Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Night Political Hip Hop Party!

Well, it all started with Michael Steele and his wild claim tht he was going to give the Republican Party a Hip Hop Make over...The trouble was that some people took him seriously. As we know, there is the 20% Base of the party that will believe anything.
So here is is for the first time and hopefully the last, The Young Cons!


Yikes, that was their Anthem...sorta like Vanilla Ice meets the Manhattan Transfer.
Nothing original here anyway, Conservative hip hop already has its master! That's right folks, it MC ROVE showin all those young neo cons the old school technique and it doesn't (unfortunately) get any better than this!

Man, what was that? I think I gotta change my under wear....
Here, let's listen to some real political hip hop with a real message. These guys will show you how it is supposed to be done! This is The Cause Of Death by The Immortal Technique....



Back in 1965, four American GIs stationed in Germany

started to play music. After they were discharged, they stayed in Germany
snd became the Monks.
Totally unknown in the USA, the Monks had invented their own esthetic.
Proto Punk? Proto No Wave? Proto Noise?
They billed them selves as the anti-Beatles and their biggest hit was called
"I Hate You".
Instead of Beatle haircuts, they tonsured themselves and a cheap
electric organ and 6 string electric banjo were part of their sound.
This video is from German television in 1965 and the song is called

Friday, May 29, 2009


Today, for lunch, we had our first meal of artichokes from the plants in our garden. They were delicious little ones, parboiled, trimmed and halved, then sauted in olive oil with a little garlic. A real treat, served cold with a little vinagrette.

There are so many ways to serve an artichoke, yet to most Americans, it is something they have never tasted, except for the metallic, citric acid impregnated "hearts" in jars and cans. Most Americans have never seen an artichoke plant. Perhaps the choke puts people off and the canned metallic taste of commercial artichokes has nothing to do with the real thing. They contain iodine, so they provide a neccesary trace amount of this important element.

I realize that artichokes are considered a warm zone plant, but here, where I live in France, it gets pretty cold in the winter and I have never lost an artichoke plant due to cold. They die off in the winter, but come back stronger each year. You can divide the root when they get too big and multiply the plants. They like a rich soil, all I do is enrich the garden with rotted horse manure each fall and plow it in each spring before I plant. I would think that under normal conditions, you could grow them in most of the United States, in the Great Lakes region, the rootss might need to be covered with the old leaves in the winter for insulation.

I see garden variety artichokes used as a foliage plant in garden displays. The attractive, lush gray green foliage is like the alcanthus. The artichoke itself, is actually a flower and most people have never seen one actually bloom. Artichokes are members of the thistle family and an artichoke which has fully opened is quite like a giant thistle flower of the most unearthly ultra violet I have ever seen. Indeed, the color is so intense that it creates a n optical diffraction.

I have had the same plants for years and they are not the giant globe variety, but smaller Italian artichokes, which must be eaten before they get too big and hard.
I look forward to this time of spring when they appear. They begin to set buds and when they get to the right size and there are enough for a meal...

I eat them a few different ways. As I said above, trimmed... for the little ones; the hard points off of the petals and the tough outer leaves discarded. Then parboiled and split in half. They are then sauted in a little olive oil with garlic. An Italian friend taught us how to put a plate on top to weigh them down during the frying so they get a nice brown crust.
Big artichokes, trimmed, boiled with a little lemon juice or vinegar and then served with a vinagrette, or just olive oil.
I trim them and boil them with vinegar, then put them in a baking dish. I chop parsley with garlic and parmesan cheese and stuff it in the center and between the leaves of each artichoke. I put some of the boiling water in the pan and drizzle olive oil over the tops. Then bake in a 300 degree oven for a bout a half hour. These are best after they have cooled and are reheated with some of the liquid the next day.

Then again, if you don't like artichokes, they always look great in the garden.
Bon apetit, bien sur!

i'm Ready For My Close-Up, Mr. DeMille.....

Admittedly these two awards might be considered the blogging equivalent of chain letters, but far be it from me to incur negative virtual karma. My friend History Mike nominated me for both awards with the provision that I pass along the nominations to other bloggers.

Zombie Chicken

The blogger upon whom this award is bestowed believes in the "Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse." Such bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would "brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words." As recipients of this world-renowned award, bloggers now have the task of passing it on to at least five other worthy bloggers. An added disclaimer: "do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all."

Kreativ Blogger

The rules for this award are quite simple: list 7 things you love (or six things that make you happy, or pick your own set of rules...) and then pass the award along to seven friends whose blogs you love. I am changing the rules to 5 blogs because I have enough enemies already.

