Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Improve your French!

Read the subtitles or sing along. This is a highly questionable hilarious clip from the very popular French News Satire Program, Les Guignols l'Infos. The Sylvester Stallone puppets are used in the show when ever they need to portray American Generals or Roman Catholic Cardinals.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Todays Yoots

Maybe it's me. I don't think so. America has been taken over by a beast that has its its fangs sunk deep into all political parties and sections of society. There is a torpor, a malaise of ideas.
When I see broadcasts of demonstrations, there are no young people. Just old farts like myself looking greyer and a little more loopier each year.
I found this photo earlier today of my old building on East Fifth Street in NYC and
it made me think of the last time I saw the building, about a year ago. You would not recognize it now, perhaps some architectural details remain, but the Yuppies who
are being cursed and threatened in the graffiti, won.
Maybe it's too much of everything. Experiences are too easily obtained. The drugs don't work any more. It seems that there are no dreams that haven't been dreamt already. Everybody who plays guitar playsfaster than Hendrix if they even play guitar, why bother when you have music programs. We've already seen it on Television.
Why try to change the government? The bastards have all the angles covered.
I know there are young people with ideals and energy, I know quite a few.
But I also know too many who can't be bothered.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I posted this for ohdave. This is the moment in 100 Questions that I wrote of the exchange between Segolene the MS Victim. It's rather long, 7 minutes and the tear jerker comes at the end.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Neck And Neck

Saturday night French election update! The latest polls have a real upsurge for Segolene Royal! After tanking last week at 46% to Sarkozi's 54%, the latest poll has her actually winning the first tour of the election! If the election were to go to a second vote, they would be virtually tied. The appearance on the 1oo Questions program on Monday is still hot news and segments get rebroadcast over and over. Also this week, the Socialist Party Royal Election Team was reorganized and the Party has come together with all of the heavy hitters solidly in line. Juppe, Jospin, Strauss-Khan all part of the team. Today in Calais, Juppe made an appearance in front of a 10,000 strong rally giving a powerful speech and introducing Segolene who rallied the faithful! Last night, she went to the Olympia to see the incredible Jamel Debbouze is appearing with his Comedy Club. If you know who Jamel is, you are a lucky person. He is probably one of the most loved figures in France. A very short Algerian with a crippled arm and an incredible rapid fire ad libbing wit full of good energy!
Perhaps you will get to see his movie on the Algerian war, Indigenes...The English title is Days of Glory. He invited her up on stage and the crowd adored them both.
On the other hand Sarkozi seems to be channeling the dark side. He makes lots of noise but I think his initial bluster has worn thin and he is scaring a lot of people.
His organization has made the internet virtually useless as whenever there is a question or a comment section on a news site it is jammed with organized anti Royal propaganda. This is discussed all the time. He fired his attack spokes woman because she was too obnoxious and they found she was putting everyone off and had become a joke. He has made a lot of his hard line speeches about the need for discipline and is sounding a bit more by the numbers Mussolini like. His staff burst into an Education Ministry Meeting on foreign exchange students demanding that he be given the minutes of the meeting because he was going to need them after he became president to help monitor the movements of foreigners. They were reminded that he wasn't president and he had no jurisdiction.
Last week everyone was talking about Francois Bayrou, the UDF candidate as the third man and spoiler of the election. As far as I could see that was just to fill up dead air space. Bayrou has his 15 minutes in every race then it's over. He said he wanted to be another Prodi as a leader, bridging the gap between left and right, then the next day, Prodi's coalition fell apart in Italy. We aren't sure as to what game he thinks he's playing. Pandering to the left but we know he would be conservative when elected.
The real spoiler is still the never gracefully aging Jean Marie LePen. He still claims to be scrambling for his signatures, but he will get them, just as no one will ever admit to planning to vote for him, but they do. His daughter, Marine, does all the foot work for him, appearing on talk shows. I must say she looks better after losing some weight and changing her hair. In the last election I did a characature of her as a Bayonne Ham with a blond wig...cruel, but the only explanation of her strange appeal.
The broad band of the far left candidates slog on. The LCR Candidate, Olivier Besancenot bravely struggles on. He is very radical, extremely intelligent, the best debator and was just named in a poll as one of the most loved figures in France.
He still has his day job as a postman in Paris. Jose Bove is going to jail, but probably will still get his signatures and run for president from his cell.
This is shaping up to be an election like never before. The debates are non stop, there are a lot of wild cards. The scrutiny of the media is intense on both sides. Sarkozi has himself as his worst enemy. His ego has done him more damage than any words slung at him. He has simply assumed too much and offended almost everyone in the process.

We Reserve the Right to Use Cluster Bombs....

