Nearing late afternoon in Tempe, late April touching 91 degrees F, waiting to pickup Eileen coming in from Denver.
Crow, a street performing friend lives in Tucson. After blueberry pancakes this morning drove to his place for coffee before heading north. Married to a Korean wife, she’s visiting family and is away, when she returns will travel to Port Townsend to work as a sushi cook for summer. Crow’s wife is more than qualified. Crow will join her but she’ll fly and he’ll drive after a few weeks— once the misery of missing his wife sets in.
Linda hosted the impetuous one and the van she doesn’t much understand in her circular driveway since Saturday. Before pushing off this morning I cut off a few rare cactus leafs and have them stored in a box ready for transplanting when I get back to California.
Monday I traveled further south from Tucson to Mexican frontier border region to visit friends that make their home in Patagonia. Dinner was a glory of simplicity, celebrated with three Golden retrievers, one still a pup— Patagonia verges on sacred-small town-eccentric-beloved-gift to all right and good about the American Southwest. Thank you Jessica and Geoff for your welcome.
Here in Phoenix for a spell, figure we’ll push off by Friday. There is a daughter and her near grown children here. We have by time been cast in the movie as the grandparents— I’ll get over this mistake. Push that all aside I do love my daughter, like her alt-dad she possesses a crushing humor— I prefer to think of her wit as the original source of gallows humor— she makes me laugh until my gut hurts—
Missing from this visit is spotting cactus wrens, none were seen. Maybe I’m an unlucky fisherman, don’t know.
One more impression— while passing back north Border Patrol agent asked if I had anyone else in my van with me while I was passing through a checkpoint north of Sierra Vista, I answered true— they believed me, probably my California plates, and let me pass without a search—
In 1922 expert hydrologists estimated the Colorado River to produce 16.5 million acre feet of water per year, and it was then that when the Compact of the River was created it assigned half of the water to the upper basin and the other half to the lower basin.
In 2022 hydrologists armed with real world data peg the river’s output to be half that much. The upper and lower basins are now trying to figure out how in the hell they’re going to manage with so little water and so much demand.
To give you some idea of how colossal this task is there are a small number of farms in the very southeastern tip of California. Together these few farms by law have legal access to 4 million of the total 8 million acre acre feet of the Colorado’s water. That legally binding allotment is pretty much a great big fat emergency right there.
The agricultural water grabbing has meant Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson have been left to hold the short end of the water scarcity stick— subordinated water rights is the term of art.
What negotiators have been unable to do is convince any stakeholder with these oldest senior most water rights to voluntarily give their allocations back. The legal framework, the so called Law of the River required decades to sort out and it appears this hot mess is headed back into an legal quagmire that remains anyone’s guess how things might be sorted out.
What makes this such a disaster is that there is not enough time to go to court and then plod clumsily over years to decades of time to come to new potentially irrelevant terms. One tipping point should the water flow continue to decline is a river that never makes it beyond Hoover Dam.
A century ago Hoover Dam engineers never contemplated needing to build tunnels beneath the dam. Water in both Lake Powell and Lake Mead suffer from the same design flaw, without sufficient supply there is no feasible way to move water further down river. Engineers never planned for too little or too much, the dams were scaled to account for what was then estimated as modest variations.
Climate change has all to do with the reduction in the Colorado River’s output, and there is no choice, we have to live with the finite precipitation we get. Experts think the Federal government must declare a state of emergency and mandate steep reductions up and down the river basin. That is a theory of course, stakeholders don’t know if the courts would go along and if they don’t there’s going to be a horrible collision of law, water and special interests. Then there still is the problem that the water could end up stuck behind Hoover Dam where it would be impossible to release regardless of what the court’s decide.
That’s why they always talk about nature having the last word, or that Mother Nature bats last, it simply doesn’t matter what some water rights holder wants or by what authority a court has to enforce their decisions.
If and when the Colorado River does end up stuck behind Lake Mead, if litigation spirals out of control, the whole hot stinking mess turns the Southwest into an environmental crisis of a kind never seen by a modern advanced world’s largest economy.
Some predict engineers should immediately start digging tunnels that send water around Hoover and Glen Canyon to forestall such a disaster. Do that starting now. Emergency pipelines would be constructed at the same time. Water would be sent on an emergency basis to quench the thirst of urban population centers while leaving rural agricultural water users high and dry. The first people to inhabit this region faced a similar fate 1000 years ago. Our first people simply had to pickup and leave, the omnipotent modern capitalists suffer from a misguided hubris, they have suspended disbelief, it simply defies imagination, our titans of commerce believe we cannot and will not run out of water.
The opposite scenario is equally as terrifying, equally as dangerous— the potential irony of the thing would simply go lost in the tragic consequences of such an event. Here we go— Alarmed researchers have found that in 1884 the Colorado River Basin received 2 years of rainfall in just 4 months. Instead of an average of 16.5 million acre feet of water measured on a per year basis, in 1884 it is estimated that a total of 32 million acre feet of water swept down the river in a period of just four months. This is decades before the dams were constructed.
Drenching rainfall totals of this magnitude could bring such monumental amounts of runoff that water could overtop and then completely demolish the dams at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams.
This kind of epic precipitation is calculated to be a one in every 500 year event, with the last super soaker occurring about 140 years ago.
The potential destruction of the two big dams has spurred scientists to propose removing Glen Canyon Dam now and then enlarging the spillways at Hoover Dam, and many experts believe we must do this now before it is too late.
As of the end of January California has been drying after a month of pummeling by powerful atmospheric river fed storms. If by the once in five-hundred year odds California were hit with four months of atmospheric river fed storms the calamity would clobber the American West— this is the epic atmospheric knock-out blow of all natural disasters.
In the 1800’s a storm fed Los Angeles River swollen by relentless rains jumped its banks and sent its water south on a path 20 miles off its normal course— the devastation was immeasurable. North of LA so much rain and snow fell that the Central Valley from Bakersfield north to Redding inundated the region making this whole region one big temporary lake that was for some months navigated by large paddle boats.
Were the Los Angeles River to jump its banks and once again head 20 miles off course it would wipe out the the most productive economic zone in the United States, instantly zeroing out at least $3 trillion in economic activity. That’s an enormous loss, nearly one fifth of the nations entire economic output. Lives and livelihoods would be lost, homes would be destroyed, commercial enterprise zones would be devastated and Southern California’s ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles would require decades to repair and reopen.
That is what worries California’s Department of Water Resources, not just the drier and then wetter storms that are hitting our state but the all too real risk that we could be pummeled by equally powerful droughts and floods of a magnitude that makes the region unmanageable. A natural disaster of either kind could itself be the natural disaster’s knockout blow to maintaining our grip on being a civilized country.
The Bureau of Reclamation in Washington is about to mandate new cuts in water up and down the entire length of the Colorado River. Legal scholars are unsure if these cuts would hold up if challenged in court. The Bureau’s decision could drop at any moment now.
