At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Friday, September 23, 2016


In olden days people did NOT wear casual clothes on Friday, NOR adorn themselves with tattoos, piercings, and similar inane frippery. At any other time either. There were standards of dignity that had to be maintained.

I could also say something about fruity perfumes, aromatic pipe tobaccos, and pumpkin spice latte. All things which are perfectly horrific, and deserving of opprobrium.

On the other hand, people do change their underwear nowadays.
So the modern world is not all bad.

Still. We could revive some of the past.

Attitudes were better.



I note that bushy beards are more common at the present time than they were a few years ago. Many more males look like disreputable hippies or down and out street people. The only way you can tell them apart is that hippies and street people often lack tattoos and i-phones.

The ones with i-phones are usually programmers.

We live in a very decadent and age.

And it's too informal.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016


One of the most irritating things in San Francisco is fusion cuisine, that being what happens when a Caucasian chef discovers Asian ingredients and does something "creative", claiming that it is better than the original, but inspired by the original. Or does something totally boring, but because she's white and college educated she gets to call it something exotic, charge fifty dollars per serving, and not even acknowledge her immense debt to the five dollars a plate lunchcounter that inspired her.

White folks appropriating Asian culture.

Which I do all the time.

Fried pork burger over rice? Quintessentially Chinatown.
Hot dog chunks cut with bokchoi? Ditto.
"They" appropriate too.

Except, of course, they do it at home, and then sit in front of the teevee laughing at a Brit comedy series, or sumpin'.

I did fried noodles tonight. Bittermelon and bacon chowmein, with a grilled bockwurst. Totally Asian, no German or Englishman would recognize it. Ergo and therefore it's Asian, man.

Partially pancrisped, with chopped chilies, sambal, fermented bean paste, and garlic. I didn't want to use shrimp paste, as I wasn't aiming for a Filipino taste. And sure, a Chinese person would probably have used charsiu or siu yiuk instead of bacon, as well as scallion and ginger in lieu of garlic.
And absolutely no hot stuff. No chilies, no sambal.
They might omit the bockwurst entirely.

Do NOT omit the bockwurst! Life is better with bockwurst!

Sambal, by the way, is Dutch, Ceylonese, Malay, Indonesian, South African, Surinamese, Peranakan, and Dutch-American.
But as I know it, mostly Dutch.

I'm fairly sure bockwurst is German, not Chinese.

Probably hands down the worst example of cross-cultural mish-moshing was Martin Yan during the season when his sponsors were a soy sauce company, salted almonds, canned pineapple, tofu, and California Cheese. But I shall not call it cultural appropriation, because I cannot think of a single demographic to which it might appeal.
Well, maybe white people.

Anyhow, to conclude, I totally cooked Asian tonight.
Your food is now my food, I own it.
Chinese, you betcha.

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Two years ago E-kvetcher alerted me to a piece of music, oddly apropos of a lobster's demise. Which, naturally, leads me directly to my ex-girlfriend's conception of heresy. She is Chinese American, and does not take kindly to white people pulling the eastern spirituality shtick, or going all wheatgerm and gluten-intolerant about food. As just two examples.

Which I can well understand. Let's start with the fact that I can validly claim to be as Dutch as I am American, and consequently despise Dutch misconceptions about the United States as well as Americans who have spent three days stoned out of their tiny little pinhead gourds in Amsterdam and on that basis claim to know the Netherlands.

You are both wrong, and may be idiots.
[Gij zijt beiden verkeerd, en mogelijk dwazen.]

There were also the people who expressed the thought that, because I worked with so many Indians, I was in a position to absorb all kinds of mysticism and ancient wisdom.

Somehow just absorbing Murgh Makhni was not enough.
Clearly I was deficient, too materialistic.

No third eye.


Some things you just don't do. Stupid stuff that you know better than, going all Asian or Dutch or American Indian mysterioso crazy, pretending to be a special kind of enlightened, smoking aromatic pipe tobacco, writing shitty meaningful free-verse, being "artistic", and doing the "I was whatever exotic in a previous existence therefore I understand what it all really means" fakery.

Or messing around with a familiar piece of music.

My Ex loves Gilbert and Sullivan. To me, meh. It's okay, I suppose.
Not particularly fond of sprightly operettas in English.

She would be horrified by the following:



And she would be baffled. What is all that crap? Who could possibly find it entertaining? Remarkably I can think of SEVERAL people who would find it entertaining, including a few rabbis, yeshivists, Torah leyners, bookish types, and just general goofballs.

What we all have in common is that we don't take sprightly operettas very seriously, but do find philology and exegesis rather interesting. Linguistic stuff gives us secret pleasure. Oh thrill my heart.

My Ex would consider it frightful heresy.

Burn, heathens, burn.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016


A fellow pipe-smoker on Facebook is moving to Hong Kong, where his company will house him near the home office. He's being well-housed.
No, shan't mention where. Walking distance from both Goose Neck and Man Mo. I suggested that there are stretches of Hollywood Road which are good for lunting.

[Lunting: a verb of which I was unaware until about a year ago, meaning to stroll or wander about while smoking a pipe. From sixteenth century Dutch 'lont', which in context was a slow fuse or wick carried as a source of fire, rather than requiring flint and tinder. Even then there were anti-smoking nebbishes and shmendricks chasing the civilized man out of the house.]

A few years ago I posted a brief essay about Hollywood Road ("a place where all visitors end up at some point"), describing the meandering stretch from Aberdeen Street (鴨巴甸街) to Lok Ku Road (樂古道).
The Man Mo Temple is in that area, and there are antique shops.

Today I shall lunt.

I have no choice. My apartment mate took the day off, and is presently in her room sleeping while clutching her teddy bear. Surrounded by monkeys and very personable giant spider.