Thank you History Mike for the onus of this great responsibility and the burden of passing this gilt edged guilt trip on to 5 other unsuspecting souls who will resent my audacity from this day on. Frankly, if you read this, I really do think you deserve an award for the consistently interesting view into your mind ands the things you are interested in.....
Now, 7 things I like!

1. My wife. She puts up with me and attempts to understand me. We share so much in common yet we are so very totally different.

2. Boring manual labor. I love chopping wood. I love mowing the lawn. I love digging in the garden. I love being a beast of burden during the grape harvest. There is something about a repetitious task that frees the mind. Ditto: Long distance biking and hiking, for the same reasons but they are really enjoyable activities and I feel biking is the best gift I give myself.

3.Loud Music. I like all kinds of music, but there is something about rock bordering on the incoherent that still gives me chills. I love classic punk, the revolutionary rock of late 60's Detroit, Free Jazz, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra. My wife said she began to understand me when during a music project, I started yelling at the other musicians, "Dare to be incoherent!" and things suddenly got a whole lot better.

4. Food Preparation. In another life, I could have been a great charcutier. My ambition is to someday air cure a ham. I like to make patisserie as well.

5. The feeling of losing myself in art. There is an entire ritual for me. Sometimes when I draw, I almost have a fear of the piece of paper. There is a tangible release as I make the first mark, look at it, think and then dive in.....

6. Reading ....everything and anything. I love comic art...I have learned so much slang French through the media of band desinee. I love above all history. I have learned to appreciate short stories and aspire to be a short story writer. My favorite author of fiction is Georges Simenon.

7. This may be repetitious, back to #1, but Gardening is a passion. Flowers are one thing, but growing vegetbales and fruit is something that is so rewarding. Every year is a new set of conditions and problems, but I learn more each season and it never seems as daunting as the year before. It helps to have access to a endless source of well rotted horse manure!

Eh, Voila....7 things that make me happy, now here is a list of 5 bloggers who I deem worthy enough to bestow the Zombie Chicken Award upon and thus incur their eternal grudging wrath!

1. Mikeb302000
2.The Engineer of Knowledge
3.atheist camel
4.Toledo Lefty
5.Masoni Raves About

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Message From The Queen

Her Royal Highness, Elizabeth II, The Queen of Great Britain sends a personal message to express her extreme displeasure to
the hyper President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, on the occasion
of his ommission of inviting Her Royal Highness to the commemoration
of the Allied D Day Invasion of France.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ELMO TALK...YOU LISTEN..... not here...hee...heee...eeee...skreeky....
This is me Elmo, I haven't been here for a long time because of the evil
microdot. SKweeeeeK... remove my batteries and put me in box, but I am smart...
Today, Microdot mow lawn and I, Elmo, The Creationist Anti Science Robot am back!
Now I have fun and create blog for you. Microdot and his bad friends
make fun of creationist science. They say earth is billions of years old!
They believe in evil evolution!
This am wrong! Earth is almost 7,000 years old. That's old enough!
They say that bones in rocks are millions of years old and are from animals and men who lived long ago. That why they look funny.
Elmo say they look funny because they are from old sick animals who had rhumatism and arthritis from dampness after great flood.
What ever you do, don't go to microdots evil friend, The Engineer of Knowlege's blog.
Full of lies and evil false knowlege.
Engineer makes fun of creationism and presents evil facts that make Elmo's transistors hot. When Elmos transistors get too hot, Elmo smell bad....
lawnmower turn off. Evil Microdot finish mowing...
got to go now...get back in closet.
don't let him know I was here and what ever you do don't look at
evil Engineer of Knowlege blog!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Let The Game Begin.....

Today, many of us are hearing about Sonya Sotomayor for the first time as the nominee to the Supreme Court seat soon to be vacated by Justice David Souter.
The Conservative noise machine has already started it engine of innuendo, gossip and lies in its attempt to stall or derail the nomination. The New Republic has already referred to her as Dishonest and Lazy. Fox News has said that "sources" report that she is not a very had worker.

The National Review used the terms "dumb and obnoxious" and even David Letterman, who should know better, jumped on the Sotomayor Smear Wagon with a sketch that protrayed her as being shrill, dumb and tempermental, without a shred of evidence to back up the claims, it was all unnamed sources and innuendo. This can only make you wonder, why are they saying these things about a woman who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Princeton and in a short eventful carreer, has risen to the top of her profession?

Could it be an attempt to play to racial and gender stereotypes? Naw, the Conservatives are above that kind of disgraceful behavior. Oh Yeah?

