Tuesday, October 31, 2023


Normally I'd be heading out for the traditional cold sober pubcrawl right around now, but the bookseller and myself are not crazy, and it being Hallowe'en, we decided far better not. After the tykes, there are the weirdoes. And San Francisco does not lack for weirdoes. We are mature men. Past fifty. We don't need to be accosted by Little Bo Creep and sex droids.
Or assorted out-of-towners determined to get blotto.
Or start fights.

Earlier I had gone out for a cuppa, on the way to which there were tonnes of little kiddies being led around Chinatown by a parent or grandparent to shake down the merchants for candy. Many of the adorable little nimnoos were understandably confused about the whole thing. Dressing up? Fine. Superhero? Also fine. Especially the little girl dressed as batgirl.
And the little boy pretending to be super robot.
Accepting candy from strangers?

I thought we weren't supposed to do that?

They were all too young to have read the handout they had been sent home with for their parents explaining what the holiday is all about. The adults were, naturally, more into this.
Long walk after tea through the financial district, which nowadays is far emptier than it used to be, except for the parrots which have moved their base of operations from Sue Bierman to the trees lining Maritime Plaza. Less swooping room, more fluttering. But just as noisy.
They crave each others' attention.

They have thrived. It took them less time than the little Cantonese kiddies to go totally native, because having birdbrains, they don't over-think matters. Little Canto kiddiewinkies are taught to over-think and consider consequences from an early age.

Not like little Caucasoids, who are judgemental from birth.
Little Cantonese persons look at the man with a pipe with frank curiosity. Little white creatures have been taught to glare with distaste. Because smoking is bad!

Indulging in the bad habit took nearly twenty pleasant blocks.
Hardly any people, no melanin-poor kids.
No mean looks.

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You may have noticed a number of computer paint illustrations here in recent weeks inspired by and often clear copies of news photos. Largely, the impact of the war against Hamas has given me new insight into perspective, as well as paint lines and trapezoidal blocks of colour in accordance with that. Secondarily most of them are explorations of subtle shades of grey.

A minor effect is cocking a snook at all those angry idiots screaming bloody murder against Jews on college campuses, in front of the consulate downtown, and in foreign hell holes like Glasgow, Islamabad, Istanbul, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, and London.

Note, by the way, that thoroughly unpleasant individuals from Kuala Lumpur will be visiting our city two weeks hence, along with untrustworthy fudgeheads from Peking, and the always critical and bellyaching turkeys from Manila. As well as 'fairly diplomatic' folk from Jakarta, neutral persons from Singapore and Thailand, and solid allies from Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. It's APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Council).

Oh, and also Indians. They're all across the board.

I should probably mention that the only Asian countries worth visiting are Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The rest are quagmires where rape and robbery are common, and they generally speaking dislike first-worlders intensely. In the case of Indonesia and Thailand, with good reason. The Philippines is a special case. Schizophrenia and envy.

And India? Well, if you can talk intelligently about Cricket, you might be okay.

There will also be a fair number of South Americans visiting.

Many of them are narco-terrorists.

No Europeans, fortunately, at least not as part of APEC.
We get plenty of them anyway. They dislike us.

Anyhow, now that I've happily slagged a whole bunch of people, let's get right to it.
A picture gallery that functions as a guide book to the Middle East.

There will be more. The war against Hamas is not over. For utterly vile reasons Hamas is supported by Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey, in addition to the Iranians and Hezbollah.

The Malaysians and European left wing love them too.
As do our mal-educated college students.
Plus other swine.

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Mornings on the Markt in Valkenswaard sounded like gulls from the fens south of the town, and smelled variegatedly like cigar tobacco fermenting, coffee, and terpeneols. The word variegated in the strict sense refers solely to colours and hues, but to the person with synesthesia, applying that to odours is quite valid.

Perhaps I should also mention that things sound different without those colours; coffee, seagulls, creosote. In memory, the light was more flickersome there, then.

There is evidence that synesthesia is indicative of Aspergers.
A location on the spectrum at least.
I am not so sure.

I'm normal.
My morning routine is the same, but different.

Coffee, news. Outside for a long smoke. Then back, and another coffee. After shave and a shower, the day can truly begin. Back then it was highschool, and for two years algebra the first period. Now, on my work days, heading over to the bus stop, and steeling my loins for eight hours of dealing with defective humans, mostly men, all of them Karen.