Yesterday, The United States along with Japan, Poland and Romania refused to sign the ban. Israel did not take part in the conference in Oslo. Forty-six countries pledged to sign the treaty the treaty including Britain, which has a major stockpile and France which is a manufacturer.
A cluster bomb is a container holding hundreds of smaller bombl;ets. It opens in mid air and disperses the bomblets over a wide area. The bomblets do not always explode on impact, which means they can lay dormant and kill and maim civilians many years later.
A report of by Handicap International claimed that 98% of casulaties from cluster munitions are non-combattants.
Witness the ongoing nightmare of cleaning up after the Israelis in Lebanon where thousands of civilians have been killed and maimed by unexploded cluster munitions in the aftermath of their invasion.
These weapons have very little practical use in the way we fight wars now. Their primary use seems to be against a civillian population. The Israelis violated existing military agreements regarding their use. Again, America puts itself above the norms of International behaviour and makes itself into a state that will use any means neccessary to accomplish its ends. It also has a lucrative arms manufacturing industry and as long as we keep making them, armies are going to keep buying them and using them.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Channeling Nixon

"And I pledge to you tonight that the first priority foreign policy objective of our next administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam.
We shall not stop there. We need a policy to prevent more Vietnams."

Richard Nixon, accepting the Republican presidential nomination,
August 7, 1968.

During Nixons last days in the White House in 1974, the disgraced, soon to be ex president was said to wander the hallways, talking to the portraits of dead presidents.
I think that Dick Cheney is having an animated conversation with Nixons portrait
these days.
Cheney began his dark journey through American politics in the Nixon White House in the early 70's and much of his public life seems to be focused on an attempt to avenge his misunderstood ex-boss. At the height of Watergate, he stated that it wasn't a scandal, but a power struggle. Working under Gerald Ford, he began to resent the post Watergate restrictions on the presidency and began to shape his bizarre theory of an all powerful unitary executive.
His singularly warped view is what is shaping our nations government 33 years later.
He seems to be looking to Nixon for inspiration on the handling of Iraq.
Listen to the Nixonian tone of his comments earlier this week on his Asian Trip:
"And I want you to know that the American people will not support a policy of retreat.
We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right and we want to returnwith honor."
Basicly the same song as Nixon was singing in 1968, but new to the Bush/Cheney Administration. Here's why the word honor is so important. We all know what war looks like and we all know what peace is, but honor is truly in the eye of the beholder.
To Nixon, "peace with honor" did not exactly mean peace. It meant war. A lot of war.
In 1969, without authorization from congress, Nixon started his secret air campaign against enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia and dropped 2,750,000 tons of bombs, more than the allies used in WW2. He later under took a massive bombing campaign of Hanoi and Haiphong without any success. At home, "peace with honor" brought the protest which triggered the slaughter of Kent State students by the Ohio National Guard. Finally in January, 1973, Nixon decalred "peace with honor".
When Nixon hgave the speech in 1973, it had been 1,467 days since the Gulf of Tonkin alleged incident which triggered American escalation of the war. When he declared "peace with honor", it was another 1,633 days later until the fighting stopped.
More than half the fighting occurred after his declaration.
Another 20,604 soldiers died after the "promise", the total for the war being 58,202.
In the end, Saigon still fell and "peace" didn't look all that different than "peace with honor".
34 years later, another administration is saying troops can come home from Iraq, but only if the do so with "honor". Isn't a situation like Iraq one of those Vietnams that Nixon pledged to prevent?
This "honor" will also prove to be an elusive goal that won't be acheived in the next 23 months this administration has left in office.
"Peace with Honor" is neither peaceful or honorable when it means further senseless bloodshed and pain. Don't expect anymore sense to come from Mr. Cheney who is too busy dancing away from the Libbey trial and only heariong the conversation that he seems to be having with Richard Nixons portrait.....

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Short and sweet, last night on TF1, Segolene Royal appeared on the 100 Questions
Program. She took questions from a cross section studio audience for over 2 hours live and was totally triumphant. Not only proving herself to be the candidate that can address the problems of French Society and International issues, but literally seducing the entire audience. It was the biggest audience for a political program in France ever.
Almost 9 million viewers, over a million more than Nikola Sarkozi had 2 weeks ago.
Over night her poll numbers jumped 10 per cent and Le Monde referred to a moment of the program as "An angel passing before us".
It was a rare television moment, an audience member with multiple sclerosis was talking about the problems he has had and at one point broke down in tears and Segolene came over to him and gave him a hug and encouraged him to finish.
Unbelievably, when the moderator, a conservative newscaster was on camera a few seconds later, he was wiping tears from his eyes!
In one television appearance, she has undone weeks of non stop swiftboat style smears and has suddenly put herself into the hearts of the people. Obviously, I am a fan! I could not imagine an American politician operating without a net for 2 hours nonstop and looking as fresh at the end as she did at the beginning and never once losing her poise. This was more than a success, this was seduction!