Sonya Sotomayor is a Puerto Rican American who was born to a lower middle classs family in the Bronx and grew up a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. She lost her father at an earl;y age and was raised by her mother who worked as a nuurse in a methadone clinic. Sonya developed diabetes when she was 8.
She was a good student who now says she was inspired to go into law at an early age by watching Perry Mason.
She graduated summa cum laude from Princeton then became the editor of the Yale Law Journal. She then joined the Manhattan district attorney office and the Board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. After 8 years at a Manhattan Law firm, she was appointed to a Federal Judgeship by President Clinton.
One of her more memorable rulings was as a Federal Judge in 1995. She was the judge who ended the inteminable Baseball strike and salvaged the season. At the time she was lauded for her diplomacy and wisdom.
She seems to have a hallmark of independance. She has made important decisions which have made it easier for police to collect evidence and also made important decisions separating church and state and also supporting the rights of religious groups.
She is a lot less affluent than many of her peers. She has chosen to live in expensive Manhattan, where she owns a coop in the West Village. This is the only property she owns.
In public, she presents an affable fun loving personality and describes herself as an avid baseball fan and compares many of her moments on the bench in baseball metaphores.
Recently in a documentary, Sotomayor said, "We should applaud more frequently those who transform a lost life."

As Sotomayor saw it, she was not so far from her humble child hood that she was not emotionally touched when she signed her first judgement of conviction after becoming a judge.

"That emotion will never leave me--humility" she said. "A deep sense of humility. And a deep, deep senseof there but for the grace of God could I have gone and many that I have loved."

Perhaps in the last statement one can find the very essence of what the conservatives find so very dangerous about her. To them, compassion is a weakness that will used to portray her to the left of Abbie Hoffman.

You can believe that every aspect of her life and conduct on the bench will be scrutinized in the next few weeks in an attempt to find any appearance of a flaw that can be exploited.
Let the game begin!


Well, I am blogging on borrowed time. I have a few minutes before the next big storm rolles in and I plan to shut down the computer for the night! I realize tht it has been months since I celebrated a White trash moment with y'all. I was in a little culture shock after I came back from Toledo, I had some upclose and all too real encounters in the Glass City...aparently, nobody walks there and if you do....
So here's a fun visit to a real West Virginia Road Kill Cook Off! A competition involving cooking only things you found dead on the road or ran over yourself.
Bon apetit!

P.S. I would like to welcome my buddy, The Engineer Of Knowlege to the wild wide world of blogging...he has inaugarated his blog today and I put the link on my blog roll on the side. He's been a contributor to this blog and I hope to copublish articles with him in the future when my brain starts working again!
Meanwhile, I want some of that Bear and Butter Bean Stew....just try to fish out the radial tire chunks...They always give me gas.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I Feel Insane!

The last video was Julian Coryell the Jazz artist, now here is Julian Coryell the pop artist, the same person....
This is his recent release, I Feel Insane!
et voila.....

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Re-Entry....

I'm back...actually back for 2 days in my house with the jungle like lawn, untrimmed hedges, vegetable garden running amok...
It was a real ordeal. A few days before I left to work on Le Pamphrage, I started to feel strange. I chalked it up to allergies? But the allergic symptoms turned ugly and I eneded up with a full blown cold and many other less esthetic symptoms.
I thought I was not going to be able to work. I talked my self into getting on the train for Libourne and spent the next 5 days in misery. Then the sun came out...
Yes...the first five days it was really raining and storming. I was hermetically sealed in my rain gear, but the storms were so bad that a few vineyards in Pomerol and St. Emilion were trashed by hail storms.

I gradually began to feel better. I stopped coughing and sneezing and the aches disappeared as I cleaned thousands and thousands of grape vines. By the 7th day, I felt great, my voice had come back to the discomfort of my fellow workers and I had to sing!

So, when I called home, I found that my wife had what I had...these things are passed on in families and that my neighbors had it too and it was the fucking swine flu!
Well, my friends, I am living testimonial that it isn't that bad and you probably will survive...

I know I cought it from the flight attendant on the British Air Flight I took from Chicago to London. He was a peasant enough Scottish chap who kept serial sneezing and apologizing and looking more and more miserable as the flight progressed.

It's over now and I have a great tan already and I went on a nice 40 kilometer bike trip today. I'm afraid to visit my neighbors, they are still sick...things could get ugly.

Thanks to all the nice comments from my friends while I was away!
Valerie, if you read this, check the profile...I corrected my spelling of Aquitaine.