I cannot recall my highschool classmates as being defective, at least not severely so.

They smelled mostly of dark shag rolling tobacco.

I doubt that I could recapture the light. Crystal silver. Things smell very different now, more reddish. Also, my tobacco tastes have changed; Virginias and Virginia flakes, some Perique. Gnome-like, what fur feels like in the mind. Then, Balkan blends (mental images of moss and lubricative substances in the wheels), or before that Baai Tabak (cedar, pencil shavings, drafting equipment). There is a softness to the light now: yellow roses, silk.

I think the coffee tastes different too.

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Monday, October 30, 2023


An advertisment poster on the wall of the bus said "bring your own imagination". Underneath it, a gentleman with five large suitcases, a history of run-ins with the po-lis which he shared with everyone, a preference for heterosexual, and a very rich inner life, reclined. Sir, please do not take that imagination recommendation to heart. We have heard enough.

His men-in-blue mis-haps had involved vehicles.
We were all on a vehicle with him.
I disembarked early.

Having been down to Chinatown to enjoy a pipe, I was on my way home. Chinatown is barely over six blocks away, but not a level distance; there is a hill in between.
And my legs are kind of crappy.

I never really regained the muscle I lost when my appendix exploded and had me fighting internal infections for a fortnight. But I'm working on it. Though not by climbing hills.

I am not quite as thin as I was then.
There has been progress.
Part of smoking a pipe in public in SF is fading into the background, so that sensitive people do not have a fit. I think I've perfected that. Enjoyed a full bowl downtown around tea-time without any one complaining or screaming at the offense.

While walking down Washington Street I enjoyed the liveliness of a little tyke going home with her grandma. Cheerful and happy, and being escorted by someone she trusted and loved. She was very pretty because of that.

Waverly Place was peaceful at twilight; hardly any white people.
Only one loony. A harmless fellow I've seen before.
Two women speaking Toisanese.

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Misreading a meme yielded a lovely thought. First date coffee! Obviously perfect for quiet people who do not have ridiculous fantasies. Because, as you naturally understand, one has to establish conversational patterns. Two cups of coffee or milk tea to go, a bench in a quiet area without many people, sunlight, and maybe a book or two. Plus, of course, I would probably spoil it by lighting up a pipe (we are outside), though I would take care to sit downwind so that the smoke wouldn't bother her.

In this day and age, middle aged men who smoke are not what you want to take home to meet your cat, despite what the movies from the nineteen fifties suggest. What you probably want is a buff stud with meaningful tattoos who drinks soy lattes. Which I think is a halloween movie, but then I don't have a single tattoo, and I consider soy a perfect foil for fatty pork, garlic, and shrimp paste.

First date: two to-go plates of tofu chunks drenched in garlicky sauce with chopped fatty pork. Crumbled peanuts and minced scallion to garnish.

Sounds just about perfect.
As a complete impurist, I firmly believe that Ma Po Tofu, like fish-fragrance eggplant, benefits from the addition of meat and fun textural elements. Veganism is for mental rabbits.

Garlic is not really essential for a date.
But never-the-less advised.

If another person very happily tolerates your gustatory tastes and your pipe, then he or she is probably ideal for you. If he or she reads a lot, and also occasionally might enjoy a pipe, that too is excellent.

There are reasons why you should come to me for dating advice.

No alternative medicine vegans.

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Sunday, October 29, 2023


Sometime during this week I shall revisit my profligate youth, with a pipe tobacco blended by Jeremy Reeves at Cornell & Diehl, who is a both a genius and a very evil man. My younger years were some of the very worst years of my life, given everything that happened and the circumstances of that time. But the light was good. And there were some lovely blends available at that time. So it wasn't all bad.

Of course, I wasn't even half way through all my reading yet, so I was a young ignoramus. And I think I have become a nicer, better person since then. There is a lot to be said for maturity, even if it is just wear and tear rounding the rough corners.

Jeremy Reeves took the name of the blend, a limited release, from a short story written by H. P. Lovecraft. Not my favourite author by a mighty long shot. He appeals to teenage boys who will probably turn into incels or sour college drop-outs living in their mom's basement with a collection of mummified rodents.

Most of those freaks are not pipe smokers.

It's some damned fine tobacco, though.
When my father went on a trip to London with his girlfriend, he left me in charge of our house in Valkenswaard, with a generous purse for expenses, and just three instructions.
1. Make sure the house is still standing when I get back.
2. Make sure there is plenty of coffee.
3. Make sure there is toilet paper.