Poule au Pot

Most of the recipes you find here at the brain police are what you could call "slow food".
Especially this time of the year, the house should fill up with the smell of something cooking slowly all afternoon. If it's cold enough, the windows steam up.
Most cooking of this genre is born of neccessity. A good steak has to be cooked fast to stay tender, but a good steak is expensive. Most people have to figure out what to do with cheaper cuts. That's what people ate everyday and the simple ways they cooked these things made most of the classic dishes of the worlds cuisines. This is a recipe for cooking a hen. A hen is a chicken who has been around for a while and layed eggs. By the time a farmer would kill the hen, it had layed plenty of eggs, but it was a tough bird. I'm not sure you could do this dish with regular factory farm raised chicken. A hen required legnthy cooking to tenderize it. This was a dish that was made popular in France in the time of Henry IV, the Protestant King of Navarre who was made King of France in the 16th century after the Valois family killed themselves off.
He converted to Catholicism and united France in the aftermath of the devastating Wars of Religion and became probably the most competent French King. This dish was named after him, Poule au Pot d' Henri IV.
You need a nice fat hen which has been cleaned. Make a stuffing out of some chopped ham, bread soaked in milk, garlic, parsley and thyme. You could add fresh or soaked mushrooms if youu wished. Stuff the hen and tie it up.
Put in in a pot and cover it with cold water with an onion studded it with cloves. Tie up some leeks and put them in. You could add a chicken boullion cube or two at this point. Bring the pot to a boil, covered and simmer for 3 hours.
About an hour before the chicken has finished, add some carrots and turnips if you like. I love turnips.
When it is ready, Take the chicken out of the pot. Let it sit for a few minutes. In another pot, saute some rice as you would for a risotto, then add some of the broth from the chicken.
While the rice is cooking, in another pot, make a rue of flour and butter. You won't need much as the sauce you are about to make should be thinnish. Add the hot broth to the rue and watch it thicken, when it is ready, add some cream.
Voila, untie the chicken, cut it up on a platter. Put the farce on the platter with the vegetables (untie the bundle of leeks).
The serving is some of the chicken, vegetables and some stuffing , the rice all with a few spoons of the smooth sauce over it!
Slow food! Bon Apetit, bien sur!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Wild Orchid Blogging

Here it is, February 19th...the official start of spring is almost a month away.
I realize for a lot of people that seems forever with the late winter blast of snow and cold air. It's always like that, the end of winter is always the last desparate gasp!
It's not so bad here. Lots of rain, which is normal. The sources are all flowing.
There is a spring in the valley which is shooting a column of water almost a foot.
The little creeks have all flooded there beds. There are buds getting ready to open.
I even have started to bike again. I always seem to run out of steam for a few weeks each year and to get going again is always tough. Maybe this year I will break down and get a new bike.
One intense interest that I have had for years is wild orchids. When I lived in Ohio, I would search for them and find the places they lived. In New York, I would hike in the Palasades every weekend and in the spring I knew where all the pink ladies slippers
grew up on the cliffs over the Hudson River. Most people think of orchids as expensive exotic tropical plants that are impossible to grow. It's true that they require
special conditions to grow, but in most cases, those conditions are pretty easy to provide. I have a white Phalenopsis that was given to me by a friend who was going to throw it out after it bloomed and it is blooming here next to me...the fifth year since I got it and it's bigger than ever.
But, every where, all over the world has a wild orchid population. Since I moved to France, I have been trying to find every variety that grows here and so far I have documented 18 different varieties and many hybrids. Some are so tiny that you would never notice them if you weren't looking for them or so camouflaged and green, that you would never think they are orchids. Some are parasitic plants and do not produce chlorophyll and are white, purple or brown. They each require very specific growing conditions and usually need the symbiotic help of a fungus to germinate. Sometimes, the plants can be dormant for years until they get the right conditions to flower.
So, beginning at the end of March, I start planning bike trips to places I think might harbor orchid populations.
Where ever you live, there are orchids and if you like hiking and natural history, you should check an wildflower guide for your area and see what there is growing out there. I will post pictures as I find them this season and if you send me yours to my email address:, I promise I will publish them and what ever notes and anecdotes you provide!
The picture at the top of this article are two species I found next to each other last year,
a Serapias vomeracea, which aren't really supposed to be growing this far north and the tall ones, Limodorum abortivum.
Here's another, Orchis ustulata, or Burnt Orchid...There are somepretty wild forms, some mimic insect forms like bees and spiders. There is one form here called the Hanging Man....I found some last year and I'll try to get pictures this year! Happy Hunting!

I've been busy......

Well, I haven't been posting much lately. I have been posting on other peoples blogs a bit and thinking about a lot of things...I have been blogging as bit about the French Elections and Maybe I'll let a few days go by before I post anything again about them.
Segolene Royal will be on TF1 for 3 hours tomorrow night for an intense live studio audience question and answer program. Sarkozi did the show 2 weeks ago and there are charges that the questions were vetted by him and his staff.
We have a little political matter here in La Sechere...A farmer has been buying up all the land around here because he needs pasturage for his veal cows. Fair enough, but he has been doing unapproved land deals and violating land use clauses written into deeds.
Last week, he started to cut down a lot of forest. It's sad for me because the forest is a part of the landscape I love here and I spend a lot of time hiking in it. It will still be here, but very cut up. They are pulling some huge oaks out that will sell for quite a bit.
Now we have found out that this part of the Dordogne is being looked at with the intention of redistricting it. They want to put low income housing up, which is a good thing, but where? In a week there will be a meeting at the Mayors office to discuss this issue and we want to be able to assert the non-constructable clause in the notarized deed we negotiated when we bought this property. It was part of a big farm that was being split up. This hamlet, La Sechere is a very tiny place at the end of a rural road.
It was almost totally abandoned a few years ago, the houses and barns were slowly falling apart and disappearing into the brambles. Now there is a pretty eclectic, young group of people here. I say young from my point of view, all under 60!
My Dutch neighbors down the hill, our new neighbor who bought the farm buildings next to us, he's French, but very progressive politically, A young French couple from Toulouse who bought a parcel of land at the same time we did to build a new totally ecological house on...they are very concerned that their investment might get ruined.
One of the old residents, Christiane, a widow who owns a lot of property, but is shy and needs to be supported by us if she is going to speak up and old Andre, who is one of the farmers who owns a lot of land. He's a nice enough guy and he always offers to plow our garden in the spring, but money and land? He's a tough old peasant and likes to cut trees to sell for fire wood. He works 12 hour days just cutting down trees lately.
It will be interesting to see what the plans are for this area. We don't see any housing being built here, but we do think we have to keep our expansive veal farming neighbor
at bay. He has to be reminded that there are legal limits to what he can do around here! I was outside around 11 pm and marveled at how clear the sky was and as usual, when it is clear, you can see the milky way and if I stare at the sky long enough, there is always a meteor. I don't want to lose that...............