Either way, engineers are urgently advocating for reinforcing spillways on the dams and that this work needs to get underway immediately. An uncontrolled topping of the dams by flood risks everything.
If the drought persists they are also urging that new underground tunnels be built. Deep underground tunnels like this have never been attempted.
This is the pickle we find ourselves in. It is a damned if we do, damned if we don’t corner we find ourselves backed into. If you have ever stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon then you have experienced the aching beauty and the unfathomable immensity, you have stood there in awe feeling the sweep of time, you can see a river that has carved a 50 million year deep canyon one mile deep into the rock of a continent.
The Colorado River and her water is as big a problem as problems get. The scale of our troubles dwarfs our imagination, we are not designed to comprehend such stupendous events, the common man is not built to react to catastrophic occurrences of such size, scale that may or by chance may not occur over such a lengthy event horizon. So far we’ve stalled, we’ve waited, we’ve hoped and we’ve delayed. That is a fool’s game, a gamblers losing bet, the smart money urges us to face up to the facts.
If you want to work in the news business, you’ll be aiming for a gig on the East Coast. You’ll want to work in New York City or Washington DC. That’s primetime baby cakes, where the biggest and bad-est fish swim. The writers that crack this nut and land a gig just got to feel a sense of having made it to the fattest pay checks. The East Coast hot shots are an elite horde of writers covering a geographic area of a mere few thousand square miles. Still this nation-centric view from our major media outlets provides a much less engaged regional population with those pieces of information they’ll need to know if we have any hope of keeping the wheels on this democracy from falling off this bus of self-governance.
Trying to cover the important events out here on this other coast, and this nearby interior region, that’s a John Ford— Darling Clementine— of a job— literally we’re talking about covering the happenings on millions upon millions of acres, more than a handful of important cities, and a whole host of vital political, social and economic forces that shape our nation’s narrative. We’re not all out here drinking whiskey, riding bareback and dipping our toes into the local hot spring. Instead of the news we make digital devices, search engines and social media platforms that have turned our access to information into an out-of-control firehose of partly truth and partly fiction.
To keep in touch with our rural communities I surf the web, when driving across Nevada I’ll pull off the highway, get out of my van, sit down and chit chat with the local hard nuts. Sometimes a tobacco chewing hay farmer might dismiss my questions, rate me as an urban interloper, but more often I find that even that jacked up rural wise guy is concerned about the new nickel mine going in on the same watershed he’s getting his water from.
Fossil fuel news is odd out here, it takes some realigning your point of view to swallow these gushers. Forget about the environment, that’s not news a front-page editor in Casper, Wyoming can use. More likely it is this moratorium on new leases that will make the cut. Rural communities across Wyoming, Montana, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado want to know what’s going to come of their lives out here and if there’s still any money left to be made drilling, digging or refining fossil fuels. This constituency is all too well represented back in the beltway of broken dreams.
These are the blips on the radar, the scattered rising and falling indicators of a rural community’s potential economic viability. Water plays the same role. Wildfire, floods, droughts, insect invasions, and fatal traffic accidents don’t rate even a second look, it’s the community billboards that is regarded as Bible here. For sale: mini-Nubian goats— good girls, floppy eared, buttery milkers, disobedient, devoted all heartbreaking barnyard hellraisers, but “neighbor they’re a good business bet.”
Senior editor desk types in Los Angeles at the Times, that’s another level. Getting water to the cities in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego County that’s the other side of the scarce resources story that pervades the American West. It’s news when the batting order for the San Francisco Giants tanks, and its news when reading about the latest failed salmon run that’s trying to be restored along the ever over tapped Sacramento River.
Chris Mathews of Hardball fame once worked for the San Francisco Examiner. His opinion pieces were published in the City’s afternoon paper. Still, Mathew’s column was a backwater, on the margins, once in a while his latest posting might blow up, go national but those were rare, Chris was just biding his time. When was the last time a printed newspaper headline held in your two hands changed the arc of your morning coffee— as I said, you can’t remember.
The intermountain town of Pagosa Springs in Southern Colorado is trying hard to save itself, the beauty that attracts so many new citizens is smothering what is so charming here. Outside of town you’ve got rural farm operations, most is hay crop, and is now common due to the drought, the sourcing of water is hard to come by, Pagosa Springs is hard pressed to find more, new homeowners setting up lives here are a mixed blessing or curse. Harder than finding water here is affording to fully fund the water treatment facilities. There are a lot of testy city business meetings here.
Pagosa Springs, Durango, Gunnison, Crested Butte, Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs, Salida, Breckenridge, Leadville— Colorado mountain towns, and not even the most famous, they’re not Aspen, Vail or Telluride, but they’ve been changing, growing, in the last twenty years they’ve been exploding in size, the changes have been exponential.
One thing is for certain, even if you don’t care not one fig about the environment most sentient beings do understand that once a rural community exceeds a certain density and population, the disposing of human waste by septic system invites all manner of calamity.
California senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein secured protection for vast tracts of the Mojave Desert. That’s 30 million acres of misunderstood and much beloved desertscape. I could explain the Mojave Desert in detail, but you don’t have the spare time, band width or bug repellent— the East Coast scribes what they want to know is how does this far off desolate, waterless, wasteland play into their New York-DC narrative— and for that there are two magic words— Harry Reid. The Majority Leader from Searchlight, Nevada, the pugnacious one-time boxer turned Nevada’s most powerful politician put the American West front and center and onto the pages of our leading newspapers. You almost felt like you could understand Nevada by reading what Harry Reid had to say about his opponents, but I promise you there is no understanding Nevada, not now and not ever. That requires coming to Nevada, sleeping in her forlorn motels, not in Las Vegas but in Beatty, Tonopah or Ely.
Running the show, my juggling show past these locals, now that’s a story, it is also a way of knowing, not just an audience, knowing a place, a community, how they do their doing and why what they’re doing isn’t necessarily conforming to your line of thinking. Rounding up mustang is like that.
Joking with an audience in Sydney, Montana is as fine an entry point into American West understanding as any you might find gleaming on the asphalt like a lost dime. Most of this land is used to grow wheat, by rain not by irrigation. Farmers stand up their fate to what the chances of rainfall can bring. Sydney citizens know farming luck better than a pesky fly’s survival on the windowsill of a tanning salon.
And that my friends, that’s why covering this beat will take your breath, spare ink and reams of paper away. This story is that big! Big as Hoover Dam, big as the Grand Canyon, big as Pilot Peak, as old as the ancient Bristlecone pines.
The biggest story out here is the climate emergency. We know this story, it is told through wildfires, empty reservoirs, heatwaves and the brewing trouble between the seven states that share the waters of the Colorado River. In 1922 after some very difficult legal wrangling there were put in place a series of decisions that are referred to as the Law of the River. For the next 100 years this landmark decision has been upheld by the courts and the states. As is always the case politicians over the course of the last 100 years have overpromised while the rain and snowfall under delivered.