Okay. Can do. Some of that generous purse went for several tins of Balkan Sobranie. I had a fine time. I borrowed his pipes during the interim, one of which was the snazzy item above.
I'll be puffing it this week.

Another one for the week is shown below. I bought it in the second year that I was back in the States. My first very own high quality briar.

Cornell & Diehl
From Beyond

Cyprian Latakia, North Carolina Red Virginia (2017), Bright Canadian Virginia (2017), Turkish Izmir (2018), Greek Basma(2019) and Louisiana Perique.

Allegedly there is also dark Burley as a minor condimental there, but I have no idea where that rumour came from. I cannot taste it.

It's a lovely evocative mixture, with a tin-note that reminds me of many things. A good smoke, balanced, quite Balkanish, goes well with cups of tea. Had it at work a few times these past three days, I suspect it will go well with some reading, as well as wandering deserted alleyways downtown now that Autumn is upon us.

If you smell something sooty, that's me.

I'll probably also be enjoying a Virginia mixture while out and about, because that's what is in my pouch, and I remember some lovely times a few years back in Autumn downtown with that kind of tobacco, when it was not too cold outside, and not yet raining.
Also a few nice meals at a restaurant that no longer exists.
The shopfront has been vacant for years.


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There are huge areas of the world which, while interesting, one is loathe to visit. All of the Islamic world, of course (the only exception being Indonesia, which is resolutely secular), most of Latin America (guns and diseases), much of Africa, and Dublin, Glasgow, London, and Manchester. Well, almost everywhere in the British Isles, unfortunately.

And scratch Western Europe too.

Having lived abroad as an American many years ago, these times reawaken bad memories. Also, my correspondence with Netherlanders during the early nineties and teens left such a bad taste in my mouth that it may be a very long time before I visit my ancestral country again. Sommige Nederlanders zijn echte rotzakken wier aanwzigheid op deze planet overbodig is.

My fondest memories of growing up as an American citizen in Europe are devoid of people.

Most of Western Europe is sanctimonious twats like Gretta Thunberg, with a strong element of disapproval and ignorance. It makes one sympathize with the Vikings.
And really, the only reason to ever visit that part of the world is strong tea and occasionally a good stiff pour of Scotch, because their food is, at times, much worse than anything even in Texas. Thanks to art publishing and the internet, once can tour the ancient wonders without having to put up with the locals. And as for frequent shitty comments about America, I live in San Francisco, so I hear that all the time anyway from better informed people.

With the added benefit of deodorant and ice cubes.
Which are almost unknown in Europe.
And sneered at.

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Saturday, October 28, 2023


In a story by H. H. Munro (Saki, 18 December 1870 – 14 November 1916), the protagonist realizes that it's just about tea time. And he dreads the prospect of dealing with his aunts and mother, ensconced behind small tables, futsing with porcelains and tinkling cheerfully "one lump or two?" So he heads over to the apartment of a bohemianish friend, where they have caviar on toast and tea out of mugs in the kitchen. They end up married, because she's such a refreshingly different person than all the upper class women he knows. Some months after their honeymoon, he wanders into the living room at tea-time one day, and there she is, futsing with porcelains and chirping "one lump or two?"

The point of it all is that dreadful drang nach mediokrität enforced by polite cultured society. Which probably explains why there are so few women pipesmokers. If they exist, sadly they indulge in private. Understandable, because they don't really want an old sweaty fat man leaning over them asking patronizingly "why you cute little thang, do you actually know what you're doing?" And then offering them unsolicited advice about Captain Black.

Because of course what she actually wanted to do was read her chemistry textbook quietly while smoking a bowlful of a nice civilized tobacco. Without bloaty shmo breathing at her.


I'm all in favour of that.

A pipeful should both assist in concentration, and help one relax. Benefits the memory (it's a bio-chemical thing) as well as improves mental clarity. Not attract the unwanted attentions of someone who is being a man, and wishes to mansplain manly things, mannishly.

[When I was a teenager, older men kindly informed me, on numerous occasions, of the tobacco I should smoke to improve my social life and have many more friends. Clan. Clan pipe tobacco. They knew. What I was smoking was antisocial inhuman tobacco. No one civilized, they averred, smoked stuff like Balkan Sobranie Original, Dunhill 965, Dunhill Standard Mixture, or any of those other Balkan Blends. No one. They knew.]

