Friday, February 26, 2010



cash & rick rubin were so prescient in their understanding of what made cash cash & what made american music american. we're on the 6th album of these sepulchral recordings &, for me, i want them to go on & on. sure, there are some clunkers here & there but i'll tell you what: you do something like this as the curtain closes & we'll see how it stacks up, ok?. w/the exception of warren zevon, i don't think anyone else in american music got to close it out as profoundly & self-consciously as cash. the trick w/both of them was that as the self fell away(as it always does)Being(heidegger's big "B") asserted itself in its most fundamental way.

we'd do well to listen very very closely.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


"All good art is an indiscretion."

oddly, i found three different death dates for williams from five different sources. i'm sure this is something that would have amused him. i mean, they know when pliny the elder died; it seems like they'd have a handle on someone from the 20th century.
be that as it may, i've mentioned before how i took williams lightly back in high school, especially when i compared him w/o'neill. seeing his plays actually performed by professionals opened up a whole other side to his writing for me & convinced me of his true genius. i believe now he had a much better sense of the stage than o'neill did.
i met williams in key west. i was there w/frank & di in our new college days. there was a huge gay bar down on front st. it had several levels & the top one was an open air bar built around a huge kapok tree. there was a swiss family robinson aspect to it but for mature audiences. williams was very drunk but very gentlemanly. he said nothing memorable & paid more attention to di(faghag that she was/is)which should have offended me but didn't. the whole encounter amounted to us being able to say we bought tennessee williams a drink, tho i suppose it exposed the origins of one of his great lines about strangers.
he didn't buy any of us a drink.

"Why did I write? Because I found life unsatisfactory."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


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william grimes described craft restaurant's gnocchi as "light-weight, butter-laden eye-rolling pleasure bombs" & that description fits this version from mark vetri. i taught a skillful means seminar at the nyingma institute that included making gnocchi. they're relatively easy & quick to make if you use a light hand. these were served w/cremini & golden chanterelle mushrooms in a porcini cream w/shredded baby spinach. they were also ann's lunch on monday.

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Monday, February 22, 2010


there are any number of similar desserts & they all have cool names like grunts, slump, betty, cobbler, buckle, pandowdy, crumbles & crisps(& let's not forget their french ancestor, the clafoutis). i used to like crisps & cobblers when i was a little kid because i could scrape the fruit away & just eat the fruit flavored sweet crusts.


prine was mike's "discovery". i have to say that at the time i wasn't as impressed as he seemed to be but kristofferson was big on prine & i was big on kris so i went along. eventually, i was playing most of the songs off prine's first album at the quaint lounge. still, i remember being the first in the group to get springsteen's born to run. we played it in philip's cave & as the last extraordinary notes of "jungleland" faded, mike blurted out, "o john!" he'd conceded whatever point there was to concede.
funny but when ken or mike or philip & i talk, prine usually isn't in the conversation but the fact is, he's endured & continues to produce good music. the same can't be said of some of our other music heroes. the second video here is from costello's show & it's a song from his 1995 album, lost dogs and mixed blessings. the duet w/iris dement is from his 1999 album, in spite of ourselves.
i've been fortunate to see prine twice. once way back when in atlanta & just recently at the hardly bluegrass festival out here in cali. the atlanta show was in a tiny venue & i sat just a few feet away from him. he had an odd stage presence back then, very nervous & spasmodic. he seems to have mellowed w/age.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

HOT POCKETS of deliciousness

POTSTICKERS for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. i could eat a million of these little guys. they featured in one of ann's bento box lunches last week but just barely. i kept "taste testing" them.


actually, i have no idea why the foods of my past have begun to haunt me. maybe it's seeing mike's senile post & hearing time's winged chariot but i've gotten all nostalgic thinking about lemon & chocolate pudding cakes, coconut cakes, fudge cakes, rocky road, etc. i'm researching the best coca-cola cake but this 7up cake caught my attention before i could decide on the right cola cake; it's all about the lemon-lime frisson.

