Sunday, June 30, 2013


To many English people, nothing speaks so strongly of home as 'curry'. Which most of them never cook themselves (English can't cook; it's a genetic condition), but purchase instead from dubious restaurants run by Bengali immigrants. The two great national dishes of Britain are mystery meat Vindaloo for the yobbos and Chicken Tikka Masala for the middle-classes.
Both are actually very fine preparations, but they don't resemble Indian food very much. In point of fact, neither does Indian food.

Naan was invented by Persian speakers, kulcha ditto, and most famous "North Indian" dishes derive from the cuisine of Northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan. The tandoor, it will be recalled, was created in Central Asia by the Turkic nomads.
Roghan Josh ("grease frazzle stew") is an Afghan dish from Kashmir.
Chilies were native to Central America, cloves and nutmeg are of Indonesian origin, pepper is Tamil, Vindaloo is a bastardised Portuguese preparation further bolicksed up by Brits and restaurateurs, and rich creamy spiced-up sauces are not really common in Indian households, except among the gross pudge-pot matrons of Delhi.
Which is an absurd enclave to begin with.

Many Indians nowadays do actually enjoy a spot of 'curry' with their sarson da saag, dhal, raita, achar, and roti. And almost anything tastes better with some chilies and dark-toasted cumin. Even Chicken Tikka Masala!
Possibly excepting laddoos and sevian ki kheer, but much further research is needed.

Ghee, of course, is the great purifier and can be added to anything.
......Rivulets of golden ghee, over velvety curves, mmmmm......
...............It's clean, I tell you, clean!

Curry powder is not Indian either, but originated in the spice trade. In India it's closest relative is conceivably Tamilian sambhar powder, but the proportions of spices used to compound the product are much more Sinhalese - Malay - Indonesian in inspiration.
The consumers of curry powder, traditionally, have been English.
Refer back to snarky comment concerning genetic condition.

Two parts coriander powder, one part turmeric, one part ground toasted cumin, and one part or a hell of a lot more of fried mustard seed.
Plus other spices, in either minute or insane quantities.
Fenugreek, cayenne, cinnamon, cardamom.
More coriander won't do any harm -- a popular Delhwi meat dish bases its appeal entirely on coriander, black pepper, and green cardamom -- but increasing the proportions of turmeric and cumin (especially raw) leads to rather dubious results. Turmeric mellows upon exposure to heat and looses that earthy bitterness it has when raw, and cumin in large quantities can end up brutally dominant.


Essential to almost any curry is onion fried brown and mashed up, along with additional flavours such as methi, garlic, and ginger. Indonesians will add galangal and lemon grass, along with shrimp paste and sometimes an inordinate amount of fresh red chilipaste, and nearly everywhere rich grease and a minor souring agent are also added. The browned onion gives body to the sauce. The basic spices provide the fundament of the flavour, additions tweak it, and ghee, cream, coconut milk, tamarind, tomato, katambi (cocum), et mult altres will fine-tune taste and mouthfeel, as well as determining whether it goes with breads or rice. Both in North India and the Indonesian areas ground-up nuts may be added for extra richness. Almonds, chilgoz, and pistacchios among Hindustani speakers; peanuts, cashews, candlenuts, kluwak (pangium edule) in Java and Sumatra. Thais, Balinese, and others, also include diverse bitter fragrant kaempferia roots.
The total effect need not be strong; curry can be mild.
Whether it is soupy or dry is up to the cook.
Accompaniments vary by cuisine.

Start with the onion. Add the spices. Extend the sauce.
Add a little more spice at the end. Serve.
Provide other dishes alongside.
Wets, dries, crunchies.
Plus a starch.

*-----Sambal, Sriracha hot sauce, krupuk, srundeng, onion salad, chutney-----*

Ground coriander is almost always part of the programme. Turmeric need not be, and cumin likewise might be missing. Almost all other spices will be a decision of the moment. Additions to the sauce are a natural inspiration, garnishes such as fried shallots, crumbled nuts, crispy crap, or minced fresh herbs, provide a lovely touch.

While the English and Dutch consider beer and ale the natural drinks to enjoy with their curries, that probably isn't a good idea. Indians might serve a buttermilk beverage, Indonesians and the Malays put a tureen with soup or singgang on the table for diners to wet their rice or drink from a separate bowl. Beer, as everyone who has been in rumbles with Northern Europeans knows, inflames the bestial passions and makes their breath profoundly rancid. As well as promoting digestive issues such as stupidity, gout, and dyspepsia.

Avoid beer. Have a glass of sherry instead.

*-----Sonf, mitha paan, succade, murabbat sfarjali, badha peg, oporto-----*

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When I awoke, I realized one thing: the Cantonese are driven by food.
The mental set-up that guided me to this stark conclusion was entirely hypothetical, and involved a lot of totally innocent nudity. Not actual nudity -- that could also have been innocent -- but the dreamed nudity of someone else.
So almost by definition frightfully innocent.

A quiet young lady is alone in the home on a beautiful summer day. She decides that she will have lunch, and sets to work in the kitchen. The sun is streaming in, illuminating everything, giving a warmth to the scene that a Dutch painter from the golden age would appreciate. But the person observing -- a neighbor in his study two floors up, peering through the blinds, is not a Dutch painter, but a Cantonese gentleman with a lot of books who probably lectures physics or chemistry at a local university.

His keen eyes follow her hands as they chop up some vegetables, avidly his orbs pursue her silhouette as she swirls water in the rice to rinse it before putting the pot on the stove. She inadvertently drenches her nightie, so she takes it off and puts on an apron. He approves; it is a very sensible thing to do, because if she is going to fry anything, hot fat may splatter. It would seriously torment that lovely lovely skin. He remembers the day he crisped bacon in his own kitchen while naked. He wishes he had worn an apron then. The butch masculinity of poncing around starkers in one's own home should have given way to the common sense practicality of at least wearing a frilly apron when cooking bacon.
He can still feel the sharp sting of the spitting pork.
It startled him, and changed his short-term plans.

It's a gorgeous scene, almost classical. A kitchen and a young lady bathed in sunlight. The contrasting hues of the smooth work surfaces, shiny cooking utensils, and that sheer velvety naked body awash with summery vibrance... oh, it makes him wish that he was younger, and actually knew her name!
Siu-jeh (miss) is somewhat impersonal, piu-mui (little cousin) feels so much better.
She looks both incredibly innocent and very adult at the same time.
A goddess from antiquity, a Greek statue, a demure Flemish bride, a pale Renaissance virgin, a maiden amid the leaves, lithographic fin du siecle bonbon box lids, and mme Marie Curie from a grammar school textbook he remembers reading long ago. Aaaah, that elfin slimness, that golden body, that silky, bouncy black hair, dark dark soft soft.
Exceptionally happy-making to behold.

She struggles with a large bottle of oyster sauce. Lee Kum Kee, an excellent brand. All Cantonese know of it, and keenly appreciate the briny saveur it gives to foods.