There is one more piece to this puzzle worth weighing. We’ve got enough water for people that live out here, but we’re fast approaching the moment when we no longer have enough water for the farmers out here. Victims of wildfire in Santa Rosa, California have moved away to less fire prone regions where they will attempt rebuild their lives. These are some of America’s first climate emergency refugees. Next up are the farms and farmers that can no longer find enough water to stay in business. This isn’t just one town, one valley, off one river. The scale of this pullback will impact the entire American West, it will be historic, it will be epic and it will be a sprawling story that will sweep up almost half of the nation into unforeseeable change, not that we can’t see the change that is coming, but we can’t grasp the implications of these changes to the life and story of our nation.
That’s what’s rumbling out here. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are small potatoes, this megadrought is about to deliver a severe blow, who it hurts and where it lands, that’s the question of this water scarce century.
As dinner party’s go this one turned out to be out of this world. The mix of characters worked swell, the invited included both curveballs and straight shooters— this the odd woven with the even. There was even an expectational tardy arrival of our party’s Hickey Boggs from The Iceman Cometh along with his second player— Larry Slade the syndicalist anarchist.
By paternal drive I was sent at subsonic speed into Seattle’s undercover natural wine scene. Sure, there is biodynamic wine, there is organic wine and then there is this all but impossible category to pin down that enthusiast’s refer to as “natural wine.” This is the best of the best or depending on your taste the mother of all disasters. Robert’s Rules of Reality (just back off buster I’m allowed to create my own reality) clearly state there can exist no such mapped location— fads, sensations current trends are all mere phantoms— natural wine like our favorite gods come scattered across the firmament, they are unbound and hidden everywhere.
Non-interventionist winemaking will never scale, the wild eyed ‘vineyardistas’ are in pursuit of an experience that the mainstream wine industry has all but relegated to the past. Too many pragmatic winemakers have lost the capitalistic chutzpa to bring this quixotic narrative back to life. Natural wine is the small is beautiful-keep it simple stupid answer to mind numbing sameness. Mistake number one is the conventional wine industry overuses the yeast strain— saccharomyces cerevisiae— favored by winemakers for its predictability— this mindset has ensnared the industry into producing wines that are too often too similar.
Let the nation of Georgia be an example. Long before they’d become trapped in the Soviet Union’s nation building racket, before Rome had tried to subjugate them, before all that grasping at empire some very enterprising non-aligned apolitical Georgian’s gave winemaking a try. Like you know 8000 years before present. That’s not just trying that’s inventing—
Aged in clay vats, the rot from the grapes, the feral yeasts from the fields where the fruit was grown by the magic of fermentation transformed the Georgian grape juice into world class wine. Figuring out how to do this trick reliably was man’s first trick. Second, was getting the next batch to taste as good. Third, was improving the taste because by now you’ve made some good and bad wine and if you’re going to make wine at all you might as well try and make the good stuff.
That returns us to this moment in oenological evolution, what my spirit guide tells me is located at the tip of the nose, our meditation teacher calls it the present moment, to be precise it’s just under that too prominent pug sniffer and if you can breathe in and breathe out without labeling just experiencing the air moving through your nostrils without adding anything else, you’ve pretty much now know where I found myself fixated Saturday night and this without me having to screw the whole thing up by adding anything extra. For fun the debate of whether the corkscrew represented the whip used to make the cart or the horse go was eagerly bantered back and forth.
We’ve got this problem as advances in technology trample age tested tradition. All this extra stuff we’ve acquired in the last eight-thousand years— turns out most of these improvements are superfluous— don’t need them, don’t want them— and if you dig being true to the method of making natural wine— you wouldn’t use these newfangled interventions— to the natural wine apostle’s you’ve broken faith and turned your back on what the ancients of Georgia have passed down to mankind.
Participant’s imagining there is money in the natural winemaking racket need to hang up their cleats and take a seat on the bench. Thinking you can bottle natural wine as if you were running a printing press— business planning that imagines getting more from a winemaking style that is so capable of producing spectacular failure— the natural winemaker is always rolling the dice, coaxing a grape into a reliable bottle of wine is no sure thing. The standout feature of natural wine is that any batch or bottle can turn out flawed. Each case, every bottle is on its own journey, enough makes it through, some never will. Trying to engineer the problems out of the inherently volatile ingredients only makes matters worse— all these modern-day interdictions if that’s the road you walk will render the final product something other than natural. Imagining you can do better than just taking what Mother Nature has handed you only seals your fate on this conventional road toward the modern globalized wine industry— this is mission creep— tannic deep dark red wine to bright yellow buttery oaked chardonnay will be the hill you plant your broken winemaking dreams on.
Here’s the thing to know if you lose your way and end up a landowner. You want to get a plot of dirt— better still forget the soil— make it slate, limestone or volcanic ash. Plant your best vines, don’t do anything to help the little devils, and when they’ve ripened, you’ll pick, crush and then wait while the grapes become wine. Sure, there are issues of the peel of grape skin coming in contact with the juice, yes, and sometimes not always the minimal use of sulfites, they’re added to prevent premature oxidation— Conventional winemakers in comparison will add up to 10 times the amount of sulfites, and forward leaning sulfites in wine are a tell— sulfites steal what is right and true. The natural winemaker makes every effort to not add or take away anything, there are virtually no interventions, the wine stands on its own, right or wrong, good, bad or until bankruptcy papers are filed.
Out in the vineyard you’ll want sunlight to do its thing, hope to hell it rains now and again, pull a few weeds, pray the pests stay the hell away and that at the end of the year hope to find other growers like yourself agreeing that this new vintage coming up in the clay vats has turned out to be a pretty good year.
With the right weather and a good grape struggling to mature in miserly soil you’ve got a decent chance of making something authentic, something with its own voice, something that stands on two grape stained feet and speaks for not just for itself but for Zarathustra and his crowd. What is being attempted here is to make something that is honest and expressive of the place and time it is from. Rather than doll the wine up the natural winemaker wants to pour you a fated faithful glass filled to the rim with a field of truth.
I’ve learned grapes enjoy struggling— Freud would call these obstacles to happiness neurosis— that these obstacles add up to a quirk— a specific quality of nature you’ll be able to taste, this is the unfiltered and unfettered nature of this endeavor.
And now knowing all of this you have some perspective of the six obsessed members of a Seattle sited dinner party as this half-dozen plunge into the dapple lighted natural wine abyss.
Our Capitol Hill host, Alana Smith had set the table, prepared dinner— if the meal were munitions, we’d say the food was on target and laser guided— including down to the fresh cut flowers and white and blue printed linen napkins.
Four of us enjoyed tongue loosening cocktails, Ian mixed Negroni’s, of course they were crafted with Millennial preferred mescal— gin drinking is and always will be a Boomer choice— even good gin is booze to distance oneself from like running boards, buggy whips or Studebakers.
Matt a local on Capitol Hill now, once a Boise kid and Nick from Eagle Rock in LA, the last two for supper—the pair from the play by O’Neil were dug in a few blocks away imbibing, comparing tasting notes, squeezed into a corner booth at this local pizza joint— Blotto’s on Capitol Hill is by the way true, fresh and fun— go now— hope you can get in.
