Wednesday, October 31, 2007



"Going through menopause is bad enough without being a murder suspect!"


Be glad the same person did not scream "no... more... wire... hangers... EVER!"
Now, have a happy Halloween. And remember, trick-or-treaters love smokes, yes they do.


This particular pipe-tobacco is the chimera of tobaccos, now that it has been out of production for over a decade. It is the holy grail of Balkan Mixtures (English style heavy Latakia blends with a very noticeable share of Oriental (Turkish) leaf - all together marvelously stinky).

I first encountered it while living in a small town in Northern Brabant, and was immediately hooked. It was rich, reeky, and leathery-tweedy-bookshelvey. The first tobacco that gave such a deep, resinous, and smokey flavour.

It was of course also the one tobacco that more than any other distressed people around me. My parents did not object, and I think my father actually liked the smell, being an erstwhile pipe-smoker himself. But classmates, fellow patrons of bars and cafes, kvetchedikke strangers - all saw fit to explain to me what an anti-social sinner I was and how the civilized world despaired of my presence (which may have been only partly true at that time, but has since pretty much become a self-fulfilling prophecy).

That was also the time in which I became fond of certain teas - Assam, Ceylon, Lapsang Souchong.

I associate Latakia tobacco and strong tea with autumn.

Last week was oddly warm, after the wetness of the preceding week. This week is oddly cold, and bitterly grim. Every morning has been grey, foggy, mist on the tops of San Francisco hills. Cold during much of the day. Arrogantly threatening rain, but not following through. An expression of climatic despondence.
Precisely the kind of weather in which to load up a pipe with Balkan Sobranie, sink into an armchair and read, and enjoy a nice cup of strong tea. I really wish I could do that throughout the long afternoon and into a long twilight. But by the time I get home it will be dark - twilight is too fast here.



Once I get home I will prepare strong tea. And smoke some of Cornell and Diehl's Red Odessa.

[Red Odessa is a variant on their Odessa mixture, made with Red Virginia instead of Burley. It is a straightforward, profoundly old-fashioned English Blend. Very wonderful.]

I may even go out later and taunt some of the neighbors with my smoke.



Balkan Sobranie Original Mixture was probably around 36 percent Latakia (Syrian), 24 percent Yenidje (Turkish), and the remainder pressed Virginia with some Maryland, and perhaps a stoved Virginia or a black ribbon.

For the soggy note of aged Virginia matched with Latakia, try Germain's King Charles Mixture, Royal Jersey Latakia Mixture, or Esoterica's And So To Bed.

For that resinous Oriental perfume, try Dunhill's Durbar Mixture, or to a much lesser extent, London Mixture.

For the interplay of Latakia and Oriental supported by Virginias, try GLPease's Westminster or Cornell & Diehl's 968R (Red Odessa).

Bill Bailey's Balkan Blend will please your palate and displease your wife. Latakia, Turkish, Virginia, and fire-cured Kentucky. Robust. Rank. Rambunctious. A recommendation.

NOTE as of October 21, 2012:
The proportions of Turkish and Latakia have now been corrected to reflect the Balkan Sobranie Mixture during the Gallagher regime, which is what most smokers will have in their memory, that being what was available for the last decade that the product was available. The quality of the leaf was not as good as it had been, and the recipe had been "simplified". And keep in mind that in the Seventies, before Gallagher took over and while it was still made in England, Latakia was fifty percent of the blend - a different time, and a different style of tobacco.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Wednesday, October 30th. 2007
[Posted at 8:05, at the moment of a rather disturbing earthquake. Over a dozen floors up. Oy.]

Rabbosai, please expand the definition of 'Prisoner of Zion' (Asserei Tzion).
In the past, the term was specifically applied to people who were imprisoned or exiled because of Zionist activity, such being illegal in the country where they were imprisoned or exiled.

A Jewish soldier, in the hands of Hamas or Hezbollah, should surely qualify also.


Being a Jew and a soldier of the IDF stamps them as Zionists, especially in the eyes of Hamas and Hezbollah - and the eyes of Saudi Arabia and Iran, those being the paymasters of those two terrorist entities respectively.

They are not prisoners of war - they were not captured but kidnapped, and not by a military or a foreign power, but by gangsters claiming a political cause. They are not treated as prisoners of war, but held in secret locations, denied visits by the red-cross, and denied access to religious support.


At five thirty this afternoon, at Montgomery and Market Streets in downtown San Francisco, while the commuters streamed past on their way home, we gathered to keep alive the memories of these men, as indeed we hope that they are still alive. We held up posters of their faces and signs with their names, we held flags and handed out literature. We spoke about them, and read aloud from material describing what they were like, and how their families and friends related to them, in order that they cease being just names, but become people to those willing to listen - so that the listeners could think of them as people, as individuals, as members of families, with friends who cared about them, classmates and companions who knew them, parents and siblings who loved them.

People. Not just names. Not just dry data in an ongoing polemic.


There were thirty of us. After speaking of Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Ehud Goldwasser, we recited Psalm 70 in Hebrew and English. We held candles, and in the darkening street we spoke with each other. Some of us come to nearly every event, others are limited by their location and can only attend actions in San Francisco or the East Bay. Some do not come on Shabbes, others believe that attending a pro-Israel protest on Shabbes is doing the Lord's work - a milchemes mitzvah. Most of us know each other. We reconnected, exchanged news about those who could not come, mentioned people we knew, events we had been to. We interacted like normal people who get along with each other, and share in each others' lives.

Precisely like Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Ehud Goldwasser should likewise be able to do.

"...Let them be ashamed and confounded, that seek after my soul;
Let them be turned backward and put to confusion, that desire my hurt...."

This year we gathered so that these three men are not forgotten.
May we gather next year to rejoice in their home-coming.


Not a misspelling, but rather, the name of a small furry entity.
[Pronounced: 'You-razz-muzz'. Emphasis on the first syllable.]

In the last year that we were in the old office building - the building with the bollixed heating and air-conditioning systems that necessitated heavy sweaters during hot weather and tee-shirts during cold - the pumpkin carving team headed by the bald elf in Marketing kidnapped the one-legged monkey from Product Design and fed him to a carved troll-head. I blame the bald elf. Not for the loss of the monkey's leg, as the degenerates in Product Design did that entirely by themselves, but for the neck-gash, ketchup, and ripped stuffing. They named their ketchuppy pumpkin creation "Too Curious George". It sat at the reception desk with the other halloween horrors.

Five days later, the various pumpkins had started to attract fruit-flies and smell funky, and were dumped in the waste-bin in the kitchen.
Where I found the monkey.

What kind of savage throws out a monkey? How sick and perverse does one have to be to consign a friendly looking furry being to the city dump? Especially one with soft synthetic fur and friendly glass eyes? A benign simian presence, staring up at one, reproachfully.

I saved him and took him home. Sewed up the gash, cleaned off the ketchup, and patched over the ragged edges where the leg had gone missing. As good as new.
Except for the leg, of course.
I was planning to make him a wooden one, but never did.

In the first year he would blame me for the loss of his leg. He didn't remember the sadists in Product-Development, and accused me of cutting off his leg and eating it, with ketchup.
I guess the trauma played havoc with his memory. That, plus the fact that his brain was cotton wool - probably from hanging out with Elmo (the Elmo in product design held a glass of whiskey, had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, and looked crazed with brain-rotting syphilis - Elmo the dypsomaniac, Elmo the street-person, bumming coins for a dance).

In the second and third year he said that I looked like his mother, and demanded more bananas. He also lost his Jamaican accent.

Nowadays he claims that I am a degenerate and that he is the alpha-male of the household.
And he very well might be, at this point. I am merely the human, whereas he looks like Humphrey Bogart.

Savage Kitten wants him to return her slinky silk blouse, but the monkey just looks so darned handsome wearing it. Dashing. Suave. Alpha to da max. A veritable dude. She's probably lost that frippery to the monkey permanently. Never gonna get it back.
Lately, he's started eyeing her pearls.

Monday, October 29, 2007


The peace movement has been co-opted by anti-Semites and radical Israel haters.
This is a report on counter-demonstrating their agenda at San Francisco's recent 'peace-rally'.