[Oyster sauce was invented by mr. Lee Kam-sheung (李錦裳) slightly over a century ago in Naamseui village (南水鎭), Guandong province, just south of Canton. Within a few years it had become such a beloved and essential part of their regional cuisine that most Cantonese-speakers cannot conceive of life, food, love, or philosophy without it.]

Finally the top comes off -- it had gooped a bit around the rim -- and she pours a gluggy dollop into a shallow bowl. Without her noticing, a rather large smear ends up on her bosom, on the left hand side, just above where a nipple hides behind the apron edge.

Our scholarly voyeur at this point is distracted by a yen for mustard greens. Yes, today he will definitely go across the hill to get a bunch of mustard greens on Stockton Street. It has been so long since he enjoyed their crisp snap and bitterness!
So good with oyster sauce, so very very good!
Nothing else goes better with Lee Kum Kee.

As he leaves his room with the view, he reviews what else would go well with the mustard greens. Perhaps some mussels stir-fried with black bean sauce and little red bellpepper bits? Ginger and scallion beef shreds? Or fatty pork chunks steamed with ginger and rice wine? But definitely mustard greens. He must have mustard greens.
That is essential.
No other crunchy stalk is quite so tasty with oyster sauce!

Oyster sauce is ALSO good with steak and eggs.
But truly divine with barely cooked vegetables.


Oyster sauce is standardly written 蠔油 ('ho yau'), alternate forms are 蚝油 and 蚵油, which are pronounced the same. Lee Kum Kee (李錦記) is the brand most people know from home and childhood, but there are other makes available, of varying quality levels. It is best to stick with Lee Kum Kee, which my longtime associate and former girlfriend furiously denies. She fondly remembers Hop Sing Lung (合勝隆蠔油), and there is also Dragonfly Brand (蜻蜓牌), commonly available and liked by some.
I suspect that our strong preference for different condiment qualities and manufacturers may well have been a contributing factor in the dissolution of our affair. We are, of course, still very good friends.

Her present significant other is extraordinarily sensitive to salt, nebbech, and I am looking for a girl who likes Lee Kum Kee.

Lee Kum Kee is not only good on Mustard green (油菜 'yau choi'), but also Chinese Broccoli (芥蘭 'gai lan' or 蘭芯 'lan sam'), Cauliflower (花椰菜 'faa yeh choi'), little bokchoi (小白菜 'siu bak choi') as well as chingchoy (青菜), quick-cooked lettuce (生菜 'saang choi'; in Chinese restaurants ask for 蚝油生菜), asparagus (蘆筍 'lou seun' or 露筍 'lou seun'), and many other vegetables.
But only Lee Kum Kee.
It's fundamental.

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

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Just like all the other single men in the entire world (meaning: San Francisco), I have subscribed to OkCupid. Which is a dating site.
Not everyone there looking for the man or woman of their dreams is single, please understand, and some of them don't actually exist in real life. In some ways it's Creep Central with a few natural barriers built in, so a measure of caution is advised.
I seriously doubt that I'll find anyone there -- and I suspect that my animal magnetism does not carry over the internet at all -- but it is, nevertheless, both interesting and educational to browse.

Some people read books, some spend all day thinking about art.
There are far too many people who jog or exercise.
Many people love their dogs.

They don't smoke, rarely drink and then only socially, are Christians or not, and have six things they couldn't live without.
And they never do drugs.

This blogger definitely does drugs.

Caffeine, nicotine, and highly refined white sugar.

Consequently, you may spot me occasionally lurking in huge crowds, wearing my inconspicuous red and white striped jersey and matching beanie, looking quizzically stoned through my black rimmed bottle-bottom glasses, mere moments before I strip naked and start doing a merry dance to Spring. While singing about Joe Camel, the Marlboro Man, Mrs. Olson and her bottomless pot of Java oh sexy lady I want you as my grammar school mama, and pure cane shuga from Hawaii that's the one.
Or, if you're lucky, the 1970's jingle for Vaseline Intensive Care.

"Working hands! Working hands! Whatever the work you doooo; Now the working lotion, is working harder for you! New Vaseline! Intensive Care! Is working harder, for you!"

If you're in the mood, I'll follow up with the 'Welcome To Miller Time' song. After which we will recline upon our disreputably stained couch and watch black and white Sci-Fi movies from the fifties till four o'clock on the morning.

Now that's where the caffeine, nicotine, and highly refined white sugar come in. They're study aids. You cannot stay up till four o'clock in the morning without their help. Caffy, nicky, shuga, babe.
These three are key to upping productivity and remaining human.
They also make plain why the couch is so stained.
We're jittery, and we spilled our beverages.

In fact, I'm using all three of those things RIGHT NOW.

Coffee, with a spot of cream and spoon of sugar. It's strong-bodied.
Blonde Virginia flake tobacco, fully rubbed out, in a Savinelli pipe (shape no. 101, made for the Golden Gate Pipe Club), at perfect cruising speed. Sweetly tinglesome down the tip of the tongue.
It's all good. Exceptionally good. Utterly and divinely good.
The breakfast of champions, at any time of day.
I'm high as the proverbial kite.

You should be here to share all this.

You should message me if:

You want to meet the man you've been warned about.
You need someone weird for the family picnic.
You. Are. Legend.
Your brow needs wiping, you're about to faint.
Foggy nights make you want to take a walk.
You wish to paint the town a nice shade of mauve.
You need help with that lobster bisque.
You Jane, me British anthropologist.
You want an impartial observer.
The search for the best milk-tea is finally over.
Ob-gyn? Add ob-vermouth and ob-liv for an ob-martini!
You can't remember what your sign says about you.
Your nurse fantasies involve lime jello and wheel chair races.
Suggestive vegetables bring out the cleaver in you.
You think I have something of yours.
Your life isn't surreal enough.
The lab burned down and you need a place to hide.
It's very lonely out in the desert, Gringo.
The entire family went to Vegas and you've got lots of coffee.
You've seen 'My Neighbor Totoro' several times.
You've used your bra as a slingshot for conkers.
You'd like a man to look deep into your eyes and whisper "let's eat".
Everyone mind their own business! It's delicious, okay!?!
You want some cookies, please.

Oh, and honk if you ran over Jesus.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Friday, June 28, 2013


Several weeks ago a problem with the computer left me desperate.
But, thanks to several totally brilliant people in Hyderabad, the issue was resolved. Yes, it took over twenty hours of someone else running diagnostics and doing corrective procedures long distance.
While I sat at the machine looking at the pointer opening and closing doors, downloading anti-spamware stuff, and typing code, another person did all the work.

The only problem was the accents that greeted me whenever I called in to alert them that I was back on line, please help me fix the problem.

Man, those accents!