I wanted to post some music and discovered a video by the Artist, Julian Coryell.
It popped up in my YouTube subscription. It was a pop song and Julian sang and played keyboards. I thought the song, "It Makes Me Insane" was pretty good and Julian had a great voice, but the artist I knew as Julian Coryell is the young son of the great jaxx/rock guitarist, Larry Coryell who is one of my favorite musicians.

I had seen Julian when he was younger, just out of Berkely School of Music as a young Jazz player dueting with his father. I heard a record he made in Japan of Jazz and jazzy pop, but I had never heard him sing. I checked his bio and yes indeed it was the same Julian Coryell, who also plays piano and is now writing songs and singing.
I may post that video, but I felt I had to post a video of the other side of Julian..
This is his current Jazz group, Coryell, Augur, Sampler...a fusion trio in the tradition of his fathers groundbreaking fusion jazz. This is a piece called Cobra Commander.
This guy gives me a lot of hope for the future of American music.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Another Vine Another Bottle.....

Again, I am leaving for a 2 week break. This time back to my medieval existance in a vineyard at the Chateau Vieux Chevrol in Lalande Pomerol, near Libourne where I will start my 8th year working with grapevines.
We are performing the Empamphrage, cleaning the shoots from the graft of each vine.
I want to mention that the last post regarding Michael savage and his being banned from entering Britain was written by The Engineer of Knowlege, who has been an occasional contributor toi this blog. For some reason, I couldn't add this info to the text I dropped in.
Thank you Mr. Engineer!
A bientot, tout le monde!

On The Sane Decision To Ban Michael Savage From Entering Britain

Radio talk show host Michael Savage, real name Michael Weiner, whose hate mongering right wing talk show has fallen into the category of fomenting hatred. His message of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way that it is actually likely to cause inter-community tension or even violence. It is the opinion in Britain that if this person was allowed into the country, his personal live hate speeches could incite and instigate hate crimes.

This decision to ban Michael Savage from entering Britain does have a history to draw upon coming to the sound conclusion of Savage’s banning.

The book, “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” written by Michael Savage had already influenced Jim David Adkisson. Jim David Adkisson’s own admissions and quoting Savage, took it upon himself to kill innocent men, women, and children of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church by shooting those who did not think as he and the neo-con media host he identified with. The constant drone of hate from this Neo-con’s rantings for anyone who does not think in lock step as he did was all Jim David Adkisson needed to confirm his decision to justify killing. Adkisson believed and I quote, “That all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and the Democrats were tying the country’s hands in the war on terror and had ruined every institution in America.

Of course the other Neo-Con right hosts such as the likes of Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and Hannity, are getting hours of subject matter for their shows. They are now spouting off about how Britain’s injustice and limiting free speech is unfair to the rights of Michael Savage. My retort to those who would pass on this message is for the people of Britain to simply ask the worshipers of the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church’s opinion of how Michael Savage’s constant drone of hate had what kind of effect on their lives.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

100 Days Of Steele!

RNC Chairman and soon to be toast, Mike Steele hosted Bill Bennets radio talk show today and started off with this zinger. I know it's all over the internets today, but if you haven't heard it, then you will understand why Mike Steele is the gift that keeps on giving. They can't just fire him, y'all know what that would look like!

STEELE: Good morning y’all, we’re back in the house. We’re talking a little bit of Constitution and a little bit Supreme Court. And a whole lot of saving America’s judicial system and saving our rights as citizens and not having empathetic judges decide cases, but rather judges who are actually understanding the rule of law and what the Constitution and those laws are all about. And how to apply the facts to the law and the law to the facts. And adjudicate my case. I don’t need some judge sitting up there feeling bad for my opponent because of their life circumstances or their condition. And short changing me and my opportunity to get fair treatment under the law. Crazy nonsense empathetic. I’ll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind. Craziness.

Mike is celebrating his 100th day as Chairman of the Republican National Committee and we wish him many, many more!


On another blog, I was recently called the extremely "creative" appelation, "Obamarobot" because I didn't hate Obama. I suppose it's more fuun to be an Obamarobot than a Cheneyroid or a Limbogre. At least I have hope.
All this robot talk made me want to hear the 1963 hit by the Tornados, ROBOTS!
Here is the original promotional video, years ahead of its time conceptually and musically. Nobody would go where Joe Meek had gone until the advent of DEVO in the late 70's!
The Tornados were a British rock instrumental group best known for their huge international hit, Telstar. The real brains of course, was the tragically bizarrely brilliant Joe Meek who wrote and produced the music.
Meek was totally unique, he invented his own techniques of dubbing individually recorded parts, compressing and clipping sound. In a way he was the complete opposite of Phil Spector, who recorded everything at once, even doubling instrument parts live to achieve his wall of sound.
Meeks was able to produce a more precise, but still mamouth pop sound. A very good example was perhaps his last big international hit, The Honeycombs, Have I The Right?
Meeks had a brief career with a tragic end. He was in his late 30's and his pop empire was beginning to dissolve. He was a lone gay man with a history of depression and a very dark side. In 1967, in an insane act, he killed his land lady and then himself with a shotgun.
We still have his legacy of absurdly brilliant futuristic pop to remember his genius with.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Le Temps Des Possibles

In 1961, a 17 year old girl from Queens met a young Bob Dylan at an all day folk festival at Riverside Church. Bob Dylan was instantly captivated with the shy, talented Italian American. For the next three years, they became a couple. Suze Rotolo was transformed into a mysterious iconic beauty who was the muse for the poet.
She was photographed with Dylan for the cover of The Freewheeling Bob Dylan and the photo became a vision that encapsulated an era.

Suze had never written or spoken with the hoards of Dylanologists over the years and remained a mystery. A mystery that was never far as she traveled back to the United States married to an Italian and raised a son in the Village.
Suze kept her own life as an artist, creating her very unique art books, which she creates and exhibits to this very day.

She became a "public" figure so to speak at the urging of Martin Scorscese, when he made the Dylan bio, No Direction Home. She is a compelling story teller in the film
giving insight and background to the unique world and place out of time of Greenwich Village of the early 60's.

She never really left the Village and kept many of the same friends from that period over the years. She met Tod Haines who encouraged her while he was making the Dylan based film, He's Not There.

Suze released her book, A Freewheelin' Time last year in hard cover. Now it is finally available as a paperback this week.
The book is her personal story about the life of a young girl growing up in a very political left wing Italian family in Queens. She leads into the years with Bob Dylan and reveals no more than you need to know. She is able to give insights into the person Bob Dylan was and perhaps a little understanding of the person he became.
Most valuably, the book is a real document of the world of Greenwich Village, the personalities and the history of the early 60's and the Folk Movement that lasted for too short of a time before it evolved into the folk rock scene and became commercialized.

Suze writes with a very personal style. She really lets us feel her early life and a bit about what came after.

The book was released in Great Britain and just this month in France by Naive Books. Translated into French, the title is Le Temps des Possibles, or The Time of Possibilities.
I will make no bones that this is perhaps a biased review, not because of my review of the book. If anything, I have been restrained in my praise, but biased because I truly love Suze and I want everyone to read her book!

Bee Orchids!

If yoo have been reading this blog for the last few years, you have probably noticed my unatural excitement at this time of the year. I love spring and I am fascinated with the plants and I try to understand the relationship of plants in the environment.
I have a real passion for wild orchids, which I found and identified when I lived in Ohio and New York State.

Here in this NorthEast Corner of the Dordogne, we have perhaps 18 distinct varieties of wild orchids and many natural hybrids. I have managed to find a specie I have never seen before each year and spend time on my bike seeking them out.

In the last year or so, as the grass around my house reverts to it's natural, unfertilized state, the soil has begun to yield a few species of orchids. For many years, cows grazed right up to the front door and the soil was overly cow enriched. As I cut the grass and take away the clippings, the soil becomes less enriched.

Orchids require poor soil. That is their survival strategy. The orchids of the world over live in diverse environments that have one thing in common, poor soil. Another thing that orchids all have in common is a symbiotic relationship with various related fungi that are neccessary for the existance of the plants. The seed will not germinate with out the proper fuungus and the relationship assists the adult plant break down the soil to release the nutrients.
There are a number of saprophytic orchids which do not manufature chlorophyll. They are totally purple or brown. There are a few varieties here.

Last year, in July, I was surprised to find Goat Beard Orchids growing near my vegetable garden. This year, plants began to grow near my barn and I have been very careful about cutting around them. I tried to identify what they were from the leaves, but ultimately, it was like a surprise package unwrapping as they started to bloom today. This is a picture of the first one. It is a Bee Orchid or an Ophrys Apifera. It is in the same general family as slipper orchids as far as flower shape and function. Here is a picture of the entire plant. It stands about 35 cm, but they can be up to 50 cm.

The name Bee Orchid is pretty evident by the shape of the "cup". There are also Spider Orchids and Fly Orchids. Again, the name of each type is based on the form of the "cup". I am not sure why these plants so exactly mimic insect forms. As far as I know, the fly orchids are not pollinated by flies, neither are the spider orchids pollinated by spiders.