Yeah um. I was too polite as a young fellow to tell them all to go hump a camel.

Nowadays I tend toward Virginias and Virginia Flakes, as well as Virginia mixtures with a modicum of Perique. Good choices in that regard are PS Luxury Navy, PS Luxury Bullseye (sold by many tobacconists), as well as Orlik Golden Sliced and Rattray's Marlin Flake. Rattray's Hal O'The Wynd is also an excellent choice, so are Brown Clunee and Old Gowrie. Many of the Samuel Gawith products are also good, albeit hard to find, and Cornell & Diehl put out some excellent products too.

I drink a lot of tea. Excellent with a book and a pipe. Don't need anyone to ask me how many lumps, and probably the only thing I want to hear around tea time is not inane social chatter, but "what's a synonym for such and such a word?" Followed, perhaps, by the sound of scribbling. Or whatever the equivalent is when using a laptop.

Presumably she wandered in with her pipe already lit.
Chemistry textbook in hand, finger at the page.
It being, you understand, time for tea.

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Friday, October 27, 2023


The problem with my work days is that it's mostly dealing with special people. Somewhere there's an empty bus with discarded straightjackets inside. No, not the bus that goes through Sausalito on the way to and from. When pundits say that the country is more polarized than ever, what they mean is that most of it is stupid, and I'm thoroughly fed up with them.

At best, many people need to live in an assisted care facility with padded walls. The others need to beaten frequently till morale and their behaviour improve.

I have, in my mature years, become a crabby old bird.
Our universities, as just one example, would be vastly improved if there were hall monitors with electric cattle prods roaming the open areas. You know this is true.

Same goes for the entire city of Berkeley, the Market Street area in San Francisco, and all of Texas. Put the fear of prod into the heathens.

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Thursday, October 26, 2023


The service is okay, lah, but the kitchen is slow. And the food is passable. Slightly too salty. Which probably satisfies the clientele just fine, seeing as most of them were old, retired, slightly grumpy. And not all of them compos mentis. The two old ladies having egg tarts and milk tea at the table to the right were quite likely no where near fully witted, and at the far table the youngest woman was going into great loud detail to a young man (mid-seventies) about how the husband of the mesozoic fossil she had been conversing with had kicked the bucket, turned in his keys, expired, oh woe, left her all alone with no chances at all of ever finding a companion, destined to spend her twilight years in solitude.
Gosh darn it, life is hard, haaaaa ... ?

She was quite enthusiastic about the misery.

She and the widow, and a third woman with full mummification of the face (too much pale white foundation filling in the wrinkles) were chowing down on plates of spaghetti.
Still, they were more at their full wits than the ladies to my right.

On my way out I dawdled behind the widow. Who then complimented me on my Cantonese.
From my initial ordering through the request for Sriracha and the bill I hadn't spoken a word of English, and neither had anyone else. The place was packed with Cantonese oldsters, a welcome change from the crazed fellow with his loud boombox playing sad Taiwanese ballads from the seventies on the street outside.
From my barber to the restaurant I had done some shopping. Bittermelon, hotsauce, and a box of ear-twiddlies. My barber was driving himself insane by watching videos about food in Hong Kong. Roast duck. Roast goose. Roast pork. Noodles and yauchoi on the side. White poached chicken. Soy braised meats. The poor man is homesick. When they chopped the crispy pork you could hear the crunch of the crust and the juices of the meat underneath. When I had left his shop he was nearly in a delirium. So good. So good.

The internet is dangerous for some people.
Which is why today, instead of doom scrolling through Europeans and university students spewing effusive praise for the Middle East's most active anti-Semites, I left my apartment fairly early. It's better for the soul to visit the food-obsessed, than to read and reread about Arab hatred for everybody and how Glaswegians, being a sour and thoroughly rotten tribe, wholeheartedly endorse that.

It will be quite a while before I visit Europe again.
Besides, the bastards keep coming here.
A plague on Glasgow.

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One of the crucial flaws with much of the world is that you cannot get a bowl of wonton noodles and a hot cup of milk tea anywhere near the trainstation, from Lingnan northwards, and anywhere east of Washington and Stockton in San Francisco. It is a severe failing. There you are, it's forty minutes till the train for Rotterdam is scheduled, and you could have a warm comforting breakfast while the rain pours down on the 18 September Plein, except all that is available is a cup of strong coffee and a crocquette with sharp mustard (Löwensenf). Which are also splendid, but you had that yesterday. As well as the day before.
Occasionally you alternate it with a Frikandel.

