Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Last night, after watching scenes of madness and frenzy at our favourite haunt in Chinatown, the bookseller and myself headed over the hill, and chatted a bit before parting. It is a tradition of many years. We had seen things that did not make sense, and even though the Chinese customers had been wild, even somewhat frenzied, it had been the kwailo that displeased us with their behaviour.

Screaming. Vulgarity, foul language, and crude outbursts.
Displaying cleavage, and serenading.

Some songs should not ever be sung at a karaoke bar by groups of drunken Caucasians. Fortunately, their renditions were so gawdawful that they could not be recognized, which prevented one from hating those ballads even more than one already did.

Anything by John Denver, Elton John, and The Beatles.

Also Abba, Madonna, and Lady Gaga.

Weird Chinese Country Western, with a musical accompaniment that sounds like Taiwanese Hokkien styling from the seventies, though the lyrics are in Mandarin, is not as bad as you might think, and Jenny has a good voice. When I walked past earlier, she had been singing a patriotic aire originally performed by a mainland singer in a military uniform.
It was fairly average saccharine.
A Tankie hymn.

When I got home I lit up a pipe, and went out onto the front steps, finally going back in shortly after four A.M.

What pipe tobacco is perfect for the mind after witnessing staggering fury?

I am so glad you asked!

Dunhill Deluxe Navy Rolls. Composed of fine Virginias with a measure of Perique, in a tight coin slice. As with many smokes enjoyed in the silence long after midnight, I used a silver banded GBD squat bulldog. Years ago in Berkeley I would fill it on summer evenings with Bengal Slices, pour myself a glass of sherry, and sit in darkness near the open window.
I hardly smoked it at all when I lived in North Beach.
And then only at the Caffe Trieste.

And, pursuant pipes and their associated times and places, let me disquisition (waffle on) a bit.


Item ONE: The pipe for watching rats in Spofford Alley.
Which is a small Comoy-made billiard that I loaded up last night before meeting the bookseller. It may be older than I am, but I acquired it roughly when I stopped listening to Cantonese Opera coming from the basement on Waverly in the evening. Spofford Alley until recently had a thriving colony of likable rodents, courtesy of the local garbage service, which did not deign to collect there. The rats have, sadly, been eradicated -- perhaps the prospect of bubonic plague prompted the city to act -- and the alley has now been repaved, with lovely grey stones in a pattern the tourists are sure to admire.
Virginia mixtures, Dunhill Flake.

Item TWO: The pork chop pipe.
A battered bulldog made for Amphora in Holland. Which recalls Beckett Street, cold weather, the spiders' hidden bakery, and very nice porkchops. Oh, plus hot Hong Kong style milk tea.

Beckett Street for several weeks this spring was plagued by a serial poo man, who, and I'm purely speculating here, would sometime between dark and dawn do his business two feet away from the curb, and spaced an exact distance from his previous deposit.
He (I assume it's a male) is not doing so anymore. I hope the locals finally beat the crap out of him.

Item THREE: The dark Canadian for after milk tea.
An old battered sandblast, Comoy off-brand. Dunhill Dark Flake and other deep Virginias, smoked during horrid weather in winter while sheltering under overhangs on Walter Lum Place and on Pacific Street. If it wasn't raining, on Wentworth ("Salted Fish Alley"), and up in Hang Ah.
There is no tennis or volley ball in Willie 'Woo Woo' Wong during the cold weather, and the bums have mostly left.

Item FOUR: Hardcastle sandblast black poker.
Not one of my favourite shapes by a wide margin, and I didn't smoke this pipe for several years after purchase. I finally lit it up in 2011 on a cold wet day, and kicked myself for not breaking it in earlier. The reason I bought it was because a pipe from the same company and era was so wonderful.

This briar brings back Dunbar and Dorchester, by Esoterica -- two excellent Virginia mixtures which are similar in some ways to Dunhill Elizabethan and most of the pale blends in Greg Pease's Fog City Collection -- as well as, very fondly and intensely recalled, grilled pork rice stick noodle soup (燒猪肉河粉 'siu chü yiuk ho fan') with iced Vietnamese coffee (凍越南咖啡 'tung yuet naam ka fei'). Plus bittermelon pork (豉汁涼瓜炒肉片 'si jap leung gwaa chaau yiuk pin') and fish flavour eggplant (魚香茄子'yü heung ke ji').
Which are all delicious.

Ross Alley, Waverly, Commercial Street, and Hotaling Place.
Near the Hakka Social Club, and Lam Kaa Kong-so.
Quiet Sundays, which I don't have now.
My schedule is different.

Item Five: Benton natural Canadian.
All manner of blends. Purchased from Grant's when I was still down in the financial district, often smoked at the spot on Sansome Street where cigar and pipe smokers congregate. Now mostly associated with Stockton Street and little egg tarts, or bittermelon and fish collops over rice at either one of two hospitable eateries.

I put the Hardcastle poker (#4) in my bag several times over the past few weeks, intending to smoke it at work. Never got around to filling it, though.
I think I'll smoke it today after tea time.
Stone Street, and Trenton.


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