It was predictable. All of it was predictable.
The San Francisco Chronicle, which could not see five thousand Jews in Justin Herman Plaza in April 2002, did not see sixty Israel-supporters at Civic Center on October 27th, 2007.
There was no mention of our presence in the SF Chronicle. None. We do not exist.

However, the Chronicle did claim to observe over ten thousand "peace-loving" anti-war protestors.

International Answer asserts that there were over thirty thousand righteously angry activists. This blogger will maintain that it was only between three thousand and five thousand of the terminally far-out. Though closer to three thousand.

The news programs on Saturday night, entirely as expected, did puff-pieces.
Channel two (Fox News) did mention that there was a small counter demonstration, but rather than having something so divisive as the activist community's anti-Semitism and hatred for Israel disturb the progressive little cottonwool heads of their Bay Area viewers, they chose instead to feature sound clips from two pro-war goobers. Thus proving to the self-satisfaction of their Bay Area audience that anybody who did not approve of the alleged peace rally was a retrograde.

The only way to get the attention of the media, and get them to do a serious investigation of the background and unsavoury associations of the leaders of the anti-war movement, may be to hold a naked Zionist rally.


If any of you are nudists or exhibitionists, please contact me.

[Note 1. Do not send photos. I'm not interested in your what you look like. Just your deep-seated atavistic need to prance around naked with flags and flowers while screaming into a bullhorn.]
[[Note 2. And if any of you are perky Catholic schoolgirls, so much the better.]]
[[[Note 3. I'm not obsessing about perky Catholic schoolgirls. Really I'm not, honest!]]]
[[[[Note 4. Bring your own flowers and apply your own body-paint!]]]]

Other than that the SF Chronicle is a poor excuse for a newspaper and proved it once again, and also that we don't have any capable television news desks in the entire area, it was a great counter-demo.

Several people came over and joined us. As one of them put it, "there are too many pro-Palestinians on that side". She had been with the alleged peace-rally until she became disgusted with the political undercurrents.

One woman came over to start a verbal confrontation with me, and left filled with existential self-doubt.
[Not so much angst as an uncomfortable realization that the world was infinitely more complicated than the simplistic slogans of the Answer-folks.]

Either that, or she has as an attraction to out-of-shape men with little beards. But I think not.
[At least one charming young lady passing by does have an attraction to an out-of-shape man with a little beard, and came up and kissed me. I had dinner with her that evening.
As I usually do on Saturdays.....]

The sad thing is that we have more signs and flags than people to hold them - But the great thing is that we have tons of signs and flags!
When fully loaded, the Zionist van looks like a moving garbage dump (with, hobbit-like, the bright eyes of a young Zionist peering out from the middle of the heap). My apartment hallway looks like a forest at present - flags, signs, spare lumber for flags and signs.

Unlike last time, we didn't lose a single flag to incendiarists from the other side.


Afterthought: the bald self-identified Nazi who screamed that he was going to kill all of us kikes and that Israel should be nuked demonstrated perfectly why we were there, and why there remains a need to demonstrate. He and others like him, by their very evident hatred, may have disquieted more rational members of that side. There was less angry ranting at and about the Jews than at previous ANSWER rallies.

[Though I have been told that they really amped up the Jew-hatred once they got to Dolores Park, the aforementioned newsmedia gave the impression that the final part of the rally was a happy hippie peace and butterflies love-fest in a beautiful setting. Bongs and tie-dye. More or less.]

By the way, Richard Becker, Western-Regional Coordinator of International ANSWER, has only one testicle. Just thought you should know. One. Only. Small, too.

Friday, October 26, 2007


There is a new commenter on Dovbear's blog. A commenter who sternly disapproves of nearly everything, and enjoys pointing out to everyone else how utterly unholy they are.
All in a spirit of ungentle remonstrance. And indignant sincerity. From the Vaad Lmaan Kovod Hatorah.

I may have suggested in a comment on Dov's blog that his efforts were counter-productive.

The Vaad Lmaan Kovod Torah (who is a very lonely yeshivish teenager in Flatbush) responded:
"What a goyish kop. u sure your jewish?"

In answer to that query, my dear Vaady, no, I'm not sure of that at all. Quite the contrary.

I'm actually a Catholic high school girl with thick raven tresses. My stiffly starched long sleeved cotton blouse is just a little too small in a particular area, and my plaid skirt flashes a sight of dimpled knees when I walk. My long white socks hug my calves - the effect is both very modest, very girlish, and incredibly revealing. Not Jewish at all.
I smell alluringly of Alfred Sung perfume, despite that being far too mature a scent for a person of my youthfulness.

You hide behind that bus shelter as you watch me lifting juicy morsels from my bowl of roast-pork noodle soup to my red red lips with my chopsticks at the front table of a Chinatown eatery. You spy upon me, as you have so often in these past few weeks. You observe my every move. It is an aesthetic obsession, but there may be more to it than that.
Guileless, perhaps. But is it you or me that is so?

Do you notice the elegance of my delicate hands? The deft way my fine-boned fingers enfold the pale ivory plastic shafts? And especially, do you note the perfect line of my nose, the exquisite undulation of my eyelids, when I close my eyes to inhale deeply of the porky brothy aroma wafting up from the bowl?

I know you do. I can feel it.

Vicariously, you too absorb this treif. Your mouth makes its own masticatory motions, an unwilled and unconscious echo of what I do with such joy.
It is good. It is very good. You just know it.

You cannot fail to observe, even from that distance, how my eyebrows, which curve like the antennae of a moth, are mirrored in the surface of the soup. How black they are, how velvety against the pale skin. That soft soft skin, those gentle features.

You do not know that I see your shadow out of the corner of my eyes, that I sense you spying on me.
I am conscious of your sweaty discomfort - I can see your forehead shining, and you are wearing too many garments.
I lift some noodles to my mouth and slurp, swallowing them entire. A fragment of cilantro clings to a corner of my mouth. As I lift the bowl up to sup the last savoury drops, I know that your knees have turned to jelly. You slide down against the bus shelter exhausted.

Good boy.

I pay for my soup. As I leave the restaurant it starts to rain. I stride past you, crumpled up behind the bus shelter, your frog-like eyes glassily staring up at me. You hope that I will not notice you, and yet.... you wish I would.
When I have passed, and you can no longer see my face, I smile.

It was good soup. I'll go there again tomorrow.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Did you know that petite Cantonese women love men who can cook?
It's useful information, and you might want to ponder it for a while.
It explains a lot.

In the meantime, while you are pondering, here's a recipe for

The Apple Sauce Noodle Kugel Of The Chivying Of The VLKH
[Hereinafter possibly simply referred to as 'Apple Sauce Noodle Kugel, or APSNOOK for short.]

8 oz. broad noodles.
4 eggs, slightly beaten.
Half a cup sugar.
Two cups (1 pint) sour cream*.
Two cups (16 fl.oz) applesauce.
Quarter cup raisins.
Cinnamon, Salt, Butter.
Cook and drain noodles. Mix all ingredients together. Dot with butter in greased 8x8-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 F for 60 minutes.

[*Or substitute Tofutti pareve sour cream.]

The recipe comes from OJ, who placed it into the comment-string on this post:
From this blog:

When I made it Monday evening I added some powdered ginger and a little ground cardamom and mace - the next time I make it I will probably try adding a little grated lemon zest, and increase the raisins.
I klitsed the eggs, apple sauce, smetana, raisins, and sugar together before adding the noodles, as I did not want the residual heat to start setting the eggs.
[Can't remember why I thought that was the thing to do - meh, neurosis. A bee.]

It is simple and very good. Savage Kitten likes it for breakfast, I like it for late night snack. There is nearly none left.


1. VLKH stands for 'Vaad Lmaan Kovod Hatorah', also referred to in that comment string as Vaad ha-etcetera and several other things. Mister Vaad seems to have a bee in his bonnet about the bear, and quite probably Star Trek paraphernalia up his beis. Which is appalling! Everyone knows that Star Trek is mamesh kofrus gamur and davka avodah zara.
Lord Of The Rings, on the other hand......
2. Eliezer's posse kinda lost it while chivying the vaad ha-imagination mercilessly in that comment string. Both Eliezer's posse AND the vaad ha leitzonus apologize for their loss of self control. We promise it will happen again.
3. No one should own Star Trek crap. NO ONE! But a Hellboy action-figure on the same shelf as Bredero's Spaanschen Brabander and The Embarassment of Riches by Simon Schama is okay.
Everone should have one.