They have wonderful food in Hyderabad. Biriani, slow-cooked till the fragrance of saffron permeates the meat and rice. Mirch ka salan, spicy with green chili and rich with peanuts and sesame paste.
Nahari, which is utmost delicious!
And haleem!

Speaking to a front-desk phone-answer wallah with a thick, THICK, Andrapradeshi cadence to his voice left me feeling profoundly hungry. Very professionally, they walked me through setting up the connection, then thanked me for calling the company once the remote control over the computer had been established and the instant message screen popped up informing me that "Technician Number So-and-So" was ready to help me.

There are NO accents in instant messages. But I still wanted samosas, laddoos, hot hot chai with kaju biscuit, and other items of a yummy-shummy nature.

Heck, I would even settle for some greasy jalebis from that wretched Pakistani dukan down in the Tenderloin.



Haan, haan, mujhe bahut pasand-hai; accha, yaaaaaaar!

The truly eloquent stuff kicks in at the third minute.

For hungry readers, here are links to recipes for mirch ka salan (Andra style green chili curry), paya nahari (a lovely breakfast curry), and haleem (a meat-rich porridge for breaking the fast during ramzam). Unfortunately I am still not happy with my biryani recipe, so I have not posted it yet. Samosas are easy, everyone knows how to make laddoo, and jalebi you should buy from a Pakistani.

As a lagniappe, here's a recipe for something to dip in your tea. It isn't kaju biscuit -- you'll have to get those at Yazdani's in the Fort -- but it is very good, and you should always have a tin of them handy.

[Please note: ALL ingredients should be very cold. Chill them beforehand.]

One cup plain flour (maida).
One cup atta (chapatti, durum, or wheat) flour.
Four TBS corn starch.
One cup ghee.
Teaspoon salt.
Half Tsp. baking powder.
Four TBS buttermilk.
Ice-cold water as needed.

Mix the dry ingredients, then knead briefly to a soft dough with the buttermilk and ghee, using cold water if necessary. Chill this for an hour. Dust with extra flour, then pound it flat and roll it out. Fold it over in three layers with a little flour in between. Roll it out and fold again. Cut into several three by five inch rectangles. Now fold these double twice, lengthwise, and pinch each strip in the centre.
Chill once more for at least an hour.
Then bake at four hundred Fahrenheit for ten minutes. Lower the temperature to 300 for another fifteen minutes to let it bake crisp evenly all the way through.

[Accha to, banaspati margarine bhi hogi.]

Note that whether or not you sprinkle kalonji, sesame, cracked pepper, or cumin seed over before baking, brushing with ghee is not a bad idea in any case. Use a cold roller to impress the seeds on the surface.

An acceptable shortcut is to simply buy pre-prepped puff pastry and treat it similarly.
And if you do that, a dusting of sugar and cinnamon in lieu of spice is excellent and quite recommended. But it won't be khari.

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

Thursday, June 27, 2013


As part of my on-going presentation of the eating habits of the feral San Francisco Bachelor, let me give you the following tasty and nutritious snack, prepared recently after an hors d'oeuvre of warm apple pie. Please note that it can easily be prepared at home, there is no need to invite me over to cook for you.
No doubt you are relieved.


Two eggs, clotsed.
A large fistful of chunked ham.
Two tablespoons of capers, drained.
Two tablespoons of grated cheese.
Half an avocado, chunks.
One scallion, minced.
One tablespoon Crystal hot-sauce.
One tablespoon of lime juice.

Pour a liberal splash of olive oil into the skillet, sauté the scallion briefly and then add the ham chunks. Once they start to brown, add the capers, then the avocado. Agitate, add the beaten eggs, and swirl around. Sprinkle the cheese over and stir to incorporate as it melts. Liberally dash on the hot sauce and add a generous squeeze of lime juice.
Serve on toast points while surfing the internet.

The avocado was what remained after a previous snack, and the ham came from a Danish tin purchased a very long time ago. The capers were in one of the several open jars at the back of the refrigerator.
I would've added more stuff, but I forgot where I put it.
Anything that looked good at the time was there.

Adding tomato sauce was also a possibility.
But that would have been overkill.
Too much like stale pizza.


The apple pie that preceded this spontaneous feast came from Heidi's Pies, located at 1941 South El Camino Real, San Mateo. Ca 94403. Telephone: 650-574-0505. It was delicious. My apartment mate had left it in the refrigerator and told me to go ahead and help myself.

If served early in the day, have a cup of milk tea alongside.
If late at night, Bourbon or Sherry.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013


At first thought, an affection for carnivorous fish is hard to come by.
But there is a beauty to their hunger, expressed by vicious chomping motions and the ripping of flesh. Billows of pink foam.
For best viewing, tip a live cow into the tank.
Your new friend will love you forever.
Especially with more cows.
Always more cows.

'Dang', she thought as she read what she had written. 'That's one hell of a way to start a love story'. The category of women's fiction would never recover from this assault. If chick lit revolved around a tender relationship at the centre of the tale, a story of a terminally frustrated graduate student who raised Amazonian killer fish would definitely blow some minds.
It would be, she knew, the perfect answer to 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.
Just as perverse, and without the odious necking.
Better character development, too.

She suspected it might be hard to find a publisher. Unless she provided photographs of the romantic author herself, feeding the piranhas.
A vacation in South America might be in order.
With a bit of luck they sold cows there.

She had, on the recommendation of one of her friends, purchased a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. And almost immediately regretted it. The scenes of sex were unimaginative, stilted, and boring. Though her own sex-life had long been entirely hypothetical, and now involved guilty fantasies late at night after three or four shots of Jim Beam in front of the television, she just knew that real women did NOT have any interest in masking tape, gags, and rope. Men like Christian Grey were pigs! And women who subjected themselves to reading about his tortuous sexual escapades with a person who was clearly soft in the head were voyeurs.
No book, she felt, was more likely to lead to extremely ill-advised sexual choices and incidental brutality than this turgid tome. She had never read anything so badly written. Even the Twilight series had seemed deep and meaningful in comparison. Both the author, and the main character, needed a good sound thrashing with a belt. The only slight redeeming feature was the general air of decadence and latent homosexuality; she strongly suspected that if E.L. James was not a viciously demented drag-queen, she no doubt was a committed masochist. And quite possibly a fruit-fly.

Well, she had no proof, these were all possibilities.

She herself would not write such crap. Her novel would be about a self-confident individual with a penchant for carnivorous animals, who despised the macho versus femmy role-models of popular culture.
A woman capable of bashing an arrogant rich man over the head with an attaché case, then rolling the bastard for his Rolex and traveller's cheques while he bled to death in the gutter.
Lastly kicking the corpse right in the double breasts, above the vest.
Just to make sure the coroner's office had something.
Real men do NOT wear pin-stripes.

Neither do real women.

Real women breed piranhas.

If she ever graduated college, she hoped to buy a ranch in the foothills, and have a humongous tank built. The neighbors would gradually loose their cattle, as she raided the surrounding country-side in ever widening circles.

