starting to feel normal now, which is a surprise. The routine I've settled into is,

pre-sunrise: slices of tomato & cucumber, some olives, sourdough bread. And a cup of coffee.

daytime: that lemonade/cayenne stuff, variations include lemon or lime juice; guava syrup [surprisingly tasteless], honey [the most normal tasting], molasses [nasty], or maple syrup [the 'official' drink of the purging masses]. Coffee in the morning and post (everyone else's) lunchtime.

post -sunset: vegetable soup with rice & bulgur [how hippy], more bread, olives, whatever fruit I have [oranges, pomegranate], some cashews if I get hungry later.

It's not too hard at this point. I get hungry around noon, and then again around four. It passes. I'm definitley a lot calmer, and I'm getting more sleep. I'm still biking to work, but I can't imagine going to the gym. My abs are back in spades [yeay! Welcome back!] though my wasit hasn't shrunk that much. My skin looks a lot cleaner to me, and I'm much calmer. Maybe I don't have the energy to spaz. I'm at 189, and will get my body fat measured at 24 tomorrow. But it's hard to tell if some of the benefits are from getting much more sleep & drinking a fourth as much coffee as I usually do. Or maybe a fifth as much ... I was guzzling the stuff.

Ont he flip side, I still have a bit of love handles, I don't have the enrgy to go to the gym, and I know I've lost a bit of muscle mass.

And from the world? Sharlene [the clerk at work] announced that I didn't look one bit healthier. Merlin said the results were hot and I should keep going. Tiger said I was looking runty.

So there you go. This was definitely an excellent break from routine. It will be easier to add better foods now than it would have been to take them away before. I'm actually liking the vegetable soup! I'll work on a lentil soup like I had in Turkey, and I could be happy with this for a lot of meals. I could even see being partially vegetarian.

I could actually keep this up if I add an egg and yogurt in the morning [making it an official Turkish breakfast!], lentils and a veggie salad for lunch, something carbo pre-gym, and then meat at night.

But if I do it again, this cayenne lemonade shit has to go. It's like diabetes in a bottle.

Next up? I break the fast tomorrow evening. The guys are getting together at Chiko's for Jakes 6th 40th birthday. Since I refuse to be a food nazi ... beer, mochiko chicken, and sizzling steak here I come!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

travel draft

24,25,26 March(Sat, Sun, Mon) - Paris. Hotel Jarry.

27,28,29 March (Tues, Wed, Thurs) - Amman. Caravan Hotel.

30,31 March (Fri, Sat) - Petra. Petra Gate Hotel and Hostel.

1,2 April (Sun, Mon) - trekking in Wadi Rum with Aodeh.

3,4 April (Tue, Wed) - Aqaba. Alcazar Hotel.

5 April: drive north along Kings Highway/Dead Sea Highway. Visit Al-Shobak, Dana, Kerak, Dead Sea, Bethany, Mt. Nebo (if time)

5 April (Thurs) - Madaba. Salome Hotel.

6,7,8 April (Fri, Sat, Sun) Istanbul. Hotel Eklektik

  • Hotel Jarry, 4 Rue Jarry, 10e arrondissement, Paris
  • Caravan Hotel, Al Ma'mun St., Jabal Al Weibdeh, Amman
  • Petra Gate Hotel and Hostel, Wadi Musa, Petra, tel +962 7 777 7662/1
  • Alcazar Hotel, Al Nahda St., Aqaba, tel +962 3 201 4131/2/4
  • Salome Hotel,, Aisha Um Al Mumeneen St, Madaba, tel +962 5 324 8606
  • Hotel Eklektik,, Beyoglu, Istanbul

Here we go again ... maybe ...

Guess which Conservative poster-boy was a gay porn-star? Yep, Cpl. Matt Sanchez, the man on the left (and not that monster on the right).

Stupid Border Manager won't let me peak at the good sites, but this article from Joe.My.God broke the story & covers all you need to know.