[The typical Dutch kroket is marvelous, and bears frequent repetition. But sometimes a man wants something else, and the vicinities of trainstations are often culinarily staid and predictable. Except for the two places I mentioned.]

Despondently you seek out an awning underneath which to shelter. You fill and light your pipe. Dammit, plain Maryland ribbon. It will be at least a week before the next shipment from civilization: Oxford marmalade, Samuel Gawith's Golden Glow, another Latin dictionary from Blackwells, and a jar of potted shrimp made by your aunt Margeret. You look forward to gout and a good smoke a fortnight hence. Finally!

Or maybe Suleiman still has a few 100 gr. tins of Orlik Golden Sliced in his desk at the office between the Waalhaven and Eemhaven. He's in Morocco for the next five weeks, delivering contraband mutton and penicillin to the natives, he won't mind if you "liberate" it. He gave up smoking for ramadan anyway and was too busy since then to even clean his pipes.
You'll leave him a note.
A friend had written that he had an excellent breakfast at one of the places to which I go fairly often. Fresh wontons in soup. What he did not mention is what newspaper he read while he was eating. There aren't many Chinese newspapers left in San Francisco, most of them have shut down in the past few decades, and let's face it, neither the Epoch Times nor People's Daily are worth reading, being basically extremely suspect propaganda rags.

After that brief burst of tropic heat a week ago, the weather is that cold that a nice bowl of wonton soup with noodles and perhaps a few slices of charsiu does sound delightful.

Maybe I should head out early today. I'll open up a tin of that limited edition flake from Cornell & Diehl and rub some out to dry while I head into the shower.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023


Many Cantonese have a greatly goofy sense of humour, verging at times on absurdity. A young staff member of a bakery where I stopped off for a cup of naai cha (奶茶 milk tea) and a snack right around four in the afternoon told another customer there sternly that my speech was better (clearer, more intelligible) than his. Which, of course, is impossible. He grew up speaking it, I grew into it. And he's eighty years old. It's still his first language.

Thirty years ago there was a gangster movie in which a white nun testified on behalf of the accused. Her Cantonese sounded very very white. As must, I fear, mine.

Good thing I hardly ever speak Mandarin.
I'd probably sound Mormon.
Horribly so.

As it is, I suspect I sound like some half-breed dockworker most of the time, though I do have a clean and fairly civilized Canto vocabulary. Leastways, most of the right words.

I'd probably look severely askance if my daughter brought someone like me home as boy friend material, if I had a daughter and she was that age. Why don't you just invite in some hairy tattooed hippie and shoot me now, okay? And dammit, why does he smell like that?!?
A faint echo-fragrance of good pipe tobacco is delightfully old-fashioned, quite suitable for gentlepersons of either gender, and preferable to the bold trashy reek of patchouli.
Which, unfortunately, is coming back.

When a young Cantonese miss smells like patchouli, one suspects that she has made some bad decisions in her life. Earlier on Pacific I had noticed that odeur from two passers-by, and had wondered at it. American borns, obviously. Or perhaps wearing it ironically: "hi, look at us, we're 1960's hippies and we smell like it too!"

Maybe taking their halloween ideas out for a test spin.
Or trolling for old fossils.

I did mention the goofy sense of humour, did I not?
Possibly it's just the younger generation.
Fewer moorings, more afloat.


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Like many people, I have an affection for Camel Cigarettes, an iconic brand with a long history. Imagine a long train of pack animals trekking through the desert wastes, past the storied ruins in Wadi Bogororitsh all the way to the outskirts of Alexandria, where Kyriazi Frères were making cigarettes in their beautiful Art Decco factory building, happy little Arab children singing as they rolled fags on their dusky thighs for long hours and miserable recomponse to pay for their daddy's pennicilin ......

Well, actually, not quite that way. At all.

Besides, that's more like cigars.

Also, like the Seville Cigarette Factory which imployed wayward Spanish slatterns before everything got destroyed in raucous bull fights. Pennicilin was still required, though.
Because everyone had loose morals back in the day. You know, Spaniards.