She might even dally with a man. Eventually.

A man with good taste and sound intelligence, who would appreciate her for the intellectual predator that she was.

Often described as cute, even adorable, in reality she was a ferocious beast who clawed her way through bad books faster than a man could use a shovel —- a skill that allowed her to dig up the rodents of women's literature and eat them. Rather like a badger.



Describing that odious novel by E.L. James as treacly and parasitic is an understatement. The words 'tortuous' and 'clunky' also come to mind. It is not garbage, however, as garbage is compostable. This book should be buried in a salt mine alongside radioactive waste.

I am keen to invite your feedback.
Please be so kind as to spell-check it first.
Thank you.

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


Some of my readers have remarked at my fondness for Chinatown, and astutely guessed that it isn't just the cheap eaties and the tolerance of old farts smoking that forms the attraction.

They are right.

It is the near-complete absence of rutting young people.
I, too, would like to rut. And I consider myself young.

But I have no one to rut with, and while I may consider myself still full of beans and piss and vinegar, to small people half my age I must look impossibly antique, what with my goatee and pipe..... why heavens, it's Gandalf!
Come down from Olympus to see what the mortals are up to.
Text mom! We've spotted grandpa!

I have no doubt whatsoever that Cantonese Americans also rut, but they have the exceptionally good grace not to do it in public, nauseating the rest of us. Or making us jealous.

Their Public Displays of Affection are aimed entirely at food.

Which is extraordinarily lovable of them.

It's exciting to see.


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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


What do you do on a rainy summer day in San Francisco when you're alone in the house? Naturally you take a very long bath. The sound of gentle precipitation outside replaces the usual bird noise, even the parrots do not fly overhead.
They're probably down at the Embarcadero chattering in the tall trees.

Long bath. Hot soapy water. Luxuriate.
It's going to be a leisurely day.

At around one o'clock you head down the hill to Yummy Fast Food & Dim Sum on Stockton Street for some preserved egg and lean pork congee, plus an oil-stick. Simple, satisfying. Slightly decadent.
Because it's hot and smooth and sensual.
Comfort food. Perfect for wetness.

[Yummy Fast Food: 金華點心快餐 (kam wa dim sam faai chan), located at 930 Stockton Street, between Clay and Washington. Preserved egg and lean pork congee: 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (pei daan sau yiuk juk). Congee: 粥 (juk), rice porridge.
Oil-stick: 油條 (yau tiu), which is a plain dough strip deep fried, puffed-up and airy, perfect for dipping in your rice porridge. All together $3.20, four plus if you also have a beverage. Leave something in the tip-jar to show your appreciation.]

Really, why not? Might as well enjoy the slowness of rainy days; they are so few and so precious in California at this time. And even the streets look nicer when it drizzles.

If you're me, lunch ('breakfast') is after the first two pipes of the day. The first bowl was a dark aged Virginia, the second one a soft buttery blonde. The third one will be started after I leave Yummy Fast Food. I'll probably spend an hour or two in Chinatown, people watching. Which must mean observing locals with newspapers held above their heads, and tourists in shorts and t-shirts looking very baffled indeed.
California is not supposed to be cold OR wet! What happened?
We've been cheated!

Where are the busty blondines running in slo-mo towards the surf?
The bronzed hunk-o-ramas with their long, long boards?
They lied! Bay Watch was NOT filmed here!

Sorry for the disappointment, folks. Thank you for visiting. There's nothing we can do about the weather. San Francisco is not your grandma's California. The climate is eccentric.
I'm enjoying it, though.

Probably going to be in C'town till around three or three thirty. That's enough time to smoke two pipefulls. Same tobaccos as earlier today.

Tordenskjold Virginia Slices. It's seven years old.
Stokkebye 4th. Generation. 1855. From October.

By the way, the title of this post has a simple explanation:
I'm wearing my boxers with the happy green owls today.
You cannot see them, but I know they're there.
And I think they're extremely cute.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
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Years ago it was the second gayest district of San Francisco, today it is better known for blatant rutting, by twenty-somethings of either sex. The demographics have changed; like many neighborhoods, the charm it once had has been replaced by pretentiousness, over-priced food, and vulgar displays of hormonalism. Largely this is due to the triumph of the repulsive cell-phone generation; they must be doing something right, there are so many of them.

Cell-phones: the indispensable tool for randy male vulgarians texting seduction to highly uncomplex white chicks with big tits.
Good luck boys, don't forget to tip.

Back in the day you couldn't find flavoured vodka in the drinking holes of Polk Street if your life depended on it. The bars catering to queers served a man's drink. Whiskey poured with a stiff hand, or cocktails that could boost a rocket. Now, alas, the chances of finding a salty caramel framboise martini are better than finding Jesus.

Civilized adult beverages have no more than three ingredients.
Not a single one of which is sweet.

I haven't eaten on Polk in years. Not since the last honest Indian place closed down. Oh yes, there are still eateries with Desi khanna on Polk Street; unclean dhabbas staffed by dishonest Delhiwallas and Lahoris. Their offerings are perfect for intoxicated young adults who will eat any swill to fill a hole, then go home with a blonde to sleep-barf.

Well, there IS the Swan Oyster Depot. But it is only open during the day. And the people waiting in line outside would never think of visiting the street at night. It's a different scene, and a better crowd.

There used to be very good pizza and cheap Greek food on Polk Street, French food, fish restaurants, Mexican, and at least three Chinese bakeries. Good honest coffee, too.

Of course, the down side was the huge swarm of teenage boy toys prostituting themselves for drug-money. But once they had scored, they would go to a coffee shop to boast about their conquest, and tell tall tales of pudgy middle-aged business men who paid for the most amazing services.
I rather suspect that they're all Republicans now, and have two dogs and a house on Twin Peaks.

The Noble Frankfurter once served excellent sausage; now there's a bar catering to horny sportsfiends.
The oldest Thai restaurant on the stretch became a yoga parlour with sweaty pudgepots.
Dingo Wong no longer cooks-up stir-frys for late-night drag-queens.
He's retired to Modesto with ulcers and seven grandkids.
Heck, there even used to be bookstores on Polk.
Many such! Both good AND dirty.
Just two remain.

[There are now also TWO churches on Polk Street. One of them was where they sold good cheap wine and bottles of single malt for nearly half of normal retail, the other served the best damned Palestinian shwarma, mezze, and Turkish coffee you could find. Like any half-assed Jewishly-inclined person, given a choice between Christian preaching and Arab food, I would vastly prefer the food. No one needs a priest in a singles mecca.]

This blogger misses the self-confident, gallant, and joyously depraved aspect of San Francisco, before the place turned so suburban and mediocre.

Cell-phone users. Blyat.

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

Monday, June 24, 2013


A normal man would have it easier. But I'm afraid I'm rather picky.
If I cannot find what I want, I will not settle for whatever's left.
Life, I may have mentioned, is too short to drink Starbucks.