Friday, February 19, 2010


i don't remember who came up w/the bit back when we were little surf-rats but it went something like this: as we were traveling around, looking for great surf spots, we'd see some incredible break, up against a jetty or near some river mouth. no one was out surfing what were clearly incredibly breaking perfect waves. wtf?, we'd all ask as we paddled out into the water. in our little scenario, we'd imagine locals looking out from their sun-decks or cars or where ever & them sceaming, "my god, stop them, don't they know about shark pit or the whirlpool or the crushing rocks or the rip tide suck?" we'd all laugh. myth & story telling have been used throughout history to bind anxieties. i don't think philip & i ever paddled out somewhere where others weren't already out if we hadn't been there before. there was alabama point & destin jetty & the jacksonville jetty & the south ft pierce jetty(known as sharkpit) & a few others. none of these breaks featured 15ft waves. for the most part, 15ft waves weren't a part of our surfing experience. thank god.

i mention all this because the great origin story of mavericks kind of works off this teenaged scenario that used to break us up. for years & years, locals watched mavericks break, in awe of the size & violence of the break. no one anywhere on the continental usa was surfing a wave like mavericks. it was pretty much common knowledge you wouldn't last 15minutes out there. however, it was a sight to see.

for years, it remained that way. finally, one day:

"Jeff Clark, having grown up near Half Moon Bay, learned about Maverick's at an early age. At that time the location was deemed too dangerous to surf. He spent time watching the break, and conceived the possibility of riding Hawaii-sized waves in Northern California. One day in 1975, with the waves topping out at 10 to 12 feet, Clark paddled out alone to face Maverick's. He was successful, catching a number of left-breaking waves, thereby becoming one of the very first persons (documented) to tackle Maverick's head-on.

For the next 15 years, Clark continued surfing Maverick's alone. It was Clark's secret winter 'giant north shore-sized surf' surfing spot. Other than a few close friends who had paddled out and seen Maverick's themselves, no one believed in its existence. The popular opinion of the time was that there simply were no large, Hawaii-sized waves in California.

the rest, for the most part, is history. mavericks is now surfed by anyone & everyone who has the nerve to paddle out there. of course, they're doing that w/companions. unlike(& because of) clark, no one is paddling out there alone anymore. of course, surfing isn't immune to cruel ironies & clark is now barred from participating in or consulting on the big money($50,000 first prize)maverick's surf contest that they try to hold each year, depending on conditions. clark is locked up in a legal battle w/the organization that controls the contest.

the contest hadn't been held the last two winters due to lack of ideal conditions but they finally called for one last weekend. it was held in less that ideal conditions but the waves were big. i mean, really big. i mean, huge: 50ft faces. that's something i can't even conceive. i surfed steamer's lane at santa cruz & the faces were probably 12-15 ft. i was scared shitless. i surfed the outside sandbar in p'cola during storms when the faces were probably 10-12 ft. i was scared shitless then too. don't get me wrong: i loved surfing & would probably still be trying to do it if it weren't for foot operations & broken ribs & a necrotic hip but i was never a fan of big waves. we didn't have leashes back when i started in p'cola, so if you lost your board on a wave, you had to swim ALL the way to shore(say, 150 yards)in rough water & strong currents. big waves usually excited sharks too. nothing ended a good surf buzz more than seeing a 10ft hammerhead gliding through a big swell. it just seemed to me that big waves presented more possibilities for a fun time to end badly. i mean, broken bones, concussion, free-bleeding badly. take for example this poor fellow:

i can tell you from experience you would NOT want to be where he was last weekend. i believe he was spitting up blood when they fished him from the cold north cali waters. that's just par for the course at maverick's. most everyone got beat up during the contest & kept on surfing. as i recall, back in p'cola philip broke ribs, split his skull open, & received various cuts & slashes & sandbar rubs. george had his front two teeth knocked out as did todd hugues. fate can intervene in small surf too. we knew that. no doubt, it's what inspired our little "myth" of horrific perfection way back when & why the origin story of mavericks is so appealing even now.


yeah, i know, it's actually the tarantella, the italian folk dance but i heard a good one yesterday about re-naming the filibuster the tarantino because it "kills bills." i think chait is right on the money here. i heard similar ideas in reaction to the supreme court ruling for corporate america, that it would force politicians to "do the right thing" & make real substantive changes to the election finance laws. yeah. right. it's a rare politician whose "better angels" continue to advise a year after their first election.