What should be interesting is, he's willing to go on record in an interview with Joe. I'll keep you posted.

(and I'm still fasting, and still have the same waist size. Where's my g'damn 6 pack already? Haven't I suffered enough?)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Death of the Circuit

I got the email a couple days ago that Roxy in New York was closing. I didn't even care for the club that much. The shocking thing about it is - it's the last one. There will be no more major gay clubs in Manhattan. I'm not sure how this can be. It's bad enough that Honolulu doesn't have anything ... but New York???

And now Honolulu doesn't even have any rotating events. Derek's thing doesn't seem to be getting off the ground. I don't know anyone who went to the last one. And Volcano promises to be an embarrassment. This one pisses me off, because we really could have done something special - but those of us with ideas, contacts, and the willingness to commit the time and energy were shut out of the decision making process time and time again. It hurts knowing what we could have had & knowing what we will have [Saturday night at Hula's, with a high cover, and Sunday night event downtown at Next Door. Which is a cool club, but not on a Sunday on a non-holiday weekend, not at a club that closes at 2].

I talked Volcano up a lot last June at Gay Days, telling people how we had a solid group this year & were determined to bring the event back, and to make our mark. What I didn't know then was that the problems in years past were at the top. So now I'm getting emails from folks wondering what's going on. And all I can say is, Honolulu is set to embarrass herself. Again.

Fast: Day 3, morning

I'm definitely getting enough sleep on this thing. I made the right choice in eating dinner. I skipped all the flushing yesterday, but decided I'd give it another try today. So ... here I am ... 8 ounces down, 8 ounces to go ... and waiting for it to hit.

It was nice doing nothing yesterday. I woke up at 11, listened to all the messages from people claiming that I'm ignoring them, turned my phone off again, and went to the beach. Did some laps at Kaimana, which was harder than it should've been. Later called Hollis. We haven't talked since the incident in Mexico. It was good to reconnect, and good to get his side of the story. We had had our conflict, but what I missed out on was Rogelio breaking into his room all night long afterwards begging to be fucked. Which - since he was doing that in the kitchen one night when I was trying to make dinner [and I could've stabbed the boy], I can picture. So: yeay! It's Ro's fault!

And that was that. I finished watching the Garden of the Finzi-Continis, about an upper class Jewish family in Ferrara who retreats from the world as fascism approaches. It was a beautiful and haunting movie, but made for a long night. My senna-dreams were all strange combinations of La Dolce Vita and the Holocaust.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Fast, Day 2: Morning

I made a soup last night. It was nothing special - 6 chopped tomatoes, half a chopped onion, a couple chopped potatoes, a clove of sliced garlic, parsley and basil from the garden, a few slices of ginger, and a bit of pepper, fenugreek, mustard seed, and asafeotida.

Which, the way I cook, qualifies as simple. My first bite I thought: Hell no. I've cooked hippy food. But after a few more bites I started to seriously enjoy it. I ate two small bowls - at the table, not in front of the tv - and actually felt full. Or, if not full, sated. And I went to bed feeling good, and woke up feeling fine.

I think I made the right choice by switching to a less dogmatic fast. It still takes discipline, it's still reduced calorie, and it's still breaking bad habits. On the plus side, I'm not obsessing over everything I can't have or how much I'm suffering, and what I do eat I eat with much more consciousness.

I debated on whether to make coffee this morning. I decided against it, though I'd absolutely love some. In The Devil's Playground an Amish man talks about their relationship to technology. He said it was a misconception that the Amish reject technology. They don't. Rather, they ask of everything new: How will this affect community? If they feel that the technology will divide and isolate people [cars] they reject it. If they feel that it will make life easier and not harm people, they accept it [washing machines].

I'll do the same with food during this. When I have a question [is coffee ok on a fast?], instead of turning to the internet for a list of rules, I'll ask myself: how will this affect the goals of simplicity, discipline, moderation, and consciousness? [I drink coffee in excess .... so ... no go, no can have, sorry bro].