The pair from Iceman were picking the mind of the other, Nick was serving Matt the hot scuttle on the happenings in the wine scene in LA— it’s sick, it’s fucking slaps. Matt was hipping Nick to the Northwest natural wine distributors and how his preferred wines are hard to find, when he can find what he is looking for they are flying off the shelves in the local shops, and people do notice, his distributor thinks natural wine scene is— totally lit.
Hickey and Larry arrived well oiled, mildly repentant, unless you know Matt running behind isn’t meant to offend, his zeal for all things human burns time off the clock, that’s just how enthusiasm works. Nick pulled three bottles from his backpack— Matt presented one he’d had ringed with his hand about the bottle’s neck, our host had plenty more, the catalyst for this evening’s conversation were within arm’s reach, anything on this Saturday night was possible, our natural wine séance would commence departing outbound on a mission to make contact the other world.
Uncorking a prized bottle is akin to spelunking an unmapped cave, you plunge into the thing without helmet or headlamp, a true risktaker comes to pour wines they’ve never tasted before, until now, and at this moment among friends. It is a small but significant experience— one of the better ways to live a best life.
As accidents go this grouping of souls was not a mistake— not a drop of wine tasted by any of us was thought to be off base. There was no funk, mouse, skunk or stink. There was more than luck involved. At least three had encyclopedic knowledge of the wine’s we were opening. Most cast their fate and wallet to the whim of trial and error— unless you are a pro, unless you are tasting regularly, taking notes, have a good nose and near photographic memory. Lucky for the six we had three that have gone near broke on the journey to possess such talents.
La R’Vole was the first bottle to be uncorked, from Beaujolais by Michel Guignier, this a simple (the conceit is that nothing is so simple) drinkable Gamay. You begin here and embark toward something more, something better, that’s the idea, you don’t want to peak too soon.
The dining table was set, there were roasted trumpet mushrooms, steamed artichokes, Yukon golden potatoes smothered in roasted garlic and tomatoes, fennel and carrot salad, asparagus with goat cheese, thick hand cut sourdough toast and olives and radishes.
Nick Delozier (Larry Slate) born in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, started out a pipefitter, the younger Nick didn’t reckon he wanted to end up doing his whole life punching a clock, there was the pull of other worlds to explore. Like anyone stuck where he’d come up as a kid, he figured there had to be more to life, took a shot on LA, second time was a charm, found a job that paid and then some, the natural wine enthusiast stages real estate when he isn’t laying the groundwork planning to go full time marketing what he loves most— natural wine. That is no sure thing. Bearded, stocky, red headed, a man that is kind of spirit, Appalachian lilt to his voice, Southern mannered, tattooed, and tattooed by a lot, I’m talking he didn’t go light on the ink, but that’s how passion works, spins people off on their path, sometimes it ends up looking like a Tennessee raised tattooed wine lover— there are worse turns of fate. Copeland’sFanfare for the Common Man may well have had a man of Nick’s character in mind when composing this masterpiece.
Matt’s partner Liannabelle, this the Peruvian born muse a Tinkerbell sized laugh riot. Nicknamed El-Bell, the fiery loving petite one that always plays bigger than she appears had survived a week in Tracy, California. The monotony of tract home hell had brought on fitful pangs and homesick blues, grateful to be back in the mashup of Seattle’s architectural eclectic, funky and trendy scene that is Capitol Hill. El’s a city girl now, there are no same-same suburbs in her future, only plans to dodge being stuck in them.
Matt and Nick poured— La Tour Sarazine, the winemaker is referred to by his initials JYP. This is a white wine— Muscat Blanc and Jacquère grapes grown in the French Alps by Jean Yves Peron (JYP). Again, this second glass held its own and then some. JYP’s are hard to come by in Seattle and trickier still in San Francisco or Oakland. It’s all about your local importer, what they know and what they can get their hands on, natural wine doesn’t grow on trees and doesn’t arrive on container ship.
I’m like Ian who had joined the table to eat, drink and be part of this thrall— both of us know a mere fraction of what Matt, Nick and Alana have stashed away inside their heads. Amari’s are an Ian favorite, often described as intentionally bitter tasting, this is a much in demand classic Italian aperitif, bitter is not at all an accurate characterization for those that have acquired the taste— a well-balanced Amari will provoke and persuade. Like a Ferrari, divorce or caviar they don’t come cheap, they do come rare, hard to find, a second bottle is often impossible to put your hands on— but all of this is redeemable, the Italian aperitif is a simpler, smaller, easier class of beverage to become fluent in.
Other Worlds— a natural wine shop will open one day once city hall, building inspectors, liquor license authorities sign off. Atop the bustle that is Seattle’s Capitol Hill soon local natural wine enthusiasts will be able to go to the shop at Pike and Madison. The spry entrepreneur Matt Lucas suffers no illusions, he full well knows this effort will require every known sacrifice, getting the Other Worlds open is one thing, making his passion for natural wine work as a durable business, keeping the shop out of the red and into the black, and forget all those get rich quick schemes, Matt is hoping for something more modest, something tangible, something that he can be proud of, he seeks to build integrity into this wine shop, something that remains true to the product— the wine and its merchants work best as a matched pair.
To finish off the evening our host Alana had saved a favorite bottle to share. It was a Sylvain Pataille, his Fleur de Pinot, this is his Marsannay Rosé. Mr. Pataille has been making a spare no expense Burgundian, this a dry version since 2002— two decades of trial by error. For our last tasting we would enjoy the winemaker’s sage like 2018 vintage.
Our waiting concentrated minds. Uncomplicated— no, it was anything but, this one goes on and on, it is why you chase such an expressive wine. It is remarkable in its directness— it is easy to understand— it must be difficult to make and expensive too. Like an epic hike it is in the doing, the telling part misses the mark, still if the bottle was a girl that you were sweet on, she’d be the best love you’ve ever chased, the best you will ever hold in your arms— when you are not sure what to do, vow to never let go— squeeze hold like your whole life depends upon it— wine and love, bitter or sweet, until death do we part— wine can be like that— life! Beyond the wine’s length on the tongue there are the changes it will put you through, until you must admit this one— this bottle, has more and more to say—
The dinner party had nowhere to go, further would have clouded the mind, Mr. Paitille had somehow found a way to bottle the last word.
Needing a dose of the kid I hopped a flight on Southwest from Oakland to Seattle for the weekend. Here’s her new condo on Capitol Hill. Never done but always organized. This is not something she got from her dad.
Last night we ate at Blotto. Lucky for me they had vegan pizza. Joint was the inspiration of Cal and Jordan sour dough obsessed pie makers. Ate outside, crowd was mostly masked. This is a to die for hole in the wall on Capitol Hill. They launched during the pandemic to rave reviews. Life is still possible and pizza you will not soon forget too.
Last weeks return from the Southwest ruins tour hasn’t prepared this dad for the coldest May on record in Seattle. Oh, well, I got a warmhearted kid.
Nomads will be pleased to view this beauty. A rare petite Avion ready for duty. I want one.
And finally this is a cat Lee Ross has been taking care of. This is Sally’s cat but there’ve been some logistical moves and to cool the cat down she’s hanging out at Lee’s place. Lovely little feline.
Rolling east next week— it’s the road and it’s out there waiting mile after mile to be devoured. Over the years I’ve kept in touch with people, some are friend’s others are business contacts. If I had not been so frequently back to one place or another it might have not been practical to cast my relationship’s net so far.
Out of sight and out of mind, many don’t put in the time to keep in touch. Back before the digital revolution I’d call or send a letter. I traveled with a Smith-Corona manual typewriter, good supply of envelopes, typing paper and stamps. As I mapped out the year, I’d send notes ahead of my traveling through for shows to my support network.
Anticipating a return to a favorite venue, an enticing town, a backwater along a river— there are mental images that wet the appetite.
I get how when we are one place, we might not have the space in our head to remember all the details of the second place. If you tour the list crowding the imagination is long. In Winnipeg there was this after-hour’s joint, the sofa outback under the building’s porch roof, this was where the cast drank beer disguised in paper sacks, fooling nothing and nobody, this was a modern day speakeasy, the cops could be kicking the doors down at any moment, the performers swept up and taken away in paddy wagons.
Comfort zones come from sleeping in the same bed. You want to force yourself to get out, stay with friends, pitch a tent, get a room, stay at a musty hotel. You can become too attached to your dog— our gardens can entrap us— staying home becomes a debilitating habit— it’s a form of adventure surrender. Everything is in play when you unexpectedly drop on by, disrupting comfortable stuck friends is a form of liberation— they should be thankful— a few are, some never will be.
The touring act dropping in for a day or two provides a degree of discomfort, this is healthy, the host will survive and only after you leave will appreciate how fortunate their lives are for having you stop by and scramble their calendar. How long are you going to stay? That is the key question. Two day’s is a brilliant conceit, just long enough.
Knocking about town to town is a skill set of its own kind. Getting comfortable in faraway places, not feeling out of sorts, once your wandering mode is as natural a state of being as your being in one place mode you’ve really made your mark— you’re a wanderer in a kingdom that is all your’s.
The vagabond, gypsy and busker have suitcase efficiencies and spartan shave kits that will spark envy of sedentary types, the itinerate artists are perfecting the high art of traveling with only what is necessary, anything that is not needed gets or donated— travel light move quick.
Then comes the turn, that could be the date on your schedule, sometimes it is measured by the furthest distance from where you are from the place you call home, this is when in your mind’s eye the thought of getting back begins to take hold. If you are in a hurry to get back, this is not the interior state I’m marking. If you are returning with the same sense of ease and expectation as you were when you were leaving, that’s what I’m talking about.
Cooking for yourself is easier in your own kitchen, many meals cooked off a tailgate have little to recommend them other than the terrific view you might enjoy. Doing dishes hunched over a bucket on the ground, little discomforts will keep many harnessed to where they claim to belong.
One such helper is a woman named Becky. Growing up in Nashville she’d become friends with a juggler, he stood out, but he was young and employed as a chemist. Decades later while I was working at 5th and Mill in Tempe, Arizona we met, conversations ensued and an invitation to stay in a room above the garage was offered, “anytime you’re in town, please come on by…” And so, I have. It was only years later I realized this young juggler she met in Tennessee was my colleague— Robert Nelson.
Crawford Bay, British Columbia there is a fine friend I see that lives here when he’s not living in Banderas Bay, Mexico. Another lifelong friend an hour further west in the Slocan is there too. This is a region of the interior known as the Kootenay’s. These are deeper more complex relationships, one extends back to my teens, met Virginia in 1967. The other Angus I worked in Vancouver BC with doing shows in English Bay. Conversations are thick with history.
Returning the favor, a magician friend out of Phoenix in May will be my guest, rarest of all events is catching a gypsy in domestic relapse. I’ll show him the oddest of sedentary proof— he’ll get the chance to sleep in a guest bed and eat vegetables from our garden.
Sunday I’ll be in Silver City, Nevada hosted by a showman. Wednesday arrive in Salida, Colorado again hosted by a showman. World renowned, both in the grip of learning to belong somewhere.
Friday night I’ll pick up my wife at the airport in Albuquerque. Then, Saturday we’ll spend the day in Santa Fe with one of my favorites, she’s an abstract painter and has been for most of half a century. Abstract painters are hilarious, fun loving, like to laugh and live sun up to sundown with a passion all of their own.
What is on my mind are the Pueblo People of the Southwest. We will go to Chaco Canyon, then further west to Canyon de Chelly. This is the Navajo Nation, where the Dine’ people live.
Maybe a hot spring dip here and there, some long hikes and stargazing for sure. Will be home in time to harvest the cabbage and green beans. There is a doctor’s appointment, teeth cleaning and soon after a trip up to Seattle to see the kid, as if turning 30 isn’t insult enough, the kid is a fully realized woman I have thought of as my child. It’s all catch and release, every bit of everything we do, from shows to sleepovers, to growing vegetables or visits with good souls. We come and we go, some of us will never come back while other’s return time and again.
Installation of the heat pump in our backyard studio has been completed, signed off on by the inspector from city hall, all there is left to do is put the flooring in, sheetrock, tape, texture and paint. I did the heat pump install, hired craftsmen will do this other work.
There are heat pumps and then there are heat pumps, the last ten years much research and development has gone into improving this technology. Our Pioneer mini-split performs many functions. It can work as a fan, dehumidifier, heater or air conditioner.
I had some concerns about how much noise the outside fan and compressor would make. Turns out it is whisper quiet. To celebrate we opened the umbrella, the wife sipped from the Rhône a glass of Tavel while I took a nip of the Irish from the whiskey.
While the law of thermodynamics hasn’t changed it is the microchip, software and circuitry that have. More complicated than conventional natural gas fueled heaters and thus more expensive the payback comes over time and turns out to be one of the most effective tools we have for fighting global warming.
Big shout out to the Says Phoebe that landed on my hat while I was distracted with the installation work. The bird playing around with me was a good sign.
In March 2021 I removed the plastic that covered most of the backyard. I’d used the covering to suppress the weeds that were trying to take over. Two years ago, when I first covered this chunk of dirt there was still much on our plate, we were busy with the installation of our front yard. I needed time more time. Out back could wait.
On our list of plants for this section of our garden included grapevines, blueberry bushes, raspberries, strawberries, fig, and pomegranate trees. The brilliant Maurizio plumbed in the drip irrigation, then I installed the weed suppression fabric, then turned to planting. Our squirrel problem was solved when we started mixing coffee grounds into and around the soil of the plants we wanted them to leave alone. Turns out a California tree squirrel doesn’t like coffee. To discourage gophers we use Caster oil mixed with soap and dispense with a garden sprayer. So far all our remedies keep the pests away without adding anything toxic to the yard.
Pair of house finches went house hunting and like the looks of a beam on our front porch. I had fun spying on the two as one or the other hopped about then flitted to another unoccupied section until they’d seen enough and began work on their nest. It’s a little close to our coming and going out the front door, but we want them there and even if a cat tried it is unlikely that they could get at this mated pair.
Last year a crow tried to come eat the young baby finches. I was in time and warned the predatory bird away from the house finch’s nest. Even in this neck of the civilized woods the law of the jungle still prevails.
I’ve a pair of fine lizards in the backyard. The two can seek refuge beneath a wine barrel we use to grow tomatoes. There is also a slab of cement that provides excellent protection from predators. Our neighbors’ cats stalk and hunt anything that moves, the squirrels they can’t catch but lizards have no such evasive skills and are easy prey. In an effort rebalance the lizards’ odds I’m preparing a slingshot, justice will be felt as a stinging blow on their butt. No animal has done more to harm our songbird populations here in North America. I’m diehard Audubon member, cats should be kept inside, if the animals must be let out responsible owners should have a bell put on their collar. If matters spiral out of control, I’ll begin trapping and returning the offenders to the owners front door. That should make for some fun neighbor conversation.
Our backyard studio will have shelves dedicated for our books and record albums. When we moved into the small house, we put our books wherever we could find space, some here and some there, it was never thought through, the books are scattered all over taking up space, collecting dust, and the book I may be trying to find can be in any one of five or six different locations.
There is a futon sofa bed where we like to get horizontal. We’re going to put this piece of furniture into the tiny studio where you may sit, lie down or sleep depending upon the circumstances. We’re adding a window covering and a magnetic screen.
Once upon a time I imagined that I held dominion over various physical pieces of my life, that I had some claim to empire, it was a small place that I ruled. Like many a stubborn man I resisted the true natural order of relationship and have recognized that this dominion guise is not a practical point of view. I maybe control the top of my desk, maybe a drawer, otherwise the space is ours to share, it is within the bounds of these commons that my wife and I live together.
No tradeoffs would have been possible as a younger man— none. Had I bent to my other’s will, I would have been laughed out of the pool hall where I played for sport and small change. It is only in the latter half of a man’s life that he come to terms with not having to win every argument, not having to have it and everything his way. The tyranny of testosterone is loosening its blithering grip, like the sky the mind of a man of a certain age does clear. Some days I miss the conflict, not so much the brawling, more of the cooling off and making up after, those hugs and kisses and thinly disguised promises that you won’t do it again are so much a part of a man’s right of passage from eternal adolescence and marks the first steps on the long march to maturity.
A best friend appraising the odds believes there is barely a chance of my every making it, but then he adds it’s not the destination it’s the journey that makes all the difference. Mentioning this to my wife only produces a blank stare. Thank the gods that the eternal game is never-ending—
Montara manzanita is a native plant that lives along the coastal range mountains south of San Francisco. I took a chance on one and brought it home. My one-year-old relationship with my manzanita is going better than I could have ever imagined it would— first and foremost I know next to nothing about gardening and that plants a gardener grows— I’m not just a novice I am ignorance of all things to do with what we sometimes refer to as yard work. The Montara manzanita is adapted to our climate it thrives on little water and sunlight. The megadrought we are suffering turns out to be the perfect civilization threatening weather for my new companion.
When inventorying my plans for the day, schedule for the week, what I’m going to do next month, next year, there are even plans for the next decade that I have included on an ambitious list I’ve set to complete before I travel on from this planetary outpost. Autopiloting a Tesla wasn’t a must-have experience, but here I am and now I’ve had it. My favorite time to use this function is in bumper to bumper traffic, especially when the going gets tough. This technology works better than I do because it is paying attention and that is a problem because that is not what I am always doing when cornered by gridlock.
Returning from LA Sunday I played with the autopilot function while blasting north on Interstate 5. One of its safety features is that you must tug on the wheel every minute or so to indicate you are still there and not somewhere else. Interrupting my daydreaming makes the function somewhat less than fully automated.
Our Tesla is a standard range plus, this is the smallest battery pack version you can buy, and that’s fine, 90% of the time the vehicle is used to buzz about for local errands or the short hop over to San Francisco and back. The longer road trip meant more stops but that’s fine there were plenty of charging stations and we’d plug in and take a walk, by the time we got home we’d gotten in our 10,000 steps.
For those keeping score at home had I driven the Volvo it would have cost $240 to go round trip to LA and back, the Tesla was like $60. There was an excellent autopilot on the boat I helped deliver to Southern California last week. This is a hydraulic ram style affair that attaches to the steering quadrant below decks to keep the boat on course. The technology is connected to both the wind speed and direction instrument, speedometer and chartplotter (you’ll need a rudder angle sensor to complete this trick of steering the autopilot by wind angle). You can select a point on a map and tell the autopilot to steer to this specific spot. You can go by compass course, or you can press a few buttons and direct the autopilot to steer by wind angle (in this case you’ll need to course correct while underway to your waypoint). Best of all the technology works better than a human being, especially at night when it is harder on a pitch black sea for a sailor to keep a boat on course.
I’m finishing up the installation of our heater/air conditioner unit we’re installing in the small writing space we’ve built in our backyard. I’ve a few wires to connect, then I’ll vacuum pump the 15’ circuit before releasing the refrigerant into the system. I didn’t want to do this job, but I got a $3000 quote from an installer and that settled the matter. I’ve had to buy a pressure gauge, crowfoot wrench set, those two items set me back about $200 but it was still cheaper than the alternatives. Once this whole system goes up, I’ve got a company that will certify my installation for $275. I turn the documentation into the city’s building permit department and I’m done.
The Thompson seedless grapevines I’ve planted need attention. Planted last year the vines require some guidance. This is all new terrain for me. I spent a few hours reading through a PDF file put out by the agriculture department from University of California-Davis. Not sure how any of us did any of this in the days before the internet.
Maurizio is a sage irrigation specialist. He’s helped rebuild our drip system and taught me how to add a circuit as the garden expands. He’s close to retiring and dreams of returning to Mexico to live out his last years in the village where he was born. My work is plodding, slow and my inexperience shows through, I am a rank amateur compared to Maurizio. His English is good, his accent is thick, we spend a lot of time completely in the dark, he doesn’t understand me and I am absolutely convinced I would never understand him even if I was fluent in Spanish. This is a trivial matter since we seem to somehow figure out what each other wants, in this respect our relationship remains on the best of best foundations. Maurizio knows how much I respect him. The old man works in gardens because it is his calling, it is his passion, helping others in their gardens is a matter of great consequence. Gardens help people on their path, gardening among other things brings us closer to the mystery of sunlight, seed, soil and water.
I’ve ordered double braided polyester dock line from Fisheries Supply. I’ll put eye splices on the end of 6 different lengths of line I’ll use to secure our boat to her new berth in San Francisco’s South Beach Harbor. If you haven’t seen how an eye splice is made surf over to YouTube and have a look-see for yourself. I’ve spliced before, but I’m a rank beginner, each splice takes everything I’ve got, most sailors parcel this work out to a rigging shop. Last week I spotted a boat berthed in Marina del Rey, the boat was a beauty, and not one piece of her was slipshod, there was a consciousness to each detail, a lot of effort was put into her dock lines. I’d had something similar in mind and now I no longer have to imagine I took pictures and will copy these boats mooring line system.
I’m juggling in the backyard. I had been away from my juggling equipment during the pandemic. After juggling nonstop since 1973 a sabbatical was in order. I was burnt out, juggling had become a chore, and that is the saddest thing to make what you once loved into a grim dutyBest of all my time off has allowed my appetite to return. I’m feeling voracious again, especially good news for a juggler of a certain vintage, my arms and shoulders appreciate the workout. For those unfamiliar with juggling, it is also a mental workout, the right side of our brain controls the left side of our body and vice versa, in other words juggling also scratches at parts of our intellect that can be difficult to reach without juggling.
As guru’s go there is none better than Tom Varley. First off his guidance pertains to all things to do with sailing, Volvo’s or Jack Russell terriers. One look at the engine room aboard his sailboat Spirit helps the uninitiated to understand why I’ve made this man my go-to advisor. In vain I tried to revive my 23 year old wind speed indicator, I did as told down to each and every detail, but the wind meter has evaded my every effort of allowing me the satisfaction of bringing the old piece of gear back to life. The hours invested, the money spent on parts, none of this matters, it is the fixing that is most important, because you fix something for reasons that transcend the thing being fixed. This is the fix we are all in, fixing is the opportunity to get out of bed and falling flat on your face before you’ve even had time to make your coffee. It is in this corner with the greatest of trepidation that I’ve inched closer to buying a brand spanking new wind speed instrument knowing that there is every chance that if something could go wrong something will go wrong during the installation and that it cannot possibly be as simple, easy or as inexpensive as it appears to be.
I am sure you’ve a garbage disposal on the fritz, a button to mend and a spouse to amuse— there is not a moment to waste unless you want to contemplate how it is some guy with the last name of Shakespeare did what he did like none before or any these many centuries after. You have to wonder if by some quirk of fate Shakespeare showed up in this century and gifted the world with new fresh piercing plotting and dialogue if anyone would even take notice. It must be asked if this great writer would find his writing clicked on, forwarded, or if it would like so much of this digitized era go lost among the riot of information rushing toward us all.
I really don’t have time for this. I’ve discovered the olive tree has leaned away from a towering Italian pine and has pushed up against our mailbox and broken through one corner rendering our mail wet when it rains. I’m going to affix a post to the existing post and move the mailbox over about one foot. Then I’ll restrain all the wood making the project look properly finished and of course we can then enjoy our life knowing the olive tree may now harmlessly continue growing as trees are wont to do.
This is how it is how has always been and will always be. I thought when Sears folded so would much of the rest of all this nonsense, but no that isn’t true at all, nature abhors a vacuum and all the tools required to keep all that open and free time on your calendar fully crammed with otherwise thankless tasks and idiotic fixes to things you would not miss for one single second. If you can prove me wrong you’ve much too much time on your hands and need to get an untrained puppy and begin at the beginning.
Madness has been such the rage of late. In the human species political insanity seems endemic. Homo sapiens are just flat out nutball’s. I’ve traveled to far off lands, even while it hasn’t occurred to me to send my army to take one over, not yet but I’m starting to wonder if I’ve maybe overlooked my tyranny options.
I’d long thought if I was really going to go off the deep end, I’d get a Harley and join the Hell’s Angels. Once while in Dubai a Saudi Arabian motorcycle gang rumbled up to the hotel entrance where I was staying. There were twenty riders on bikes costumed in black leather, a sense of menace graced their presence. Safe from within the lobby of a 5-star hotel thought I’d go on outside and introduce myself to the Saudi Sunni bad boys of the Middle East. I explained I was from Oakland— that I’d had a bike — that I rode hard and knew more than few tough hombres—
Stoic, piercing deadpan stare, the Saudi outlaw rider if I interpreted the moment correctly wanted to gut and fillet me there and then. But you know we’re in front of a class hotel and cleaning a fish can make such a mess.
I continued — So you rode all the way from Riyadh for wild times here in Dubai— there was more silence— more incredulous stares— I liked it— if he had taken me out the Emirati would have had to take him out— one less stinking American wasn’t going to change anything— the gang member was weighing his options.
Used to see a Hell’s Angel at the corner gas station back in my Oakland days. To his neck a biker I saw often wore a leather dog collar with a 2 foot chrome chain that was attached to a raccoon perched on his shoulder— the raccoon rode on his leather clad shoulder right down the highway— this was some kind of post-apocalyptic Mad Max like honed biker persona— I’ll get back to you on the affinity the two animals had for one another— nobody knows for sure why one or the other had not fallen into a foul mood and bitten the others face. The Angel’s clubhouse was further down MacArthur Blvd where the gang would drink and on nights when things got out of hand there would be shootouts on the boulevard in front of the club. If you lived in the neighborhood as I did you steered clear— at all times.
Sizing up the Saudi Arabian Harley rider, there were more of his kind, but I focused on the one that seemed to have the most feelings, he seemed no gruffer than any Angel I had encountered. Gothic motorcycle outlaw vibe continues to be a simple enough human condition replicated across a vast sea of the world’s cultures. First to know should you want to form your own gang is you’ll want a good Harley Davidson— modified— tricked out— should be wicked quick. I like chrome, custom paint graphics and mild chopped front forks. Rider should be properly attired with a blend of leather and denim; I like identifiers so a good graphic on the back of a vest is ideal— Hell’s Angels, Gypsy Jokers, The Pagans, The Sons of Silence—
Proper outlaw attire, you’ll want to have black leather gloves, wrap-around sunglasses, a razor-sharp buck knife, zippo lighter and a petite caliber Barretta tucked into an ankle holster—these accessories should suffice as you and your gang fulfill you biker plundering and illicit drug manufacturing enterprises.
Here in these days of global chaos, where some runt punk tyrant has taken to threatening nuclear conflagration, it seems important to review all our mob, gang and militia options.
Super smart former Defense Secretary Robert Perry has been spitting out most of one lung and part of what is left of his other over the risks nuclear weapons present to a world that cannot afford to launch even as much as one. Perry has studied the problem created by Russia and the United States each pointing some 12000 nuclear weapons at each other. Thinking about violence prone outlaw motorcycle riders is miserable enough, imagine that just one nuclear warhead, meaning your side still have 5999 more to use, just one is powerful enough to end the entire San Francisco Bay Area’s rush hour, high cost of housing and future shootouts in front of the Hell’s Angels clubhouse. In other words, one intercontinental ballistic missile would take most of California off the playing field, reduce Apple, Google and Facebook to rubble and make for a hell of a long line as we all try squeezing through the pearly gates on the same day and hour.