Last week I could have spent several hours in nice surroundings, with people whom I rather like, occasionally joining in their merry chatter. But I realized that in the mood I was in, it would not suit me or do much for them. As a single middle-aged man I sometimes have periods when I do not wish for the company of crowds, nor feel quite capable of socializing effectively.


'Mencius said: "I like fish, I also like bear paw. If I cannot have both, I will forsake the fish and have the bear paw".'

[Mang-ji yuet: "yu ngo so-yuk yaa, hung-jeuk yik ngo so-yuk yaa; yi-je pat-ho-dak gim, se yu yi-cheui, hung-jeuk je yaa".]

The sage spoke of food metaphorically. So also my reference to Starbucks.
If I cannot have bearpaw, why settle for fish?

Fish, of course, is normal female company. Most female company. The kind of person who claims that she likes long walks on the beach with her dogs, a night at the opera, holding hands, and romantic candlelight dinners, when what she really means is endless hours rambling about herself and her girlfriends, a shopping spree for handbags and shoes, preening, and romantic candlelight dinners in a snooty restaurant with an obsequiously sycophantic sex-starved snake-hipped oily European headwaiter.

I probably wouldn't like long walks on the beach either, with or without the dogs.

That may be the only point we have in common.

Sherry or tea. A pile of books. Long afternoons spent in near-silence, occasionally munching cookies. When daylight fades, a gentle touch takes over. You read your books, I'll read mine. I hope you don't mind if I voice a juicy bit aloud at times, and please feel free to do likewise.
Let's go have dinner at this place I know where the food is not too fancy at all, but rather good, and the staff is friendly and courteous without being intrusive.
You look lovely wearing pearls; very sexy. Cute.

See? It's simple. Good friends, good companions, good people.

I'll hardly mention my co-workers, as I know they do not interest you.
Please assume likewise for me. The same goes for work.
Therapy is not a reason for a relationship.
Wit, affection, and warmth.

A short literate foodie.

Bear paw.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013


There are times when I envy dogs. Social creatures need to be touched, and dogs have it made. They positively invite stroking, scritching, and petting. In fact, the sensation of being touched is an essential part of their interaction, with each other and with humans.
Cats veer toward Aspergers syndrome.
Touch them at your peril.

I swing both ways; both a dog person and a cat person.

But if I had to be an animal, I would prefer to be a canine. Life without touch, without someone touching one, would be almost unbearable.
No wonder felines are insane little furballs.


Animals are far more accepting of communication by physical contact than humans, and a lot less likely to kick up a fuss or start screaming.
One cannot just reach out and pet another person.

Conversationally animals are far less adept.

I'm not so sure that that is any great defect, however. Judging by what comes out of their mouths, most humans are far too impressed with themselves, and would prefer all discussions to revolve around them. Events involving alcoholic beverages prove that beyond any doubt; the participants insist on mentioning encyclopedic details of their various experiences which highlight what wonderful people they are, how fascinating, and how intensely alive.

A dog will never do that. It will wag its tail instead.

And a cat will simply scratch you.

Go ahead. Pet them.

The two beasts mentioned above both prove their point with admirable brevity; demanding attention without boring the listener to tears, and establishing their unique individuality with an economy of action.
They are there. Now deal with them.
It will prove rewarding.

We have no tails to wag.
We cannot scratch.

Perhaps I need to break some windows and start a few fires. Overturn garbage cans and howl at the moon. Run around the forest foaming at the mouth. Chase rabbits, and savage the cattle.
Either that, or hibernate like a bear.

Leave some milk outside; it will keep me from destroying your yard.


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Women do not think the same way that men do.  If they did, life might be somewhat different.
I often doubt that men and women can ever see eye to eye; women have a great capacity to mis-interpret normal behavior entirely.

Women tend to be more secretive. Devious even.

In any case, women are seldom honest.

It's something to think about.

Or not. Which is better.

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Saturday, June 22, 2013


We could go to the end of Telegraph Hill where it overlooks the wharf, carrying a bottle of Amontillado and small cigars. Or we could go back to my place, to sink in each others' arms, sniffing deeply of exotic perfume: your refined fragrance -- wildflowers and vetiver; my spicy wickedness -- pipe tobacco and a hint of musk.
A handsomely evil middle-aged cooz is just what the doctor ordered.
So much calmer and more considerate than college boys.
More knowing, and more creatively athletic.
But gentled by experience.

Saturday night would be perfect, except that everyone is out and about, and people might suspect something if they saw the two of us together. Certainly the people you live with, and the neighbors. A talkative and too curious bunch, whose intemperate speculation, though malicious, might be right on target. Far better to spend your weekday afternoons instead engaged in cups of tea, cookies, and innocent depravity. Followed by that Amontillado previously mentioned. Or some Oloroso - a more fragrant and mature potation.
Sherry, remarkably, goes as well with cookies and a pipe-full of fine Virginia tobacco as a hot cup of tea. Perfect for persons of developed tastes and keen interests, not at all suitable for brash youths with bestial passions.

This blogger likes a spot of sherry now and then. That should not surprise you. Tea drunk too late in the evening leads to disturbing thoughts in the darkness late at night. Whereas sherry yields to a pleasant lethargitude after a day of tobacco and wickedness.
For the past three years there has only been tobacco.
With greater maturity comes discretion.
Necessarily it means self-control.
Life is too short to drink Starbucks, smoke cheap aromatics, or eat McGreaseburgers. Coors, Michelob, Malt Liquor, and wine coolers were never part of the programme, even in my weirder days.

Pizza, once in a while, is a truly splendid thing.
But it doesn't ever lead to wild sex.
If it did, we'd all be fat.

If there's a thunderstorm later tonight I shall be out on the front steps, or wandering up to Hyde Street where the trees are. I like storms, and rain pouring down on summer nights is beautiful. It would be perfect weather for a bowl of aged Virginia flake, smoked in a pipe with a tactile surface. When I still lived in Valkenswaard I would leave the café at such times and sit under the awning on the terrace, away from the chattering people inside, and fill up my pipe. The square in front of the St. Nicolas Church would glisten darkly gorgeous, lights reflecting off cobblestones, water pooling under the trees. Sometimes there would be others outside, also quietly enjoying the weather.
One need not talk during rain, but company is nice.
At such times the sense of privacy is intense.
There is no one else about; just us.
In silence, by ourselves.

Summer in San Francisco is colder than many other places. Whether it rains (very rarely), or there is fog (often), it is throw-rug and sherry weather; grim, grey, and for some people profoundly alcoholism inducing. Judging by the ruckus on Polk Street, that is.

How odd that there are no places open at night where one might have a cup of tea, or a lovely pastry. Even sherry is hard to find, and smoking is not allowed.