That's probably the main reason so many British tourists visit Iberia, carted around in busses, surrounded by sweaty mindless oafs from Dublin and Glasgow in their cloth caps and their cardigans and their transistor radios and their Sunday Mirrors complaining about the tea, "Oh they don't make it properly here, not like at home" stopping at Majorcan bodegas selling fish and chips and Watney's Red Barrel and calamares and two veg and sitting in cotton sun frocks squirting Timothy White suncream all over their puffy raw swollen purulent flesh.

Once a week there's an excursion to the local Roman ruins where you can buy cherryade and melted ice cream and bleedin' Watney's Red Barrel, and then one night they take you to a local restaurant with local color and coloring and they show you there and you sit next to a party of people from Manchester who keep singing 'Torremolinos, Torremolinos', and complaining about the food.

Best avoid Spanish cigarettes.

Wouldn't you rather have a Camel?
Sadly, the non-filter version is getting harder to find. In the Fifties they were everywhere, tucked into rolled-up tee shirt sleeves a la Marlon Brando and The Wild One. Coffee shops, shoe shop arm rests, bookstore end caps, clinic waiting rooms, and many more places of a commercial or medical nature. More doctors smoked Camels than any other cigarette. Yes, in a repeated national survey, doctors in all branches of medicine, in ALL parts of the country, were asked "what cigarette do you smoke, doctor?" Not surprisingly, more doctors preferred the taste of Camels. Why don't you try Camels for a month, to see what a smooth, rich tasting cigarette can mean for your tobacco enjoyment?

Sometimes I like a cigarette with my coffee. Ah, the romance!

The non-filters are becoming harder to find.

Might have to switch to Luckies.

Sorry, my beasts of burden were derailed at the station.


Young Mr. Cohen, whom I haven't seen in several months because he's only marginally employed most of the time, prefers State Express 555. Filter Kings. Those too have a golden glow of the old days -- that elusive Epsilon 5 Tobacco, which is the key to a distinctive taste rich in hidden pleasures -- but if you remember the straights in the yellow tin, happily enjoyed after lunch at a Vietnamese noodle shop late on summer afternoons, ah that was the life!
We were younger, the sun wasn't as hot, and women were more beautiful!
Yeah no, the filters don't cut it.

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The raccoon was very pissed at the old lady stomping on soda cans down below. It could smell the sweetness! That all should have been his! It glared down at her in front of the poultry shop from the roof, very obviously disturbed by her monopolizing all that good stuff with the intoxicating sugary smells. The bookseller and I lit our smokes and continued down the street. There was nothing we could do for the beast, and more to the point, we needed to get away from the karaoke bar, where the seventh circle of hell was being made audible. The only two Chinese customers had been despondent because of the loud screaming (singing?) from the pack of drunken kwailo at the end of the bar near the toilet.

Now, far be it from me to rain on anyone's parade, and as I understand it karaoke is as good as getting into the Nine Rivers Country Club for some people, it brings great joy to their lives, and they can forget for a while that they live right next door to a bunch of drunken hillbillies, damn that Ted Wassanasong. Karaoke is a great and universal blessing.

My sympathies were with the raccoon.

I always like small animals.
People, not so much.

I note, by the way, that the long-time barber shop in the Alleyway seems to have closed. There were workmen making the space look spick and span, rent-out-able to some new business. Chinatown is changing, and businesses patronized purely by elderly locals are one by one making way for young Mandarin speakers addicted to bubble-tea.
This is not an improvement.

I'm fond of many of the old businesses. They have character. Unfortunately, they're all also operated by old people, many of whom are ready to retire or give it all a rest. Their college educated children -- doctors, lawyers, engineers, and geologists -- are largely unwilling to work long hours for little reward, sometimes barely enough to scrape by.

I'm blaming Ted Wassanong and his type. Those pretentious Episcopalians, wanting to be all white, don't you know. But still eating transfat food, and singing bad karaoke in a working class bar. Oh, and the drunken kwailo too.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2023


It is pleasantly mild-crisp outside. And, having limited my doomscrolling through social media and the news, my mood is considerably better than it was. So, naturally, as the compulsive foodie-gourmand that I am, I'm thinking of food. It is far too early in the day to have a roast duck, but as an intellectual exercise, dreaming of nice juicy oozy fatty bits and that crispy savoury sweet fire-darkened bird dermis has a lot to recommend it. The succulent flesh meats my teeth and tongue, the taste fills my mouth, my lips and chin are moist.....


Considering a breakfast of roast duck porridge, while resolving to not give in, because there is no room for it yet, as I'm still on hot beverages and a satisfying pipe full of aged Virginia.