And yeah, yeah, yeah, there's still the other goals: youthful skin and a thin waist. I'm still hoping these are by-products, both for my own ego & so that I'll have a strong rebuttal against the more pharisaic [told you I'd make this worked mine] new-agers in town.

And on that note ... my waist is 35" this morning. I'm not sure how I could drop an inch and a half in a day. It doesn't really make sense. But I'll take it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Master Cleanse: Day 1, 6PM: In Which Our Hero Calls Bullshit

When I was looking at thesis ideas I approached Reg Kwok, one of my professors, about studying Feng Shui & how it relates to European and American concepts of sacredness in architecture. He's an expert in the field, but he nixed the idea out of hand and told me that there were no academic writings on Feng Shui in English. In Chinese, plenty - but none in English.

Now, if you go to the bookstore you'll find shelf after shelf of books on "Feng Shui." There's the appearance of a wealth of information, but a complete lack of anything rigorous.

I'm having a similar problem with fasting. I tried to look up articles on the science of fasting. I found tons on Ayurvedic "fasting" - but none translated from any authoritative text. They were, for the most part, by Californians and Germans who had spent a summer with a guru & came home to cash in on the experience.

And I want to know, because I want to follow this fast through, but Master Cleanse is bullshit. Or rather, all it's silly rules are. It's starting to strike me as just another form of eating disorder. This is not good for a person's body.

The best I found was a series of articles on Orthodox fasting. Fasting is essential practice for the Orthodox, as it is for Muslims, early Catholics, Hindi, Buddhists, etc. It has a valid history. A lot of articles are direct translations, and there is precious little on the cleasning powers of cayenne - nor a single story about marbles swallowed in childhood miraculously being excreted in adulthood. Rather, we get this:

Gluttony makes a man gloomy and fearful, but fasting makes him joyful and courageous.
And, as gluttony calls forth greater and greater gluttony, so fasting stimulates greater and greater endurance.
When a man realizes the grace that comes through fasting, he desires to fast more and more.
And the graces that come through fasting are countless....

~Saint Nikolai of Zicha~
They also warn about legalism, or becoming pharasaical (and what a lovely word that is! I just learned it, and I'm keeping it) - i.e. becoming concerned with orthodoxy and forgetting the purpose behind the fast. One becomes concerned with trivial details of the law, which then naturally leads towards judgment of those less pure.

Another series outlines the purposes of the Orthodox fast: to learn discipline (to gain control of those things that are indeed within our control but that we so often allow to control us), and to learn moderation and simplicity.

The author of the last also offers this caveat: But if fasting itself starts to control us -- if we spend countless hours reading every ingredient label and the like -- then we can become just as controlled by our fasting and, in the process, miss the whole point of fasting in the first place.

So the purpose of a fast is not deprivation, sacrifice, or pain. Master Cleanse seems to be as neurotic as any trend in our society - and it seems to feed into the very neuroses it claims to heal. So I'm off the program ... but I'll continue a fast. I do think it is a potential path to knowledge. I'll keep it simple & traditional - basically what I saw in Muslim and Orthodox countries: no solid foods during the day, and no meat, oils, dairy, or alcohol at night.

The sun is down, so I'm off to make me a nice veggie soup. Yum.

Master Cleanse, Day 1, noon: Altered States

I think I'm still in shock over the salt water flush. I've been spaced-out all morning, and I can't really explain it based upon skipping breakfast. I broke down and had a cup of coffee at work, and that seemed to settle me down a bit. It's a clear violation of the Stalinesque rules for this thing, but I couldn't find any rational basis for the rule.