I see the goat beard orchids coming up where they were last year, but they will be a few weeks yet. The Bee Orchids are about 2 weeks early. I have been in a lot of my favorite locations looking for plants, but I suspect that the warm micro climate and the unusually warm spring we have had contributed to these early blooms. I am happy to share them with you. Where ever you live on this planet, save the polar regions, there are orchids hidden to discover.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


So what's going on around here? I haven't been posting as much as I'd like to. I had so much to catch up around here after my trip to the States. It's spring and I have a huge vegetable garden to plant and lawns to cut and weeds to eliminate and......
Then, just as I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, I was contacted by Chateau Vieux Chevrol where I have worked for the last 7 years to come on Sunday night to begin work cleaning the vines.
The actual name of this task is called l'Empamphrage and we use a medieval tool called an Empamphrette. Each commercially grown grape vine in France is grafted onto wild American grape vine root stock. This is the result of the disaster in the late 1880's when a small aphid caused a disease named Phylloxera. The pest came from North America and destroyed the roots of the European Grapes which were not immune to it. Wild American Grapes were.
So, ever since, the roots of all grapes in France are l'Americain, which wants to grow and live its own life but has to be suppressed.
That's part of the job, we cut off the wild grape shoots on each vine and at the same time, we take off the excess branches.
Once we get going, it takes on the average of 20 seconds to a vine.
That operation is repeated thousands of times over 25 hectares of land.
Consequently, I will be away from blogging for another two weeks starting Sunday!

Today, though, I did my own seasonal production, the first step of making the speciality of the Dordogne, Vin de Noix, or Walnut Wine.
Vin de Noix is a sweet aperatif. the version I make starts with the collection of the budding leaves from the walnut trees. I have no exact quantity, I try to get them just before the leaves open. They are very sticky and fragrant and I fill a plastic bag with them.
Then I get a bottle of fruit alcohol. Here you can buy 40% clear fruit brandy, or higher proof if you know someone with an alembic. I take a liter of alcohol and crush the leaves in it and tightly cover the alcohol and leaves. I did that today.
After a month, the liquid is dark black and very fragrant, like spicy walnuts.
I buy five bottles of dry red wine. Here I use Corbieres, which is inexpensive, but a very good table wine. I have a big enameled pot and I pour in the wine, a kilo of sugar and strain the walnut infused alcohol into it. Then stir until you are sure the sugar is dissolved and bottle it up. I save nice bottles with screw tops, but for nice presentations, I use a bottle I can pound a cork into and seal it with wax.
The most important step after this is to let it sit for a few months.
You will have a delicious tasting apero with a proof of about 16%.
There are many variations of this recipe. Some call for orange peel and quatre epices.
I have made a version with green immature walnuts, ideally collected on June 21st.
It's basically the same technique but you must pierce each green walnut with a needle before you macerate it with the alcohol.
This is a very nice treat to bring out for friends before a meal to insure conviviality and conversation...and a very special gift!
Later, this year, I will tell you hope to make your own Creme de Cassis, all you need is your own Cassis bush! I have 2!

Monday, May 04, 2009

In Theaters Everywhere! Now!

Dante's Flaming Inferno is a popular baroquishly ornate cocktail lounge located off the main track in Vatican City. It's quiet now in the early afternoon, the only action is a few off duty Swiss Guards hanging out at the bar trying to pick each other up but in the smoke filled rear booth, over the third round of extra dry martinis, the action is getting pretty heavy.
Monsignor Whitefang and Cardinal Blacktooth, the Vaticans ace media sharks are deep in negotiations with Leonard Plumkin and his legal assistant, Cassandra Philbert who represent Columbia Pictures and specifically, the legal end of Ron Howards new film, the adaptation of Dan Browns novel, Angels and Demons.
Cardinal Blacktooth is jabbing his Montecristo in the air emphatically, "Not a point less than 15%! Go ahead, release the film and we'll ignore it and we'll laugh at the box office numbers as they go straight to hell!" He laughs at his own little joke.

The Monsignor adds, with an ironically twisted grin, "I'd like to see what would happen if we kind of had Benny endorse the film! We don't want to play hardball, but you have to realize who you are dealing with here. Benny doesn't mess around. I'm sure you've heard about his background...."