I am presently wondering if I should bring a book to read, as the place where I wish to enjoy a big bowl is facing the tennis court at Willie "Woo Woo" Wong, and one cannot spend half an hour just blanking. It's a nice quiet area on Hang Ah, and other than a rare wandering weirdo, and the constant clackity clack of mahjong tiles from the social clubs, there is nothing. Peaceful. Shaded. Benches.

I may not bring a book; it would be an encumbrance while grocery shopping afterwards, and it looks dreadfully old-hat and pretentious in this modern age. I already have one strike against me, as instead of fashionable sucking on a vape-instrument like a hip young fellow I smoke a pipe like an elderly relic. Add a tome to that, and the effect of a total dinosaur will be complete.

Gravitas coming out of the ears.

"Hi. I am old. I read Wittgenstein. Respex my authoritay!"

Followed, of course, by coughing in a pretentious manner, while making sure that everyone knows that I have suffered for my art, and am filled with existenz-angst. Mit einem sehr großen profundität.

Mostly, though, it's because it will be too damned warm to do much, it's a day off, and I wish to be lazy and day-dream about sex, rain, the typhoon season, the cooler parts of the world, panties, and what would happen if Donald Trump wandered into the La Brea Tar Pits.
Plus I am NOT old. Heaven forfend.
I have piss and vinegar.
I'm full of it.

I am the sprightly young buck gambolling in the mountain glade, the veritable hamster or bunny rabbit frisking in the tall grasses.
Insert an appropriate youth metaphor here.
And I am not at all grumpy.

Pastries. Milk tea. A gentle whisp of Perique tobacco on the breeze, combined with supportive Virginias, the smoldering leaf presenting a mysterious perfume, alluring incense from a previous time.

There are four types of bird by which the North-East quadrant of the city is marked: pigeons, crows, parrots, and seagulls. They each act different, and show character traits that identify them and make them charming.
If a relative of the dinosaur can be considered 'charming'.

Hang Ah has pigeons. TransAmerica Redwood Park has crows. Bierman and the Embarcadero have parrots and seagulls, and also a crow family keeping a watchful eye on an elderly relative who flies slow.

There are almost no pigeons in Portsmouth Square. Mostly just card-playing grannies and cheeky sparrows. And the occasional loon.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016


As it turns out, an Australian theme-restaurant that recalls the glory days of the British Empire has woken the ire of the internet world. British Colonial Co. said that it was "inspired by the empirical push into the developing cultures of the world". Social media was outraged. And social media, which features the underreported voice of right thinking white middle class liberals and wannabee white middle class liberals, promptly fired off hate mail, blistering sarcasm, and snide comments.


As am I.

They serve something containing quinoa!

"Seared Salmon, pont neuf potatoes, parsnip puree bacon crumb. Watermelon & Chilli Mojito. Chefs special "Goldband Snapper, clam vichyssoise, baby leeks & watercress". Smashed avo with beetroot hummus and dill oil. Chickpea coated baby squid, black pudding, molasses, pickled cucumber and kiwi chive salsa. Chicken, rosemary quince pate with apricot puree and sourdough. Middle eastern seven spice Cape Grim Sirloin, truffle smoked potato mash and iceberg and cornichon salad, Panko prawns with cucumber, mango & chilli salad and avocado mousse. The Imperial, a concoction of tequila, chamomile, lime juice, grapefruit and aperol. Rosewater melon, dragon fruit, pomegranate, rockmelon, strawberries, chia seeds & Saffron labneh. Tandoori braised beef cheek with Jewel quinoa, sweet potato purée, kale and been sprouts" ......

"Hickory smoked quail with tarragon polenta, African-influenced eggplant spinach sauce, and a taro and onion jam."

[SOURCE: their horrific Facebook page.]

Where's the Lady Curzon Soup, the Residency Curry, Groundnut Chop, Ball Curry over Coconut Rice, and Mango Fool?!?

The only appropriate drinks, by the way, are Scotch, Scotch and Soda, Gin and Tonic, Gin Pahit, and nimboo panee.

Condiments: ketchup, wooster.

Anyhow, if you're in the area (they're in  Syndey  Brisbane), please drop by for some tiffin. Especially if you need to get away from Spaghetti sandwiches, Snags, Pavlova, and Vegemite.

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Yes! The apartment mate left the house for work mere minutes ago, there is a cup of coffee balanced on a stack of books, I have firmly snecked her door and opened all the windows, managed to accidentally pee on my wifebeater, and am smoking a bowl of Queer Mud.
Those of you with willies will understand.

I will be doing a load of laundry today.
Queer Mud is a recent tobacco blending experiment.
The apartment mate is a non-smoking female with a teddy bear.

It has taken me a few decades, but I finally live like a disreputable teenage bachelor. Pipes, tobacco, coffee, and up before school hours on a daily basis.

I was actually planning to be married and a father of five children by now. Though still surrounded by pipes, tobacco, books, and coffee. I have had to make adjustments in my expectations. Things happened that weren't in the programme. For one thing, women issues. It turns out that I am NOT the type that women want. Imagine my surprise. I am not entirely happy about that, but I suppose the alternative might be a handbag-obsessed blonde suburbanite or a gluten-allergic dingbat with spirituality and idiot beliefs.
This is California.

Queer Mud consists of three Virginias and a little Perique. One of the Virginias is a darkish flake. Grassy notes, sweetness, and a little complexity. What stands out is the panoply of carotenoids.

It is a very long wife beater, it got in the way. I wasn't planning that.Unlike women, men don't sit down to pee, we gaily stand and let ourselves get distracted, rather than calmly thinking about and planning it out.

The tobacco is very nice.

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Monday, September 19, 2016


The moment greedy real estate developers have been praying for is finally upon us, and among San Francisco's political elite there is elation; Rose Pak is dead.
Passed away on Sunday, aged 68 years.

Unless someone else can blackmail politicians, we can write off Chinatown. The Six Companies, the various Chinese Chambers of Commerce, the clan associations, and the fraternal organizations, are too limp and comfortable playing by polite rules which gain their directors access to white society on occasion, to be effective, and mayor Ed Lee has never had it so good; he sees state office in his future and will try to ditch his background much like Bobby Jindal did in Louisiana.

Union Square merchants will probably waste no time pushing through their rancid plan to turn Stockton Street into a pedestrian parkway, which will strangle Chinatown and drive all those nasty poor people out.

By the way, the Central Subway won't help Chinatown at all; there's only ONE stop in the neighborhood. People will still need to take the bus, and delivery trucks will still need to transport goods.

The San Francisco big dicks have wanted to strangle the place since the earthquake in 1989. Now the sleaze-bags finally have their chance.

San Francisco politics: where erectile dysfunction and moral decay meet.

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Yesterday I ate a blueberry Danish for breakfast after getting to work early in the morning, and for a late lunch at around five I had a small chicken Caesar salad, a serving of coconut gelato, and some drinkable fruit yoghurt. In between were several cups of tea.
Before I left for Marin, and after I returned, some strong coffee.
The evening's snack -- no dinner, because of late lunch -- was half a mooncake; fruits, nuts, and a salty egg yolk.

Today, in the grim twilight before dawn and the effect of the first cup of coffee, it feels like all my moral failings have caught up to me.

I think it's the hot weather. Yesterday and the day before were warm, unseasonably so. I can't wait for global warming to get worse, so that the fog in San Francisco starts earlier, and lasts all the way through October.

Imagine everything between the bridge and Novato hued in grey.
Cool, velvet-limned, and silver in the shadows.
Soft and comforting, even at noon.

If the rainy season starts soon, that's fine by me.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016


Some people just don't deserve the good cigars. Their judgment is questionable, their tastes perverse, and their moral fibre dubious.
They intend to vote for Trump.

I like him, because his dog has a wonderful personality. That reflects well on the man, but he's not, strictly speaking, firmly moored in reality. I hope the dog keeps him out of trouble. Should give the dog the vote, as well as a credit card of its own.

The dog, unfortunately, does not smoke.

Far too many cigar-smokers of my acquaintance are Trumplodytes, or out and out batshit crazy. It seems like the moment they light up that big phallic symbol, their brain takes a back seat, and only serves to co-ordinate the various operative parts of their anatomy. Sometimes one is left wondering whether the thought that came out of their mouth originated in the testicles, or that little wrinkled hairy wet spot right underneath, where the jock itch is starting to eat its way upward.

I would like to say that pipe smokers are not like that, being a pipe smoker myself, but given that the majority of them habitually huff ghastly aromatic crap -- eighty percent of the pipe tobacco sold worldwide is cheap perfumed dreck, in the United States what most of them smoke is 1-Q, BCA, or Captain Black -- that argument cannot be supported.

So I am left with only ONE possible conclusion:


A horrible situation. If you lot are going to share my world, y'all need to shape up. Get your minds out of the trailer park, and eventually your bodies may follow. Do a crossword puzzle occasionally to stay limber. Try learning something new everyday, and study a little bit of real science.
Eat something that does not include bacon and cheese.
Lay off the coffee; you won't talk as much.
Maybe even think before you speak.

Turn off your teevees.

And if you ARE going to smoke a pipe, for crapsakes do NOT fall for an aromatic mixture. Anything that identifies itself with the words 'cavendish', 'tropical', 'vanilla', 'caramel', 'honey dew', 'hazelnut', 'very cherry', 'mango', 'chocolate', 'black forest', 'maple', 'peaches and cream', 'buttered rum', 'heather honey surprise', 'pumpin spice', 'watermelon', or "prepare for an exotic taste of heaven", should not be in your pipes or your life.

Even if you have married a tacky blonde with Hello Kitty tastes.

Learn these words: bright Virginia, red Virginia, brown Virginia, toasted Virginia, black stoved Virginia, Kentucky fire-cured, unflavoured Burley ribbon, Perique, Turkish, Oriental leaf, Latakia, Maryland, flake, and Donald Trump is a rancid caveman with a dead ferret on his brow.

Life will be better.

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In the United States, at present, there is discussion of Islam and Muslims. Regrettably the loudest voices are also the most ignorant. Much is made of the role of women in Islamic society.

"Even a cursory student of Islamic history knows that all the trappings of gender inequality present in the Muslim society have socio-economic and cultural as opposed to religious roots."

-----Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Emir of Kano, Muslim scholar and Sharia expert, Sheikh of the Tijaniyyah Sufi order.

Years ago an acquaintance of mine -- by no means a friend, or by any stretch someone whom I would willingly socialize with again -- insisted that because genital mutilation was common among some Muslim peoples, it was normative and de rigueur among all, and that therefore all discussion of Islam had to focus first and foremost on the clitoris.

She disapproved of Islam.

I think she may have realized that we were at different points on the map when I indicated that while I would gladly go on at very great length about the clitoris, I preferred to do that in a lighthearted and perhaps affectionate way, rather than in the context of discussing religion. Any religion.

I also said at the time that while discussing clitorides was a indeed fond habit of mine, there was no way in hell I would allow her to mention hers.

It has been a long time since I discussed such things.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016


Yesterday I exchanged pleasantries with nine women and two men while doing errands. Which is NOT the proportion of either gender in the city, NOR does it reflect planning on my part. But I did smoke two pipefulls of something dark and stinky while I was out and about.
That WAS according to the plan.

Hours later, and after two or three handwashings, my fingers still smelled faintly of Latakia and resinous Turk. Yes, I had eaten various dimsum items, drank coffee, handled vegetables, enjoyed milk-tea and a pastry, went home and ate a dinner-time snack, and had some more coffee.
My nimble digits still smelled profoundly sexual.
The enticing aroma of Latakia adhering.
Suggestive, and erotic.

Okay, I'll admit it. I am a pervert. Anyone who associates the fragrance of Oriental leaf with naughty business is depraved. Good thing the women I encountered had NO idea what was going on in my nose. They would've been shocked, possibly too much to say 'howdy'.
And despite my inner rancifididity, I like saying 'howdy'.
I have very little else in the way of social life.


Years ago I used to make hotsauce as a side venture to my daytime job. This often involved several pounds of Habaneros. I never used gloves, because despite the burning one needs to feel what one is doing with the knife: cut off the stem, slice the pepper open, examine for rot or mold, chuck it in the blender, pick of the next fresh crisp washed pepper .....

Bathroom break: wash hands thoroughly, head down the hall. Go back to kitchen, turn around abruptly in mid-stride, and spend the next forty plus minutes curled up under a cold shower.

Then resume labour in kitchen.

La la la .....

Take care not to touch anyone, nor stroke any silken cheeks or chins, for at least a day following chilies. Don't pet dogs or cats.

My hands are weapons of mass destruction. These are the terrifying claws of nightmare, the world will never be the same. Life as you know it will end, this is the rising of the beast .....

The lingering oils of chilipeppers are not a problem if one is devouring an entire bag of potato chips. It adds to the experience, even completes it. On the other hand, a smell of Latakia tobacco is discordant under those circumstances. One does NOT expect potato chips to smell like naughty business with a hot smoking mama.

On a third hand, it is ALWAYS better to have Latakia digits when dealing with women. You do not need to know why.
Who knows, they might actually like it.

Women are kind of sensitive.

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Friday, September 16, 2016


Yesterday a friend wandered in, saw the reprehensibles congregated in the backroom, decided that they would not improve his mood, and wandered out again. But before leaving he offered me some John Cotton's No. 1 from a cutter tin he had recently opened. Whenever he stops by he always has an antique tobacco to share, which I appreciate enormously. It's like having a misguided tour of the past, revisiting old landmarks.

My tastes in many things were formed during my misspent youth, during which I worked at a tobacconist in Berkeley (Drucquer & Sons) that my father and my uncle had patronized when they were going to school. My father had introduced it to me when we visited The States by dryly remarking that it was a kind of snooty place, I might like it.

I did.

More than the offering of tobaccos, however, was the atmosphere (old world, colonial products, opinionated people), and the chance it gave me to wean myself of homesickness by stinking in the manner to which I had become accustomed (Latakia mixtures plus bizarre experiments with straight leaf), and develop my tastes under the benign tutelage of a short strong-minded Chinese woman who read a lot, discussed music with one of the patrons (Jack Gail), and held her own decisively in conversation, especially with the rather jovial collegiate men who drifted in on Saturday afternoon.

I may have partially repaid those lessons by introducing her to the finest Chinese teas, and advising her to visit Amsterdam and Brussels.
As well as teaching her about Indonesian coffee beans.
In those days I was a little eccentric.

Oh, plus pottery, Chinese seals, and I-Hsing teapots.

Eventually I floated out of Berkeley's orbit. Drucquers got sold, Greg Pease worked there a number of years, left, and finally the place closed. People hardly smoke pipes in this age, and though it was legendary, it was unhip in the extreme. Today, tobacco is a black sheep and a political hot potato.
Merchants like Drucquer & Sons aren't suited to the present age.
Tobacconists everywhere are disappearing.
Because of do-gooders.

"Will no one think about the children!?!"

Oh bugger the little brutes! If they smoked pipes and fine cigars, they'd be a lot better than playing video games all day and bullying their more geeky classmates! Besides, most children are little disease vectors, and unfit for civilized society until they've been vaccinated, spanked, taught some manners, and have started getting over their juvenile conceit!
The first step is weaning them away from vapors.
As well as fruity aromatics.

But enough about your loathsome offspring.

Berkeley was at one point the nexus of the universe. Bookstores, coffee, tobacco ... one did not see the pot, patchouli, and self-impressed intellectual failures with gluten allergies that are there now.
It was once a charming place.

Dunhill 965, Black Mallory, Robert McConnell, Constantinople, State Express London Mixture, John Cotton, Capstan ...
[And of course Balkan Sobranie; you knew I was going to mention it.]

The store was in an elongated space, narrow and deep. Main shop floor, humidor, office, blending room, and both miscellaneous storage as well as pipe restoration in the back. I spent hours working on pipes, wandering out occasionally for fresh air, or to talk with Cara and Alice over their bins of tobacco, to grab a cigar, to grab lunch. In the evening two or three of us would stay in the office, where the owner (Robert Rex) kept the hundreds of pipes that weren't on display in his home.
I once outmanoeuvred him on a Comoy Blue Riband, which I still own. But he had some spectacular Dunhills just strewn higgledy-piggledy on the cluttered shelf above his desk; a veritable museum of briar.

By the time I had been there a few weeks I no longer noticed the smell of tobaccos nearly as much. Like with the wonderful aroma of the Indian Restaurant, it had faded into the odour-equivalent of white noise.

During the next few years I read books by Marguerite Yourcenar, Willa Cather, Edward H. Schafer, Herlee Glesner Creel, Wyndham Lewis, Evelyn Waugh, Faulkner, and Proust. My first introduction to O'Henry, and a very fond revisiting of De Spaanschen Brabander by Bredero, as well as finally learning to appreciate Vondel, occurred at that time, as well as a brief flurry of interest in noted literary man Suffridus Sixtinus.

It was an educational interlude.

[No, I shall not detail Donald's friend Elizabeth, who smoked cigars and occasionally a pipe. She collected guns and drank Old Grand Dad; altogether a very exciting girl.
Sparkling, vivacious, and commendably stubborn.]

Tea. Coffee. Scotch Whisky. Pipe tobacco. The office in the back of the shop. The stacks of the university library. Bookstores on Telegraph Avenue. Caffè Mediterraneum. Dwinelle Hall, Sather Gate, Moffit, and the campus redwoods.

I was a very blinkered person.

In the years since, I have lived in Berkeley, Oakland, Alhambra, Monterrey Park, and San Francisco. I have travelled a bit -- South East Asia, Canada, Europe -- and had a long-term relationship. Which ended. Dammit.
Yes, I am older. But I still read, smoke pipes, and drink tea.
Time has not weighed heavily upon me.

I've probably not matured very much. A bachelor again, I have become the still feisty and disreputable uncle you should never trust around your kids, as I will introduce them to tobacco and a well-rounded vocabulary, and may very well plant mind-worms in their impressionable little heads.

At the very least they'll end up with broader tastes in literature, putting hot sauce on everything, and turning into bright young ladies with a marked affection for gluten, roast duck, cigars, and fine pipe tobacco.
As well as the individuals who still enjoy those things.

They won't be safe for the suburbs.

Something Greg Pease said about bringing back the old Drucquers blends stimulated this revisiting of the past, and the years in between. As well as all the nose memories of that time. I wonder if he has found a replacement for the Black Virginia that went into the Arcadia mixture?
Levant, Trafalgar, Red Lion, Blend 805 ...

I used to smoke Royal Ransom a lot.
An over-indulgence in Latakia.
Deep reeky perfume.


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Sometimes the mature man has to wait until the female person who lives in the room next door has finished using the bathroom. It is the gentlemanly thing to do, especially when you consider that she has to go to work today, and I don't. Even though her dawdling is sheer torture.

A gentleman keeps it all inside.

Self-control, boyo.



I had great gobs of hot sauce yesterday.
Then a huge bowl of icecream.

But am I panicking?

Hoo hah!

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Thursday, September 15, 2016


Only now do I realize that I have keenly honed Pavlovian reactions. On Facebook, Mister Pease mentioned an unfavourable review of one of his smoking mixtures by Pinko, and I automatically reached over to sniff deeply of an open tin of Abingdon. The label clarifies that it is a "full Balkan style blend with a generous measure of Cyprian Latakia, seasoned with fine red and yellow Virginia tobaccos, and enhanced with rich oriental leaf".
It smells assertive and sexy. And bold and stylish.
If a woman smelled like this, I'd melt.
Oh honey. Mmmmm.

Then I saw what Ms. Walters had written on a different page.

"I've had 3 salads this week dammit I should be as skinny as a toothpick by now!"

Without a moment's pause I headed into the kitchen to see if there was any bacon in the fridge. Honest truth, the mere mention of salad made me immediately desire bacon. Because there is NO other point to salad.
It's a lovely support for three rashers of hot bacon.
Crispy and just dripping savoury goodness.
And some of the pan grease.

Heck, you could use ALL of the pan grease if you put the green stuff and the bacon between two slices of sourdough. Just add a sploodge of Sriracha hotsauce, some mayo, and it's healthy, high in fibre.

There is no bacon! We are undone!

But there are FOUR tubs of icecream in the freezer. Four. My apartment mate had a menstrual episode recently, which explains that. From bitter experience I know that too much icecream -- especially on an empty stomach -- does funky things to the digestive system.
I should have something else to eat first.

I think I'll have a burrito at the Mexican place around the corner. Carnitas, guack, and extra queso. Plus gobs of the roasted hot chili salsa.

I shall not go to work tomorrow.
The apartment will be empty.
I can take the risk.

If anything happens, I'll blame Ms. Walters. I got a bacon vibe all the way from North Carolina. I'm in California. Powerful. It's her fault.

The first pipe of the day will be Abingdon (dating from 2013). Then a big bowlful of John Cotton's No. 1 from a cutter tin after that.
Lunch, and a Virginia Perique to go with my tea.
Maybe there will be bacon by then.

Salad. It's evil.


It was delicious! Now I am biding my time patiently, till my apartment mate goes to sleep, and I may raid the icecream without hindrance. There's chocolate chip, dark chocolate, strawberry, and sea salt caramel.

Don't want to shock her. Or cause her to think that I am gluttonous and lack self-control. I am a man of restraint, got tonnes of self-control.

Just going to wait until she's asleep.


She's switched channels, darn it. September is Diamonique® month! And she's giggling over really tacky jewelry. I think I'll have a cigarillo outside.


Aaaargh! Now she's watching reality blondes and making evil comments!


Channel surfing.


Icecream is within reach!


Some icecream fell in my shoe.

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A while ago I closed down my account on a dating site, after no nibbles and a marked lack of interest by the women there, which I responded to in kind. Women on dating sites seem to be entirely interested in physically fit specimens who watch their diet, don't smoke, are financially more than comfortable, and willing to drop it all for a trip rafting down the Amazon.

How about a man with a leg that sometimes hurts, likes roast duck, smokes a pipe, and considers the Amazon overrated?
For whom 'adventure' is a new snackipoo?
Crunchy, crusty, flaky?


I guess threatening to bulldoze the entire blooming Brazilian rain forest is right out then.



Cup of milk-tea and a snarky attitude?

Apparently not. An internet quiz produced this startling result: "Like a molten lava cake, you just ooze sex appeal". Which I am sure applies only and entirely to my evil twin, rather than to me.

The oozing part may be a sebaceous cyst.

As far as I know, there is not a single venue in the Amazonian Jungle that vends milk-tea of any kind, and all the nice women from San Francisco tromping around would probably object fiercely to any one smoking. It's foul! How many natives did you have to enslave for that bowl of Samuel Gawith St. James Flake, you horrid unspiritual person?!?

This blogger is perfectly happy spending his time with briar pipes and good tobacco, occasionally a snackipoo and some milk-tea, and exploring the Mato Grosso only in books and on you-tube.

Bugger the Amazon.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016


In San Francisco we pride ourselves on some of the most innovative and exquisite food in the planet. We boast about our fine dining, why, we've practically re-invented cuisine! Of course most of us can't afford it, and have no intention whatsoever of getting dressed up to spend two hundred dollars on three slices of barely grilled ox tenderloin with a raspberry vinegar and goji berry demiglaze, arrayed on a bed of the cutest little baby kale.
With three perfect nasturtiums accenting the elegant plate.
Three and three; it's an ironic gestalt.
Or something.

How about fresh shiitake and wild boar suimai with truffle oil.
Also on a bed of the cutest little baby kale.
"Artisanally" steamed.

We suspect that all of California Cuisine is just a very cleverly disguised attempt to get us to blow our salary on pretentious little baby vegetables. Because you can get twice as many crops out of a field if you never let the plants grow to adulthood. Let's face it; baby vegetables are the non-meat equivalent of veal.

Alice Waters has a lot to answer for.

Oh look! There's some cold-pressed coffee!
It's ethically sourced!
And green!

The rest of the world is not like that.





Yesterday I had a HK-style club sandwich at Wing Hing (a bakery and chachanteng in Chinatown). Behind me, several women were eating bittermelon and fish over rice. Three seats down a grumpy man slurped noodles. A mother at another table fed her kids cake and fried rice.

[What made it a Hong Kong style club? Lettuce, tomato, ham, bacon, cheese, and A FRIED EGG. It is not hoity-toity. The drink of choice is milk-tea, which is strong and sweet. Also not hoity. A lot of milk-tea was drunk by various people. One person was noshing on soy sauce chicken wings and grapes.]

At Sam's in the evening I bumped into Kurin and three friends celebrating the birthday of one of them, by having burgers after going out drinking. They left shortly after the bookseller arrived, and while he was enjoying his plate of fried food, Joe came in for a burger.

[Also mentioned were pizza, bratwurst, quesadillas, beer, and sauerkraut. Plus the 'Little Miss Mayhem Junior Chainsaw', which is a toy for girls in the eleven to thirteen range that never got off the ground. Non-competitive, encourages role-playing, and sparks the imagination. With butterfly decals. Sriracha hot sauce on everything.]

I do not know what I am going to have for lunch in a few hours. It might be roast duck, it might be something soupy or crunchy.
It will not contain baby vegetables.

It might be sarson da saag and makki di roti.

Maybe tapioca balls and fruit juice.

But it will be very real.

Screw kale.

Marinites, bankers, and rich people from the tech industry eat at our finest restaurants. The rest of us happily make do with the proletarian stuff that they won't touch. We wouldn't be caught dead spending so much for pretentious dickwad chow. Food is food; seeing how far you can push the envelope on ingredients and snob-appeal is not food.

One of these days we will shoot all of our star chefs.
As well as the people to whom they cater.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016


While helping the woman replace her light bulbs -- because she's shorter than a white guy, and her arms don't go up as high -- something could be seen on the carpet in her room. Now, two things need to be mentioned:
1) we actually need a longer ladder, as three treads is barely better than a step-stool, which is why I am the designated light bulb in-screwer; and
2) we tried it yesterday evening when I came home, at which point we learned that not all bulbs are equal.

But it was after nightfall, so I didn't notice what was on the carpet.

Which is subtle enough that daylight is necessary.

Today it could clearly be seen.

Cootch powder.

That being what she calls it.

Which suggests that instant everything just add water has made great strides since my youth (back in the dark ages). The woman drops her bathrobe in one spot, then employs the miracle powder.

This is more than you wanted to know, I bet.

Dried cootch; more fibre, less gluten.

My mind is running rampant.

I've got ideas.


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Mordechai posits that the American breakfast is sugar, cereal, and with the addition of dairy, damned close to dessert. Several readers throw variations on that theme into the mix. And, nutritionally, they are indeed on the right track. Except, of course, for the pesky little fact that American cereals are absolutely disgusting, and the very idea of eating that crap would send me screaming out of the house into the rain storm.

Froooooooooooooooot. Loooooooooooooooops.

The ideal breakfast, as everyone knows, wakes you up without stressing you out, and renders you calm, rational, even keeled, and ready to courageously face the day.

Two cups of coffee, cigarillos, and bleakness.

The English, I believe (and it has also been my experience, so it is more than just a figment of faith) have various substances seethed in bacon fat, including sliced tomato, and the Dutch eat bread and cheese or smoked meats. The rest of Western Europe indulges in fresh rolls and Hero-brand jam, with your choice of coffee or chocolate. And maybe a hard-boiled egg, for the adventurous and lower class.

Two cups of coffee, cigarillos, and bleakness.

Many Chinese have jook (rice porridge), with or without fried dough, and soy milk. The soy milk upsets the stomach, the jook (which only the Cantonese know how to make properly) then soothes the aggravated membranes.
Jook is light lunch or midnight snack food anyhow.

Sometimes the Cantonese have lots of little snackies and a huge amount of tea. Which shows that they aren't committed to morning suffering, and explains why a dim sum teahouse is, at the best of times, bedlam.
They're wired to the gills, and in flavour country!

There you are, stumbling about after your two cups of coffee, cigarillos, and bleakness, when you come across a popping establishment filled with many excited people in the middle of Ngau Tau Kok (牛頭角).
You decide what the heck why not baptism by fire.

Perhaps an hour later you leave, belching, and contemplating the first pipe of the day. You are happier than you have been since dawn, your ears are ringing, you have had a vibrant discussion with four complete strangers about Hollywood movies that provided startling insights, and now some Rattray's Old Gowrie, fully rubbed out, in the Peterson bent bulldog, seems like a dang good idea. You light up behind a row of bins (yellow for drink cans, red for glass and plastic bottles, and blue for paper).

You wonder what's for lunch, in about six hours.

Life is good.

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Monday, September 12, 2016


While waiting for the bus this morning I imagined myself as a woman. Not with a view towards gender-shifting, you will understand, but as a different consciousness become flesh under other circumstances. It's a mental exercise. Spending quality time with the speculative soul within.
What would I have been like had I been born a woman?
Oh heck, what if I were younger too?
Barely post doctorate?

I think I should have majored in geology. Something scientific and real, but without too many opinionated men of the oafish persuasion.

I'd probably be short and somewhat scowly, like a pugnacious raccoon. On a day like today I would have left the house wearing a navy-blue skirt, and a sportscoat over an oxford cloth shirt (not a blouse). After a hearty breakfast, and strong coffee. And I would be bitterly resentful of the need to NOT smell like cigars, much as I would have preferred to indulge in a short perfecto. Perhaps an 'Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature Maduro', with a second cup of coffee.

Dawdle, dawdle, dawdle.

I like skirts; they're more feminine and less butt-revealing than pants, and quite frankly, I hate blue jeans. I need something that clarifies that I am a woman, seeing as I f*cking well refuse to smear make-up all over my face. None of that femmy sh*t for me.

A cigar, slowly smoked while admiring the dust motes dancing in a beam of sunlight, at the kitchen table with the New York Times. Ah, heaven!

The Perfecto vitola: so piss-elegant, but so very very real.

Instead, I'm probably heading toward the weekly meeting with the noodgy cow who heads the department, the one with pictures of little babies in Hello Kitty frames on her desk, and the plastic angel statue.
And those odious suburban women in the front office.
Painted superficial dimwits.

If I had a pet, it would probably be a cat. As an ironic counter point to all those women who have dogs. Especially chihuahua-types, AND also the women who choose big dogs like retrievers or German shepherds, because they desperately want to be taken seriously.
An angry black tomcat named 'Boris'.
Who scratches strangers.
Not cuddly.

The bus to Marin came just as I got to the good part; explaining that eating salad for lunch was a p*ss-poor substitute for real food.
To someone who was actually eating salad.
And feigning enjoyment.

If I were a woman, I might imagine myself as a man.
Or not.

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The fog never left the ridge-line above Marin City, and the sky remained leaden throughout the day. It was cold and windy when I caught the bus back to city, and once home I hardly ventured out at all. Except for two bowls of tobacco. One before dinner, while scurrying around the neighborhood, once after while digesting fried noodles with hot sauce, shrimp paste, crunchy sliced bitter vegetables, and a grilled bockwurst, plus a cup of coffee.

Call it "fusion cuisine" if you will. The hotsauce stood in for tomatoes, the shrimp paste for anchovies, and the crunchy vegetables could have been freshly picked garden greens but weren't. So it was Italian. An Italian would've recognized it as food. Possible Roman.

The bockwurst is another matter. I'm not sure that Italians recognize anything German as edible. Germans go south to enjoy life .....
But Italians seldom go north for any reason.

I was recovering from Mill Valley.
Putting it out of my mind.


There is nothing near the Marin City bus stop that anybody would identify as food. Boo-King and Panda Xpress.

The Strawberry Village area is equally depressing, but largely without a place for a chilled 72 ounce softdrink, because they're up-scale. In between those two locales is Pickleweed Slough. Gas station convenience stores, Mickey D's, and Seven-Eleven.
Plus a generic sushi restaurant.

There is an Italian restaurant near a bus stop in Sausalito, which blazoons that it has gluten-free pasta and pizza. With that assertion, they loose every shred of Apennine street-cred they ever had.

My best thought while sojourning in Marin was "Broccoli Pineapple Tofulato Frozen Non-Diary Dessert", for the crowd that drinks kale shakes and hates lactose, gluten, highly refined sugar, and everything else. I should write a business plan, then sell the whole idea to a group of investors.
It will probably do fabulously well in Marin County.
But I wouldn't want to meet the customers.
Icky spiritual vegan freaks.

"Gourmet 'bro-napple' non-dairy treat! Made deep in the Amazon! Part of the proceeds go to dolphins!"

The best Marin restaurants are in San Francisco.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016


Sometimes you really have to wonder what Big Brother was thinking. And, specifically, IF they thought. No, this isn't about raising the age of tobacco to twenty-one, or open carry laws, or even about laws still on the books that allow a man to whip his slave (or indentured servant) if said slave (or indentured servant) uses church as an excuse to shirk.

Big Brother in The South is moronic.

As well as conservative.


"Between 2004 and 2013, around 4,500 children under the age of 18 got married in the state of Virginia. Of these girls, more than 200 of them were aged 15 or under."

"Last week, the authorities in the state introduced new legislation that updated rules that had until then made it legal for girls aged 12 or 13 to get married if they had parental consent and were pregnant."
End cite.

[SOURCE: Virginia introduces law to stop 12-year-old girls getting married.]

Let that sink in for a moment.

Now think of the conversational abilities of the average teenage girl.

What kind of marriage is it if one of them is a rancid degenerate and the other a complete idiot? And why on earth would Big Brother, even in the deepest gorhalpus South, think that those two getting hitched could possibly be a good idea?

Why was this legal up till now?

Okay, I can understand back in the Stone Age, when folks in Virginia ran around in bear skin loincloths, and immense poverty drove them to find a suitable adult who would support their daughter, rather than selling her to the parish priest for sacrifice, but surely that law could have and should have been changed over a hundred years ago? Two hundred years ago?

Were y'all really that desperate to get the little twit out of the house so you wouldn't have to hear her squealing "OMG", or "gag me with a spoon, fershure"?

It's probably worse in one of those buttery drawls.

Anyhoooo, welcome and congratulations on finally joining the Twentieth Century (don't look now, but there's another one right behind it), and thank you for finally biting that bullet.

The great state of Virginia will doubtless be a better place for it.

Next: Indentured servitude - bad for the economy?

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There are preachers in this great country of ours who search the internet for Sunday Sermon material. They are desperate to compete with today's Christian Luminaries like Trump and Bachman. They have to come up with something. Their parishioners are demanding e-phone ports and rechargers in the pews.

Rest assured, fierce kindly men of God.


What that actually means is that I have mentioned the founder of your faith far more than the second coming, which is Trump (Michele Bachmann stands in for Mary Magdalene).

I love Christians, I really do. And they improve the real estate values, why, they benefit almost any neighborhood. Just think of what they'd do for the Midwest and The Deep South!

Except Texas. Texas has oil.

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Saturday, September 10, 2016


The most popular social media platform in the world got slammed the other day because in a fit of prudery they took down a post by a reporter for a Scandinavian newspaper that featured Napalm Girl. Which, as I'm sure you will recall, is the iconic photo from the Vietnam War showing a naked tyke grievously wounded by flammatory substances used by the United States Armed Forces running down the road screaming in agony and terror.

It was the nudity.

But apparently removing that picture was censorship run amuck.

In consequence, right thinking people everywhere are dumping on Mark Zuckerbook massively, incensed that part of their childhood has been destroyed, why the nerve of that man! Please note that I do not have to reproduce the picture here, because you have already seen it.

I rely on Facebook for contact with the world and links to news as much as any one, and probably more than many of my friends, real or virtual.
Aleppo, Kaepernick, Nice, massive Indian strike, the idiocy of cleansing diets, Netanyahu, Star Trek, basselopes ...

The Squirrel of Judgment wondering why you aren't creating art ...

Plus Trump, and Irfan's courageous quest to eat photogenic treats at every hour of the day; there may be drag queens in either picture.

If it weren't for Facebook, I would probably have less of a social life than you can imagine -- because abso everybody else is tweeting or texting or sharing kitten pictures -- and also be far less exposed to news articles, history, art, music, cogent analyses of politics and events world-wide.
I have come to rely on Facebook as an essential Fourth Estate.
And Fifth Column.

I knew about Aleppo for a long time, of course. But thanks to Facebook, now almost everybody else knows too. Admit it, some of you thought it was a racehorse.

Ei aleppo. Tu aleppas. El / Ella aleppa. Ei aleppé. Tu aleppe. El / Ella aleppó. Ei aleppado. Tu / El / Ella aleppado. ...

Facebook has come to be the rational and informed person's interface with the world. We use it for information and selective outrage, and it's so cute that advertisers pay for it, imagining that we actually read their blurble.

Oh yeah. Kitten pictures. If only the New York Times or the Süddeutsche Zeitung interspersed their dense blocks of text with kitten pictures, their readership would skyrocket.

The only other site I use as much is Wikipedia.
Knowledge literally at my finger tips.
Sometimes regurged here.

Actually, I sometimes miss the STRONGLY worded letters to the editor, but the audible mumbling more than makes up for that.

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Friday, September 09, 2016


The moon festival is a Chinese celebration on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. This year it will be September 15. There's a whole bucket load of meaning and symbolism to the event, most of which you do not need to know, and would not pay any heed to whatsoever anyway.

So, in short, here are the most important things to keep in mind:


中秋節 ('jung chau jit')

Over three thousand years of tradition, worship in gratitude for the harvest.
Full moon.
There are stories.
Family togetherness.
Revolt against the foreigners.
Eat mooncakes.


月餅 ('yuet bing')

Mooncakes can be made with any number of fillings. Often they will contain a salted duck egg yolk, which makes them richer and adds complexity to the sweetness. Very delicious!

There are four kinds that in my mind you should consider:

單黃蓮蓉 ('daan wong lin yung'): single yolk lotus seed paste.
雙黃蓮蓉 ('seung wong lin yung'): double yolk lotus seed paste.
單黃豆沙 ('daan wong dau saa'): single yolk red bean paste.
雙黃豆沙 ('seung wong dau saa'): double yolk red bean paste.

Yes there are many others. And regional variations. But start with these.

Where might you buy them?

餅家 ('bing kaa') 

永興餅家茶餐廳 ('wing hing bing ka tsa tsan teng')
1068 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 981-0123

東亞餅家 ('tung ah bing ka')
720 Grant Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 433-7973

Both bakeries are famous for their mooncakes. The AA also has Hong Kong style milk-tea (港式奶茶 'gong sik naai chaa'), the Eastern is, additionally, famous for their coffee crunch cake.

Every bakery in Chinatown will have mooncakes.
Don't worry, you won't be left yearning.

If you do not have a chance to head into Chinatown, you can also purchase tins with four cakes apiece, made by several companies, available at many Chinese grocery stores out in the Richmond or Sunset.
A well-know imported brand is Wing Wah (榮華 、榮華餅家), from a company located in Yuen Long (元朗) in the New Territories.
Many people look forward to a tin.
It's a celebration.

I myself will NOT be buying a tin of mooncakes this year, as I am single, not particularly festive, and I feel fat.

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My apartment mate likes to eat with her boyfriend Wheelie Boy. And to that end, she cooks frequently. Which means that I have to stay out of the kitchen. This should not be a problem, except that there are occasions when I also would like to eat, and do NOT wish to go out for a burrito, no matter how scrumptious.

She cooked last night. I have NO idea when Wheelie Boy will enjoy the Tarragon Chicken, the fire-roasted vegetables, the pasta with pesto, or the mushroom whatever that dish is (his micro wave will let him know).

By the time I was ravenous the kitchen was still occupied.

The whole apartment smelled utterly delicious.

The Mexican place was closed.

I am not the kind of person who lets hunger dominate his life. Hah! Food means nothing to me! At my age I've tasted it all before. Far, I say far, be it from me to grouchily sit in front of my computer endlessly playing food videos. Ich habe keine existenzangst.
Did I already mention that I have superhuman tolerance, and am saintly and calm? At all times?



This song has NO connection to the hunger, or the realization that eating alone is altogether miserable and unappealing.

Nor do I have any clue what the lyrics mean.

The song is a Russian criminal-type chanson, and sounds evocative of struggle and frustration. Plus it has a catchy beat.

Tarragon Chicken, fire-roasted vegetables, pasta with pesto.
And a mushroom whatever that was.

I have never had Tarragon Chicken.

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