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fascism Crushes Hope

For the last 2 years I have been a real fan of the blog, AMERICAblog. I feature the link in the side bar and look at it at least once a day to check out what is going on in the
minute to minute world of American politics. John Aravosis has created a great blog that is a real news source. He has a few steadfast contributors with different viewpoints and ideas. One is a guy identified as Chris in Paris. He blogs about
Financial matters and is always breaking stories that become bigger issues.
Occasionally he writes about French politics from an American viewpoint, but
my take is usually he just doesn't get it. He covered the French riots last year from the viewpoint of a frightened foreigner who didn't have any sympathy for the kids
and understanding of the issues which triggered the violence.
Lately he has made a few entries in regard to the French elections. In his entries, he has flat out said that Segolene Royal has already lost the election and doesn't have a chance and has already compared her to Kerry. When I read his posts, I feel that he gets all his talking points directly from the French pro UMP Press which is fed by
the Sarkozi Noise Machine. According to him, her meetings have been failures. She has already shot herself by the "gaffes" she has committed. She has no plan and desparately cobbled together one at the last moment.
I find this very disturbing and I wonder exactly where he gets his info from?
This is a campaign like France has never before seen. Sarkozi's organization has huge resources, they have more money than any political organization has ever had before and a 24 hour attack staff that is using Republican Party offensive swiftboating tactics.
Sarkozi this morning was exposed in LeMonde for putting forth financial promiises that have no toehold on reality! He has come across as a Liberal to the Left and the most ardent racist to the extreme right. He has proven that he will do anything, say anything, and abuse his power as Minister of the Interior to be elected.
In fact, the campaign has not officially even started yet. I have a very good feeling that Sarkozis tactics are beginning to backfire and Segolene is going to come out swinging..
Here is something very disturbing, Nikola Sarkozi released a book last year called Testament. He states his philosophy and ideas in it. It sold in France over the summer and early this month was released in Italy. The Italian version is called Testamonianza and the Italian forward was written by Giofranco Fini, who is one of the leaders of the Italian Fascist movement today. Fascism is a philosophy which uses violence and believes that any method at hand can be used to seize power. Power is meant to be wielded brutally to keep the rulers in power. Fascism usually succeeds because it uses means that are outside the norm of accepted behaviour so most people don't have the means to resist it.
Fascism crushes hope. By accepting the Noise that the Sarkozi machine spews and repeating it, you are crushing hope. If you are interested in French politics and you should have some interest because the out come will affect you and youur world one way or another, take some time to find out about Segolene Royal, an amazing woman who seems to be full of hope!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What Is Vlad Up To?

Today, I read the news about Russia claining that they might have to pull out of the !987 Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty negotiated with the old Soviet Union between Reagan and Gorbachev. They based this on the future action of the US in regards to the missle defense system it proposes to deploy in bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. This treaty eliminated an entire class of medium range missles that had been based in Europe. Vladimir Putin said that the treaty was no longer in Russias' interests.
At the same time, Russia sells arms to Iran. It's in Russias interests to bolster Irans ability to defend itself and is a deterrent to the current American adventuristic impulses. They don't want a conflict that could "go nuclear" on it's doorstep!
Russia has also concluded arms deals with Venezuela and a number of South American Countries and is in the midst of inking a deal to assist Saudi Arabia start a nuclear energy program.
This all is in direct conflict with what the Bush Government percieves as its sphere of influence and interests.
One thing Russia is doing is countering the influence of American power all over the world and asserting itself, but I think Vlad has another goal in mind. A long term goal that might not be so difficult to achieve as you might think. It could be Vlads Revenge!
America is stretched so thin and is on the verge of stretching itself thinner and the cost of it's undefined and unlimited eternal war on terror is draining our resources exponentially. How far can can the theoretical limits of budget deficits be stretched? The Soviet Union found out when it tried to counter the United States in the Cold War. The collapse was caused by military overspending and strategic moves that continually drained its resources. It tried to out spend the US in a Nuclear Arms race. It failed...I think Vlad knows that we can fail too and we might be a lot closer to this line than you might think.....What do you think?