Which might be so much more satisfying if it were to follow roast duck.

I'm fond of both the bird at the restaurant on the corner of Powell and Broadway and the meat-choppery on Stockton near a bakery with excellent egg tarts on the oppposite side.
Food is frequently an intellectual thing. Drawing food using the paint programme on the computer helps me grasp it better. Which is a good thing because otherwise I'd be one of those horrid people compulsively photographing what they are about to consume in a restaurant, and also fat and diseased to boot.

In San Francisco, that's easy.



801 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133.
[Gong san po siu-lap siu-sik; "harbour new treasure roast meats eatery".]


1045 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.
[San hoi fung siu-lap dim; "new triumphant surfeit roast meats shop".]

If you are Cantonese or a Brabander you are probably drooling right now. It's that mediaeval Bourgondianismus that permeates your fibre that makes you that way. The Cantonese person delights in preparing a feast, the Brabander in painting it.

Mmm, this tobacco is good.

A few years ago, when marijuana was made legal here in California, every day I'd smell that vile skunkweed upon returning to my neighborhood. The thrill seems to have worn off a bit, though it is still frequently in the nose whenever I'm out and about in the city, though hardly ever in Chinatown. Where they're all sober Calvinists about such things.

I would prefer the aroma of roast meats.

It's better for the soul.

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Monday, October 23, 2023


In slightly less than three weeks this city will be awash with foreigners eating our food and enjoying our hospitality. Bless their hearts. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting will be going on, and because of the need to insulate those people from us -- seeing as we're all violent drug addicts here in San Francisco -- traffic will be a nightmare, public transit will be re-routed, and certain streets (including in my neighborhood) will be high-security no-go zones. Which, of course, thrills me no end, because like you I am an immense fan of people from Malaysia, Brunei, The Philippines, and charming Latin American malaria zones.

[Stuk voor stuk azijnzeikende kankeraars, schorem, en alles-wetende etterpuisten, maar ja nou.]

As well as their unending quest for unfettered access to the largest market for hot sauces and chilipastes this side of Mars or her outlying dependencies.

Honest. Would I kid you? Heaven forfend.

Heaven forfend!

Like you, I sheerly love judgemental outsiders and their deepseated urge to find fault with our city. We seek their wise corrective insights and deep wisdom regarding the proper way to run a diverse metropolis filled with reject slobs from all of their countries.

We'll probably be off somewhere protesting something, like climate change in the Maldives, sexual slavery in London and Amsterdam, or the lack of career opportunities for bigoted Swedish high-school drop-outs who are vegans and very opinionated.
So we'll be somewhat pre-occupied. At best.

As we often are.

Fortunately it only lasts a week, then we can go back to mixing our pronouns, snifffing patchouli and glue, and advocating beatnik free-love and meaningful tattoos.

With a bit of luck they won't have eaten all the tofu.

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The Irish, as is well known, have some of the worst food in the English-speaking world, considerably more repulsive than English Public School grub, Scots Boiled Sheep Guts with a deep-fried Snickers bar, or even Australian Cuisine, which serves Spaghetti Sandwiches larded with Vegemite to unsuspecting foreigners who were hoping for something edible.

Please note: The United States is NOT part of the English-speaking world, per my grammar school classmates in the Netherlands a long time ago, who sought to constantly remind me of that and other facts which proved I was an inferior being as an American, and spoke gibberish. I do not remember many of them with any fondness.
Een stelletje kleine rotzakken.

But their sickening plate-and-pan horrors are NOT a reason to boycot their pestilential public establishments. Which regrettably litter cities all across America. Their support of Celtics FC, a Glasgow soccer club, is. Most anti-Semitic bunch of buggery pustules in fandom, outright HAMAS and Islamic Jihad supporters, riven with syphilis and congenital defects caused by generation after generation breeding with people called O'Reilly or Kelly.

Glasgow is like Berkeley (CA), except with worse beer.
And considerably less physical cleanliness.
Much more deep-fried stodge.
Boiled starch, burnt fat, semi-rancid grease globs; a side of neo-Marxist revolutionary rhetoric justifying rocket campaigns and the murder of civilians provided they're English, Jewish, or American. Absent the ghastly mushy peas, thank providence, but with unintelligible gibberish and Greta Thunbergian sanctimony thrown in. Altogether nightmarish.