I dreamed the other day of returning home long after closing time. As I headed up Larkin Street, a small group of people passed by, that being a man and his three sons, with his little daughter riding piggy-back.
Her head was on his shoulder, her eyes were closed. It had been a long day and she had been up far too late. But she had had such a wonderful time; there had been cake, and ice-cream, and her cousins and aunties and uncles had been there.....
Now she drowsed on her father's back, soon she would be home.
Thank goodness there was no rain! It would have been so cold!
Only fog, and the smell of someone's tobacco.
As I said, it was just a dream.

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Friday, June 21, 2013


Several weeks ago one of my friends remarked that pipe smoking was a total chick magnet. Now this, you might think, would be very great encouragement to the single pipe-smoker. "I smoke a pipe", he will say, "therefore young ladies with smiling faces, intelligent eyes, and quirky intellects MUST flock around me".
Soon, certainly. It will happen.

Not so. His definition of "chick" is off.

Smiling faces indicate nice personalities.
Intelligent eyes mirror active minds.
Quirky intellects suggest brains.

Given that a young lady who has all of the above is probably one out of a thousand or more, her numbers in any one city are insufficient for flocking. It's his fault; he quantifies the subject too narrowly.

[SF: Population 825,000. Divide by two. Then divide by 7. Then divide by 1000+. Maximum fifty. Of whom most do not live downtown. And this is a very liberal guess-timate. Some of them are Vegan.]

What he gets instead are people of all the wrong ages, who will remark wistfully that their great-great grandfather used to smoke a pipe, and surely he must have met the man once? Several times?

Ladies, I will admit that I am older than you (because I cannot hide it), but that doesn't mean I experienced The Civil War first-hand. At fifty-three, I am considerably more youthful than your long-deceased ancestor, whom you esteemed, because he had the good taste to smoke a pipe. But our preference for briar is the only thing we share.


There are several reasons why you should follow the splendid example of your great-great grandmother, who married a pipe-smoker.

Not least of which is that we are better smelling than cigar-smokers, more thoughtful, and trimmer too.

We also know a lot more. Cigar-smokers are a dull lot.


1. Cigar-smokers tend to look like Winston Churchill, drunk, whereas pipe-smokers resemble Rhett Butler, sober.
2. A man with a pipe radiates creativity and gravitas; cigars advertise deep-seated Oedipal issues.
3. Pipe-smokers have a youthful vigour at any age; some of them still dance the foxtrot.
4. Cigarette smokers are known to steal from their mom's purse when desperate.
5. Pipe-smokers rarely have tattoos and never get out of bounds, ever.
6. Pipe-smokers overwhelmingly vote for the right candidate.
7. When you light up a cigarette, an angel weeps.
8. Cigar-smokers rip the wings off kittens.
9. Pipe-smokers are good listeners.

And lastly,
10. Pipe smokers love to provide fresh lobsters, oysters, melted butter, and champagne to sweet young ladies with smiling faces, intelligent eyes, and quirky intellects, of whom there may be as many as four dozen in this city.

Or bacon. Pipe-smokers also know that you lust after bacon.
Apple-wood smoked, pepper-coated, artisanal bacon.
We know where to find it.
We've got sources.

If any of my readers have deep thoughts about these matters, I would be keen to hear them. Discuss this at the next meeting of your book club, and get back to me. Let me know if you want bacon.


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Thursday, June 20, 2013


Earlier I walked up Hyde Street smoking, enjoying the late afternoon sunlight. Passed by the Sun Kwong at Jackson Street where the proprietress was speaking with an elderly gentleman.
She looks older than when she worked at Ping Yuen in C'town.
Gentler, too.

[Sun Kwong: 新光 1400 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94109. Tel.: (415) 673-9478. 地址:加州舊金山昃臣街1400號,電話:(415) 673-9478。 Ping Yuen: 平園咖啡店. This bakery - coffee shop - restaurant was located just up the street (昃臣街) from the Great Star Theater (大明星戲院), before the New Orchid Pavilion (新蘭亭快餐店) on the corner of Becket Street (白話轉街). It closed long ago.]

I should eat there one of these days.
I wonder if she'll remember me.
It's been over twenty years.

I used to go to the Ping Yuen for pie and coffee two or three evenings each week. It was possible to spend hours reading the Chronicle, the Examiner, the Gam San Si Po, Tsing Tao Yat Po, and other journals, while getting high as a kite on the refills that would magically appear.
I think the ladies behind the counter were competing to see how wired they could make the customers.

[ San Francisco Chronicle: 舊金山紀事報。 San Francisco Examiner: 舊金山考察家報。 Gam San Si Po: 金山時報。 Tsing Tao Yat Po: 星島日報。 The most frequently read other journals were the International Daily (國際日報), The Far Eastern Economic Review (遠東經濟評論), and The Economist (經濟學人周刊).]

She left, and with her husband opened their own place around ninety one or ninety two. The food is good. I heard that then, and that's still the reputation they have today.

When I was at Fweebink I'd occasionally phone in an order for food to go. My Cantonese was far worse then than it is today, but I always got stuff
that I liked.

Twenty years.
Long time.

The pipe tobacco, because I know that you are infinitely curious about such matters, was Tordenskjold Virginia Slices. Several tins entered my stockpile in 2006 and 2007, so this was six or seven years old when I broke the seal a few days ago. It smells heavenly. Deep, dark, rich, fruity. A slightly sour undertone. Remarkably, it is a very light smoke.
It reminds me of tobacco mixtures I have not smelled in years, as well as in profound ways of our house in Valkenswaard. Both in Springtime, when the apple tree blossomed, and Autumn, when the fruits fermented in the tall wet grass. I wonder what I was smoking then, I cannot remember any names of similar products.
Maybe it was something in one of my father's pipes.
It is perfect for sunny recollections.


That was nearly two hours ago. Soon I shall head out again, to meet some old friends and co-conspirators at nine-thirty in a south-of-Market location. You do not need to know what we're up to, but I'm sure I can pack in another bowl. In the meantime, I'm getting my caffeine level up to normal again (meaning: wired to the tits) with a good stiff serving of Mandarin Ducks.
It's very Hong Kong.
Malaysia too.

Forty percent strong coffee, sixty percent strong dark tea, with a heavy dollop of sweetened condensed milk. Normally served in a pint glass, but in that case probably over ice.
The Taiwanese and Singaporeans like it with small tapioca balls.
Both refreshing and invigorating.

The name 'Mandarin Ducks' (鴛鴦 yin-yeung) refers to creatures that once paired never separate, and are consequently a symbol of fidelity in a married couple. In the olden days the new bride's trousseau included embroideries of the birds on every conceivable cloth.
Bed sheets, pillow cases, bridal chamber drapes......
I guess nowadays she simply gets to drink it.

鴛 (yin) is the drake, 鴦 (yeung) is the hen.