The Palestinians are pressuring Secretary Rice to guarantee that Israel give up the Temple Mount, and they're making this a pre-condition for showing up at the Annapolis conference, insisting that the Temple Mount be returned to the Muslims.
They also have several other intemperate demands that must be satisfied or they will not come.

Condoleeza Rice has in steadfast reaction thereto acquiesced without the slightest resistance.

She demands that Israel accept the Palestinian preconditions, and insists that large areas of Jerusalem must be part of a future Palestinian state. It has also been reported that she would publicly blame Israel for the failure of the summit if Israel didn't agree to relinquish those parts of Jerusalem.

Perhaps she does not realize what these demands will ensure?

Faced with the choice of either retaining all of Jerusalem, OR giving up the most central Jewish place on the planet, the only possible option is utter refusal. There is no way the Jewish people (I'm not talking of Kadima or JVP here, their Jewishness is debatable at best) will accept such a condition. They cannot accept. It would be tantamount to forced conversion. It would be a self-loathing rejection of everything that is Jewish, every part of their identity, their heritage, and all their kin both present and past.

If that is the price of peace, peace is not worth having.

No Israeli politician will live long after giving up the Temple Mount. His gang will cease to exist, his collaborators will be erased and expunged, and his name will join that of Haman and Hitler.

If the demand is relinquishing the Arab parts of Jerusalem, the only logical and rational response is to make sure that there are NO Arab parts of Jerusalem.
Does Ms. Rice REALLY wish to see the Serbian option put into play?
Does she really hate the Arabs so fiercely that she would want them cleansed from the land?
Is she such a fanatic end-of-times Christian that she would by this insanity attempt to unleash the apocalypse?
Or is she a bigot and moron of such magnitude that she hates both Jews and Arabs to the point of madness?

These are not hard questions. Because they are largely irrelevant.

No one cares about the state of her head at this juncture - she has written herself out of any significant role other than that of infectious agent. Even whether she is a panderess for the Arabs or a patsy of the Europeans is immaterial.

Condoleeza Rice may go down in history as the person who unleashed slaughter in the streets of the Holy City and caused an Israeli civil war.

If the Arabs think that they will come out the winner in this they are insane. If Jew fights Jew and Israelis are forced to kill each other, Arab lives will count as nothing. Less than nothing. Any Arab who does not get out of the way will be a speedbump on the road to the Temple Mount.
Ehud Olmert might well be the first Arab speedbump of that struggle.

They say that power corrupts. But it also causes madness. Clearly our leaders have lost their marbles. They've been sucking too long at the tit of hubris.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I apologize to a certain correspondent, whom I had promised a speculative explanation of the subtext underneath the title of Margavriel's blog.

The subtext reads:
2. the more he talks the less hhakham Hhakham ‘Ovadya Yosef seems

It was the first item particularly that caught our attention.
An English exclamatory, then the name of a territory in the classic world, and finally an expression in snappy slangy Tagalog which roughly translates as 'there's karma for it'.
I committed to guessing why that expression showed up on the blog of a talmid, and possibly providing annotata thereto.

But I'm drawing a blank.

All I can think of is that Margavriel is hanging out with a hot Fillipina!

Which doesn't seem particularly likely. I'm not implying that he couldn't or wouldn't, it's just that I doubt that given his environment and his academic pursuits he would have an opportunity to date some nice young missy from Manila.
Fillipinas don't customarily frequent yeshivoth, and also they tend to be rather high-maintenance companions - he really doesn't have time for that at present.

[How do I know about Fillipinas? Well, back in the early eighties I used to hang out with people in Makati and Cebu, and there was an episode involving a waterbuffalo....... Apparently white people smell distressingly like beef and butter. Who knew?]

But if he IS hanging out with a hot Fillipina, more power to him. It's gonna be one helluvan adventure. Ooh-wee. Oh yeah.

[Many Fillipinos have a passion for mahjong. I remember spending a weekend over at friend's place smoking cigars and playing mahjong for over fifty hours. When I needed a break, someone else would take my seat at the table. Usually one of the female relatives. San Miguel beer (for the men), lots of coffee, and a lot of good food - mabuti, pare, masarap to da max!]

Pancit, man, that's what life is all about.
I'm really trying to imagine Margavriel in that kind of environment.
I think I'm going to need lots more coffee to succeed.


Two events coming up in the immediate future, and a third in another month:

Saturday October 27th:
Counter-demonstration against International ANSWER's rally.

We'll be meeting at Civic Center with signs and flags. We expect at least two hours of angry speeches from the enemy, and if previous ANSWER demonstrations are anything to go by, hate and insults from all the usual suspects. Be alert and keep your guard up.

This is San Francisco, so some of the police may be on the wrong side, as will some of the reporters covering the event. Do not expect fair coverage or objective reportage - the press standardly reports that "two opposing sides faced each other and that the crowd seemed mostly peaceful". Above all, keep your eyes open.

Please be aware that many of the participants of this 'anti-war rally' will be anarchists, ultra-left sympathizers, revolutionaries, frustrados, delinquents, and opportunists. As well as angry pro-Palestinian activists.

As usual Int'l ANSWER will be using the cover of the anti-war movement to propagate their Marxist-Leninist agenda.
Int'l ANSWER's Western Regional Director, Richard Becker, is a notorious Jew-baiting far-left activist, whose love affair with repressive dictatorships is well known - in the mid and late nineties he traveled to Baghdad, his writings pandering to the Sudanese government are virtually obscene love letters, and his adoration of an elderly Cuban tyrant verges on obsessive. At a previous Int'l ANSWER rally he demanded bloody revolution against the United States, and fulsomely praised terrorists. He grows moist at the thought of violence.

It should be noted that International ANSWER is little more than a front for the Workers World Party, which in the past wholeheartedly supported the excesses of the cultural revolution in China and the Russian crushing of the Hungarian revolt. Despite flirting with Trotskyist ideology, the Workers World Party has remained a firm supporter of the Soviet Union and the tenets of Stalinism, even after the collapse of the empire. The party, through its front the International Action Center, founded ANSWER in the autumn of 2001. International ANSWER has since then voiced support for a multitude of repressive regimes and violent radical movements.

Tuesday October 30th:
Solidarity vigil for the three kidnapped soldiers.
Details to be communicated later.

Monday December 17th:
Counter-demonstrations against anti-AIPAC protests.

Stop AIPAC is planning to protest at two possible venues, namely San Francisco (Hilton) at noon, and in Oakland at the Marriot City Center starting at six pm.
The first venue is a 'maybe', the second is definite. The protest in Oakland in the evening is likely to be large and threatening; Stop AIPAC is trying to drum up as much support from the fringes as they can, vowing to make it "unforgettable".

Last year's anti-AIPAC protest in Oakland was marked by anti-Semitic sloganeering, threatening behaviour, close contact, and insults. We can expect more of the same, especially as the anti-AIPAC crowd operate with the approval of groups such as JVP, which means that they can pull the usual "we're not anti-Semitic" shtick. This is despite the evident anti-Semitic content of their signs, and Jew-hating tendencies of their participants.


Note: As always, and for these three dates in particular, please remember that if you are punched or hit, there will be NO witnesses - the anti-Israel side will claim that nothing happened and nobody saw anything. They have done so in the past, and they are experts at denial. Unless it was video-taped, IT DID NOT HAPPEN!

Be carefull afterwards, and try not to leave alone.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Tzipporah asks: "Isn't there anything going on in the Bay area?
Besides rain and soggy smokers adrift among the self-righteous healthnut

The answer to that depends on whom you ask (okay, we know you're asking me) and what you mean.

I myself am still neurotically reading about tobacco blends, and looking forward to another shipment from Cornell & Diehl. I have ordered several basic blending tobaccos, and will, once I have them in my possession, be compounding a mixture provisionally called "ESSENCE of TOAD".

The blend name? Well, Savage Kitten objects most vociferously to my smoking when I light up something with Turkish leaf and Latakia (she hardly notices the smell of Virginias). This particular mixture is guaranteed to make her demand that I go smoke next to the open window in the kitchen, or even out on the front steps. And, being an agreeable old toad, I will comply.