I did find plenty more irrationality, though. The science behind this is pretty loopy. Cases in point:
  • Claim: You get all the nutrients you need from maple syrup
  • Rebuttal: I'll be getting plenty of manganese and zinc, and a lot of Vitamin C from the lemons. Honey has nothing but calories. Molasses is a bit better, with loads of manganese, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin B6, and selenium. Not complete, but better. Too bad the molasses concotion tastes so nasty. Either way, a fast most definitely leaves you nutrient deprived.
  • Claim: You won't need proteins, because they are composed of amino acids, and amino acids are composed of nitrogen, and you get nitrogen from the air.
  • Rebuttal: People are not soybeans. They do not fix nitrogen from the air.
  • Claim: You are tired because your body is diverting energy away from playing and into fighting toxins.
  • Rebuttal: You are tired because you aren't getting enough calories.
I need to read up more on the science of fasting. This is nice because it provides a structure, but the official sites drive me crazy with their half-baked ideas and rules.

Meanwhile, I've drank almost all the Concoction that I brought to work. I'm doing all right with my normal workload but am too spaced out to have a normal conversation.

It'll be interesting to watch my relationship to food change. I hadn't realized how much I use it as a crutch - as in, eating 'cause I'm bored rather than because I'm hungry. I'm not stressed about skipping meals, but am a bit stressed about skipping all the snacking I do constantly. It will be nice to break that habit.

I've been saying that this is my first fast, but I did do a semi-fast in Turkey during Ramadan. I'd have breakfast [Turkish style: olives, cheese, an egg, yogurt, tomatoes, and cucumbers], and sometimes a light lunch [lentil soup, sourdough bread], and then until later at night to have a full meal. I lost weight, which I didn't want to, but felt great. I was also told I looked a lot younger and that my skin looked a lot better when I got home. Friends say the same thing happens on this one, especially that the skin clears up.

The plan tonight: make it through the day, get home early, clean house so it's nice and comfy ... and then curl up in a foetal position for the weekend.

Master Cleanse, Day 1, 9am: Senna Dreams

I am a tube.

The senna tea had zero effect on my GI system. I went to bed with all systems normal. Then the dreams started. It was a night of non-stop, vivid vignettes with fully rounded characters and more life lessons per minute than a Hallmark Thanksgiving Special, interspersed with occasional mini-dreams about poop and / or couscous. I need to find out what's in that tea.

I hauled myself out of bed at 6:30 and made the Salt Water Flush - 16 ounces of water (four cups) with 2 tsp salt in it. It was rough, although it did what it was supposed to do: it flushed. And flushed. And flushed.

I am now very, very clean.

After an hour of that nonsense I figured I was ready for my first cup of The Liquid. I chose molasses. I chose poorly. It was vile, and it wouldn't stay down. I almost threw up, but eventually my stomach settled down. Five minutes later it shot out my ass with projectile force.

I took another sip. It shot right through. Tomorrow I need to time this, and figure out the relative velocity of liquid through the tube that is me. I finally gave up, and headed to work.

I was light-headed on the bike ride in. Not in a psychosomatic way, either. It was more in a post-up still feeling the anesthesia way.

We'll see what the day brings.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

When Fashion Turns Deadly

Last video before I purge ... a new threat rears its ugly head in North Dakota. And North Dakota panics.

People who are this dense should not be allowed to vote, breed, or leave the Dakotas.

Master Cleanse: The Zero Hour

I just finished my last meal. It wasn't even anything fancy - two hamburgers smothered in mozzarella. I cleaned the fridge, and replaced my perishables with The Liquid. I experimented a bit, and made 12 cups with lemon juice and maple syrup [the way they say to], 12 cups with lemon juice and molasses, and 24 cups with lime juice and honey.

It's about 850 calories a batch, or ... 70 calories a cup. The whole frakkin batch is less than 3000 calories. That's much, much less than I thought, & I don't know how much of this stuff I can actually drink each day.

I'm already feeling a placebo effect. I've been low energy all day. My brain shut off around noon & never turned back on. That might be partly due to nicotine deprivation, but my money is on: it's due to an overactive imagination.

In 30 minutes I drink the senna tea, and we're on.

I already told David to make plans for next Sunday, when I plan on breaking the fast at sundown. I'm thinking sushi.