In places where they also do milk-tea, there will often be the faintest hint of lychees from the strong silk-stocking brew. Normally I make my milk-tea with both black tea and jasmine tea, so in this case there is a hint of a garden in verdant spring to the bitter beverage.
And good gracious! I'm ragingly alive.

Raising hell should be fun tonight.

The man who first condensed a cow should be sainted.

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Odd that I should crave dimsum at present. I'm not really a morning-eaties person, and tend to avoid solids until far later in the day. Coffee, news, and tobacco have been my breakfast choices for years now. And dimsum is a very social thing besides. I am not a particularly social person. You may have guessed that.
The idea of multi-faceted interaction does not thrill.
Especially not before I've drunk plenty of coffee.
Just not interpersonal till fully stimulated.

Yet for some reason I've got a yen for shrimp bonnets, pork siu mai, and cheung fan. A loud and crowded environment, lots of cheerful people,
carts with steaming food erupting forth from a kitchen.
Perhaps it's been too long.

When I don't head across the hill to snack in Chinatown, interesting experiments with comestibles ensue. Visit the refrigerator, combine ingredients.
Frozen tilapia steaks, fresh chilipeppers, and squash? Fish stew!
Peanutbutter, avocado, and dill pickle? A refreshing summer sandwich with a pleasing snappy crunch.
Tortilla chips, hot sauce, and peaches? Naturally that's a zesty cocktail dip combo.

There are good reasons most middle-aged men eat alone. Our tastes have become too heterodox for the masses. We've grown up, and our chosen wine with dinner is coffee.


There are some things that are always on hand.
Fresh chili peppers. Hot sauce. Achar. Cayenne. Sambal. Bread. Peanut butter. Jam. Milk. Eggs. Dry noodles. Canned tuna. Curry paste. P'titim. Mayonnaise. Kasondi pickle in oil. Black mushrooms. Dried oysters. Fermented fish. Salt-cured meat. Tinned soup. Condensed milk. Coffee, tea, and cacao. Cumin, turmeric, and cardamom.
Something in the way of a vegetable.

It's a smorgasbord.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013


A correspondent who has visited this blog numerous times in a number of guises -- once even from Jerusalem, if I remember correctly, and another time while in Paris -- posts an interesting message in the comment field under a previous essay.

No, Baruch Hashem ("thank goodness") this time it has absolutely diddly-squat to do with "inhaling cigars".

Or the Aleppo Codex ('Keter Aram Tzova').

He writes:

Dear Mr. BackOfTheHill,

I recently had this exchange with my rabbi. I was wondering if you could include the exchange on your blog, along with a commentary, explaining any unusual, non-Englishy terms, or non-Christian concepts, to your readers, so that they might appreciate it more.

Dear Rabbi,

I have an esteemed Question for you.

What is the inyen of דוג שיט? It's obviously a very important mitzvoh, because it's in Hebrew. Is it, by any perchance, a name of the De*ty G*D? If so, I may want to get a tattoo of it on both of my arms and stenciled on something resembling a Louis Vuitton purse.

Thank you very much,

Richard-Adham Kalower

[Here was his response:]

Dear Richard "Ate Ham",

yes, דוג שיט is indeed the Hebrew name of a deity, namely Neptune (literally: Doug the Oarsman). In theory, it would be a good hiddur mitzvoh to have his image tattooed, but I doubt you'll find a craftsman, even if Jewish, who'll be ready and able to tattoo such an eccentric design.



[End cite]

You, dear reader, will notice several items which may raise your eye-brow. Kindly leave it lowered; some things must remain opaque.

"Explaining any unusual, non-Englishy terms, or non-Christian concepts"

The relevant words are: rabbi, inyen, mitzvoh, tattoo, Neptune, hiddur mitzvoh.


Rabbi: originally meaning master ('great person, or thing'), now in Hebraic usage applied to one who has received smicha ('smicho l'rabbanus'), though in Arabic it is a name of the deity. Many Arabs, ignorant of the origin of the term in the proto-Arabic language which evolved into Hebrew three millennia ago, are outraged at the Jewish use of the word and intend to write an angry letter to the editor.

Editor: rabbi.

Inyen: topic, issue, matter at hand. An eppes riezige sach.

Mitzvoh: one of 613 entries in an ancient instructional manual which has been lost, possibly in the Midbar. Locating the missing tome has proven difficult since Menachim Begin (z"l) returned that miserable place to the Paynim in 1979. They are referenced in Toireh, but as the original doc itself cannot be examined, most people simply wing it.

דוג שיט: the rap-artist Snoop Dog in a canoe or other small aquatic conveyance. Ich veis?

Tattoo: images, designs, symbols, decorations, or even texts, which are permanently marked on the ectoderm of a human being or other sentient near-hairless creature. The process is considered painful, and usually a ghastly mistake, though for ethnic groups still resident in rainforest areas or underdeveloped regions like the Haight-Ashbury and the Mission District, it is also culturally significant, indicating that the wearer has achieved a life-goal like wrestling a whale or completing her first divorce.

The skin is the largest organ of the integumentary system, which protects the muscles, bones, ligaments and internal organs.

Skin is prominently mentioned in the Bible (Neviim, most notably in the book of Isayah: ספר ישעיה Sefer Yeshayahu), as well as several songs of a religious nature, such as the following:

When you hear the syncopation,
And sweet music softly moans;
It ain't no sin to take off your skin,
And dance around in your bones.

Just like those bamboo babies,
Down in the tropical zones;
It ain't no sin to take off your skin,
And dance around in your bones.

When it gets too hot for comfort,
And you can't get ice cream cones;
It ain't no sin to take off your skin,
Then dance around in your bones.

While Rabbinic Judaism looks sternly askance at this particular piyyut, considering it non-normative, nisht unsere minhog, veistu, and quite possibly heathen (pre-first temple, and note particularly the echoing of rites involved with worshipping asherim), heterodox cults such as Reconstructionist Judaism, New Age Jews, J4J, and Kabbalists, often sing it before entering the jaccuzi ('birkas ha mikvah').

Note: custom dictates that Arizal be used for scriptural tattoos, never Beis Yosef.

Neptune: heathen deity from the pre-exilic period. His worship faded during forty years in the midbar. For rather obvious reasons.

Hiddur mitzvah: making the mitzvah much more mitzvahish. It's like, how much more mitzvahish could this be? And the answer is 'none'. None more mitzvahish.

As is written: "Well, I don't really think that the end can be assessed as of itself as being the end because what does the end feel like? It's like saying when you try to extrapolate the end of the universe, you say, if the universe is indeed infinite, then how - what does that mean? How far is all the way, and then if it stops, what's stopping it, and what's behind what's stopping it?
So, what's the end, you know, is my question to you

Craftsman: a Freemason.

Lastly, the term 'Louis Vuitton Purse'. This is an object of worship for many materialists. We do not hold by it. Es iz, as they say, nisht unsere minhog. But it is very popular in San Francisco, very regal. Geshmak.
Halacha dictates that after handling his 'Louis Vuitton Purse', the penitent shall toivel and sit in the jacuzzi till nightfall.