Sarko Sarko Sarko

Another anti Sarkozi piece. I apologize for not writing more. My life is a lot of deadlines...there was a big storm here today, lots of wind it was just clean up and's Valetines Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Yesterday, I arrived home to find a big box on the doorstep. The big box contained
a book...a very big book, 510 pages. The book was a copy of Up is Up But So Is Down,
New York's Downtown Literary Scene, 1974-1992. It was edited by Brian Stosy and published byNew York University Press. I opened the book with trepidation, expecting memories to come hurtling out like mad bats.
I recieved a copy because I gave permission for some of my art work to be used. I was art edidtor of an East Village Literary Revue called Red Tape in the early 80's.
I had moved to New York in 1978 because I felt that I was smothering in Northwest Ohio and there was so much I wanted to do! I had a Toyota pick up truck and I worked for a neon gallery and moved rock bands when I first arrived. Before I knew it, I was playing bass and guitar in some of the bands I was moving, like The A Band and Glenn Brancas Guitar Symphonies. I was exhibiting art and comics in galleries and my buddy, Steve Greber started the Red Tape Magazine.
I played in a pretty tight eclectic Punk/Funk ensemble with some French musicians called Belle Starr. I met my wife in that band. I played in a few other bands at the same time. Cold,Tired and Hungry....I would really love to have some of the music that band made on tape today...we were really great. I played in a bass, drums and sax trio that was punky funky rap stuff and then there was Mr. Bubble. A glorious experiment in pop chaos, we set about to create an anarchistic atmosphere of fun. We would play anything, Little Richard, James Brown, The Beatles, The Monkeys, my own songs. I did an interview once where I claimed that my musical theory was that any song could be played with the same three chords. Of course, I didn't believe that, but one good line is worth a thousand realities. I loved playing bass guitar and tried to play lead guitar and I think I was actually a pretty interesting guitarist for a few months. Now,
I play guitar rarely and it's always a struggle to make my fingers fit in the tiny frets.
So, this book showed up. Lots of names and memories of a time and a place that doesn't exist anymore. Many of the writers are long dead. The themes and mood of the writing changes as the issues affecting the writers change. You can track the appearance of AIDS, first as as mysterious disease that makes it appearance in the early 80's to the plague it became a few years later. The wave of drug abuse that
wasted so many of the inhabitants. The creativity of the writers is pretty scary.
This book makes you want to write. You may not like what you read. Some of the stuff is pretty harrowing, but the force and need to express burns and makes you gag like the smoke from a safety flare.
As I said, I opened the book cautiously, remembering....

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I'm a little upset after a watching some television talk shows that featured non-stop mean spirited anti-Segolene humor and discussions. This is turning into a real American style Republican negative campaign. The media owners seems to be all Sarkozi buddies.
It was a relief to watch my very favorite French program,GROLAND! Things don't get anymore politically incorrect than that....Groland is an imaginary country...with imaginary news that is a little too real. Sometimes it is so much fun to be offended by experts.........
Here's another anti Sarkozi flash video that I found especially poignant for all you Star Wars fans out there!

Friday, February 09, 2007


Things get more complex in the election here. The Sarkozi machine steamrolls on. Speaking in Toulon, in front of a right wing crowd, Nikola went farther than Jacques Chirac ever went pursuing the racist votes in the South East. Jacques was never forgiven in a speech in the 90's when he referred to the majority of French being offended by la bruits et le odeurs (the noise and smell)of an immigrant population.
Sarkozi, in front of a rabid nationalist crowd, referred to immigrants who refused to speak French in public, practiced female genital mutilation, teenage circumcision on boys and slaughtered sheep in their bathtubs, images tailored made to incite racial hatred in the crowd. Only 3 days before, he stood in front of a crowd of workers and invoked the names of the great French Socialists and tried to say that he represented the true ideals of the working class and the lost vlues of socialism. In just 3 days, he tried top be everything to both ends of the political spectrum.
Meanwhile, his attack dogs are out in the media, tearing into anything from The Socialists. Criticizing Segolenes wardrobe, speculating on her relationship with Francois Hollande. Things never seen before in French politics, there is a lot of just plain shock at the attempt to run an American style campaign based on the Republican model..
Segolene on the other hand has been making media appearances and everytime she does appear, she shines. She is behind in the polls, but on the 11th, she will release her program and become muchmore visible. Sarkozi did a 3 hour live meeting with an audience asking questions that seemed to damage him more than help him. His major ethnic star endorsement, a rap artist called Doc Gyneco has self destructed gloriously on one talk show after another promoting his book which it seems he has never actually read. He will never sell another cd again. It seems that he was induced to support Sarko by a deal to do a cell phone commercial for Virgin which was arranged by Sarkos buddies. Once Virgin realizes that they have hitched their wagon to a lead weight..............
On the other hand, the intellectual community, the immigrant community and a lot of the artistic community have seemed to unite to fight the racist Sarkozi. Artists like Diam's, Le Grand Corps Malade, Abu Malik, Renaud and the entire rap community have undergone an artistic renaissance. Incredible stuff everywhere. The humorists are inspired. Something is really happening here that is off the metters of the poll watchers, the political pundits and the foreign analysts...nobody is calling it right.Meanwhile, Jose Bove announced his presidential candidacy and 3 days later was sentenced to 3 months in prison for destroying corn fields sown with genetically altered crops. He is adamnantly running his campaign from prison! Great propaganda!
Speaking of great propaganda, I'm going to start posting French campaign videos.
Even though, they are in French, there is so much great creativity going on that I have to try to let the rest of the world see it.
This first piece is called Le Nain (the dwarf) Nikolai Sarkozi is a little mean sprited man and there is a special place in the French heart for a lawn dwarf....