Our cell of the conspiracy is ramping up for next weekend, when we will be counterdemonstrating International Answer's anti-war, anti-US, anti-Israel, pro-Chavez, pro-Ahmedinejad, pro-Castro rally. I myself don't really care about Chavez and Castro either way, other than considering both of them rather reprehensible panderers to the European nouveau-Communists & anti-Yanqui intelligentsia. And the war was clearly one of the more ridiculous things we've done in the last seven years.

You can probably guess what my points of view are on the other three issues.

After that we'll be dealing with the upcoming AIPAC conferences. The hate-filled gibbons usually come swinging down from their trees for that one, and after the publication of both Carter's book,and Walt & Mearsheimer's grotty little tract, the hate-gibbons should totally be full of p*ss and vinegar this year.

We hope to take the p*ss out of them.

[Metaphorically speaking, of course. They can keep their fluids. Honest.]

In the meantime, though, it rains. It blatters. It motters and mists. It fogs. My posterior feels arthritic, and I grumpily look out over the darkly glistening street in front of my apartment building at night, puffing wisps of Burley into dusk. I bemoan my ancient rump.

The Haunted Bookshop: "A predominantly Burley mixture with a touch of red Virginia and Perique". By Cornell & Diehl. I also have a few tins of Old Joe Krantz ("ribbon and coarse cut burleys, perique and red Virginia"), which I look forward to trying once this tin is gone. Autumn requires aircured tobacco, especially if the weather is inclement.

This evening I will head into North Beach to drink beer and whiskey and gibber insanely. As has been my once a week custom since the late eighties, in which I am not alone.

Savage Kitten will be fast asleep by the time I return. She will probably be clutching either the one-legged monkey (a demented Banan-o-phile who is convinced that he is the alpha male) or Mizz Bruin (her oldest friend in the world, who outranks everybody else - and that really does mean everybody else).
I will probably have to remove her headphones when I come in - she falls asleep listening to audiobooks.


Follows an involuntary guest-posting by three gentlemen in a style reminiscent of a Talmudic discourse.
I claim no credit for this other than liking what they wrote and gluing it together.

[The three are Dovbear (well-know blogger, here:
blog here: ),
Chaim G (aka The Bray of Fundie and several other alia, here: and here: ),
and a commenting gentleperson from the ursine blog who styles him/her self 'Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise'.]

Dovbear said to the Modern Orthodox: [Teaneck, Brooklyn Young Israel, Much of YU]

STOP: Looking down your nose at anyone who isn't unreflectively Zionist/Pro-Likud.
START: Making it emphatically clear that you respect halacha as much as anyone else.
CONTINUE: Giving huge sums of money to Hasidic and Yeshivish institutions.

But Chaim G. said to them

STOP: Kowtowing to the radical religio-feminists in your midst and creating Shul environments that make others intensely uncomfortable.
START: Learning more in general in your discretionary time (being more affluent than Chareidi you have more disposable income AND time). In particular learn Hashkafa s’farim authored by G’dolim other than Rav Kook and Rav YBS
CONTINUE: Maintaining that the approaches of these two giants are valid and to be respected

Dovbear said to the Liberal Orthodox [UWS, Anywhere there’s egalitarian Orthodox, the rest of YU]

STOP: Mocking and attacking the sincerely held beliefs of people who don't know any better.
START: Making it emphatically clear that you respect halacha as much as anyone else.
CONTINUE: The respectful conversation about the difference between ikkar and toful in 2007 Judaism

But Chaim G. said to them

STOP: Mocking and attacking the sincerely held beliefs of people whom you’ve dismissed without ever bothering to analyze in depth. Also Kowtowing to the radical Religio-feminists in your midst as you are headed for the next official schism within Judaism. Keep it up and you will be official anathemas to the balance of Torah Jewry even sooner than the Elokist-Chabadniks
START: Making it emphatically clear that you respect Talmidei Chachomim as much as anyone else. Do not fancy yourself cleverer than they ESPECIALLY in THEIR areas of expertise.
CONTINUE: So sorry, not convinced that there is anything legitimate here worth continuing.
[I felt the same way about the two types of Hasidim, but in the interest of reconciliation I searched until I found something -- DB]

Dovbear said to the RW Yeshivish Orthodox [Lakewood, Baltimore etc]

STOP: Looking down your nose at anyone who isn't able to decode a tosfos on the first try.
START: Preparing your children to live b’toch h’air, in the world, and outside of the kolel bubble.
CONTINUE: Emphasizing the primary, non-negotiable importance of limud torah.

But Chaim G. said to them

STOP: Tolerating youth that smokes, never exercises and is as skeptical and dismissive of all but a few of their "anointed" TKs (e.g. AJ Soloveitchik and Rav Ela Ber) as the most egregious of old time Maskilim were of ALL TKs without exception.
START: Preparing your children to date for middos Tovos, and even beauty and not exclusively for money in the bank.
CONTINUE: Emphasizing the primary, non-negotiable CENTRALITY of limud torah.

Dovbear said to the LW Yeshivish Orthodox [Flatbush, Monsey, Cedarhurst]

STOP: Running to copy and embrace everything Hasidic at the expense of everything else the tradition has to offer.
START: Giving the religion of the head equal emphasis with the religion of the heart
CONTINUE: Acting as a moderating influence on the RW yeshivish, and as safe passage for those wishing to move between MO and YO

But Chaim G. said to them

STOP: Running to copy and embrace thinly veiled knockoffs of Goyishe values and esthetics in your music, decorating and recreation, especially on Chol HaMoed. Either embrace or completely reject the genuine (Goyishe) articles but maintain your havdala sensitivity instead of the mixed-message mish-mash that you’re bequeathing your children.
Also stop sabotaging your less academically inclined children’s future with the incessant message that if they pursue degrees and/or don’t learn for 15+ tears after the Chasunah that they are abject failures.
Start: learning and teaching Aish Kodesh, Sifrei Rav Tzadok , Nesivos Shalom et al to reinvigorate your Chumros de jour with a little warmth and light. Also doing chesed to those different from you. It’s not for women and Chasidim only.
CONTINUE: Learning the Daf, influencing co-workers and donating time and human resources to Partners-in Torah et al.

Dovbear said to the Hard-Core Hasidic [KJ, Willy, Boro Park]

STOP: Treating the rest of us, and by extension our customs, teachings and the rest of the tradition, like we're chazer treif.
START: Allowing your children to learn English and vocational skills.
CONTINUE: Proving that acts of fabulous chesed are possible, even when you’re (nearly) flat broke.

But Chaim G. said to them

STOP: Treating EACH OTHER (Satmar vs. Belz & Ger, everyone vs. Breslov and Lubavitch, Eruv Carriers vs. Eruv non- Carriers) and by extension their customs, teachings and the rest of their traditions, as chazer treif .It is a modest first step but a necessary one before we can ever begin to hope for recognition and reconciliation between you guys and the rest of us.
START: Decentralizing. Instead of having constant inheritance fights let some of the brothers move out of town and start new urban and suburban Kehillas elsewhere. You should have the institutional confidence to do this by now.
CONTINUE: Learning Tur and Bes Yosef and providing the rest of us with the lions share of our local-look-it-up-in-the-sources Poskim, Shochtim, Sofrim Mohalim and Bikur Cholim volunteers.

Dovbear said to the Soft-Core Hasidic [Anywhere there's a rebbelah with a shteible]

STOP: Trying to impose Hasidic ways on the non-Hasidic communities you've joined
START: Learning the history of your own customs and your own sect. It may temper your triumphalism.
CONTINUE: Spreading your traditional niggunim. Nothing brings us all together like a good kumsitz.

But Chaim G. said to them

Stop: Just stop. You disgust me!
START: By scrapping everything Heimish and beginning from square one with any of the other groups. You have no legitimate right to exist.
CONTINUE: Deluding yourselves NOOOOOOT!

Chaim G. said to the Kehillarized BTs [Passaic, Baltimore Ramat Bet Shemesh]

STOP: Ostentatious Yuharo external displays of piety. Some of you are the embarrassing spiritual equivalent of the Nouveau riche.( Also don’t take the omud before you’re ready. Sadly for some of you this will mean never taking the omud.
START: By going slower in your ascent up the frumkeit ladders. It is a healthier and longer–lasting way to grow. Learning more before penning your first parenting book and/or going on a lecture tour.
CONTINUE: Reinvigorating the rest of with probing questions, contagious enthusiasm and sublimating (re; raising the sparks) of the educations, skills, sensibilities and hobbies that you acquired in your pre-T’shuva states.

Chaim G. said to the Amnon Yitzchaki-Harav Yagen-niks [KGH, Hancock Park BP Lakewood]

STOP: Wearing 2 pairs of T’filin simultaneously shaving your heads and growing long simanim after being mehalelei Shabbat 2 weeks ago. Also stop scaring the rest of us by dressing and thinking like Wahabists who venerate Moshe instead of Mohammed
START: Co-opting the chilled-out calmness and high esthetics of the Syrians and Iraqis.
CONTINUE: Returning to observance in droves. What do Amnon Yitzchak and Harav Yagen know that Chabad and Aish don't?

Chaim G. said to the Yekkes [Washington Heights, Paramus Monsey]

STOP: Incessantly correcting the manners and pronunciation of others
START: Finding a new locale for the Kehillo and a Charismatic new leader. You are losing your youth and minhagim to intra-Jewish assimilation
CONTINUE: Maintaining perfect fidelity to minhagim of the most impeccable provenance.

But related thereto.....

Rav I.M.Wise said to the Reform

STOP: Looking down your nose at anyone wearing a black velvet kippa, black suit and white shirt with tzitzis hanging out. Naming rooms, buildings, institutions, etc. after your big-money donors.
START: Developing a liturgy that doesn't cut everything out.
CONTINUE: Your dayschools, youth groups, and social action activities.

Rav I.M.Wise said to the Conservatives

STOP: Looking down your nose at your members who want to be frum in accordance with the Conservative interpretation of Halacha. Naming rooms, buildings, institutions, etc. after big-money donors.
START: Making it emphatically clear that your halacha is just as good, if not better, than the halacha dreamed up by the Orthodox.
CONTINUE: The Tzedek hechsher, JTS and other high-level critical scholarship.

Rav I.M.Wise said to the Reconstructionists

STOP: The hour-long lectures about ritual acts given right before the act that take 15 seconds to do. Recon services can sometimes last longer than Carlebach services, but are much more boring.
START: More shuls in Brooklyn and Monsey. The people there really need it.
CONTINUE: Active congregations is small towns where you otherwise find little organized Jewish life.

Rav I.M.Wise said to the Renewal Movement Jews

STOP: Smoking pot in the lavatory during Shabbat. Get an Orthodox friend to bake it in brownies so that the entire community can enjoy them during kiddush without worrying about kashrus.
START: Having your rabbis quote some classic Jewish texts occasionally.
CONTINUE: All the good neo-Chassidic stuff, so that we can have the fabrengen experience without excluding women and having to deal with rebbes.

Rav I.M.Wise said to the Post-denominationals

STOP: Dissing all the other denominations. Where do you think you get your material from?
START: More independent minyanim in more locations
CONTINUE: the good work

Rav I.M.Wise said to the Seculars

STOP: Trying to convince us that Jewish identity can be had without at least some religious content
START: lighting candles on Friday night
CONTINUE: To identify as a Jew despite your skepticism.


All of the above was pursuant a recent post on Dovbear's blog (see here: in which much of the difference in attitude and custom reflected upon above were brought up. The discussion is worthwhile.
You could head over to the ursine's lair to see if there have been any more developments.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Dovbear, whom I am sure you know I regularly read, has a great post here:

Despite the title I have written above, it is not at all about a bearded gentleman naked except for suds. Not really.
[But if you have already formed a mental picture of a naked bearded gentleman glistening soapily, that's good too. Be proud of your rich inner life.]
Rather, it is a statement of what is not right with Orthodox Judaism. And while the same statement could more or less be made about many other religious traditions, that isn't really germane.

I thoroughly encourage you to click on the link and read his post. And also the hundred-plus comments. I have not commented there myself, because I have little to add, and I do not wish to get into a spitting match with a commenter who arrogantly styles himself 'Vaad Lmaan Kovod Hatorah'.

Mevaseretzion makes several good points, and cogent arguments. I had to smile when I saw this from his pen: "The fact that you call scientists fools would have gotten you thrown out of every beis medrash in the Talmudic period (that is, if you had been able to sneak your way in after Rabban Gamliel died)." Well said. Bravo.

The suggestion by someone else that Dov has a Jesus-complex was amusing too, as were also the snarky comments about shampoo and dummy-bears.

The proper response to "the idea that the yetzer hara is running around trying to trick us is christian BS, you fat freak" is indeed "You skinny runt".

The statement by VLKHT that a woman who doesn't cover her head is, al pi mishna, an overes al daas yehudis is neither amusing nor relevant. Times have changed. So have neuroses.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


A discourse on cocaine on someone else's blog reminded me of pepper leaves.

Of which there are three.

DAON SIRI (Piper Betel; standard Indonesian: daun sirih; Tagolog: buyo, ikmo) is a beautiful heart-shaped leaf in which you wrap your sliced betelnut (Areca catechu; Indonesian: pinang; Tagalog: bunga, bu'ga), catechu (Acacia catechu extractum; katta, gambir), tobacco, sweet shredded coconut and dried plums, along with a small smear of slaked lime (calcium hydroxide; kakura - burnt snail shells; kapog - commercial lime paste; both are called ginapog in the western part of Mindanao, 'apog in Luzon). You then pop it into your mouth and chew. It will cheer you up, then keep you on a slightly zotsed plateau for a few hours, before slowly releasing you into torpor. It is refreshing, mildly narcotic, and counters fatigue.

In South-East Asia it was for centuries the social drug of choice, before being replaced by coffee, tea, cigarettes, and bad beer. Visitors would be welcomed with a chew before the reason for their visit was discussed, and important agreements would be sealed by a chew. Marriage proposals were made with a present of a stuffed leaf for chewing, and desperate women would compound love potions in the quid they offered their paramours. Kings were assassinated with poisoned chews, and daemons were expelled by spraying the possessed victim with chaw.

It should be noted that the leaf causes one's spit to become bright red and copious. Do not be alarmed at the crimson spatters on the pavement, that's just someone having a good time.

In the past, beautiful sets of jars and leaf-holders on a tray for betel chewing were prized heirlooms, often made of gold or silver clobbered ceramic.

Wiki article in English:
Wiki article in Indonesian:

DAON KADOK (Piper sarmentosum; standard Indonesian: daun kaduk) is a close relative of siri, with which it is often confused. It is used both as a minor medicine for colds, aches, joint pains, and minor stomach ailments during the rainy season, but also in its own right as a food. A very nice soup can be made by first gilding some of the usual ngeprik ingredients (garlic, ginger, chilies, etc.), adding water or stock plus plenty of kadok leaves, and then finishing the soup with a squeeze of lime juice and some broken-up egg and tofu scramble. If you add a little finely chopped daon djarok (standard Indonesian: daun jeruk - kaffir lime leaf) it is especially nice.

The leaf can also be eaten raw, coloured with a touch of hot sauce, or shredded into emerald rice with some toasted dried fish. Very good. It also goes well with beef.

DAON TJABE (standard Indonesian: daun cabai) are chili (Capsicum) leaves, which are used as vegetable in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Suriname. They are very good with chicken that has been braised with a little ginger, garlic, and shallot, rice-washing water added to cover, as well as a squeeze of lime or a bit of tamarind for sourness. Simmer till nearly tender, then add the ripped chili leaves to the dish in a quantity sufficient to give it a mixed meat and vegetable character. Serve when the leaves have wilted. Put a bottle of fish sauce on the table for diners to add as suits them.

-- -- -- -- --

Lime juice is as good a substitute as any for kalamunting (Indonesian: jeruk sambal; Tagalog: calamansi), which is a dwarf lime about the size of a cherry tomato, used all over South-East Asia for squeezing over food. It is not as fragrant as kalamunting, but it is widely available, which is a great virtue.

Grated lime zest can also be added to food instead of daon djarok (kaffir lime leaf). It does not affect the mouth-feel as daon djarok does, which is a pity, but it does add a necessary perfumed dimension.

Fish sauce, known as petis or patis, and also widely available in Thai and Vietnamese stores by different names (and usually clearly labeled, so you will not be confused), is used as both a table condiment and as an ingredient. The best types are not strongly fishy, and have a golden-amber hue. But if you keep kosher, substitute soy sauce.

Chili peppers (Capsicum spp.; tjabe, tjawe) come in many shapes and heat-levels.
I am particularly fond of capsicum pubescens, which is remarkable for its short capsaicin molecules. Because of this peculiarity, some people barely taste its heat, others take one nibble from a lovely chile manzana which an aficionado in the accounting department may have offered them, and run screaming for the bathroom at the far end of the building, lips purple and face a brilliant red, for instance.

But there are others which are also delightful - Jalapeños are peppy, piquines (chiltepin) are spicy-hot with a metallic taste, serranos have a resinous quality, de arbols are fiery, Thai peppers are blistering but seedy, Scotch Bonnet has an affinity for cinnamon and black pepper and with its cousin the Habanero (fruity and fragrant) presents the highest heat level.

Mulatto Isleño and other types of poblanos are not hot, and marvelous roasted or stuffed with cheese, Anaheims are particularly good stuffed or rendered into a green sauce, and the chiles from New Mexico present everything from juicy fleshed mildness to blister-blaster heat.

One can make a beautiful chile verde by stewing goat in a generous mixture of chopped cooking chilies with a little onion and some stock (plus some garlic and a pinch of ground cumin) for an hour or two - the chilies will make a nice verdant and very flavourful sauce, the onion will have helped tenderize the meat as well as contributed its own flavour. It can be served over rice, but it is best savoured in a bowl by itself.

For chile verde I like to use Anaheims, Mulatto Isleños and Poblanos, plus a few bells for bulk, and several Jalapeños and serranos, all blistered over a flame, skinned (leave some of the black on for a nice smokiness), seeded, and chopped fine. More chiles than meat (big chunks of meat), of course, and absolutely no tomatillos or tomatoes. Stock and a jigger of sherry. Two hours plus. When it is done it looks like a jade sea. Sheer heaven.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:

All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Just another example of the sustained attack on everything which is good and right in the modern world. And of the hatefilled anti-Semitic attitudes which have infected the discourse.

Catalogue of Contention

According to an article in Oy Bay, the Himmelberger Art Gallery in San Francisco cancelled a catalogue because of the Zionist agenda in the publication title, plus the Zionist content of some of the highlighted paintings, as well as the essays which were to be included in the catalogue.

Apparently the word 'zionist' and its attendant weltanschauung are icky.

See here:

Reaction to the cancellation

In response, the five authors who were to have been featured in the catalogue have issued the following statement:

Zionism is the Civil Rights Movement of the Jewish People. It is the answered prayer to 2,000 years of ceaseless persecution at the hands of unpredictable host nations, and of religions that at times abandoned their own highest moral precepts in the pursuit of dubious political objectives - at the expense of Jewish life-and-limb. For an individual or institution to claim to respect and tolerate Jews, and yet deny a Jew, any Jew, the right to proclaim Zionism as a personal, spiritual, cultural and political raison d’etre, is like telling a black person that you regard him as your equal and friend but please, do not mention the March on Birmingham. Please don’t talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. Please don’t bring up Rosa Parks to me.
Zionism is the March on Birmingham, the Martin Luther King, Jr., the Rosa Parks of our people, the Jewish People. It is our march on the death camp at Auschwitz. It is our fight for an equal place on the bus of human history.

And the State of Israel is our promised land of freedom and equality on Earth. How the term Zionism - and all that it so powerfully represents to our people after the Holocaust - how this term Zionism - this vision of redemption, this philosophy of empowerment, this bright candle held up to the night and which lead back home the displaced and tortured remnants, the dreamers and idealists, the Jews who came from all corners of the earth with a vision of self-determination and cultural, spiritual and political renewal - how this miracle of an idea was brought to fruition through the sacrifice and struggle of the brave Israeli people, is one of the great miracles of human history.

And how this same Zionism - distorted and vilified by one of the most sordid disinformation campaigns in history - became the bete noire of the present-day, a refugee of a word, a pariah of an idea, is one of the most sordid instances in the long, cruel campaign to marginalize and, ultimately, to destroy the Jewish People.

Let us, then, be perfectly frank about one thing. To vilify, marginalize, suppress or outlaw Zionism politically, socially or culturally - for any reason whatever - is to wish no less then murderous extinction upon every Jewish man, woman and child in the world today. It is to refute our history entire; to deny us the memory of our long march out of bondage into equality and dignity. It is to assert ghettoization and ostracization, exile and massacre, as the only fate befitting a Jew.

If ignorance of the law does not exempt one from the law, then ignorance of the unthinkable consequences to Jews of a world without Israel - and of one’s own action to libel, marginalize or censor Zionism in any way, regardless of how subtle or seemingly innocuous - does not exempt anyone, then, from the charge of participation in fostering genocide against the Jewish People. For no less then genocide awaits our people should the present campaign against Zionism succeed.

We, the undersigned, affirm our right - moral, spiritual, cultural and political - to proclaim our Zionism in any manner that we choose, without hindrance or proscription. And further, we condemn - forcefully and completely - the stance of anti-Zionism for what so blatantly it is: a human rights violation and euphemistic mask behind which lurks the age-old nightmare of anti-Semitism.

[Alan Kaufman, David Twersky, David Rosenberg, Etgar Keret, Polly Zavadivker]

This blogger applauds their point of view wholeheartedly.
And encourages readers to widely disseminate the statement above.


If you wish to understand the Gallery's point of view, you may inquire at:
Address: 445A Sutter Street (between Powell and Stockton Streets), San Francisco, CA 94108.
Telephone: 415-391-8383.

Mr. David Himmelberger will probably be glad to enlighten you.

Apparently his objection to Zionist content has something to do with international understanding. Plus a distaste of some sort for nationalism and religion. Which may be inchoate, and might not be fully framed. In his circles.

This blogger has not yet inquired, though. I'm still too pissed to be polite to one of my fellow San Franciscans. Or the people who might agree with him.



This statement nearly caused me to pop a vein:
"Universities are the one place in the United States where Israel tends to get treated like a normal country"

[John Mearsheimer]

I have no comment, nor any comparisons, nor any rhetorical points that need to be made.

Not because it would be impossible, but because it is unnecessary.

Now please stop laughing.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Yesterday I wrote a reaction to Treppenwitz's advocating limitations on smokers and smoking in public. Trepp, of course, is writing from an Israeli point of view. Israelis are flamboyant overindulgers in the noble weed, and many are so addicted that the stale reek of cigarettes can be said to be the aroma of Israel. Especially to sweet innocent little non-smokers, with whom I actually sympathize.

Unfortunately, here in California, it is a different story. Many Californians are such health-nuts and rigidly intolerant authoritarians on this issue that there are almost no places where you can smoke anymore.
This is particularly galling during wet weather. Such as we're having today. It is grim and grey outside, there is a steady rain, and the traffic is slow-moving. The street-scape is all round depressing and dull.
Except for little clusters of those incurable optimists, the indefatigable smokers, in sodden but cheerful little pockets here and there, braving the elements and inevitable drench to happily puff away. Resilient and undefeated. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. Life is good.

Who the heck am I kidding?!!?

A pox on all of you darned puritans. I hope the slow-leaching of chemicals from the layers of ancient paint in your apartment and office walls damages your brains and your chromosomes, whatever the fudge those things are.
I bitterly resent your warm dry comfort.

Robbing you of that gloating pleasure which our quitting would give you is just one good reason why we're unlikely to dump this pleasant habit. I hope you realize what joy we derive from continuing to piss you off, year after year. I hope the indignation and frustration add just enough sourness and bitterness to your days that everything you do is strangely unsatisfying, and happiness always slightly out of reach.

One of the other reasons that many of us are unlikely to quite is the smell aspect. We like the odour of tobacco. It adds a wondrous dimension. It recalls pleasant memories and creates intense moods.