Nu, kvestions?

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The ideal age for being naked is under thirty. If you limit your bacon intake, you can extend that by ten years. Most of us should probably not push that envelope, however.

I have put this to the test.

When I stand in front of the hallway mirror wearing naught but my boxer shorts, the image is not nearly as wholesome as when I'm fully clothed. With my slacks and a clean shirt I am much more presentable.
"Dang", I will say, "that's one fine man".
Reasonably trim. Lean, even.
Very neat looking.

No one looks 'neat' wearing only boxers. Well, maybe a young lady might, but that's because of other factors involved, not just the garment.

The boxers are scarcely germane.


Mind you, I like bacon. But I've not indulged much in the last few months. Instead I've been on a chilisauce and bitter melon kick. Bacon would not be amiss in that company, but it isn't essential either.

Still, the problem is that at fifty-three years of age, I am not the lithe and wiry athletic boy I once was.

[Those of you who knew me then can stop laughing. It's rude. And yes, I look better now than ever before, but please ignore the non-athletic aspect.]

There are several very good reasons why boxer shorts are NOT acceptable office-wear. Not least being the fact that anyone who irons his boxers is probably suspect.

You do NOT want to see a banker wearing boxers.

Or an architect. Or a senator.

Any adult.

No one but the interns should be allowed to wear them.

*    *    *    *    *

This posting is in reaction to all the blogs out there featuring the thoughts of amateur fashionistas, make-up aficionados, clothing shoppers, costumers, knitters and crafters, obsessive shoe collectors, eye-shadow hags, thrifters, period rag hunters, accessorizers, and teenage girls or middle-aged men on Polk Street who love jewelry - dresses - lipstick.
The internet is truly a horrible place.
More boxers, please.

Kindly share your thoughts about boxers, this blogger in boxers, your own fine self in boxers, people with absolutely no make-up on their faces at all in boxers, or students, fresh-faced secretaries, and seminarians in boxers, Japanese people in boxers, bacon, and other matters boxer-related, as a comment below.

Or mention anything at all, it need not be about boxers.
That's just a starting point for talking.
Express yourself.


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Chinatown, intersection of Washington and Grant Avenue. Pipe with tobacco, and a cup of wonderful milk-tea. Late afternoon sunlight. Wonderful.
I lean against the ledge outside old telephone exchange, which is now an office of East-West Bank (中美銀行).

The tobacco is a six-year old Virginia, the milk-tea isn't as good as the purveyors have previously made, but nevertheless stellar.

The ladies working the corner are doing their very utmost. To a large extent, they must think us white people barking mad. They're handing out fliers and menus for a restaurant that serves Szechuan food, staffed entirely by Cantonese, but patronized solely by tourists. It still has the old sign (新杏香) mounted on the corner of the building, but the two newer names (one in English, a different one in Chinese) make no reference to "New Apricot Fragrance".
The beautiful colour pictures of their dishes next to the door make clear that local people should not even think of casually dining there.
They are very nice photos. The food looks spectacular.
But far too many dried chilies.

The old gentleman handing out menus for the restaurant on the other side of the street has a bemused expression on his face. It's late in the day, Chinatown is closing up for the evening, and he is still informing passers-by that they are serving "dim sum, very good". You will kindly remember that dim sum is customarily eaten only between very early morning and early afternoon. It's breakfast food, a way to wake up, a mid-morning snack frenzy, or a brunch for the entire family.
Tourists do not have the same feeding patterns.

And most tourists do not have sufficient knowledge (or taste) to judge the quality of the dim sum anyhow, so one rather suspects that it may not actually be quite up to local standards.

Many of the tourists also dress funny and smell "unusual", in addition to establishing ownership of the sidewalk in large lumbering groups, that stop suddenly for one of them to scratch an itch on her enormous thigh. If it weren't for uncle here threatening them with menus, and the ladies across the street thrusting fliers at them, they might never move out of the way,
and would not know where to go.

Brazilians, Germans, Midwesterners, Italians, Norwegians.
And others, who are less identifiable.
Still rather icky.

I've should remember to simply walk home if it is early evening. The number one California bus, which heads up Sacramento Street, was packed with extremely unpleasant drudges from the law-offices in the Embarcadero Center. Contrary to their own belief, the cell-phone yuppie generation is not fabulous. Not by a very wide margin.

The combination of aged Virginia pipe tobacco, hot milk-tea, and energetic commercial enterprise at Washington and Grant Avenue, however, was pretty dang close to heaven.
Perhaps I should get there earlier.

Have TWO cups of milk-tea.

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Dogs communicate by sniffing each other's private parts. Upon reflection, you are probably overjoyed that humans do not do so. Or maybe not; some people seem to veer in that direction anyhow. It makes cocktail parties insufferable.

The Japanese, being the most enthusiastically perverted people on the planet, are presently developing a mechanical strap-on dog tail that reads the wearer's mood and wags accordingly. It follows their invention of the electronic cat-ear headset, which does something very similar. The key term is 'Neurowear', which is also the name of the Tokyo company involved in this process.

I'm not entirely sure this is a good idea. I've spent an inordinate amount of time NOT showing what I feel, for the good of everyone's social order.
So have most other people.
Lurking in everyone's conscious is a side of us that can only be described as Monty Python's 'dirty vicar', a gentleman of the cloth whose most famous and inappropriate social utterance was the line "I LIKE TITS!".
Not, you will agree, the most diplomatic thing to say.
Most folks do not want to hear that, usually.
It's a poor conversation starter.

There are times when a person of the female persuasion MIGHT welcome that statement. One can imagine the circumstance, and in some ways both Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of Ghastly-Where-Ever come to mind. Not because there's any evidence that the men in those shows are fond of mammaries, but because milk-gland augmentation seems to be the singular praestation all the women on reality teevee share; it is their sole claim to fame. Well, twin-claims. Each one of them waves two.
One imagines a desperate yearning for appreciation.
Hence horrid behaviour and huge cleavage.
The men show remarkable restraint.
No one runs away in terror.
I've seen too much.

I actually do like tits. But not tanned, expanded, on teevee, and in yo' face. It's more of a quiet and restrained aesthetic thing. Venus rising from the half-shell, and stuff like that.

Still, back to the strap-on reactive tail. It seems dubious. For most males. Although if a woman were to wear one, it might actually give men a clue. Much of the time we run around wondering 'does she like me?', 'is it something I said?', 'do I have a shmutz?', or similar questions. Perhaps a strap-on tail would let us know "she wants to chase me like a rabbit and rip my throat out", or "she wants to sniff my but", and good things like that.

At the very least we'd know when to feed her.

Thank heavens for the Japanese.
They'll save us yet.

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It was rather cold in the city yesterday. As you would expect. Kind of March/April-ish. Which reminded me of the time I came down with a hor...