Jeff, Slim, Rush and, uhhh, Satan!

This is a tale related to me by the Engineerofknowlege, a frequent contributor to these pages and a little too good to keep to myself!
It took place in Pittsburgh in the early 1970's. I remember hearing about it in Toledo as one of those things too strange to be true.
There was a local "shock jock" who went by the name of Jeff Christie on Pittsburgh radio and was pretty popular, a forerunner of Howard Stern.
In Pittsburgh, there was an evangelical minister who one Sunday made the bizarre claim that the voice of Satan could be heard on the recordings of the British Country and Western crooner Slim Whitman if you played them backwards. This was bizarre enough when you consider that Slim was little known in America but at the time, there was a marketing push to sell his records with telemarketing. Perhaps you remember the claim, "He has sold more records in Britain than the Beatles!"
Well, the Evangelical Minister had his flock going out on the streets preaching to everyone that they had to destroy all their Slim Whitman records to keep the voice of Satan from claiming the souls of the unsuspecting listeners.
This was perfect fodder for Jeff Christy, who started poking fun unmercifully at the Minister and his Congregation. How stupid could these people be? Why would Satan pick an obscure country and western singer like Slim to use to spread his message of evil? Why would he embed his malicious messages in the tracks that had to be spun backwards to be heard? What kind of brain damaged trauma caused this mentally deficient minister to focus on poor Slim?
Jeff kept the jokes going for a solid week and after a weekend break he was back on the air on Monday morning and gravely announced that he had to apologize to the minister, because over the weekend, he had in fact played the records backwards and Satan had indeed spoken to him. He then told the radio audience that he was going to play the Slim Whitman record backwards so everyone could hear Satans message with their own ears. Jeff, of course had pre recorded his own distorted voice and it began, "Hello, this is Satan. I would have never guessed that a minister would have a record player that could play records backwards. There can't be that many around. I never thought that an Evangelical Minister would be smart enouugh to figure out my secret and start warning everyone!" He went on for a bit and most people realized it was more of the joke and got it, but then the calls started from outraged listeners who could not believe that Jeff would actually commit the irresponsible act of broadcasting the voice of Satan over the airwaves and demanded his immediate dismissal!
The station got so many calls, probably from the entire congregation of the church, that they decided they had to fire Jeff from his show.
When Christie was fired, he found a new job at a sports station broadcasting the Kansas City Royals baseball games. He later moved on and started his own political talk show on the radio. Today, the onetime Shock Jock, Jeff Christie, is known as

Thursday, February 08, 2007

le Laguiole

I suppose that most people are familiar with the famous French knife company, Laguiole (that's pronounced: Lieeeyole) I have a friend, Marion, who a few years ago was stopped boarding a plane in Toulouse because she had forgotten to take her Laguiole out of her pocket. The official looked at ther and said, "What's this, a knife?" and she smiled charmingly and said "Oh, that's my Laguiole!". There was a bit of a chuckle and she proceeded on board. Those were more innocent days.
But there is another product from the Laguiole region and it is an excellent cheese, called also a Laguiole.
The Laguioles are in huge forms when they are made. 40cm in diameter and 40 cm high and weigh as much as 48 kilos. They are a light yellow cheese with a sweet sharpness thatt defelops as it ages like a cheddar. The first mention of the cheese by its name was in a text from 1560, but the tradition of making cheeses in the manner of a Laguiole date back in the region to the fourth century. Laguiole is in the Cantal and there are a few other cheeses that are related to it. The Cantal, Salers, Pave de Correze all are cheeses that are at there prime at different times of the year.
They were given the AOC rating in 1961 and officially, a Laguiole must be made from milk from the Aubrac race of cows which feed in the hilly meadows of the Cantal from mixed vegetation. They eat a lot of grass, but the herbs that grow in the region are very important to the flavor. Every real Laguiole form is stamped with the image of a Taureau.

Traditionally, the cheese is made in the winters with the milk collected which is curdles and put into the big forms. They are aged in stone huts called burons in the basalt hill sides that the cow herders/cheese makers live in. The cheeses are pressed everyday to get all the moisture out. Traditionally, the cheese maker would kneel on the cheese and the lore is if you find a knee hair in the surface of the cheese, you know you have a traditionally made Laguiole! The traditional hearty potato dishes of the Auvergne are made with Lagiuole and the related cheeses, such as an Aligot...which is a thick elastic puree of cheese and potatoes. It's a great cheese for melting, wonderful on the cheese plate and it marries well with a hearty red wine.
I suppose you are wondering, how do I make l'aligot? That's what these fellows are doing in the picture.
It's a pretty simple recipe, you don't have to use Laguiole, a Cantal or Salers or Pave Correziene are perfectly fine.
Here's proportions for 6 persons:
Take 8 big potatoes and boil them skinned.
Mince 4 cloves of garlic
Puree the potatoes, while they are still hot, add the garlic and 300 grams of grated Laguiole, 1 small glass of water,
salt and pepper, a little nutmeg, 60 grams of butter, and a little cream. Here we would use thick creme fraiche...maybe 4 soupspoons and a little milk if it needs thinning. Mix this all together in a nice pot on the low heat preferably with a wooden spoon until you have obtained an elastic substance which forms long strands when you pull it from the pan...this is the classic aligot and I guarantee it is just the thing you need after being out in the cold weather!
Bon apetit, bien sur!