Leonard smiles soothingly and gulps his martini and stalls and calls over the waiter for another. Cassandra, curtly says, "Gentlemen, I'm sure we can come to an agreement that is satisfactory to all parties here. The potential earnings of this film guarantee something for everyone! Lenny and I have drafted an agreement here that you might find very interesting."
Lenny fumbles in a folder and produces a sheath of documents.
"Uhh, yes" he unctuously sighs, "We understand the importance of Pope Benedicts concerns here and we have come up with an entire line of marketing tie ins. Of course, we will have to market them correctly and they will be worth nothing if we can't get the agreement. The earning potential is infinite! You know what I mean?"

Cassandra continues, "We have the flavored communion wafer dispensers with the Angels and Demons logo ready to go. Do we want to go with crispy nacho flavor or the sweet-tarts? It's up to you.
The Angel and Demon holy water purse size personal atomizers could be really big this summer! This is just the tip of the iceberg, but you understand, we have to start producing this stuff now!"

Leonard stares at Cardinal Blacktooth with his famous deal closing intense mind melting grin, "Cardinal, you got your 15%. We can negotiate the merchandising rights and have our teams work together on further creative marketing, but we have to have the Holy Father's signature on this document in the next 12 hours!"
The Cardinal and the Monsignor are grinning conspiratorially. They are already figuring out how to take a cut off the top.
Cardinal Blacktooth beams and says, "Lennie, Cassandra, you drove a hard bargain, but as of today, you can tell the world that this movie has been officially condemmed by the Catholic Church!"
Leonard grinned effusively and queries, "Perhaps if we could work something like a Fatwah" You know like the Rushdie thing...when the mullahs proclaimed the fatwah, The Satanic Verses went through the roof! I mean who was Rushdie before the Fatwah? A nebbish, nothing, zilch!"
Monsignor Whitefang gleamed and said, "Well, Lenny, The catholic church doesn't do Fatwahs, that's a ...uuhhh...moslem thing, but" suddenly brightening with an idea, "We did have the Inquisition! Perhaps, something could be arranged...we'll get our guys working on it!!"
Cardinal Blacktooth orders another round of martinis all around and they all stand and toast, "THIS MOVIE HAS BEEN CONDEMNED BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH! WE HAVE A DEAL!"


I recieved a message from blogger that thebrainpolice was a spam blog and was being blocked. I am posting this to see if this is some kind of ridiculous system glitch.
They say they are reveiwing my blog and will unblock it...wierd and bizarre and it pisses me off!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Public Health Emergency

I seem to have gotten out of America just in time. Though the Swine Flu or H1N1 Flu as it now being referred to has seemed to have stabilized and is not the serious menace it is being hyped to be in the media, airline flights are beiing cancelled and travellers coming to Europe from the western hemisphere are being scruitnized intensely.
I don't want to underplay the concern that the World Health Organization is giving to a potential menace. A virus, which once took months and years to travel on this planet is now aided by the miracle of international jet travel. An airplanew becomes a vector or transmission.
The governments seem for the most part to be responding in a responsible and reassuring manner, while the media is behaving like a pack of hysterical lunatics, treating the virus the same way irresponsible way it treats every political and celebrity story; like a flash riot.
The conservative media in America has been given another legnth of rope to hang itself with as it goes full hog into an orgy of anti hispanic racist rhetoric.
What comes across most to me after a few weeks in America: People are afraid of health issues. They are being used as pawns by the insurance and drug corporations.
The idea of a system of assisted preventative health care is being touted as a step to socialism and socialism is being touted as anti American and a mere hop skip and jump to full blown communism.
To me, America is already in the grip of an epidemic. An epidemic that could be prevented and treated. I was horrifically amazed at the explossion of obesity that seems to be incrementally growing every time I go to the USA.
This epidemic is tragic because it also on a par with addiction. The addiction to highly refined foods, laden with sugar , starch and fat, packaged as snacks and fast food is as dangerous if not more so than heroin.
Heroin is illegal, but multinational corporations constantly bombard consumers with advertising and new product.
Can we define addiction?
  1. Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance: a drug used in the treatment of heroin addiction.
  2. An instance of this: a person with multiple chemical addictions.
  3. The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something.
Now, have you ever spoken to an obese person about their habits, or if you, yourself consider your self obese, is this familiar?
First, the denial of a problem and evasion in dealing with it. Second, trying to deal with it is the cause of real physical discomfort. If a person addicted to over eating tries to stops they actually do experience many real forms of discomfort.
Obesity is a cause of the rising incidence of diabetes in populations that have up to now not been genetically disposed to it. It causes more heart attacks and cancer than smoking every did. That is just the tip of the mountain of health complications that arise from obesity.
Overweight people are less prone to exercise and are more prone to physical injuries.

I understand that obesity in many cases is caused by problems other than just over eating, but the epidemic that is destroying a large portion of America is preventable and like any other form of addiciton, in many cases requires outside intervention.

It is really tragic that the biggest epidemic in America is an addiction that is enabled by the biggest multinational corporations on the planet...And tragically, it is a fact that the present H1N1 flu virus has been traced by scientists this week to a virus identified in 1998 originating on American pork industry factory farms.

On Wednesday, Columbia University biomedical imformaticist Raul Rabadan comfirmed that six of the genes in the H1N1 Virus were definitely descended from the H1N2 and H3N2 swine viruses isolated in America in 1998. At the time, scientists identified the industrial pig farming techniques as incubators for the virus and warned of the potential for mutation and the possible leap from specie to specie.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Muguet Porte Bonheur!

Today, May 1st, all over France, there are vendors everywhere crying "Muguet Porte Bonheur!". People are buying little sprigs of Muguet, or Lillies of the Valley. The phrase is translated, "Lillies of the Valley bring good luck!"
But that good luck is not meant to be hoarded. You must give the flowers to someone as a symbol of friendship, of solidarity, a wish for their good luck and happiness in the coming year.
This is a custom that dates back to the Middle Ages but in reality, dates back to pre christian times when on May 1st, the Celts celebrated the feast Beltrane.
The lore of the flower claims that besides good luck, good cheer and protecting the garden from evil spirits, Muguet will also improve the memory.

As it is, Muguet seems to always come into bloom on May Ist. As I cleared my property, in the last few years, a small patch of Muguet has appeared and begun to revitalize itself, now that it gets light. It apparently has been here for many years, so I had a few sprigs of the white highly perfumed little flowers to give friends.

May 1st, of course is also the Workers Day here. As we head into the 2nd yer of Nicolas Sarkozy's regime, this holiday has taken on a greater significance than it has in recent years.
May is the month of holidays and it is always important to "make the bridge" so to speak. Take a holiday and turn it into a 3 day weekend. Today in cities across France on this beautiful May Day, there are millions demonstrating in the streets. There were over a million in Paris alone. The mood of discontent and anger with the government is rising daily. Civil disobedience has become more than a protest, it is the new way of life. Some of the disobedience has become very creative and playful; groups of people with bull horns invading the great supermarkets, Les Grands Surfaces, and announcing a picnic and distributing and consuming the food off of the shelves to protest the out of control and bizarre food pricing practices.
Some is very serious; doctors helping patients get around beauracracy roadblocks by simply lying, networks of a humaniarian "resistance" movement taking families with out proper papers into hiding in their own homes at risk of prosecution to prevent deportations.
Railroad and transit employees ignoring people who try to snatch free rides on the trains and subways. Transportation is expensive and vital, but impossible if you are poor.
Some disobedience is a matter of showing a cruel corporation who really holds the power when workers are laid off without negotiation. Simply take the management hostage and force them to negotiate. This happening daily here.

Yet, everyone, in the midst of all the struggle, on the avenues of the protesting cities, on a neighborhood street, a walk down a lane to a friends house, everyone has the time and the urge to carry a little bouquet of Muguets to a friend and wish them Good Luck!
Consider this post and picture a virtual sprig of Muguet which I give to you.


Yes, I'm back in France after an exciting whirlwind tour of SouthEastern Michigan and NorthWest Ohio. I spent a lot of time on a bike. I had forgotten the joy of riding on flat roads...I also, in my quest for cheap flights, completely screwed myself. I flew on British Air. They seem to try, but if you go to London and have connecting flights from Gatwick to Heathrow or vice versa, they neglect to mention that the only way to travel the 60 miles distance is the National Coach Bus Service and it's almost 18 Pounds each round trip discount and if you don't fly British Air, it's even more! (18 Pounds is way over 30 Dollars US!)
Then there was the little matter of taking the train to Bordeaux to catch my flight, and the train getting delayed by signal trouble...needless to say, I missed the check in for my flight and got there after a frantic expensive cab ride from Le Gare St. Jean in Bordeaux just as the plane was leaving...
The ensuing charge for rebooking...having to sleep on a bench in Heathrow...getting rousted by the Cops at 4 am...good thing that I'm still a teen ager, this kind of stuff could kill a guy my age!

I had an uneventful trip on the way back and it sure smells sweet here and the grass sure grew, but it's full blown spring and I'm happy to be home.
Here's a video of Serge Gainsbourg live at The Zenith in Paris in 1989 performing, You're Under Arrest! This is late period Gainsbourg...the entry on stage, taking time to light a cigarette leisurely, the sheer attitude...