Like a lot of things, the uncontemplated seems to have had a good run but its time is up— the best and most frightened of us are thinking now. There’s a new nuclear sheriff in town and he’s playing the game with a whole new deck of stone cold sober humanity at risk Tarot cards. We really don’t need to look up mankind has it well within their power to obliterate the globe in one hot second.
Some thought it would be our surging population. Forget the Population Bomb that explosion has already gone off— if you hadn’t noticed there are bodies everywhere. For coastal dwellers what that looks like is the parking lot at your favorite beach, the shorelines packed, parking lots full, and you’ll just have to go bumper to bumper at a slow crawl back from where you came.
For those wired up to empty spaces try Burns, Oregon but just know you’ll have Ammon Bundy supporters whining about the cost of ammunition down at the corner sporting goods outlet. Lot of Eastern Oregon’s least informed and most alienated citizens here in these here United States of America have had it with the stinking liberals in Portland and would like nothing better than to throw their lot in with Idaho. Secession is all the rage in these climate changing times. A loose collection of rural types both here in the emptiest parts of Oregon and a slice of Northern California refer to their discontent by describing their region as the State of Jefferson— meaning that they’re secessionists in the Jefferson Davis model of revolt— some prefer Tommy Jefferson but methinks they protest to insincerely— these folk are not entirely for slavery being reinstated but I’m convinced some good old fashion Putin inspired subjugation they’re not against.
Being born in Oakland I take as my birthright and advantage. Appears a fair chunk of the people opposed to what Oakland is and what Oakland will always be— this merry mob of Jefferson’s are not entirely sure how to wrap their minds around what this great American city might promise and mean.
Of all the grifters, all the offended by the diversity you can find hailing a Lyft or riding by horseback, to all Americans feeling in a rotten mood we’ll all want to consider whether we’re going to throw in with the brutish dictator Vladimir Putin or whether we are to wrap our hearts and minds around the thriving freedom loving democracies we are in alliance with. Our moment in history has arrived. If Putin wins in Ukraine, Trump seizing the Oval Office in 2024, if that happens, we’ll leave NATO, and the New American Autocratic Party will align with Russia, North Korea, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and China.
That’s the game right there. Might as well pack your bags, most of us in California will be headed to a Gulag in the Mojave Desert, prison guards will be handpicked by the Hell’s Angels, late night television will be all Alex Jones, Steve Bannon and a breathless Putin loving Tucker Carlson doing high dungeon anti-comedy schtick. Really, folks those of us who still enjoy a good laugh will need to unite. The end of clowning, slapstick and satire must be halted before this cohort of madness overruns the sane among us—
The likelihood of our correcting the current trajectory the human species is on appears to be no sure thing. As Benny explains in Guys and Dolls─ Nathan, I cannot believe that a number one businessman like you has fallen in love with his own fiancé─
One of the hallmarks of this social media instant communications era is avoiding sounding like an alarmist, don’t punch the panic buttons, handle the hot potatoes the way you would your IKEA furniture assembly instructions, there’s no reason to become upset. If you work in journalism, you’ll want to deadpan the delivery, just give your readers the facts.
As threats to humanity go, I thought the crisis at Fukushima’s tsunami destroyed nuclear power station to be a pretty good wakeup call— right— hello anyone else— oh I see it looks like it’s just me. Meltdowns before taking your wedding vows or at a nuclear reactor tend to concentrate the mind. Instead in Japan what followed were the laconic desultory vocal stylings of nuclear engineers all proffering lozenges of atomic energy pablum, that there was little reason to be alarmed, there was nothing to see here, that we should all just get back to what we were doing, the world moved on even if Fukushima remains a colossal environmental life on earth threatening unfixable disaster, this is the poster child for never-ending catastrophe’s.
A few more years and a few more problems appear to need addressing. Apparently the modern way to handle something is to ignore it for as long as you can, then promise to look into it, then do some good looking, and then drop the whole thing until you are reminded you were supposed to be looking into the thing, by then its almost acceptable to just say there’s nothing anyone can do about it now.
By now we’ve all become familiar with the phrase─ wet market─ you buy a live animal that is slaughtered then and there and is prepared for you to take home. Covid-19 can be traced back to Wuhan’s now shuttered wet market— they know precisely which booth— between 2017-2019 some 48,000 wild animals were purchased— customers were sold raccoon dog, hog badger or red fox— a fearless shopper lugged one nasty looking creature known as this beast known as a hog badger home and made a meal of the virus infected meat. These are termed zoonotic diseases. In my personal operating manual, the one installed by God, it is otherwise known as common sense, the things I ought not to do includes eating wild raccoon dog or hog badgers for supper. This isn’t even a close call. You don’t want to eat monkey brains or day old road killed squirrel stew. Just don’t do these things.
Next week we will celebrate the pandemic’s second anniversary. Every time I drive past the feedlot halfway between San Francisco and LA I’m reminded of how this has to be a potential pathway for a high speed zoonotic outbreak. Factory farmed meat can’t be anything other than a potential zoonotic threat. People that like a good steak don’t want to face this potential threat. Selling a well cooked pork chop is profitable and there’s the rub right there. Another decade on we will have laboratory meat grown in stainless steel vats, the food will be safer, there won’t be a need to use antibiotics, there will be no effluent to worry about, lab meat used as directed can still cause coronary artery disease, but what the hell that’s way down the list of things to be worried about.
What is ahead in the lab meat business is likely to be a more hygienic meat production system. Pigs won’t grow up in confined in impossible to turn around in cages. Instead pig cells will be grafted and then using 90% less land and water will be cultivated into the best bacon you’ve ever tasted.
In our current predicament we’ve several genocidal maniacs tyrannizing the world. I guess I got used to ignoring these miserable curses on humankind. Since 2016 I’ve had to get up in the morning to check on what that guy had done while I had been sleeping. I’d become sick of the whole chaos operation, it was transparent, decidedly authoritarian and lacking in any kind of coherence.
In Ukraine this week we’ve seen the Russian military attack two nuclear power stations. Russian dictator Putin has been fingering his stockpile of thermonuclear weapons, Syrian soldiers have arrived to fight for Vlad and there’s reason to be concerned about chemical weapons being deployed— nothing but the very best people.
Here we are waiting, we know another is coming, another variant is going to make its next move. We are hopeful creatures, we are eager for the next good chapter and ready to forget this lousy last one. We have no choice in this moment, might be we have a chance to catch our breath, if we can get things to smooth out, maybe we can drill on down into our humanity and give voice to our better angels. The battle has been joined, the fight is on, I’ve put my bet on our winning, we prevail ultimately while all kinds of not winning happens until then.
Need to feel better about the world, go to the World Central Kitchen— https://wck.org throw a few bucks their way. We’re going to get through this, and feeding Ukraine’s refugees is where we start, from there we build out a better world than the one we’ve got. Here we go