Why do I keep thinking about OHIO?

The New Secretary of State of Ohio just ordered an Audit of Kenneth Blackwell, the infamous Republican Secretary of State who reputedly "fixed" the 2004 presidential election in Ohio, where by George Bush was able to scrounge the neccessary Electoral
College votes to claim victory. Kenneth was running for Governor and played a pretty nasty race with sexual allegations against the Democrat, Ted Strickland. Besides the dirty politics, as Secretary of State, he controled the machinery of the election as well.
There was some last minute jockying with the voter elegibility rules that were seen as blatant attempts to manipulate the vote. The Republican Party collapse and the voters disgust with him and his tactics gauranteed his loss. Now he is being audited for illegal use of public funds. We knew there was a lot going on behind that sanctimonious Christian facade. Unfortunately, behind the facade, when the votes came in were 5 shredders running for a week shredding all of his records. This was revealed by workers in the office this week after the audit was declared.
Michael Vu the Election Director of Cuyahoga County resigned today after two employees were convicted of tampering with election results in the 2004 election recount teo weeks ago.
Slowly, the circle of guilt and responsibility close in on the perpetrators of one of the greatest tradegies in American History...the conspiracy that enabled George Walker Bush to steal the presidency twice and hijack America.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Great Wall of Cheney

I spend too much time thinking about Dick Cheney. For a few years, it was rumored that he was the real power behind George W. Bush. Holding him in thrall,
telling him what to say, what to do. All this seemed to be sort of a conspiracy theory,
a little too strange to be real for most folks. But how does a man who is by the numbers, the most unpopular politician in America, under the shadow of so many investigations, stay in power? His continued stonewalling to refuse to reveal
the members at his energy conferences, when he split up the energy pie early in the administration, his refusing even to reveal all the members of his staff, claiming security precedence and executive privelege look incredibly suspicious. The secrecy of unprecedented proportions, his appearance on political talk shows and speeches which defy reality all add up to a dangerous equation. A man with his own agenda that is in direct collision with the rest of the worlds reality.
Perhaps the man is coming undone as Frank Rich suggested in his column on Sunday in the NY Times, rattled by the reality check of the Libbey Trial and the proof of allegations which are surfacing daily. Perhaps he is wary of Fitzgerald and knows that the prosecutors sights are really on him.
A rattled man who is his own government branch with a staff of almost 100. A man who micromanaged the flow of information at the CIA in the buildup to the Iraq War and is most certainly trying to do the same thing with Iran.
A man who has become obscenly wealthy because of the involvement of the USA in this disastrous war and stands to make more if Iran threatens the flow of oil in the Atraits of Hormuz because less oil means more profits for the oil companies!
A man to whom the Constitution is a piece of idealistic prose written on rotting parchment over 200 years ago by men who had no idea of the complex world that operators like him have to navigate in. Besides, he's the vice presidentt and you're not!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Libya 6 Update

It's been over 2 months since I posted a piece on the Libya 6. They are the one Palestinian doctor and 5 Bulgarian Health Care workers who were un fairly condemned to death for allegedly infecting Libyam children with HIV virus. This has been an emotional, nationalistic issue for the parents who see it as a plot but the evidence is irrefutable that the workers are innocent. The trial and subsequent sentence are political grandstanding by Khadaffi who has more than once said that he would settle the case and set them free for the amount of money that Libya paid out in the Lockerbie Terrorist Crash settlement. They are in limbo now and the latest news seems to be positive. DeVillepin, the prime minister of France was in Bulgaria last week and saiid that France would work to bring an end to this nightmare. The Foriegn Minister Douste-Blazy has been ordered to start negotiations with Libya as a priority.
It helps that the Foreign Minister is a doctor!
The most important thing is to keep a sense of world pressure on Libya. Therre has been a lot of action in the blog world and money has been donated to the defense.
The most important mover in this is the Nature Magazine reporter, Declan Butler.
He has been reporting and instigating action since the case began. If you want to learn more about the latest developments and if you can help, check out his blog.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Nice Day

What a great Sunday this was. Almost warm and absolutely clear.
The weather says that it will rain for the next 8 days, so I forced Janet to go for a hike
with me and the dog. I was going to take more pictures, but the battery on the camera
was weaker than I thought. So here's a picture of St. Robert. We walked around the entire valley. The country side is like this. Villages clinging to hill tops and entire
worlds in each valley with forests, fields, streams and marshes at the bottom.
St. Robert is a very beautiful village. A very well preserved medieval place.
The Romanesque church was an important abbey dating back to the 1100's.
The village has very little to remind you of the modern world. Ruined walls surround it, there are two chateaux from different periods. Great houses with courtyards in the village and what new construction there is, has to be done in harmony with
with the rest of the village. This is at the edge of the Correze and the look here is grey limestone with slate roofs. There is some yellow limestone for the fancier buildings as it was quarried far away and very expensive. A lot of the fancy lintels and carved stone details on the more wealthy buildings are done in yellow limestone. Also on the walk, we passed the Miraculous Fountain of St. Maurice. I wanted to photograph that, perhaps I'll take a camera on my next bike trip here. The fountain is a spring in a grotto in a hillside. The rock around the grotto is carved with inscriptions and designs from around 1100 ad. In the grotto is a carved stone sarcophagus that must contain the remains of St. Maurice. According to the legend, St. Maurice was martyred around 300 ad. It's in a rather remote place and if you don't know about it, you would probably never go there. I tried to find out about St. Maurice as there are a number of Cafes and Distillers in the region who seem to evoke him as a patron saint. Why is St. Maurice the patron saint of alcohol consumption and its manufacture? I must find the answer!
Our walk was about two hours long and we met some horses.
Here they are!