Sadly, you cannot smoke your fine Peterson pipes indoors anymore there while enjoying their excellent whiskey. They've gone all Brussels in their puritan disapprovalisms. But that's okay. As long as they keep exporting liquor, you can smoke at home while having a drink, entirely without needing to suffer their dreary conversation, repetitive turaluraleigh singing, violent tempers, or outright stupidity.

And everywhere the sickening fragrance of baked beans.

By the way: As the poet says, "there's feck-all meat in a spice burger". Which is axiomatic for damned well everything between Tipperary and Balanark or Baillieston. A blasted paradigm.

There is still an open tin of Erinmore Flake near my chair.
I think I'll smoke some of it this morning.
PS.: Why is it you can't find soap anywhere in the Irish world?
It's almost as rare as penicillin, dammit.

And their poetry sucks.

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Because of the rain, which is unusual for this time of year, the natural tendency for the thoughtful man is to remember preserved duck or chicken leg in rice cooked in a clay pot, with one or two black mushooms and some green stuff. Very Autumnal. Comforting. My apartment mate, being Cantonese but on the same planet, thought of porkchops. There was one waiting for me when I got home from sheepherding the crabby old men of Marin.

I'll have to introduce her to my idea sometime.
Preparation of which starts here:
茂利 = Luxuriant profit ('mau lei'). Which reminds some people of the phrase 冇理 ('mou lei'; illogical, foolish; short for 冇理由 'mou lei yau'). The tones of the phrases are actually different, too. It often quirks me when I pass by.

Five years ago on the bus back from piranha herding in Marin I had an immense yen for rice and preserved meat. The next day off I went and got myslef some chicken parts and prepared exactly that. That memory comes back regularly during the wet season.

I'm fairly certain they've got duck. But I'll have to check.
If so, claypot rice (煲仔飯 'pou jai faan') soon.

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Sunday, October 22, 2023


Almost every week the news brings another mention of a store in Union Square closing. These are all places where I do not shop; largely I avoid Union Square because it tastes too much like a suburban theme park at exorbitant almost Disneyland prices. There used to be two tobacconists, six good bookstores, and a few old-fashioned clothiers there, but in the past few decades those have all disappeared because men don't smoke pipes and cigars very much anymore, people don't read, and tweedy garb is dreadfully boomer, omg.

Nearly every week I hear from people who had a box at Dunhill. Which shut down in 1990. Fine place. Snooty attitude, but once a go-to retailer. Gumps has been more or less out of the picture for twenty years. The fountain pen shop disappeared a long time ago too.

Basically, inner city fancy-pants shopping districts have been a disaster for regular people for a long time now.
Before she started working in our operations department, a good friend was employed at a severely old school clothing store known for fine tailoring, men's goods, and tweed. My dad had shopped there after the war, years before we moved overseas. When I returned to the States I also patronized them for a while. Their most recent location that I remember has become a fancy coffee shop where one can have hot or cold stimulating beverages personalized with syrups, whips, and sprinkles. Oh la effing la.

The San Francisco from the movies hasn't existed since the eighties at the latest, much of it disappeared long before then. As long as neighborhoods like Chinatown and North Beach are still operational, the place is worth living in, but we'd rather you didn't visit.
For one thing, y'all eat too much, smell bad, and dress funny.

And when two of you big people walk side by side, you fill the sidewalk.
Did I already mention that you eat too much?

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Saturday, October 21, 2023


Dinner was little meatballs with long bean in a peanut-curry sauce, with plenty of chilies. Because, after dealing with smelly old men all day, the caring individual needs to coddle himself. The caring individual being in this case a Dutch American, middle aged, with Indonesian-like tastes.In the Netherlands this would have been followed with a Sumatra tuitknakje or a Glorie van Java corona, perhaps with a small cup of strong coffee and a shot of Oude Genever. But in San Francisco (California) both that type of cigar as well as Dutch gin (old style pot still) are damned well unavailable, because of the children. All limitations on smoking and materials to smoke as well as civilized plonk are because of the children.

No smoking in front of grammar schools? The precious children.

No more menthol cigarettes? The precious precious children.

No Dutch firewater? Undoubtedly the damned kids.

This is an exceptionally great burden!

I wish to call the attention of the international community, once they can get their head out of their collective ass, to this situation. They seem to be preoccupied at present, but they'll come around. It's a very serious crisis! Important!

Probably should have had some noodles with the curry.

Anyway, it was delicious.

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