Tuesday, June 30, 2020


One of the less-than-delightful features of the computer age is spellcheck, along with its companion grammarcheck. Which are both disabled on this computer, because my spellung und grammatik are spendious.
Just splendious!

A friend justifiably belly-aches: "Does anyone else become irrationally angry whenever Microsoft word makes a bullshit grammar check? Such as claiming a sentence is a fragment when it's a complete sentence?"

Mm, yeah.

For me this checking business became an issue early on. When writing essays on this blog, English is the main language I use, because I wish to be read by the widest possible audience. But Hebrew (often giving the Ashkenazic pronunciation), Arabic, Yiddish, Dutch, Flemish, Bargoens, German, French, Slavic slang, and Scandinavian jargon of various stripes have made appearances. Plus Latin, Indonesian, Tagalog, Yue, and several phonetic transcriptions of of various tongues, some of my own devising.
And of course the British spelling of certain words.
As well as unique coinages.

Plus sentence fragments. Fragments, good. Points often made.
Correction quite unnecessary, audience are unstupid.


Clippy the 'Helpful" Pop-up Editor assumes, rightly, that most people are idiots. But some of us aren't. My friend earns his living writing, and probably knows what he's doing. Another friend is battling her way through academia and will eventually end up with tenure, and several others are multi-lingual. They all at times will talk in tongues.

Moments when Clippy should go piss up a rope.

Rabbinical and scientific English is notorious for having lacquer on Clippy's jejeune and irritating didacticism. One of Clippy's questions really should be: "I see you are using a literary expression from the Code of Hammurabi - are you SURE your readers are unstupid enough to 'get' it?(*)"
And similar queries in that vein.

It would be splendious.

NOTE: The Code of Hammurabi was written over three and a half millennia ago in Akkadian, an ancient Semitic language, which despite its antiquity shows a clear relation to all the more modern Semitic lashoins.
Particularly for bright-eyed bushy-tailed amateur linguists.
It is fascinating and well-worth looking into.

Also, "auto-correct" leads to murder and memes.

Having lacquer on: Er lak aan hebben; a Dutch expression which indicates that one shall completely ignore something, like laws, rules, stipulations or conditions, picayune objections by Clippy or others, and in fact sneers at something completely and in summa omnia summa.

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


One of the friend-suggestions by Facebook is a cute female, just my type too. Yet when I look at all the people who are her "friends", I notice that over ninety percent of them are pipe smoking gentlemen of a certain age. And her "likes" are almost all tobacco-related.

I smell a fish.

This person has only three posts on her timeline.

Naturally I did not send her a friend request.

Skepticism and realism can coincide.

Probably not a tobacco shop overseas trolling for customers. Just a young lady and her fetish. With which I have no problem -- as I am indeed fetishizable, though mostly in my own imagination -- but I will not share the stage with well-over a hundred other pipe smokers.
I am not social enough for that.

The badger or 'bauson' is by its nature not given to group manifestations, prefers foraging alone, and is a fastidious eater. Occasionally we will consume rabbits or chickens, and a hedgehog is a veritable feast.
Wrap it in clay, then bake in a fire for about half an hour.

Breaking off the clay takes the spines with it.

Like everything, good with sambal.

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

Monday, June 29, 2020


You would not want this blogger at your next party. Especially not if there are Trump supporters, Fundy Christians, or cigar smokers there.
I would just be a downer, harshing your mellow.
Trust me.

For the three groups I mentioned, I would ruin everything.

Monday June 29, 7:42 PM
2,588,020 confirmed cases in the US. 126,131 deaths.

I for one don't think the murder hornets could do a worse job of running this country. Or the meat industry. And mind you, I like meat. Especially pork. But also duck, goose, chicken, and lamb. A lovely steak is also very nice. Diverse animal proteins and how they are best prepared is one of my favourite subjects. Spice burger, sausages, patties.
Ribs, pork loin, brisket, even fish.


So I'd probably also be sheer torture to have around for all your vegan and pot-head friends, for entirely different reasons.

On the other hand, I'd really enjoy your little get-together. Especially if you served nice food. None of this mediocre guacamole, hummus, and raw vegetable crap. Real meat, real condiments. Grilled stuff (meat).

I could happily talk about how the pandemic is decimating Republicans, Fascists, Christians, anti-vaxxers, and Karens.

And lowering rent in San Francisco.

No plans for July 4th.

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


It will be an early tea time. Day off after a few days' work, it's time for books, walks, stuffed creatures. This morning a peregrine falcon was circling low over the block where I live, which is inner-city, ten minutes from Chinatown or twenty from the Financial District. If one is walking briskly.
Which I do not do. Especially not uphill. Not anymore.
My legs aren't as hard and wiry as they used to be.

The falcons like the high rises in the Financial District. In past years office workers would post pictures of nests on high ledges, and we'd keenly follow the progress of the raptor families, watching the young fledglings grow to adulthood as if they were our own. What with the quieter city streets, there is more wildlife here, so it's probably perfect hunting terrain.

About six years ago while waiting for the bus to Marin one morning I saw a falcon snatch a parrot out of mid-air above Van Ness Avenue. The other parrots had been cheerfully raucous up to that moment.
But they were dead silent immediately afterwards.

The other wild life which seems to be flourishing once again is the insane street people. Yesterday on the way home from the bus stop there was a loony in each block, one of whom believed himself to be a burrowing animal. A mole, perhaps, but with a mask. Good man.

When my mother lived here during her youth, there probably weren't as many crazies, but there must have been falcons and coyotes, and the mountain lions down the peninsula were probably more numerous than they are now. There were also brown bears in some of the suburbs. Raccoons were always here, but the parrots (Psittacara erythrogenys) had not escaped yet and gone native.

There were also more pipe smokers. An old news photo of passengers on the ferry shows a huge number of men with overcoats, hats, newspapers, and pipes, heading to work in the downtown. Thanks to the pandemic we may be increasing in number again.

One of the things that determines how good a pipe can be is how distinct the taste gradations of tobacco are when the pipe is smoked; how broad the flavour-spectrum is, and how defined the nuances. Admittedly, you are sabotaging your taste buds from the moment you light up, but if from start to finish there are rewards, you will enjoy the smoke. It will take about two to four hours for "freshness" to return to your tongue. People who constantly have a pipe going may tend toward either stronger flavours, OR not have much sense of taste and smell by the middle of the day. Or just not care very much.

That first pipe of the day is often amazing. This morning I grabbed the pipe pictured above, which I purchased from Marty Pulvers many years ago. It's one of my favourite briars, but that isn't saying much as I usually have over thirty pipes ready for smoking on the tea tray near my chair, which represents only a part of the collection.

There's also a bag full of restoration projects I'll get to eventually in the other room. There may be some good stuff in there; I haven't looked at them in a long time. Some pipes come back marvelously from the dead, with help.

The wild life will be more evident in the evening. As well as the insane folks. They sort of fade into background when there are more people about, and anyhow their circadian rythms tend toward crepuscular.
Almost as if they are lepidotorous pollinators.
Flitting about, madly, ghost-like.
Social moths.

There used to be more drunks around at that hour.
But bar hopping is no longer possible.
It's quieter now.

Lunch was a thick slice of buttered toast with chunky marmalade.
Tea was juicy potstickers with a cooked citrus chili paste.
Both peppers and marmalade are vegetables.
It's healthy eating.


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


A recent news photo from Reuters highlights, for me, what we are up against regarding the mask issue. And bear in mind that the benefits of wearing a facemask to limit transmission of Covid19 are beyond dispute, the claims of ill-effects from doing so are quite unfounded and ridiculous, and the urgent need for reducing infections is extremely pressing.

It's a matter of public health import.

Copyright: Reuters

The image, lifted from a recent BBC article about the dramatic increase in Covid19 infections in Texas, tells me one thing: If I invest in manufacturing large caskets, I'll make a killing.

Also, purveyors of fresh fast food really are front-line workers.

There are opportunities for becoming fabulously wealthy in Texas, rich beyond the dreams of avarice. I encourage emigration.

And real estate will soon be cheaper there.

What more could you want?

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

Sunday, June 28, 2020


Here's the good news: I don't have jury duty tomorrow, and I'm an asshole for asking someone to please put on a mask on the bus. These are splendid things. I wish I had a quick rejoinder for the maskless cretin, but I was taken aback at the effrontery. He and his young lady with the disgusting hairless pet paid for San Francisco, but got off one stop later, possibly because she said something and they wanted to quarrel in private on the sidewalk rather than claustrophobically on public transport.

Jolly good decision, disease man.

The next bus is in an hour.

Have fun waiting.

Actually, I'll confess: I am an asshole, but for many reasons. And I'm rather proud of it. I have long felt that it does not take all kinds, and I'm more than qualified to decide what people it does not take.
Willing, in any case.

The milk of Christian love curdled in me years ago.

It's a life style choice.

Which means you don't want me on a jury of your peers. I am more likely to find you guilty than almost anyone else, based entirely on my unreasonable objection at being considered in the same league or category as someone likely to be found guilty by me.

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


A friend mentioned his effort to find a date for his son, a shy somewhat judgmental fellow. Who has a promising legal career ahead of him. And doesn't have a girlfriend. Which my friend does not have either.

He stated that his son would probably refuse to date the girl. Who was charming in a sort of earthmom horse ranch kind of way, all heart and warmth.

I am the bad Dutch uncle. I told him to call up the girl, explain that his son was an ass, and could he take her out to dinner instead?
As a single man he owed it to himself.

"Oh, she wouldn't be interested in me, I'm old, have no career and no prospects, and I'm boring."

No no no! You are a wise tribal elder, with spirituality!

Gotta put a spin on it.

Yeah, I really should claim that about myself also, but I won't. I cannot possibly pull that one off. For one thing, I've never taken part in a drum circle, don't chant, and I believe in vaccinations.
I am not a spiritual man.

Tribal elder. Spiritual.

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

Saturday, June 27, 2020


On a few of the social media pages I follow, a discussion has been raging among Asian Americans about the model minority thing. Not being Asian American myself I have remained almost completely silent, because the people there are contributing more to a worthwhile discussion of the subject than I possibly could, better, eloquently, and with more actual and personal involvement.

I am not a member of a model minority in any case.

If anything, I'm horrid.

As a Dutch-speaking Dutch American (of several generations in this country), I feel that I am rather representative of a perfectly bad example minority. There aren't many Dutch-speakers here (so you should count yourselves lucky), but we are, ALWAYS, right.

Have you EVER known a Dutchman to admit that he was wrong?

And silent Dutchmen are rare too.


My apartment mate is not Dutch, but Cantonese. No, I am NOT going to inform her of that discussion, because I am the nearest thing to her that looks and sounds like Anglo American, and while I'm tough, I am not foolhardy. And I already know enough about cursing and swearing in Cantonese for any occasion when I might need it. Suffice to say that she is as good as a Dutchman of my generation in math (might be better, but I'm determined not to find out, this is where the Dunning Kruger effect will keep me happy), and has enough experience dealing with stupid white people to last her a life time. As we all have, lord knows they aren't few in number, but Asian Americans, as a model minority, frequently get assumed to think just like white people.

Which they don't.

Different backgrounds, different experiences as Americans.

The white experience is not universal.

Anyhow, the discussion is telling me a lot about people with whom I do not identify, that being the aforementioned stupid white people, and probably also illuminating stuff about myself of which, because of a certain level of Dunning Kruger, I shall remain blissfully unaware.

Besides, I am at times guilty of "whitemansplaining". Which I do very well, about several subjects, and mostly to other white men.
I am Dutch. So I'm always right, and rarely silent.

As an afterword: being a food maven as well as a Dutch American (which is altogether rather contradictory, I admit), I remain permanently outraged at what America has done to Chinese Cuisine. Yeah, we're beyond chop suey, finally, but Kung Pao every damned thing under the sun, General Tso's Chicken, and whatever that damned noodle dish is, are not any better.

This illustration proves my point: La Choy Chicken Chow Mein.

This does not contain noodles.
What the actual heck.

Final note: Crab raccoon.

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

Friday, June 26, 2020


There are people who fondly remember their mom's cooking.
I remember my dad's dishes more fondly be a very large margin. My father liked to cook, and liked food. My mother, on the other hand, had some mighty queer ideas on the subject. Risotto: for over a year she tried to make it once a week. Not good. Tuna casserole: abysmal. Meatloaf: it took several years before I tried meatloaf again.

My father did great spaghetti and meatsauce. Superior curries.
A fabulous paprikash. Roasts. Meat preparations. Bird.
Jordanian rice pilaf, nasi goreng, shellfish.

My mom grew up in a military household that had a cook, and spent several years living in student boarding houses while at Berkeley or eating mess-hall slop while in the navy. Her cooking was 'inspired' by those experiences, and strictly formulaic.

My dad grew up with a mother who cooked in the English fashion, then lived several years as a bachelor. An interest in food was perhaps not a natural outgrowth of that, but not altogether surprising.

So it should not surprise anyone that I use spices liberally, plus garlic, ginger, scallions, cilantro, and chilies, and have a free hand with bottled sauces (soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, abalone sauce, hot sauce).
Plus I know what the heck I'm doing in the kitchen.
And when necessary I'll do the research.

It helps that I grew up with considerable exposure to Dutch East Indies exiles and their food preferences, and for many years worked part time at an Indian restaurant. And I used to know a lot of Filipinos.

I regard a passionate interest in food and culinary experimentation as natural, but I can understand where most Anglos are frightened and clueless in that regard. I hope that they get the therapy they need.
I do not want to eat at their houses till they're cured.

A friend in North Carolina learned how to make Tuscan chicken pasta.
Bravo. Small quibble, though. Everything goes better with sambal.
Remember that.

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


Whitemansplaining. It's a trap that many people fall into. We think that because of our perspective and focus, we have a worthwhile and unique take on a matter, but we'll mistake perception for totality, overlooking that people nearer the subject for a variety of reasons have a different view, and a much broader range of perceptions than our own.

Which we'll tell them all about.

I know Cantonese. And I know Dutch. I do not "know" the Cantonese, and I've not been around Dutch people for over two thirds of my life.
I can attempt some explanations, but I must yield the floor, because I am not Cantonese, nor Cantonese American. On the other hand I am Dutch, American, Dutch American, formerly overseas Yank, and Netherlandish expat, whenever and whichever it suits me, sometimes all at once, and often that isn't relevant anyway. It's entirely my choice.
This doesn't give me "better" answers.


I know a bit more about the Chinese language and Cantonese than most people, but I am not an expert. So while I can attempt to answer some questions and provide explanations, it is only from my point of view ...
which is shaded through my own background, and therefore might stress things which are ONLY important to a Dutch-speaking American.
Might be interesting, but isn't entirely valid.

Likewise, when I explain Dutch things, it will necessarily be influenced by my knowledge of linguistics, Dutch Colonialism, and the former Dutch East Indies. Which is important to me, because my classmates always wished me to understand that they were so much better than the United States, its people, and the horrid imperialism that we represented.

If you ask a native born ethnic Dutchman for an explanation, you will hear something else.

Of course it might be entirely berserk.
That Dutch perspective.

My apartment mate (Cantonese American) explains Chinese things differently. Naturally she does; her perspectives are not the same.
In that field, they're more varied, and more valid.

We can both tell you what you need to know about Chinese cooking techniques; her from her own background (with a few snarky comments about fry oil and soy sauce), me from exposure to her and other people, and incorporating ideas from that cuisine for several years into my own cooking, which was Dutch - Indo - quasi-continental originally, and grew a bit different over time. But if you want real answers, talk to people who cook every day for Chinese folks. Which we don't.

If you want to know about menstruation, ask her.
Arthritis, pipe tobacco, and hot sauce; me.

Antidisestablishmentarianism (反動盪主義 'faan dung dang jyu yi'), existenz angst (存在性焦慮 'chuen joi sing jui luei'), and identitäts krisen (身份危機 'san fan ngai gei'): yeah man, I don't know beans about that stuff, have you heard of Wikipedia?


This essay was prompted by something Viet Thanh Nguyen wrote.
Which was brought to my attention by Bryan Thao Worra.
Their expertise and experience and mine differ a bit.
They know a lot about 'whitemansplaining'.
It crops up more often for them.

I am not Chinese. I am not Dutch (though my ancestry for a very large part is Dutch descent). I can only speak for myself.
Are there any questions?

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

Thursday, June 25, 2020


While out and about today, the overwhelming majority of people not wearing masks were white people. By a very wide margin. As a white person, I feel that they're letting the side down.
And I wish them a long painful death. Precisely like they will be responsible for other people having.

Thursday June 25, 7:37 PM
2,418,570 confirmed cases in the US. 124,355 deaths.

Here's a fun game you can play, whether by yourself OR while strolling around devil-may-care with a whole herd of your besties: count the number of dumb fuckers not wearing masks.

One dumb fucker, two dumb fuckers, three dumb fuckers ...

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


And that's why I got the shrimp cheung fan, and you didn't! A day or two ago I was at a dim sum counter purchasing snackiepoos. As usual, I ordered in Cantonese, because it facilitates communication.
Do you have steamed pork dumplings? Three please, and one of those glutinous rice balls, and fried taro dumplings, and are those fresh shrimp rice flour noodle rolls? I want! Thank you, and see you again!

Fresh dim sum is good for the soul.

[Dim sum: 點心 ('dim sam'). Do you have steamed pork dumplings?: 你有冇豬肉燒賣? ('nei yau mou chyu yiuk siu maai?'). Three please: 三個唔該 ('saam go m-goi'). And one of those glutinous rice balls: 同埋糯米飽一個 ('tong maai luo mai baau yat go'). And deep fried taro dumplings: 同芋角 ('tong wu gok'). Are those fresh shrimp rice flour steamed noodle sheets?: 嗰啲係鮮蝦嘅腸粉嘛? 'go di hai sin haa ge cheung fan maa?'). I want!: 要!('yiu!'). Thank you: 唔該晒 ('m-goi saai'). See you again: 下次見 ('haa chi kin').]

After I left, an elderly Caucasian gentleman chastised me for speaking Cantonese, because apparently that only encourages those people not to learn proper English. I was taken aback, as I just wanted to purchase food. In a place where Cantonese is the logical language. And simply better understood than English. Where they were keen to sell food to me.

Other than the damned Barbecue Pork Buns which white people always buy. Precisely like his purchase.

See, I do not claim to be Chinese. Nor do I think in Chinese. But I can converse enough in Cantonese to get what I want, and get along with people.  It cuts me some slack. Usually.

Plus, they had food to sell, and I wanted to buy it. Talking to them in Cantonese made it easy for both sides, and simpler too.

Also, I needed to speak to them about antidisestablishmentarianism (反動盪主義 'faan dung dang jyu yi'), existenz angst (存在性焦慮 'chuen joi sing jui luei'), and identitätskrise (身份危機 'san fan ngai gei').

Å være kraftig motarbeidet mot motstand mot å etablere en statsreligion. Samt eksistensiell angst.
Og identitetskrise.

Yeah, I threw all that in just to confound the old fellow.

I have never discussed those things in Cantonese.
Hardly even in English or Dutch either.
I doubt that I could do so.

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


Morning smoke: dumb-ass white techno-yupppie generation not wearing masks. Cursed one of them who got too near. See, that's why I carry a stick when outside; it's so that I can hit people.

The dumb-ass may have been surprised at my outburst. Likely he moved here from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, or Utah, where people believe that masks are a sign of the devil as well communism in action, unconstitutional, and also the imposition of the New World Order.

Proper use of brains is NOT their talent, bless 'em.

They also misuse the word "literally".


Normally I smoke The Pipe For Watching Rats in Spofford Alley on Tuesday evening, this week I did not load it up till early this morning. It's a very nice smoke, as older Comoys tend to be, precisely the kind of pipe sensible men from a kinder and gentler age would smoke. Unfortunately they mostly smoked weird garbage of the sauced Burley and mediocre flue-cured category, because cheap dreck was common.

Some of which I'm actually quite fond of. Products like Brigg's Mixture, Revelation, and Carter Hall.

Brigg's Mixture consisted of heat treated Burley, Virginias, and Kentucky; Revelation was Bright Virginia and cube cut Burley with small quantities of Latakia and Perique and a mild almost citrussy top dressing; and Carter Hall is Virginia and Burley with a little Bourbon and a touch of cocoa. All three are decent old fashioned products of style that is no longer very popular.

Trails of smoke curve over the edge of my third pipe today. Only loading half-full, so that I can revisit some of my favourite briars. Pensively.
An old time aroma.

Years ago I described some Virginia mixtures as "stealth tobacco", because I could smoke those late at night in the teevee room, cautiously, whereas something like 'Presbyterian' or 'Durbar' would have her beetling out of her room like a bat out of hell to tell me firmly to go smoke with my friends the bums and rabid beasts at the old abandoned church up the block. Blends with a little Burley and mostly Virginia are also such "secret indoor vices". There is a pot of herbal muck on the stove releasing fragrant steam, the windows are open, and the door to her bedroom is firmly shut. There is no need for her to know, and the fragrance will have disappeared by the time she comes home.

I'll be heading over to Chinatown later. Need to buy vegetables.
Maybe today I'll smoke a pipe afterwards.


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


The other day, when I returned from my early morning smoke, the turkey vulture was on my bed being clobbered by the control monkey (Mr. Oyster), who has taken a scunner to him like you wouldn't believe. The control monkey used to be a far mellower creature, having patiently tolerated the folks in Marketing Department for twelve years.
Which took some doing.

When the Marketing Department packed up their stuff to move it to the building in Fremont, they entirely forgot about so valued a staff member, proving once more that they weren't meant for work in a Toy Company.
So I put him on top of the furniture I was wheeling to the freight elevator, where he performed the task of pilot most excellently.
Hence his title: Control Monkey.

That was several years ago. Since then he has been disappointed in love, and is somewhat frustrated and bitter. His best years are slipping away. Hence his violent tendencies vis-à-vis Sydney Fylbert (the bright-eyed turkey vulture I brought home in December). Who, despite his evil instincts and conviction that the imaginary little girl hamster is food ("meat ball") is actually a very nice fellow, and loves affection.

Everyone should hug a turkey vulture at least once a day.
It teaches them how to bond with others.
Non-carrion eaters.


As you can see, Sydney has a hope-filled and optimistic expression on his face. "Surely", he is thinking, "one of these creatures will die soon?"

And then he will feast!

Two worrying things about him, though. He has the idea of lulling the little girl hamster to sleep by reading her bed time stories (about Elizabeth Báthory, a beautiful princes in a far-away land), and he himself is convinced that he is a poor little orphan girl in the snow, selling matches to survive.

"Please, sir, won't you buy my lucifers?"

The bed time stories horrify us and would probably scare the bejazus out of the imaginary little girl hamster, and that little orphan matchgirl fantasy is just peculiar. Gender-bent, in any case.

Yes, that is one of my socks he's wearing around his neck.
For warmth. In the snow. It is a very clean sock.

He's quite a cute little fellow.
Don't you agree?

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2020


To be truthful, I'm rather enjoying the social distancing and the shelter in place that has been going on. I am not really a social creature, and have little urge to seek random company. I miss going to the chachantengs in Chinatown, but the main attraction of those places was, in addition to a style of food I like and hot Hong Kong milk tea, the fact that if you didn't want to be bothered, they left you alone to casually observe, and listen to other people talking. Which, given that Caucasians who can listen in on Cantonese conversations are not frightfully common, was easy.

[No, Cantonese do not talk about white people among themselves, they aren't saying nasty things about you. They often talk about food. Or relatives.]

Smoking my pipe afterwards while wandering around was enjoyable.
I still go down there at least once a week for groceries, but all the places where I liked hanging out and eating something are closed, or only doing takeout, and the alleys are far too empty. It's all so very quiet now.
The folks I would greet in passing seldom come out anymore.
And limit themselves to shopping.
Stockton Street.

Finally found this pipe again, exactly where it should have been. As an amateurish made item it actually smokes okay. It's certainly not the best pipe I've ever seen.
Drawing: Spray paint, marker, water colour brush, straight lines, and pencil, all features in the Paint™ programme, in various thicknesses. Then reduced.

My routine has changed quite a bit. First pipe of the day is around eight o'clock in the morning, just after coffee, and before I've devoured all the news on the internet. Many years ago I would read the SF news papers at the Caffe Trieste in the morning in North Beach, when they still allowed smoking inside and there was decent journalism in SF.
I haven't been there in over a decade.

