Saturday, July 04, 2020


When I returned from my morning walk, there was a plaintive query from her room. "Corpse?" Sorry, no corpse. "Waaah....., if you really loved me, you'd bring me a corpse!"

No, that wasn't the cry of a Goth helpmeet, but the complaint of a raptor or carrion eater. The turkey vulture lives in my apartment mate's room most of the time. And his little head was sticking out of the blankets, alert to the possibilities of feasting.

My apartment mate channels for the stuffed animals.

I just live here. The impartial witness.

And there are no corpses.

The turkey vulture is convinced that there must be corpses everywhere out there, and it's just my heartlessness that prevents me from dragging freshly killed cadavers home for him to dine on. As, of course, would be appropriate for July the Fourth. This country was built on corpses.

Last July Fourth I spent most of the day in Chinatown. Same on many previous July Fourths. Nobody ever invites me to their barbecue parties, and I am not appropriate festive company in any case. San Francisco usually has fog during this time of year, it gets chilly by early evening and bitterly cold at fireworks time, I am a Dutch American descended from a long line of stubborn and bitter Dutch Americans; my first ancestor this side of the Atlantic was named Isaac Abrhamsen Van Deursen, born in New Amsterdam in 1635, five years after his parents arrived, and California was not one of the original colonies anyway.

But this Independence Day is different. C'town is mostly closed, the chachantengs and bakeries where I like to go are shut.
There are few people about.

And did I mention the cold?

"If you really loved me, you'd bring me a corpse!"

So I spent most of the day reading and smoking a pipe. Plus swilling tea. And, if you really think about it, that's what July Fourth should be all about. Literacy, the crop that made America great, and stimulating beverages.

Here in Northern California, the native equivalents are crass consumer culture, marijuana, and Italian syrup-drizzled Starbucks beverages.
It's a more superficial cultural environment.

The one thing that ties the celebration together across the country, from Alta California to the tip of Maine, is coleslaw, a Dutch American contribution. Other than fighting in every war we've been in as a country, including several dirty ones, we invented coleslaw. So we're part of this, bitches, and you can't get rid of us.


One cabbage, cored and shredded. Or equivalent amounts red and green cabbage.
Two large carrots, peeled and shredded.
Small handful parsley, chopped.


One cup mayonnaise, or slightly more.
Two TBS fresh lime juice.
One TBS Dijon mustard.
One TBS chipotle paste, or slightly more .
One Tsp. anchovy paste.
One or two cloves garlic, lightly roasted, mashed smooth with olive oil.
Dash Tabasco.
Salt and pepper.

Whisk the mayo, mustard, pastes, garlic, Tabasco, and salt and pepper together till smooth. Use this to dress the slaw. Optionally, capers may be added, minced or not. This will disturb purists, as would some chopped olives (black or green). Life is too short to worry about those people.

Don't make it too wet.

Chill for an hour.

The tea I drank all day was China black from Foojoy, made double strong and mellowed with milk and sugar. Dinner was spicy ribs cooked by the apartment mate, who spent most of the day in her own quarters with the turkey vulture. There were also some cookies (another Dutch American invention), and there was no coleslaw, because it wasn't required.

[The "Hobbit" corpse was delicious. Hobbit.]

I've had so much tea that I'm wired to the gills.

There are explosions all over the place.

Not connected to the tea.

First smoke of the day began at twenty to eight. It was still quiet in the neighborhood, auntie with the pistachio icecream hued hat left her building as I got to the corner. After we good morninged, she proceeded down the street with a chipper stride, I walked down Larkin for a few blocks before turning back.

Second smoke at quarter to eleven. While dawdling, I observed John get into his Jeep and leave, and a skeevy looking dude forcing a bag with human remains (or simply last night's food compost) into the garbage can at the bus stop. It was brightly sunny by this time.

Another pipe shortly after one. There was a Pavement American fast asleep at the bus stop near Polk Street, flies buzzing over him.
A scene of complete peacefulness and rest.

Fourth smoke after tea time.

The apartment mate spent most of the day in her room.
With a turkey vulture. Our great american bird.


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