The Secret of Brokeback Mountain

A viral for Canal-Plus

The News from Galway

From the Galway Advertiser ... Lonely man brought donkey to hotel room, court told

A man who was found dressed in latex and handcuffs brought a donkey to his room in a Galway city centre hotel, because he was advised “to get out and meet people,” the local court heard last week.

Thomas Aloysius McCarney with an address in south Galway was charged with cruelty to animals, lewd and obscene behaviour, and with being a danger to himself when he appeared before the court on Friday. He was also charged with damage to a mini-bar in the room, but this charge was later dropped when the defendant said that it was the donkey who caused that damage.

Solicitor for the accused Ms Sharon Fitzhenry said that her client had been through a difficult time lately and that his wife had left him and that his life had become increasingly lonely.

“Mr McCarney has been attending counselling at which he was told that he would be advised to get out and meet people and do interesting things. It was this advice that saw him book into the city centre hotel with a donkey,” she said. She added that Mr McCarney also suffered from a fixation with the Shrek movies and could constantly be heard at work talking to himself saying things like “Isn’t that right, Donkey?”

Supt John McBrearty told the court that Mr McCarney who had signed in as “ Mr Shrek” had told hotel staff that the donkey was a family pet and that this was believed by the hotel receptionist who the supt said was “young and hadn’t great English.”

Receptionist Irina Legova said that Mr McCarney had told her that the donkey was a breed of “super rabbit” which he was bringing to a pet fair in the city. The court was told that the donkey went berserk in the middle of the night and ran amok in the hotel corridor, forcing hotel staff to call the gardai.

McCarney was found in the room wearing a latex suit and handcuffs, the key to which the donkey is believed to have swallowed. He was removed to Mill St station after which it is said he was the subject of much mirth among the lads next door in The Galway Arms.

He was fined €2,000 for bringing the donkey to the room under the Unlawful Accommodation of Donkeys Act 1837. Other charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.

Chicken Avgolemono

Finally - I got the sauce right! I adapted this from a Bon Apétit recipe. Things I did differently this time were to add the liver to the sauce, to make an extra rich broth & then reduce the hell out of it, and to beat the egg whites first. The recipe calls for bitter greens like mustard or dandelion, but I was on a budget and used spinach. Niko in Mykonos used spinach in his, so who am I to argue? The only change I would make here is to cook the chicken for much longer. I want it to be falling off the bone.

For chicken:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
7 tablespoons olive oil
2 3.5-pound chickens, skinned, each cut into 8 pieces
Livers from chicken.
  • marinate chicken and liver overnight.
  • make stock out of back and wing tips. Strain, season with healthy pinch of saffron
  • render oil from skin and fat
For sauce:
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 bunches mustard greens, trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
3 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • Fry chicken in oil until brown. Fry livers, mash, and mix with stock.
  • Saute garlic and herbs about 2 minutes.
  • Add wine and lemon juice. Boil, then simmer until reduced by half
  • Add stock and chicken. Bake in 400 degree oven for 35".
  • Reserve one cup stock. Reduce rest to 3 cups.
  • Add greens. Cook for two minutes
  • Add rest of herbs
For Avgolemono Sauce:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs, separated
Pinch of salt
  • Whisk egg yolks.
  • Whisk egg whites and pinch of salt until soft peaks form.
  • Fold in egg yolks.
  • Cook over simmering water until thick. Keep whisking.
  • Slowly add 1 cup reserved stock. Cook until thick.
  • Season, and pour over chicken.

İstanbul School: John Ash

Excerpt from The Parthian Stations
The auguries, the inaugurations
Proceed at vast expense, banquet after banquet.
A fire of the mind is invoked, and this is what
We must live with as the century raises itself
On crippled limbs to proclaim victory.
Neither Alexander nor Trajan combined
Such arrogance with ignorance
But, in the end, what difference does it make?
Persepolis burned, and Fallujah is emptied.