Reading at cafes in my neck of the woods was long out of the question. And news papers are too old school everywhere except C'town, where people still avidly pour over the local chronicles at bakeries and cafes.
No less advertising, but more news.

The other major difference is that North Beach has way too many idiots bloviating, as well as artists, poets, important writers, and other poseurs.

Second pipe, mid morning. Then another cup of coffee, and some serious reading while arguing with the stuffed animals, who have strong opinions about a lot of sunjects. Surprisingly.

Third pipe sometime between lunch and teatime.
Fourth after tea, before twilight.
Fifth after night fall.

I don't miss human beings much. The stuffed animals are far better company, and don't say so many stupid things. Most of the time.

On the internet I can be choosy about my conversations.

I do have to go outside to smoke, though.

Where there are strangers.


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


What I read was "reimagine a way forward with a partner that helps you... blaze a new trail." And for just a brief second I thought it was a matchmaking site, with Facebook finally figuring out what they could advertise to me. Seeing as I've clicked 'hide' or 'report' on so many of their attempts. Nope, just United Parcel Service.

"Reimagine a way forward with a partner that helps your business blaze a new trail."

Well gosh, that's not as exciting. I used to be romantically involved, but for years now I haven't been. I'm probably too eccentric for most women, and, truth be told, probably also too stubborn.

Besides, most women don't like tea, pipes, and stuffed animals.

Unfortunate, but that's just the way it is.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


This blogger sure likes Southern literature. Tennessee Williams, Flannery O'Conner, and William Faulkner are very good reads, never mind that they wrote in jargon. O. Henry remains one of my favourite short story writers. And while Rita Mae Brown is NOT from the South at all (no matter how you stretch it, Pennsylvania isn't even close), her seminal novel Ruby Fruit Jungle remains a loving tribute to the genre.

In response to my recent essays taking issue with mint juleps and the entire rest of the United States (see respectively here: Cocktails, and here: East Coast), a fellow pipe smoker on a forum for our kind penned a thoughtful screed in kind remonstrance.

Which many of my blog readers would be unaware of, because they do not read the Pipe Forum pages. Sad.

So I will paste it below. It deserves wider dissemination.

Oh, dear. What I thought was an anti-Southern bias may, in fact, be mere ignorance. You poor, deluded folk on the Left Coast are quite removed from basic Southern realities as to be relatively amusing - though I WILL say that anyone who thinks pineapple and pizza are diametrically opposed entities clearly does at least have a modicum of sense.

To start, while you didn’t directly address bourbon, this drink is an important ingredient of the Southern lifestyle. On the Seventh Day God created Kentucky and said, “Bourbon is good”. The South without bourbon would be a lesser, sadder place. The world without bourbon would be a lesser, sadder place. It should be noted that after his first sample of bourbon, Rene Descartes revised his texts to read, “I think, therefore I drink”. (It should also be noted that the stuff brewed in Tennessee is NOT bourbon, it is a lesser, simpler form of whiskey.)

Please bear with me while I clear up some rather glaring inaccuracies in your essay. In the South we have the option of choice. If one likes a thick crust pizza then one gets a thick crust. Deep dish? sure. Thin and crispy? Well, frankly you’re just sick, but we have it here, too. While that sadly includes perverts who put pineapple on a pie and call it “pizza”, it also includes some really good stuff like sausage, bacon, and feta cheese. In the end, though, to judge a region on its pizza is pretty stifling. Besides, eat one slice of “Barbecue Pizza” and you might export my beloved South to the Pacific and sink it. Anyway, pizza only matters when the venison and possum run out.

The United States is actually divided into two areas, The South and The Leftovers. The true South extends from the southern Georgia border north to the North Carolina/Virginia state line. To the west, once you cross the North Carolina/South Carolina/Georgia western lines you’re crossing into iffy territory. Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky are border states, which are also known as para-militarized, militia-filled zones. We arm these folk to keep outsiders outside. Yes, states such as these, and Mississippi, may make some legitimate claims on their Southern heritage, and so are included in the Technical South, though many of us True Southerners recognize the factual savagery still in these states. True Southerners, while recognizing Richmond as the historic capitol of our erstwhile empire, realize that Virginia is long lost. True Southerners also recognize that Florida was never a part of us, and that Florida Man is NOT a good example of the Southern lifestyle.

And we’re back to food. Folks, have you seen Southern women? It’s obvious from a quick sampling of the female Southern physique that not only is food important down here, but it is worshipped. Males who like breasts are encouraged to move here, where one average female breast is large enough to require its own room (and its own private chef). (Interestingly, the Southern Male penis is rather small from years of trying to stay hidden altogether, and many Southern males have fully replaced their penises with assault rifles.) It should be clear simply from the number of fights, fracases, and football games that the Southern diet energizes our lives. I’ll note that only ruffians or barbarians drink something called “iced tea” which isn’t made without at least a bag of sugar in it – true “iced tea” is sugary enough to cause a diabetic coma within two glasses when consumed by a typical New Yorker.