Friday, February 02, 2007

An Offer He Can't Refuse

Southern Methodist University was chosen by George W. Bush as the location of his library after the end of his presidency. Usually this is a big honor for a city or an institution, but SMU seems to be having problems with it's members about whether the library is appropriate for their school.
They seem to be having problems handling the morality of his legacy and don't want their school to be associated with the trampling of human rights, the pre emptive war policy, ignoring international law, etc., etc., etc....
Hey we have no problem here at The Two Creek Strip Mall on Route 79 A outside
of fast growing Gnarlsburg, Indiana! Okay, so the Ye Olde Christian Sex Shoppe was a flop and Arnolds' Amish Candle Emporium only lasted 4 months in the location.
There was a Mr. Leons House of Beauty which stayed in business for 12 long prosperous years until most of Leons clientel died of old age and the younger girls weren't interested in the Blue Perms he specialized in.
Also, when they built the overpass, a lot of the local traffic was diverted to Rte 83 for easier access to the turnpike, but we are going to turn that around.
Today, the owners of the Two Creek Strip Mall want to make this very generous offer to President Bush! He can put his stuff here, the books, papers and anything else he wants to store in this spacious 1028 square foot well lit modern store in the mall!
We will knock out walls, and even spring for a new paint job and get this!
Two months free rent!
Who knows, you just might be around longer than Amish Arnold and his Candles!
Extra added bonus! There is 600 pounds of bees wax in the store room in the back and we are throwing it in as well! Come on down, Mr. President!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Brillat-Savarin Post #1

I love the writing of the French Philosopher of the Kitchen, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826). He was born in the town of Belley, France, where he was elected mayor in 1793. The outbreak of the Revolution drove him abroad to Switzerland and then to New York, where he earned his living giving French lessons and playing in the orchestra of the New York Theater. In 1796 he returned to France. He was great gourmand and chef in practice and in theory. I want to post some of his aphorisms from time to time. Here are two:
1. The world is nothing without life, and all that lives takes nourishment.

2. Animals feed: man eats: only the man of intellect knows how to eat.


"I'm the Vice President and you're not"
Mr. Cheneys voice rumbled ominously, echoing down the corridor as his
minions scurried to escape his wrath. He had been acting rather erratically in the last few weeks, drinking a bit more than normal, mocking the little weiner, George.
"Harumph, little sissy can't hold his liquor, HAH!" he poured himself another
shot of Chivas and gulped it down, shivered for a second as it burned a familiar passage into his gut. He suddenly felt flushed and cold at the same time and
a vague wave of damp discomfort hit him. He opened his desk drawer and
took out a plastic vial and popped a few capsules into his mouth. It was twice the
recommended dosage, but hell, he was Dick Cheney and he could take it!
He poured another shot and sat back in his plush heat massage recliner desk
chair and felt satisfied. His plans were going just as he dreamed they would.
Well, the original plan hadn't quite gone as smooth as it was supposed to. He was still trying to figure out how to get the Kurds out of the oil picture. Perhaps if he
could get the Turks to launch an attack. How to tailor the information so they would feel threatened enough to strike? Hmm, better put that one on the back burner for now. If he could get the Iranians to launch a first strike, hmm, kill two birds with
one ...uh, he started to laugh at the thought. "Yes, that's the ticket! The Iranians attack the Kurds, we say we are protecting the Kurds from Iran and launch the big one!
One, two, three! Oh Cheney, you are a genius!" He grinned like a well fed cat for a few moments, then grimaced as the clammy tightness started again. He took another
capsule and was going to take another and thought maybe he should cool it. He had another shot instead and started to go through the wiretapped conversations and intercepted emails that Gonzalez had dropped by earlier. "Nothing really prosecutable in here," Al had noted,"but some pretty racy stuff I thought you might get a kick out of! Some of this stuff is Hot!" He didn't elaborate and had to run. Something about
a new loophole in the Constitution he was trying to figure out how to exploit.
"The Constitution!" Thought Dick. "What the hell did they know back in 1776 when they were writing that piece of poetry? Sure all this Democracy stuff looked good on
paper, but what good was it when you were trying to take over a planet?"
"Now where was I?" he stared into space for a few moments, realizing he had lost his train of thought. "Sunnis? Shiites? Geezz...who the hell cares!"
The powerful drugs he had taken began to interact with the Chivas and soon Dick
was nodding off dreaming of his new Iraq with shiny new shopping malls and happy
refinery workers driving brand new 1967 Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals.