TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN CALIFORNIA: THE CHARBONO CHRONICLES.
Every once in a while, one feels as though he has stepped off of H. G. Wells time machine and bumped into himself in another age. No, it is not like running into dark-haired, swarthy skinned chthonic creatures snacking on clueless blond blue-eyed babes and their androgynous curly-headed boyfriends (although it often seems like that). It is more like meeting the you you never knew.
It all began with entering the Cafe Internationale with its intermittent hint of freshly lit joints floating through the air and the funky sounds of the “Jug Band” as background for some light flirting with someone whom I was convinced had slipped into my bed one stoned night 40 years or so ago.
Then a few evenings later at my sister’s home on the bluff above the clashing waves of the Pacific Ocean in the tiny picturesque town of Mendocino, I took another voyage into my past.
My father’s obsession for most of his life was to take, or assemble, family photographic images and organize them (mostly, if truth be known, organize) obsessively in one way or another. My sister had acquired them and now in a converted water tower on her property that serves as a guest house, much of one room is devoted to the collection.
Although the collection itself includes films and photographs, its bulk is made up of perhaps a hundred boxes of slides (after all it had been the golden age of slide photography), meticulously arranged and labeled in the circular holders that fit into the ubiquitous slide projector of the time. My sister chose five or six from the horde at random and we sat down to review them.
The images were all from the mid sixties to the early seventies. The first thing I noticed (preoccupied as I am with myself) was that I was much better looking that I ever thought I was. My own self-image at the time, as I recall, was of a sallow young man with an enormous clown like nose, great baggy eyes and a slack and sagging jaw. Now, although that may be very much what I in my emerging decrepitude look like now, I certainly did not look like that then. The young man I saw then was actually somewhat handsome in a minor movie extra sort of way. I was skinny though. I did not simply lack the beefy look of modern fashion, but had the emaciated look of the depression years. I was very very skinny, skinnier than Fred Astaire.
Among the almost forgotten influences of my late teen and early adult years were Margaret and Tony Pannicci, or “Panneech” as we referred to them, and Ruby and Arnold Maurizio.
Margaret Panneech was one of those loud hyperactive people who often dominate their environment and everyone around them. The Paneeches owned two homes on a large single lot in Yonkers NY. One of which they lived in and one which my parents rented. She suffered from what appeared to be a bi-polar disorder, diagnosed at the time as female hysteria and treated with massive overdoses of various medicines, primarily steroids leaving her moon-faced and jovially divorced from reality. Tony on the other hand appeared to me much more reserved in a slightly spooky way. My sister and I spent some time discussing whether or not Paneech was having an affair with our mother given the excessive amount of time he spent lurking around our house “fixing things.” My sister suspected he may have and I thought he was simply a hopeless voyeur.
Ruby and Arnold were to some extent fashion icons to my sister and I. Not because of any slavish devotion to current fashion trends but for their unapologetic obsession with large, clunky, sparkling jewelry and loud flashy colors. They had a daughter, Judy, they feared would not get married because she was both overweight and dressed in a more subdued manner than that favored by her parents. One day however she lost some weight, put on some Day-Glo colored garments, rhinestone jewelry and multi toned silk scarves and brought home a young man who, to everyone delight, she eventually married.
The slides also chronicled family trips to Italy and family vacations in the Catskills that loiter on in the mind as more amusing than they actually were at the time.
The following day, and still wrapped in a lingering dream like fog inhabited by the screaming ghosts of a smiling Paneech carrying a jar of happy pills and the bouffant teased raven haired Ruby, rhinestone sparkling and encased in a scarlet black and Chartreuse gown, I drove with Mary and George up the coast to visit a winery in the tiny town of Westport. Along the way, I pointed out projects I had worked on and told interminable stories about them, especially the brilliance of my analysis and effectiveness of my actions. Whether incessant pressured speech is one of the effects not speaking to anyone during the months I reside in Thailand, or merely to keep the ghosts at bay, I do not know.
We arrived at the winery, perched above one of the most magnificent wave battered coasts I have ever seen. Perhaps 50 yards or so off shore the St. Andreas fault runs through a cleft 90 feet or so deep before it dips below the Gorda plate and disappears, marking the point where the Pacific Ocean swells unhindered by a coastal shelf batter the continent.
We walked into the winery tasting room where behind a row of planks on wine barrels the winery’s owner stood serving the dozen or so visitors sips of the winery’s products. Looking down at the tasting list I read the word that made my heart stop: CHARBONO.
CHARBONO, a wine varietal that I thought died about the same time the denizens of Cafe Internationale departed the Bay Area and disappeared into the mists of history. Although at one time a somewhat common varietal in Italy and California, following prohibition it had been reduced to the provence of a single winery Inglenook in Napa County where it had been a staple of their line. When Francis Ford Coppola purchased the winery with his profits from “The Godfather,” he bulldozed the vineyard in front of the winery to enhance his view not knowing it contained perhaps the last Charbono wines in the world.
Sally, the owner, who looked like the mature Fara Fawcett in unruly windblown hair explained that a few years ago she discovered the aged and diseased vines of the last three or four Charbono vines in the world, had them restored by the scientists at UC Davis and now has about 80 or so acres of the variety under cultivation. (For more on Charbono see Charbono Appreciation Society)
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
1. Extreme privation strikes The Street:
Recent reports in the American press have highlighted the extraordinary hardships forced upon Wall Street bankers as the impact of their diminished bonuses sink it. The Business Insider compiled some of the most heart rendering:
Hans Kullberg, a trader at hedge fund Falcon Management Corp: Had to turn down a trip to see a friend judge a wet t-shirt contest at Mardi Gras because it was not the “most financially prudent thing to do.”
Andrew Schiff, director of marketing for broker-dealer Euro Pacific Capital Inc.: “I can’t imagine what I’m going to do…. I’m crammed into 1,200 square feet. I don’t have a dishwasher. We do all our dishes by hand.” He said he wants “a room for each kid, three bedrooms, maybe four… Imagine four bedrooms. You have the luxury of a guest room, how crazy is that?”
Wall Street headhunter Daniel Arbeeny: Recently, he drove to Fairway Market in Brooklyn’s Red Hook to buy discounted salmon for $5.99 a pound. He also now scans supermarket ads for the cheapest price on his favorite cereal, Wheat Chex.
M. Todd Henderson, a University of Chicago law professor who wrote two years ago his family was barely getting by on $250,000 a year: “Yes, terminal diseases are worse than getting the flu…. But you suffer when you get the flu.”
Alan Dlugash, a partner at accounting firm Marks Paneth & Shron: “People who don’t have money don’t understand the stress… Could you imagine what it’s like to say I got three kids in private school, I have to think about pulling them out? How do you do that?”
Hedge fund manager Richard Scheiner: Remarked that Wall Streeters don’t usually save, but he and his wife certainly do! By the way, he also “spends about $500 a month to park one of his two Audis in a garage and at least $7,500 a year each for memberships at the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester and a gun club in upstate New York. A labradoodle named Zelda and a rescued bichon frise, Duke, cost $17,000 a year, including food, health care, boarding and a daily dog-walker who charges $17 each per outing.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/bankers-describe-in-chilling-detail-the-anguish-they-suffer-when-they-dont-get-their-bonuses-2012-2#ixzz1nnQacY6L
(I understand the stress. Really I do.)
2. Religion in America:
Ed and Lisa Young, founders of Texas-based Fellowship Church, recently spent 24 hours in bed on the church roof and streamed themselves discussing sex live on the Internet to encourage married couples to see firsthand the power of a healthy sex life as prescribed in their new book, “Sexperiment.”
Two days after their book, Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse, was released, the Youngs took part in a 24-hour “bed-in.” The book encourages married couples to have sex for seven straight days – a challenge that made headlines in 2008 when Pastor Young first introduced it to his church – with the promise that the “amazing results” will last far beyond the week.
“Tragically, culture has kicked the bed out of church and God out of the bed,” says Ed Young, who has been “happily married” to Lisa for almost 30 years. “It’s time to bring God back in the bed and put the bed back in the church. That’s what this bed-in is all about.”
(This is a religion I can get behind…so to speak. I always found that seven straight days of sex is amazing in itself what ever the results are.)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES, THE NAKED MOLE RAT CHRONICLES, and JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Delayed while I attend to other things.
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
1942, February 22:
British Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris, newly appointed head of Bomber Command:
“The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naïve theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.”
According to a report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD):
The wealthiest Americans have collected the bulk of the past three decades’ income gains. The share of national income of the richest 1% more than doubled between 1980 and 2008: from 8% to 18%. The richest 1% now makes an average US$1.3 million of after-tax income (compared to US$17,700 for the poorest 20% of US citizens). During the same time, the top marginal income tax rate dropped from 70% in 1981 to 35% in 2010.
The rising incomes of executives and finance professionals account for much of the rising share of top income recipients. Moreover, people who achieve such a high income status tend to stay there: only 25% drop out of the richest 1% in the US, compared to some 40% in Australia and Norway, for instance.
1. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
2. The real reason why local governments often have to raise taxes or revenue or go bankrupt:
Case study: “Free roads’ are a myth”:
A group of high-value lake properties petition the city to take over their road. They agree to pay the entire cost to build the road — a little more than $25,000 per lot — in exchange for the city agreeing to assume the maintenance. As one city official said, “A free road!”
Question: How much is the repair cost estimated to be after one life cycle and how does that compare to the amount of revenue from these properties over that same period?
Answer: It will cost an estimated $154,000 to fix the road in 25 years, but the city will only collect $79,000 over that period for road repair. To make the numbers balance, an immediate 25% tax increase is necessary along with annual increases of 3% with all of the added revenue going for road maintenance.
(See Strong Towns for more)
3. : Testosterone Chronicles (Sometimes referred to as “Male chutzpah”):
A lawyer for Mr. Strauss-Kahn (Disgraced former head of the IMF) appeared to confirm that he had attended the events containing naked women, saying that his client would not have been aware if the women who entertained him were prostitutes.
“He could easily not have known, because as you can imagine, at these kinds of parties you’re not always dressed, and I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked woman.”
(I agree. I never could tell the difference.)
4. Department of abasement, apology and correction:
In a prior post I referred to Tom Friedman and a “Well Known Conservative Pundit.” Ruth indicated that she thought that he actually was a so-so liberal pundit. If that is the case, than I stand corrected and withdraw his criticism of the current Republican Party, since liberals, being brainwashed by their theology, are incapable of understanding the truth.
POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:
Please see the blog: http://papajoestales.wordpress.com/
1. Try to parody this:
Minister Patrick Wooden a well-known conservative religious leader and supporter of Republican candidates:
“The God of the Bible made the human sperm, the God of the Bible designed it and it was not designed to be emptied into an area that is filled with feces, there is nothing for it to germinate with, it will most certainly mean the extinction of the human race. My belief is that if the medical community would just step forward and just would share with the American people what happens to the male anus, the problems that homosexuals have with their rectums, the damage that is done, the operations that are needed to sew up their bodies if you will, and how many of the men don’t even give these stitches time to heal before they are back out there practicing that wicked behavior. Some are bleeders, men who are not turned off by ingesting the feces of other men.”
Also he claimed that gay men, “have to wear a diaper or a butt plug just to be able to contain their bowels.”
(No Republican candidate, as far as I know, has criticized his remarks as they did the minister that stated that as a black person he could not be thankful for what America had given him. On the other hand, in speaking for “God the Proctologist,” the Reverend Wooden could be admired for his liberal like concern for the health of members of the homosexual community.)
2. On the other hand he claims to be a Republican:
A congressional candidate running as a Republican in the upcoming Illinois primary claims the “Holocaust never happened.”
Arthur Jones, 64, a Lyons, IL, insurance salesman who organizes family friendly, neo-Nazi events around Adolf Hitler’s birthday, hopes to be the Republican candidate chosen to run against Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District.
“As far as I’m concerned, the Holocaust is nothing more than an international extortion racket by the Jews,” Jones said. “It’s the blackest lie in history. Millions of dollars are being made by Jews telling this tale of woe and misfortune in books, movies, plays and TV.”
“The more survivors, the more lies that are told.”
(I suppose the reason why no other Republican has yet to reject his assertion is Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment, “Speak no ill of another Republican.”)
“I do not write this in any way to excuse myself. I ought to have known. My advisers ought to have known and I ought to have been told, and I ought to have asked. The reason I had not asked about this matter, amid the thousands of questions I put, was that the possibility of Singapore having no landward defenses no more entered into my mind than that of a battleship being launched without a bottom.”
Winston Churchill: The Hinge of Fate
“Rick Santorum says kids who go to college are snobs. His program is Every Child Left Behind.”
(The good and the bad: renewable energy [excluding nuclear] contribution to total energy use in the EU increased by about one-third over what it was 10 years ago while Hydrocarbon based energy use nevertheless increased by over 35% in line with the 35% increase in total energy use. Since Nuclear and Hydro sources remained static, the renewable growth came out of their share of growth. In other words, renewables have had no effect on fossil fuel growth but are simply replacing nuclear and hydro and non-fossil fuel sources of energy. My conclusion: at this time nothing appears to be capable of stopping or replacing fossil fuel energy growth and therefore priority should be given to the equally futile task of preparing to deal with the effects of climate change.)