But let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the issue. As you stated, California doesn’t grow tobacco. I don’t know of anyone on the Left Coast who does – though they do clearly grow another pipe product. The great farms of the Central Plains don’t produce tobacco. The only tobacco from the North is the “Connecticut Wrapper” which is used on cigars but sounds more like the name of an exceptionally bad white musician. Real American tobacco comes from one place, and only one place. It comes from the American South. I rest my case.

------John O.


Alas, because of medications that interact badly with alcohol, I cannot drink Bourbon. Instead I make do with strong coffee and even stronger tea.

Which would have been a "life-style choice" anyhow.

I haven't seen an actual breast in too long.

Grits ARE available here.

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


A discussion about Mint Juleps inevitably brought up what was perceived as my "anti-Southern" bias. Which I took pains to point out was not actually a bias against the South or its people, but just one facet of my overall bias against everything to the east of Yerba Buena Island. And their pizza. One of the things that ex-pats from Back East keep bringing up, so that we're sick of hearing it, is how New York or Chicago or East Podunk pizza is different and so much better.

Boys, pizza is important to you. Go home.

Yeah, okay, I'll admit that what is sold as "California Pizza" is pretty damned vile. But the only two locations I know of in San Francisco sell that shit to tourists, and suburbanites who work in the downtown. Many of whom are from so far to the east of Yerba Buena Island that the world ends there.

Southern cooking is, on the whole, far better than pizza.

Years ago, while doing a credit check on a new customer of the company for which I worked, I also looked up the town where they were located. Which sounded lovely. Four actual seasons, hilly terrain, a diverse population that included Asians and Chinese restaurants, plus bookstores and galleries. And, apparently, the fattest most heart-disease-ridden citizenry of the entire country. The overweight heartland.
And we Americans tend towards pudge.
Clogged arteries.

Our need for total gratification means bacon and cheese on everything, and mammaries larger than the rest of the world combined.
As our president says, "yuuge".

All breast pattie, and a pretentious remoulade.
Plus extra bacon and cheese.
Double stacked.

The pipe shown above illustrates restraint. It is not American. Comes from a place where they eat herring. And where bacon and cheese topping is rare. Although when I last visited my brother in Utrecht, we ate at a restaurant where they offered, as an exotic specialty, "Hawaian Porkchops" (!), with, as you probably guessed, a slice of pineapple on top. And melted cheese.
When I asked them to add some bacon, they looked at me funny.
Probably the most uncivilized thing they had ever heard.

I'm rather glad that isn't available here.
But we do have Hawaiian Pizza.
For East Coasters.

It was still distinctly foggy when I went for my early walk today. Auntie with the pistachio coloured hat was already out doing her daily exercise, grumpy uncle was slowly doddering up and down Larkin Street, and many dogs were pooing. The tobacco in my pipe had a mere touch of Burley, but was mostly Red Virginia with a trace of Perique. First pipe of the morning, after strong coffee. Sheer heaven.

If I lived in a place where pizza is the be-all and end-all, I probably would have been mugged, or assaulted by the cops while outside.
Or slipped on stale pizza.

BTW: The East Coast states start at the Nevada border.

As an afterthought, dinner last night was grilled Italian sausages with a sploodge of Sriracha (a vegetable) over stirfried mustard greens, Kwan Miao wheat noodles with garlic, washed down with a strong cup of tea.

Followed by a long satisfying smoke.
All American tobaccos.

California, sadly, does not grow tobacco.
It has to come from back East.
Beyond Yerba Buena.


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


Apparently, back in the day before the words "cuisine", "cooking", or "good taste" had entered the language, Anglo Americans enjoyed some strange edibles and potables. What with being drunk on refrigeration and the many shiny new possibilities it offered. No more green carrion, fermented bacon, and undeserved food poisoning.

Especially during hot weather.

Here in SF we seldom have hot weather.


One can of condensed beef broth. One cup of ginger ale or club soda. two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Lemon twists for garnish. Pour broth over ice into large glasses. Add the ginger ale or club soda.
Garnish and serve.

In the blistering heat of the Deep South or New England, when you're all wilted and wondering what to do next, this will revive and refresh you.
It will "keep your pecker up", as they say.

Also suitable for Southern California. Anywhere south of Daly City.

You know, personally I think it would be better to garnish it with a tomato wedge and a slice of avocado, but that's just me.
And why change a classic?

If you add gin, it's probably good for your Saturday morning head.

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

Monday, June 22, 2020


Two of the nicest people on Facebook aver that this is the time for a mint julep. Which is a "cocktail" made with muddled sugar or simple syrup, crushed ice, Bourbon, and fresh mint. Now identified with Southern Heritage and the horse races. Older versions used rum instead of whiskey, and probably date from the day and age when liquor made locally was quite undrinkable. Since then, American distilling has improved.

Not being a Southerner, I am not obligated to like this thing.

And in San Francisco summer is for Irish coffee.

As we speak, I am wearing a sweater.

And having a hot cup of tea.