Spicy Toasted Garbanzo Beans

These are excellent when they're hot out of the oven. I made them for the Swamp Pigs. I didn't think they were extremely spicy, but some of the more sensitive souls [i.e. the Southern white boys] coulnd't handle them. The next day they're still ok ... but really, they're best hot.
  • 2 cups garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • garam masala
  • chaat masala
  • 1 cup shelled raw pistachios or cashews
  • sea salt
  • Soak garbanzo beans over night. Change the water, bring to a boil, and then let simmer until beans are cooked - this can take three hours or more. When they're done, spread them out on a sheet to dry a bit.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss garbanzo beans with oil and garam masala. Bake on a sheet for about 20 minutes. Add nuts, and bake for 15 more minutes, or until beans are crunchy on the outside and meaty on the inside.
  • Season with sea salt and lots of chaat masala.
  • Notes: I used olive oil, but I think other oils might make for a crispier snack. Also, the type of pan is important. I used a hard cookie sheet once, and it was good. I used a disposable aluminum pan once, and it all came out mushy. And using fresh a spice mix is key. The original recipe called for thyme, but I think the Indian spices go really well with this.
Garam Masala
  • 2 T coriander
  • 1 T cumin
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 2 t mustard seeds
  • 2 t fenugreek
  • 2 t black peppercorns
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Toast and Grind. You don't really need to measure things, as spices come out different every time.

Chaat Masala
  • 1 T Cumin Seed
  • 1 T Black Pepper Corns
  • 1 T fenugreek
  • 2 Long Pepper
  • 5 Cloves
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1/2 T dried Mint Leaves
  • 1/4th t Asafoetida Powder
  • 1 T Rock Salt
  • 1 t Ginger Powder
  • 1 t Cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp Tartaric Acid
  • Toast the hard spices. Add everything to a coffee grinder and grind away. This one you put on food after it's cooked. Keeps a long time in the freezer. The original recipe called for 2T dried mango powder and 1.4 t carom seeds. I play around with this - the key is it should be tart and spicey.

İstanbul School: Sidney Wade

Time is Money [from the collection Celestial Bodies]
Gray nickels up
in the east--

the forecast
is dire, but

it is a stately sight.
Dogs are whirping

at the moon in China
and a string quartet

has rattled out
an ardent arabesque

that brings consumers
to their knees.

Here is a common heresy:
Things are Bleak.

See here--this bag
of olives on my lap

is radiating happily
its currency.

Let’s slurp it up
in unison

and celebrate
inflation for a change.

And racket.
Let’s celebrate as well

that quarter
where wind smells

like wet steel
and the children

laugh unshod and holler
through their hands.

Where black
moons flower

in the desert.
Where power

of attorney
counts for nothing.

Where time is racing
through the sluicegates,

every second
riotous in diamonds.

This world is burning
up in beauty.

The İstanbul School

I saw this article in Feb 17th's Economist, and Dan's name jumped out. We haven't heard any more details. His service is March 17 in Alabama, and I sent the citation to Chris to send on to his family. The article is A Byzantine Journey, a review of John Ash's The Parthian Stations.
When Mr. Ash's 2004 collection "To the City" came out, Poetry, a leading American literary magazine, said that he "could be the best English poet of his generation". Now he may also be the doyen of a new "Istanbul School".

Several English-speaking poets are publishing work that, like Mr. Ash's, use the city as a vivid background against which to weave themes of East and West. There is the easy fluidity of Sidney Wade of Florida, the wry melancholy of Mel Kenne of Texas and the keen eye of Alabama's late Daniel Pendergrass for the theater of the streets. James Wilde of Canada writes savagelyof war, Edward Foster pens gay odes and George Messo, an Englishman, is working on an epic.
I went digging around to see what this İstanbul School was. Too bad blogs are always in reverse. Today will be a day to post recipes and poetry, but you'll only know why after [and if] you read through all of them to get here.