"The belief that the filibuster is okay, but minority parties should just use it less often and start acting nicer is the equivalent of the belief that the financial system was totally fine, there just needs to be less greed and more caution. Of course, there are people on Wall Street who believe that, too -- you don't need to change the incentive structure that rewards taking on systemic risk, they say, you just need people to listen to their better angels. This sort of misguided notion is probably endemic to people who sit on the inside of any institution and see it in personal rather than systemic terms. The belief among official Washington that moral restraint can persuade politicians from ignoring their political interests is exactly such a fallacy." jonathan chait

here's the link of the whole article.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


"Carnival is a pageant without footlights and without a division into performers and spectactors. In carnival everyone is an active participant, everyone communes in the carnival act. Carnival is not contemplated, and, strictly speaking, not even performed; its participants live in it, they live by its laws as long as those laws are in effect; that is, they live a carnivalesque life." bakhtin

Monday, February 15, 2010



Sunday, February 14, 2010


And all the roads we have to walk along are winding
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding
There are many things that I would
Like to say to you
I don't know how

And after all
You're my wonderwall

Wednesday, February 10, 2010




ann loves healdsburg, lots of earring shops. dan loves healdsburg, lots of great places to eat. one of my initial favorites was downtown bakery & creamery, where i had donut muffins for the first time. next to the amazing morning buns that originated in berkeley at la farine(tho they've been superseded by the ones at tartine over in the city), these morning beauties are my breakfast favorites, dense & sweet & nutmeg-y. they're a breeze to make at home.

here's an easy version of the recipe.

Monday, February 8, 2010


"Neal Cassady and his love of that year Natalie Jackson conscious of their roles in Eternity, Market Street San Francisco. Cassady had been prototype for Kerouac’s late 1940’s ON THE ROAD saga hero, Dean Moriarity, as in later 1960’s he would take the wheel of Ken Kesey’s psychedelic-era Crosscountry bus “”Further.”” His illuminated American Automobile mania and erotic energy had already written his name in bright-lit signs of our literary imagination before movies were made imitating his charm. That’s why we stopped under the marquee to fix the passing hand on the watch, 1955." -

picture taken & text written by Allen Ginsberg


"The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion, — all in one." - Ruskin, Modern Painters

he pretty much single-handedly gave us the pre-raphelites. w/o him, they would have been laughed off the scene & consigned to mere footnotes in the history of art. of course, he was dead wrong about whistler.


"Neal Cassady young & handsome age 29 checking out cars in North Beach used car lot San Francisco 1955. Bay area Johnny Appleseed of pot, he’d gambled madly 1— disastrously ! — at racetrack, working as conductor on Southern Pacific R.R. had averted train crash years before as brakeman, breaking his ankle, collected insurance, bought his family a house in Los Gatos, visited me on Polk Street, worked on his “First Third” autobiographical manuscript."



One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door
keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel.
None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
last, of three beloved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.


i had thought that if the saints could get to peyton manning & beat him up like they
did to favre, they'd win. i had thought that if the saints had to rely on their kicking game, they'd lose. i had thought that if the colts mounted ANY kind of running game, they'd win. i had thought that if the saints had to rely solely on drew brees & the passing game, they'd lose.

what the hell do i know?

the saints didn't pummel manning but they did get close enough to him to throw off his deadly precise passing. the saints didn't need their kicking game. the colts actually did muster a decent rushing game(in the first half). the saints ended up relying on the second most efficient passing game in super bowl history, courtesy of mr drew brees.

regardless of all this, i was pulling for the saints. i have nothing against the colts & i believe that manning is a great quarterback & seems like a decent likable guy. i didn't work myself into an anti-colt lather. the history of futility that is/was the saints didn't really speak to me either. that history is nothing compared to, say, what cubs fans experience every year or what the detroit lion's fans are currently experiencing.

no, to me, it was all about the city of new orleans & what had to be an electrifying week or so down there in the big easy. the win doesn't really help re-build the ninth ward or make the levees unbreachable or bring back the still nearly 200,000 folks who fled the city after katrina. & while the win may hold more promise(for the football future)than the election of mr landrieu as the new mayor of the city, the two moments will be forever linked & mr landrieu should take advantage of that fact & forge the future of the city out of it.