Years ago, I had a brief affection for Manhattans, from seeing the Simpson's episode in which Bart ends up in the Legitimate Businessmen's Club mixing cocktails for Fat Tony and his gang, and for about a year I would teach local bartenders how to make a Henry Darger, that being a drink I had invented to get a rise out of people.

Henry Darger, it should be remembered, was the outsider artist who made a name for himself after his death. An inspiration to us all.


Two ounces Bourbon, a Maraschino cherry, and a dash of grenadine. Ice cubes, highball glass. Squirt of ginger ale. Two or three drops of bitters optional.

This drink is NOT associated with the Kentucky Derby, but it should be. As well as probably being perfect for New Orleans, and summer cruises.
For some strange reason it never caught on.
I can't figure out why.

I note, by the way, that the Wikipedia article I embedded ("inspiration") says that his magnum opus was 145 pages. Which is probably incorrect, as other sources state that it was over fifteen thousand pages long.

I am not an expert on his work, though, and I do not want to know anyone who is. They'd probably be queer as hell.

This post is for Neil in Washington, and John in Georgia.

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


Several years ago, a brash young fellow walked into a tobacconist and said something to the effect of "hey man, got anything with Latakia?" Now you have to understand that in that time and that place, tobacco shops catered primarily to old coots huffing cigars, and the somewhat 'afzijdige' types who occasionally puffed a pipe, because they had seen so many advertisements assuring them that smoking Clan pipe tobacco made them irresistible to the ladies.

[Afzijdig: distant, reserved, aloof. Snooty, sometimes pretentious.]

The young man in question had not started smoking a pipe because of that; there had been a pipe in the window of a shop next to a bookstore where he browsed every week -- actually read for entire afternoons in the stacks out of view of the counter -- and bought a magazine to pay for his time there. The pipe had appealled to him. It looked like it would be a comfortable and friendly thing to hold. After two months he bought it, because he didn't want it to disappear. Over the next year he casually explored what to put in it, discovering along the way that many popular pipe tobaccos were crap.

Anyhow, the tobacconist may have looked at him funny, and shoved a tin of a product he couldn't sell across the counter. Maybe he knew something, or suspected he had an interesting eccentric on his hands, or perhaps he said to himself "aha, finally someone who knows tobacco!"

To the young man's joy, the tobacco proved excellent. Great with a pot of tea and a book. Thereafter, people would occasionally tell them that his social life would improve, and he would have more friends, if he smoked Clan pipe tobacco instead, because it smelled so much better.

The tin of tobacco the tobacconist sold him was Balkan Sobranie.

At that time the epitome of English style blends.

Something for solitary types.

Clan pipe tobacco, recommended by so many people, was unsmokable shite. Smelled like the damned candy store caught fire. Cloying perfumy fruit cocktail. On a base of soap flakes and packing paper, absolutely overloaded with humectants, and extra sugar.

I didn't see the infamous advertisements until later, and they never would have worked on me anyway, because if a woman didn't read, and walked around sniffing and worshipping random men, I would not have been interested in her, except for clinical observation.

[For your information, Balkan Sobranie is available again, but the company that makes it now has a different recipe, so while the smell brings back some memories, it is not as profoundly soul stirring, evocative, and off-pissing to complete strangers and 'helpful' busy bodies. Women are nice.]

This morning I left the house before eight with a pipe in my mouth. No, not filled with Balkan Sobranie or anything with Latakia, instead a red Virginia and Perique blend. My tastes shifted about a decade ago. The pot of tea and the book still make regular (frequent) appearances, but one cannot often smoke indoors anymore. Especially if one lives with a person of the other gender. And although we are not a couple, I would rather not piss her off. She's a good apartment mate, clean and trustworthy, and she tolerates my stuffed animals and most of my habits.
She has her own room, and her own stuffed animals.
Though mine are crazier.

The pipe today was the one pictured above. Something I restored a few years back, comfortable in the jaw as well as the hand (the pipe I bought as a teenager is no longer in my possession). Instead of a pot of tea, I had coffee and some pills. I am no longer brash, or a young man.

I am still full of piss-and-vinegar.

Now for an almost obligatory old man rant: The problem with this world is all those playboys smoking disgusting fruit-flavoured tobaccos and stogies, swilling raspberry syrup barrista coffees and listening to pop music! In my day we made our own coffee, smoked rough twist tobacco or fire-cured shag, and listened to opera. Opera! We were serious people!

We were thinkers, and voted for communists!
None of this 'Christian Democrat" shit!

Oops. Wrong country. So sorry.
I do not live there anymore.

But you are all still wrong.

PS. #1: I couldn't actually vote till I came back to the United States, because I was an American citizen living overseas.

PS. #2: It was cold and foggy this morning, and there were very few people about. Probably just as well, because many Caucasian Americans here in the Bay Area are sensitive about tobacco, though the smells of marijuana and dog shit are welcomed. Those are therapeutic.


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

Search This Blog


Several years ago I had a coworker down the peninsula who would leave work related voicemails on people's answering machines all weekend...