One pipe smoker remarked, in reference to the Balkan Sobranie Smoking Mixture, that the aroma would permeate his jackets, and in consequence his children loved sniffing them. That, certainly, is a nose-memory of which no one should be robbed.
Others associate the smells of particular pipe tobaccos with beloved and departed relatives, the memories of which are awakened with startling intensity by even the merest whiff, how much more so an entire bowl-full.
Certain tobacco fragrances vividly remind me of events and places from many years ago.

All of this means nothing to the anti-tobacco crowd. One may assume that a number of them have no children, hate their relatives, and are memory-deficient in any case.

Now, related thereto, I should mention a tin of tobacco that was recently opened at the tobacconist, as a sample for any one to try (and given that there are probably no more than one or two dozen pipe-smokers in San Francisco, it may be a while before the tin is empty).

It is a rather pongy product.


Which is a rubbed out flake with a somewhat strong soapy smell, an odour that reminds everyone of Sutliff's Mixture 79. Never having smoked mixture 79, I couldn't say, but it actually reminds me of an undertone in Dobie's Foursquare Blue from many years ago. Plus plum, lavender, jasmine, and tea-shops frequented by little old ladies. Cold rainy summer afternoons.

So, two questions to my readers - what the heck is that smell? And is there anything out there which has just the vaguest hint of it behind a solid wall of Orientals?

It is a very recognizable aroma, but impossible to name.
I tried a full bowl of Independence a few days ago, and unfortunately the tobacco itself is not remarkable. Other than the soapy reek, it is an unassuming little flake. Not much there, and what was there seemed whipped into quivering silence by the smell.
It was a satisfying smoke, but much more in the hours after finishing the bowl than during the actual smoking.

The major pleasure I derive from it, however, is distinctly degenerate and decadent.
I love the echo of that fragrance which colours the next two or three smokes in that pipe. There is zest in sparking a memory-feeling that I cannot identify with traces of a perfume that I cannot recognize. It is like enjoying the presence of a beautiful girl who has a vulgar accent, or an old woman with a youthful and springlike eau de toilette. An innocent downy teenager, with scarlet lipstick of a particularly knowing and depraved hue.
Intensely delicious.


NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


This is mostly in response to my friend Treppenwitz, who in a recent posting was wrong.
Horribly and completely wrong.
So very wrong indeed.

In a non-smoking sort of way.

Treppenwitz's blog here:
His offending post here:
Preamble to the horrid offense here:
First inkling of offensiveness here:

Treppenwitz writes:
"Therefore, I have to respectfully disagree with those who try to make a case for exclusively adult gathering places being appropriate venues to allow smoking simply because children won't be there. The problem is not exposing kids to passive smoke... it is exposing anyone to passive smoke against their will when the law clearly states that it shouldn't happen!"

This was in response to my arguing that smoking should be permitted in bars and some coffee shops - specifically advocating that there should be a class of coffee shop with smoking permitted on the premises. I actually do not disagree with him - the key point being the idea of not exposing anyone against their will.
The problem is that there are so few venues where one can still smoke.
I suggested non-children (and non-food) environments because it is obvious that one should not permit smoking in such places. Bars are more of a grey zone, as are some coffee shops.

In California, bars which are owner-operated can still permit smoking. Some bars have made their staff co-owners precisely for that purpose. Just not enough of them.

"A waiter/bartender who wants to work should not have to risk lung cancer and skin damage in order to scrape out a living."

Agreed. I promise not to set foot in the place where she works. Her personality is azoy snotty and unpleasant that I do not wish to go there ever again. She may scrape, for all I care.

"Likewise, going out to enjoy one adult vice (drinking) should not mean being forced to endure another (inhaling smoke). Smoking and drinking are two separate pleasures/vices."

I love smoke-filled dives. Sorry.

But the rest of you should feel free to frequent the smokeless dives, and express your health nut tendencies there freely while drinking wheat-grass.

There are far too many smokeless dives, unfortunately.

That is because the California laws about smoking in the workplace are written to protect employees, irrespective of said employees' own favourite vice. Which means that even if the bar-owner and all of his staff are reckless chainsmokers who enjoy nothing so much as a smoggy reeking tobacco-drenched work-and-drink environment, they're still screwed (but, thankfully, shooting smack in the bathroom or snorting a line is still okay - those substances may be illegal, but they aren't offending anyone).

Yes, one solution is making the employees also co-owners. Which means both giving away a share in the business, and, unfortunately, making employees co-responsible for debts and liabilities. It is risky for all involved.

For tax and liability purposes, however, many bars have incorporated, and legally even the owner-operator is an employee. No matter that on some evenings he might be the only one there - in order to protect himself from himself he has to step outside to smoke or risk a fine. If he is smoking inside and the first customer of the evening steps in, even if that customer is also a smoker, the cigarette must be extinguished because he (the employee) has started work.

[After closing he can light up - because business hours have come to an end, and he is off the clock. He might smoke half a pack while cleaning up, but it doesn't matter, because he is no longer legally required to protect himself from himself.]


It is because of such nonsense that the three elderly gentlemen who ran my favourite dive on Polk Street, half a block away from my apartment, sold their business. All three smoked. Until the law passed, all three smoked inside their bar. After the law passed, all three continued smoking inside their bar. Until they were fined for smoking in their own bar.
They had years before followed the advice of their lawyer and their accountant, and incorporated. As shareholder-owners of the corporation that employed them they became legally obliged to maintain a smoke-free working environment for the employees..... And as employees of the corporation of which they were owners, the laws of the state of California guaranteed them a smoke-free working environment, irrespective of their own wishes as smokers, and despite there being no other employees.

When the rainy season began they started looking for a buyer. They sold the place by the end of December. Between receiving the fines and the day they sold, they smoked outside, in the rain and fog, with all their patrons.

[The new owners of that bar went bankrupt within a year. Their successors failed also, and the place was empty for nearly four years after that. Since then it has reopened as a hip cocktail establishment catering to the younger crowd, whose smoking clientele blocks the sidewalk from six in the evening till two in the morning most nights.]

Perhaps a few other examples of Californian anti-smoking insanity might be illustrative here.

Example one: A bar on Polk Street has an enclosed and sheltered back-patio exclusively for smokers. The bartenders and bar-backs are also smokers, but are not allowed to enter the patio, because they are employees - they have to smoke out front during working hours. The patio is often jampacked, and except for the billiards players there are hardly any patrons inside the bar.

Example two: Two Arab-run coffee shops on Polk street have tables out front, except during the rainy season. The owners and their employees are frequently out front smoking. Except during the rainy season. Business plummets during the rainy season.

Example three: Both tobacconists in the business district are non-smoking establishments, despite the exception to the smoking laws for retailers who deal primarily in tobacco products. Neither business employs non-smokers, and it would be absurd if they did. The reason why one of them is non-smoking (except for employees) till five-thirty in the afternoon, and the other one is non-smoking at all hours, are the tenants in the office buildings in which they are located. Apparently tenants were hideously offended that there was smoking going on nearby, and forced the landlord to step in.

[I smoke my pipe at one of those stores every morning. We maintain a half-assed pretence that I am not a patron but a consultant. In case some idiot asks.]

Example four: A recently opened North-African coffee shop in my neighborhood has been fined for having narghiles in use inside. This was the direct result of the owner (a smoker) hiring an employee (a close relative and also a smoker) to tend to the narghiles......

[None of his patrons are non-smokers, by the way, because now all the narghiles are on the tables outside, the smoke blows in through the open windows and the open door, and the owner and his staff are outside chatting with the patrons. Inside, it reeks of molasses flavoured shisha and strong black tobacco and the staff is nowhere to be seen, and outside the sidewalk is scarce passable and in any case filled with middle-aged Arabs blowing smoke. Which demoralizes any potential non-smoking clientele.]

Example five: One city down the peninsula has ruled that hanging out in front of businesses is illegal - vagrancy, loitering, or some such rule. In consequence, one will often see a line of people in front of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops in the evening, walking in orderly fashion in a perpetual loop around the parked vehicles at the curb, so as to not break the law. You have to stay in motion, you see, in order not to be a vagrant or a loiterer. And you may not block the sidewalk.

Example six: One Bay Area suburb has ruled that smoking in your own backyard is a punishable offense. Barbecuing and having the mother of all compost heaps are fine, however. In the same city it is now also illegal to smoke in your own home if you live in an apartment building or condominium. Other California municipalities also ban smoking in public in commercial districts, near cash machines or movie theatres, or within a certain distance of commercial entry ways. Or all of the above, plus trails, parking lots, and golf courses.

Example seven: In San Francisco it is illegal to smoke in parks, squares and open spaces, public gardens, and a number of other places such as playgrounds or bus and cablecar stops (and many other California municipalities have similar or even more stringent laws).
You may smoke on the sidewalks alongside parks, squares and open spaces, and public gardens, as well as fifty feet away from playgrounds and bus and cablecar stops irrespective of wind direction.

Amidst the gloom of all these obstacles there are a few semi-bright spots - there are three actual smoking bars that I know of in the city. But none of them are ideal from my point of view.

The cigar bar in the financial district is too far away from where I live to make it convenient, and is often far too crowded besides.
The smoking bar on Geary Street caters to young cigarette smokers, is very loud, and often far too crowded, besides being far away from where I live and too close to the Tenderloin.
The bar on Union Street is very small, and thus too crowded and noisy almost by definition. Besides being not really in my neighborhood.

And, as you can imagine, I would rather have a cup of coffee or tea while smoking my pipe instead of being pressured into booze. I need a coffee shop.

In conclusion, tayere Trepp, I realize that non-smokers do indeed have a point. But if there are no coffee-shops where people like me can settle in for a good long smoke without being harassed by the health nuts, we will kvetch, and commit sabotage, and disrespect oppressive laws. We will block the sidewalk, and we will tell non-smokers to go do nasty things to themselves, with vigour. We will puff furiously and feign deafness. We will fume.

We will sit on our front-door steps in the rainy season, smoking our pipes or cigars and spitting disagreeably at whichever sodden health nut seeks shelter in our doorway.

And some of us will probably go down to the sidewalk next to the girls playground and try to tempt the little dears with some fine aged Virginia flake, or a nice bit of Balkan mixture. Some of those sweeties might even like a dark-stoved Danish ribbon, or spicy navy cut rounds. And the littlest ones will certainly appreciate the delicate perfume of a pressed blond or a toasted Cavendish.

Oh, I can just imagine some sweet little pigtailed miss squealing with delight once she discovers the zesty pleasure of Louisiana Perique - especially in a rich fully rubbed blend!

Burley. Flue-cured. Toasted Cavendish. Black Virginia. Xanthi. Yenidje. Latakia. Tanzanian yellow. Dark Carolina. Red Cake. Green River. Maryland Ribbon. Caporal. Smyrna. Semois. Samsoun. Yakka. 1792 Flake.

I myself am thinking of manufacturing a brand of ciggies named "Happy Kittens" just to lure an attractive segment of the next generation into my vice, so that when I have become a dirty old man, and gout hampers my mobility, they will not wrinkle their cute little button noses at my smell and run away.

"Enjoy a Happy Kitten - it's small and sassy!"



One morning four years ago I was walking to work on Battery Street, which has a long stretch with a reeky sewer, and, at that time of day, three lanes bumper to bumper. I was smoking a cigar. A woman coming towards me screamed at full volume "thank you SOOO much for destroying my lungs by smoking, you asshole!".
Boruch Hashem I had the quickness of mind to respond "you're very welcome, ma'am, it's a pleasure".

I hope I have indeed succeeded in destroying her lungs. People like her make the world less pleasant.

Note: This post would have been much longer, but I felt the urge to step outside and light up. Mmmmmmmm!


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Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Oh good, I've got your undivided attention.

Back in the sixties and seventies, the counter-culture sought to shock and dismay society by embracing different values and behaviours. That was the age in which Timothy Leary enjoyed fame rather than notoriety, and communes offered a different lifestyle choice for those with both the inclination and the freedom to tune in, turn on, and drop out.
Free love. Free drugs. Free the Chicago seven.

Those who didn't have that freedom would often stick it to the man in some other way. Often by their political opinions, and by their clothing.

And by the posters on their bedroom walls.

Posters such as the iconic picture of Ernesto Che Guevara.

Che Guevara served as both a political hero, and a personal-presentation example.
Which rather shows that the hippie generation had their heads up their rears.

Ernesto Che Guevara (1928 - 1967) was the archetype of unwashed revolutionary drop-out. In addition to being a brutal killer and fairly miserable specimen of humanity.
During his career he caused the deaths, according to conservative estimate, of a few thousand people - by some estimates he was responsible for well over ten thousand lost lives. This aspect of his personality may have appealed to many counterculturalists during the sixties, but no doubt proved hard to emulate.

Throughout his life he rarely bathed and consequently smelled notoriously funky - his contemporaries called him a pig because of his filthiness. This aspect of his personality was more easily emulated.
Which may explain a number of the people who imitate his grooming habits.

[Well, I did promise you an orgy in the title of this post, so here it is.]

Yesterday was the fortieth anniversary of his execution in La Higuera. It was marked with great ceremony in many places, plus much fervor and weeping. Revolutionaries from across the globe descended upon his pilgrimage sites, with tributes, slogans, flowers, and banners. Che Guevara remains a hero to many - many who would not mind and have little clue that their hero was ruthless, cruel, violent, and generally speaking, a swine. A thoroughly vile and despicable man who should've been shot much earlier. A rabid dog who lived too long.

Rather than recognizing the man for what he was, the necrophiliacs deliriously celebrated the one thing that binds them with their hero, namely anti-Yanquiism. It was a love fest. A fevered rutting. I do not doubt that girls swooned.


But their fervor is intense and his appeal is great - so much so that his face has become a source of wealth for printers, tee-shirt makers, and souvenir hucksters. His love-struck fans can purchase Che Guevara fatigues, baseball caps, paperweights, graphic novels, embroideries, hoodies, personal jewelry, tea-cozies, bandanas, bookmarks, post cards, coffee mugs, busts, belt buckles, clocks, key chains, tie pins, backpacks........
The Che industry is strikingly reminiscent of American style Christianity and capitalism. Jesus and MacDonald's rolled into one. A Che beret is as instantly recognizable as Mickey Mouse ears on a hat. The man is plastic, and everything he touches gold.

Despite his having been quite dead for forty years.

Saint Che would roll over in his fancy Cuban mausoleum if he were alive today.
Fortunately, the pig is indeed dead.

And cannot object to the creation of wealth from his sexy corpse.


I celebrated yesterday with a cigar, and some rum. It was a very good day.
I don't own any Che merchanidise, in case you were wondering.

Thursday, October 04, 2007



The rosheshiva (soll sein gazunt) of Yeshiva Chipass Emess - West Coast (in beautiful downtown San Francisco, soll sein sehr shain) wishes to stress to the talmedim that hagba and slivovitz do NOT go together. Ever.

We do not want a repeat of that disgraceful episode from last year. You know who you are (*).

And further, don't just dance with your chavrusa, he gets all your attention anyway.
This time dance with someone else (especially you, Shmelkele - remember those rumours?).

As for the rest of you menuvlim, have a happy Simches Torah.

That is all.


(*) Yes, we know you claimed that someone covered the floor with chicken fat. That's not an excuse we're willing to accept.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Esrog Jelly is a seguloh for an easy child-birth.

When my mother was in labour with my brother, they decided after something like twenty or thirty hours to commit a Caesarian. Labour was not easy. And apparently, horror stories like that were by no means uncommon. Back in the narrow-hipped day.

[She did not take esrog jelly. She had never even heard of it.]

Years ago, the sister of a friend gave birth to her firstborn in approximately twenty minutes. She was back on her feet again in hours. Unusual, especially for so tiny a woman.

[She didn't take esrog jelly either. Wouldn't have even known what it was.]

Now Ed writes:
"During one of my wife's labors, she ate Esrog Jelly from Rebbetzin Kanievsky when she was about 6 cm dilated.
A mere 15 minutes later, she was ready and the baby was out in minutes.
[See comment thread on this post:]

So I had to wonder - what would've happened if my friend's sister had eaten that jelly?


Better have a net handy.

The foetus would've shot out of the womb like a clown from a circus cannon, and the birth canal would've made a sharp snapping sound as it slammed shut, kinda like bubble gum popping.

The kid would've ended up pointy-headed from the high-speed squeeze-out.

Either that or tube-shaped.

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