Friday, February 5, 2010


"Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you're allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It's like killing yourself, and then you're reborn. I guess I've lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now." CHARLES BUKOWSKI

THE LIST,a grim tableau w/no real moral except, maybe, keep the stopper in the bottle. FROM RON SILLIMAN'S BLOG'S WEEKLY LIST.




"I used to cook tripe with a fanatical devotion. Recently we revived it at Stars, as a first course served in little polenta cups. Much to my amazement, it is a big hit. But the first time i ever cooked this grand favorite dish of mine was at Chez Panisse. As with all braising, the secret is long, very slow cooking. The question, in a restaurant open for both lunch and dinner, was when to cook this grand dish. i decided, since some ancient book had recommended leaving it in the fireplace overnight, to cook it in the ovens overnight."

tower didn't include a recipe for tripe in his cookbook but paul bertolli did in his book, chez panisse cooking. chis lee used to do tripe cooked in the fireplace for his sunday brunch at the late lamented eccolo. it was smoky & rich. his was w/o penne pasta but he topped his w/a perfect poached egg.
the dish here was very rich & certainly rib-sticking, a perfect meal for a rainy, windy, coldish evening in north california. i used some niman ranch bacon fat to begin the saute & simulate the smoky flavors of a fireplace. the end result was quite delicious & deeply satisfying.


a perfect little winter salad i used to make for the nyingma folks: blood oranges, dates & olives, pistachios & mint

becker lane pork loin(w/a piece of belly thrown in)w/celery root puree, brocoli di ciccio, & salsa verde

PIZZA!: potato, pancetta, fontina, & rosemary


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"drove my chevy to the levee..."


"Myth sees in them only the same raw material; their unity is that they all come down to the status of a mere language. Whether it deals with alphabetical or pictorial writing, myth wants to see in them only a sum of signs, a global sign, the final term of a first semiological chain. And it is precisely this final term which will become the first term of the greater system which it builds and of which it is only a part." roland barthes

of course, no one wrote a song about sam cooke in that motel room or otis' plane ride or hendrix's overdose. somehow those moments escape the process that transforms them from wholly mundane & senseless to transcendent, even tho their music, their output as artists, easily outstrips individually the sum of the collective myth mclean contrived.

still, as barthes taught, myth IS contrived. mclean disses post crash white music while ignoring the origins of his guy's sound. it's not like holly was the grass roots or the association or the guess who. now THAT is white music. holly co-opted bo diddley but that's really the history of rock music: innovative, exciting sounds initially perceived as dangerous due to source or reaction ultimately homogenized into palatable, acceptable products for mass consumption. myth tends to gloss over that process of homogenization; it is, in fact, part of the process. as mircea eliade said a long time ago, "myth eats history."

the music didn't die that day; it can't. cobain proved that &, unfortunately, someone else will come along to reinforce the lesson & fall headlong w/o choice into the depths of myth.



A kind in glass and a cousin, a spectacle and nothing strange a single hurt color and an arrangement in a system to pointing. All this and not ordinary, not unordered in not resembling. The difference is spreading.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

— James Joyce, Ulysses - Ch. 18: Penelope. Last lines.

Monday, February 1, 2010

a self-effacing tree, turns the waste/To shade and fiber, milk and memory.

Yet we are alone too and that's sad isn't it
Yet you are meant to be alone at least part of the time
You must be in order to work and yet it always seems so unnatural
As though seeing people were intrinsic to life which it just might be
And then somehow the loneliness is more real and more human
You know not just the scarecrow but the whole landscape
And the crows peacefully pecking where the harrow has passed

John Ashbery